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Fic: Between Nowhere and Goodbye -- part 1

Fic title Between Nowhere and Goodbye
author fourtenpm
artist yanyann





Sue Lee, she believed, was one of the first ones who actually saw the new neighbors and their car on her block.

It was an early spring morning; she was on her way home after a relatively uneventful evening shift at an ER in a big city. Sue was thinking about her food supply when the Impala caught her eye as she walked past the house that had been wanting a renter for ages. She whistled at the sight. Sue acquired a taste for classic muscle cars from a co-worker who was a vintage car enthusiast, and this car was quite a beauty. It was big, black and shiny. Parked nose first in the cobble stone driveway that had been overgrown with weeds, it looked like something out of a legend. Seeing it gleaming softly in the morning low lights, Sue suddenly had the weirdest feeling that this car had a mind of its own.

She stopped to admire the car, debated with herself if she should take a picture and decided against it. Right when she was going to be on her way, the driver's door opened and a guy tumbled out, along with tidal waves of loss and blood and pain. Sue was so shocked that she couldn't move, could only stare.

Putting both hands on the car frame, the guy pulled himself more or less straight, his movements wooden and uncoordinated. He grunted while stretching out his limbs, twisting left and right; and froze at mid-turn when he noticed Sue standing on the sidewalk. Deer in headlight look on his face, he opened his mouth, but nothing came out. They were rooted at their respective spots, staring at each other, momentarily at a loss for words.

Until a door opened and another guy called out: "Dean, you sleeping in the car again?" He sounded tired for a guy who was supposed to be just up and about. This second man soon appeared at the door. He was very tall, in a wrinkled plaid shirt and jeans with quite a few holes from wear and tear. He needed a haircut and a good shave desperately. More than anything, he was a million little broken pieces that were barely held together by sheer willpower. The effort to not crumble into dust took tolls on him, though. It was obvious from the premature lines on his face, and shadow in the eyes.

Sue gaped at them, couldn't help but wonder how these two were still upright. Then she blinked, everything went back to a cool spring morning, gentle breeze playing with new leaves, birds tweeting happily somewhere in the trees. And two very good-looking men, although tired and weary to the bones, were looking at her, in stunned silence.

The tall guy who was not Dean recovered the first. He put on a smile and waved at Sue: "Hi, morning!"

Sue was suddenly acutely aware of her pink scrubs with little white dogs prancing all over, sneakers that used to be a lot whiter and the mess of hair she let loose after she stepped out of the hospital. She ran a hand through her hair self-consciously, and grinned back; pointed to the car and said: "Nice car you guys have here."

Dean visibly brightened at the comment, answered with pride: "Yeah, that's my car. They don't make 'em like it anymore." he cleared his throat, as if heard how rough he sounded, and went on, "Best year, best car." His voice was still rough, but there was genuine happiness in there.

Sue nodded agreeably, noticing the other guy flashed Dean a look of affection, fondness and, oddly, gratitude when he made the proud claim. She introduced herself: "I am Sue, Sue Lee; I live, like, two houses down." she pointed toward the house she was currently residing, "Welcome to the neighborhood. We're not the kind of place where people bring casseroles to greet the new neighbors, but we do have 2 block parties every year. It's nice here."

Dean processed what she said slowly, like his brain was not working just yet, then his eyebrows smoothed out and he nodded slightly in appreciation, the corners of his lips pulling upward in the ghost of a smile. The other one glanced over and relaxed at Dean's phantom smile. He replied for the both of them after a beat, when it became apparent that Dean was not up to introduction: "Oh, I am Sam; that's Dean. Thanks.....'nd Nice to meet you."

Sue replied: "Yeah, you too..... well, I …. uhm, 'm going home, see you around!" She waved them goodbye and started walking. Just as she turned to her front door, she heard Dean exclaimed excitedly in a hushed voice: "Hey, Sammy, we got a busty asian girl neighbor! One of your better decisions!" Before she got annoyed for being objectified, she heard Sam hissing out: "Dean! She can hear you!"

She could also hear relief in Sam’s voice. For all the annoyance, he sounded almost happy. Sue muttered to herself: "Hmm, interesting."

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This neighborhood was not one where casseroles were made in honor of new neighbors, but it surely was one that they got talked about a lot.

That afternoon, when Sue was up and cooking, Lynnette, her housemate and co-worker barged in and announced happily: “Hey, Sue darling, the haunted house is rented out! To two really hot guys!"

Sue rolled her eyes, exasperated. Sometimes, she really couldn't get Lynnette at all.

Lynette was a tall blond girl with big bright blue eyes and toothpaste ads smile, pretty in a way that was almost aggressive. Her life's goal, it seemed to Sue, was to be the living contradiction of all the dumb blond jokes; that and getting married. Lynnette got through a prestigious medical school on a scholarship; scored crazy high at all three steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination; then she beat stiff competitions to get into one of the best cardiology fellowship programs of the country in the hospital where Sue worked as an ER nurse. Her demeanor impressed Sue as a little tomboyish when they first met, however, Sue found out pretty soon, her heart was that of a 6 year old girl dreaming of a fairy tale, Disney version, type of happy ending. She spent her preciously little free time almost equally on catching up with current research in cardiology and planning her wedding and the happily ever after that was surely to follow, without a steady boyfriend in sight.

Sue had seen her barking orders in the ER when she was called. It was pretty hard to reconcile the competent doctor in charge with the girl who just wanted to get married. But she figured this kind of jarring pieces that shouldn't fit in the same person somehow did was what made life interesting after all.

She threw a lopsided grin at Lynette, asked in mock seriousness: "So which one do you want? The tall, or the taller?", then she asked for real, "I'm making that tomato fried eggs noodle, you want some?"

Lynnette ignored her guy question, but nodded eagerly and answered "Yes, please." to the noodle one. She settled herself comfortably at their tiny table like a big cat, said thoughtfully, "You know, you will make a guy very happy, I mean, good meals to come home to...."

Sue snorted, thrusted a bowl of cracked eggs into Lynnette's face, commanding her to beat them into submission. She turned back to the work bench, picked up a small knife and started dicing tomato. "If only you were a guy, Lynnette, if only." Sue teased, "Wait, you work 80 hours a week, and don't have time for a wife! or a husband, or, let's face it, a boyfriend."

Lynnette's face crumpled a little at that. She sighed sadly, then being ever the optimistic, said with renewed hope: "It won't be always like that, after things settle down, when I have my own practice, I will have time...... I just want to know I will have a family when that happens."

Sue sighed too, looked at her friend of two years fondly, admonished: "Lynn, you are a workaholic. You like working long hours; you get bored on vacation and want to come back to crazy hospital schedule. Honey, you need someone to be workaholics with you together."

Lynnette looked up at Sue, suddenly smiled big and sly: "Hey, you're dispensing your Asian wisdom again?"

Sue blushed a little, old habits, especially annoying ones that she'd sworn off, died really hard, "Sorry, won't happen again." Then she jumped to the new neighbors question, "So, you've seen them?"

Lynnette had been a friend long enough to pick up threads of conversation effortlessly. She answered: "No, not really. I was chatting with Red, and saw them going into the house. Red told me they are the newest tenants." Lynnette handed the bowl of beaten eggs back, "They looked really hot from Red's front yard, and I'm never wrong about that!"

"So Red saw them moving in?" Sue asked.

Red was the self-appointed block watcher who kept an eye on the comings and goings in the neighborhood. He was a retired old man who spent most of his time lounging in his front yard with his dog Bella, striking up conversations with the neighbors, neighborhood kids and the occasional passers-by. Sue had come to think of him as the block news central, and she wasn't surprised at all that he had taken to Lynnette like the daughter he never had.

"Nah, he saw the landlord showing them the place the other day. Never thought they'd rent it." Lynnette made the rolling motions with her hand whenever she tried to convey some vague notion, "You know, they don't look the type ."

Sue nodded, mostly getting her meaning. The residents on this block were either homeowners that had lived here all their lives or nurses and doctors in various stages of training at the hospital a few blocks over. It was an odd combination that meshed really well. Despite the fact that people were constantly moving in and out, the community always had a small village feel, where everybody knows everybody, more or less. The only thing that was a little strange was that the landlord of the haunted house, which was not really haunted, never could get a long-term renter.

"However," Lynnette said slowly, chewing on her lips, thinking out loud, "Red said they looked like, well, they could have been to war. I mean, it would make sense, if they were. You know, a lot of veterans have medical problems. That would explain why they'd rent so close to a hospital."

"Huh? Well, if that's the case, they'd probably be better off renting somewhere near the veteran's hospital." Sue said as she chopped half a Chinese scallion into fine pieces and threw them into hot oil in the wok. She paused their conversation while she stir-fried eggs and tomato. After it was done, she added a bowl of water to the wok. When she started to look around, Lynnette produced the lid that was sitting on the table. Sue smiled thanks and put the lid on the wok. Then she picked up her cup of tea, and turned to face Lynnette, resuming their conversation, "Right? I know we have the best trauma center around, but I don't know about veteran services."

Lynnette shrugged, "I don't know, the system always messes up; and I have heard this radio program about a veteran who had to fight to get the health care that was promised her. They probably got screwed over and couldn't get their treatment at the VA." She was silent for a bit, then her voice took the tone when she was really curious about something, "It's weird, well, unusual for two grown men to live together, right? Unless they are, you know, a couple.... They have the same last name, Smith."

Sue sprayed a mouthful of tea all over the place, "Mr. and Mr. Smith? Seriously?! And they're not a couple?"

Lynnette laughed rather unladylike, handing over a paper towel, "Well, I didn't make it up. Red told me that's what the landlord said. Landlord insisted that they are brothers though."

"They could be brothers. I mean, I have brothers." she sighed just thinking about them, "They acted like they could be brothers."

"Yeah, right, so you said you saw them? When? How? What do you think of them?"

Sue thought back on her first impression, answered carefully: “Well, for starters, they looked like they might have PTSD... oh, the tall one’s name is Dean, the taller one with the hair is Sam.” Sue grinned as Lynnette rolled her eyes, “Dean looked like he had slept in the car for the night, and apparently it happens a lot. As for Sam, I don't know, he seemed....” she wanted to say broken but settled for, “troubled, in some way.”

Lynnette let out long pearls of laughter.

Sue glared at her, “Hey, what? what did I say that's so funny.”

“Oh, Sue, you are so adorable when you say stuff like that.”

“What? Troubled? What's wrong with that?”

“Nothing, unless he was a hormonal teen; and the way you say it, like you were a thousand years old.” Lynnette was still chuckling.

Sue didn't dignify it with a response. Instead, she removed the lid from the wok and threw a handful of dry noodles into the not quite boiling water. She frowned, the flour clouds in the water somehow reminded her of the latest rumors of hospital trouble, that 'restructure' was being planned. So she asked Lynnette about the restructure business, which always meant layoffs and cutbacks and never anything good. Lynnette’s boss was the chair of Cardiology Department, and surely Department Chairs would know a lot more about critical hospital decisions than any nurse, probably he had talked about it with his fellows?

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A few weeks later, two of Sue's brothers and their wives came to visit. Sue hadn't seen them for quite a long time and she was so glad to have them. About half an hour later, she remembered why she was here living by herself in the first place. A few more hours later, when her brothers finally took leave with their wives, Sue couldn't even muster up the energy to fake plead them to stay longer.

After waving as a dutiful adoring little sister should at the departing car, Sue made a beeline toward Kaden's house that sat directly across the street from the one she and Lynnette were sharing.

The day was beautiful. After weeks of rain and more rain, the sky finally was blue again. Kaden and Lynnette were outside, enjoying the weather and talking about random things. Kaden was sitting on the stairs leading up to his front door. There was a cooler at his feet, and Dukie the big black-and-white dog stood like a perfect guarding dog statue on the top step. Lynnette leant on the fence of his tiny front yard, soaking up the sun.

Sue plopped down on the bottom step, made a grabbing gesture at Kaden. Kaden opened up a bottle of beer and handed it over, smiling at her fondly. Dukie carefully picked his way down and nuzzled at her knee. Sue put an arm around his neck and scratched behind his ears absent-mindedly and downed half a bottle before she came up for air. She belched open-mouthed, exclaimed: "Oh, shit! Now this feels good."

Kaden chuckled. Lynnette asked with her eyebrows raised, "That bad? Your brothers and sisters look really nice."

Dukie the nice dog put his cool nose in her lap, as a show of moral support. Sue used to think Dukie was the most dignified dog, because he spent most of his days outside, standing on the top step, watching whatever caught his attention without moving a muscle. Then one memorable afternoon, when Sue was exchanging news with Kaden, Dukie made his way down to where she stood, crowded into her. She stepped back, thinking he wanted to squeeze by. Dukie almost twined himself around her knees and made the most pitiful whiny little sounds. Sue yelped, completely taken by surprise. Kaden laughed at her: "What?! You never petted a dog? He is a dog! He wants you to pet him!" As a matter of fact, Dukie held the honor place of the first dog that she ever scratched behind the ears.

Sue sipped at her beer more leisurely after the first long draw, whined: "Jesus frigging Christ! I don't know why I miss them! It's like this every time! I can't wait to see them. I can't wait to see them go!"

Lynnette laughed heartily, agreed: "Yeah, that's family for you."

Kaden, being the guy, observed casually, "Nice car they are driving. Is that a different one from the last time they came?"

Sue sighed again, said: "Yeah, probably. I don't know. My brothers change cars like my sister-in-laws change their purses. They can afford it. They are kinda important, where I'm from. My family. I mean." She waved a hand at them, "What were you talking about? I am gonna get a migraine if I have to think about my brothers for another second."

Lynnette shrugged, went along with her request, "Ah, we were just talking about shows and stuff. Oh oh, have you heard about the terracotta soldier exhibition? There was some kind of an incident....." Kaden chimed in, "Yeah, there was this guy who dressed up like one of the clay soldiers and tried to get in. Crazy people!" Lynnette nodded in agreement.

Sue blinked at them, "There is a terra cotta soldier show?"

"Yeah, in the city. I went last week. I didn't tell you about it? It's really cool, but I'm sure you knew that already." Lynnette said as she pulled out her cell phone, "Anyway, here is this thing I really want to show you."

"Yeah, no, I've been pretty much buried at work, you know, what's with the ER being short-staffed and all that fun stuff about restructure." Sue said as she took the phone and asked, "What is it?"

"There is this figurine that looks exactly like you."

Sue rolled her eyes, "As if you can tell one Chinese from another." On the phone, there was an ancient dancer with long eyebrows doing a semi-turn, one of her hands reaching up, the other down at her side, the long sleeves of her gown flowing with the motion. Her lines were simple but elegant, a perfect moment captured for eternity.

Sue whistled, said: "Hmm, this is really pretty. Looks like it's from the Han dynasty, though. I really do like that period, I mean arts stuff. You know what? The black horse in Mulan, the Disney movie, actually did look pretty much like one of those Han dynasty horses. I was impressed."

Lynnette said indignantly: "Hey, I can totally tell. You and Joan look completely different!"

"Joan the skin doctor?" Kaden made a face.

"Joan the dermatologist." Sue corrected him, then turned back to Lynnette, "That's because Joan is half a head shorter than I am, and she's never been seen without a white coat. I doubt if you can tell if you are looking just at our ID photos." Sue thrusted Lynnette's phone at Kaden, commanding him: "You take a look and tell me if I look like that."

Kaden raised his hands, refusing to get involved, "Ah, ladies, I am not touching that with a 10-foot pole."

Sue and Lynnette blinked at each other, and burst out laughing. Sue reached up and grabbed the laptop that Kaden put on the step beside him, typed on the computer with nimble fingers, "Now, lemme see if you guys can tell these women apart." She pulled up a wealth of pictures from the internet, and handed the computer over to Lynnette, challenged, "There! Famous actresses."

Right then, she felt Kaden stiffened. She followed his line of sight, and spotted Sam and Dean walking on the other side of the street. They had apparently been to grocery shopping, each of them had their hands full holding quite a few plastic shopping bags. For some reason, they looked quite out of place, like they should carry something the polar opposite of grocery bags.

Lynnette saw them too. Oblivious to the tension rolling off Kaden, she waved at them, excited and playful, yelled: "Hey, you guys! Come over and help me prove Sue wrong!"

Sam and Dean exchanged a look, and walked across the street. They moved in sync, one's motion complementing the other's subconsciously, so much so that between the two of them, they didn't have any open weak spot. It was like they were treading their way carefully in a battle field rather than walking on a tree-lined street, coming back from a grocery run. Sue watched with curiosity, wondered briefly exactly what in this quiet street would put them on guard like this, then realized that it was probably how they always were, that they weren't even aware they were moving like they were on high alert for danger. Sue thought to herself that the veteran story probably was truer than most other stories about them that were circulating the neighborhood.

They stopped a couple of feet away from them, with Dean hanging half a step back. Apparently, between the two of them, Sam was the one designated to deal with the neighbors. He smiled at Lynnette and asked tentatively, "What do we need to prove Sue wrong?"

Lynnette grinned back, hefting the laptop up for them to see, declared: "That we, Americans or westerners in general, can tell one Chinese from another."

This was obviously a way out of the blue request. Sam and Dean looked at each other, surprised. Dean shrugged; Sam cocked his head, said, "Sure thing." Dean stepped up and squinted at the screen with Sam, said: "That's the girl from, what was the name of the movie, Sam? a few years back, something tiger something dragon?"

"Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." Sam dutifully supplied.

"Yeah, that one. The girl is hot." Dean said appreciatively.

Sue stood up and took the computer back, disagreed: "No, she is cute;" she typed and clicked, announced as she put a few more pictures on screen, "Now, she is hot!"

Dean squinted at the computer some more, said unsurely: "This is a different girl?"

Sue barked out a laugh, said triumphantly: "Exactly my point!" She explained to Dean, "Yeah, this is Going Li. She was a big movie star and appeared in a few artsy movies.... I don't know if she was in anything you've seen, but anyways, she was in that American version of the Geisha movie.... She was the crazy evil one."

Dean nodded along good-naturedly, not exactly following, admitted: "Nah, can't say I know what you're talking about. What brought this about?"

Sue answered: "Lynn over there thought that I looked like a figurine."

Only then did they notice Lynnette and Sam had moved a few steps away from Kaden's front porch, deep in conversation. Lynnette, by the sound of it, was reliving some of her favourite Firefly moments; Sam was listening with a soft and faraway smile on his face, as if he was seeing entirely someone else. The hard lines on Dean's face softened at that look; the crinkles at the corner of his eyes suddenly made him look sad, old and so tired.

Kaden chose this moment to join them. He stood up to his full height, squared his shoulders and strolled down from where he'd perched. When he moved closer to offer Dean a bottle of beer, he effectively shielded Sue with his bulk.

Then he put on the fakest fake smile Sue had ever seen and asked: "Hey man, care for a beer?"

Dean's expression hardened, his armor back in place in the blink of an eye. He smiled his own fake polite smile: "Nah, I'm good. Thanks man."

Kaden hmm-ed non-committedly, aimed for casual talk and missed by light years, "So, what do you do?"

Dean's smile took on a hard edge as he answered: "We are retired, mostly."

Kaden nodded, acting impressed, "Huh, that's nice. Economy like this, damn hard to make enough to retire early."

"Yeah, we get by."

"So, what do you used to do?"

"Oh, odd jobs that nobody wants, here and there."

"Wow, that's sweet, retired on odd jobs. You know, I'd like one of them odd jobs."

"Oh, trust me, you don't." Dean almost spat the words out. He didn't break eye contact with Kaden but raised his voice, called out sharply, "Sam, let's go!"

Sam stopped in the middle of whatever he was saying, shoulders tense, subtle shifts in posture put him into fight mode.

Dean softened his tone, said: 'Hey, Sammy, we need to get the ice cream in the freezer before it all melts.'

Sam relaxed marginally, nodded his goodbye to Lynn and started walking. Dean engaged in the staring contest some more with Kaden, then turned to follow Sam. Kaden's hard stare followed them down the block.

Lynnette and Sue looked at each other, clueless, exchanged their silent "what the hell was that?"

When Sue was mostly sure that Sam and Dean were out of earshot, she poked at Kaden, who was still staring after them, with a delicate finger, "Hey man, you wanna pee around the block to mark your territory while you're at it?"

Kaden's furious glare found Sue as the newest target. Kaden was a UFC fighter before it made it mainstream and big. He earned more than enough to cover his college expenses and quit the fighting scene. What he currently did for a living was a mystery that Sue and Lynnette had quite a few working theories to prove or disprove. All they knew for sure was that he worked on his always top-notch computers, and that he knew a lot of things.

Kaden was a peaceful man, usually laid back and friendly; but when he let it crack and reminded people that he was all 6 feet wall of muscle and aggression, it could be pretty scary.

On the other hand, Sue didn't grow up the family black sheep with not one, but five intimidating older brothers for nothing. She held her ground easy, loose limbed and unafraid.

Lynnette, however, wasn't one who could take that much confrontation. Her annoyed: "Kaden, what in the world was that about!" trailed off as soon as she saw her two friends glaring daggers at each other, and she started pleading softly, "Hey, Kaden, don't be like that. Sue didn't mean it."

Sue smiled her haughty smile with no mirth, the one that showed her canine teeth and was a full on challenge, as if to say: "Oh, yeah, but I did."

Lynnette's big blue eyes darted between them, scared and desperate to break the tension; she whispered imploringly: "Sue~~~"

Kaden deflated at the quiet pleading, feeling like an ass to have scared Lynnette. He turned to sit back down and muttered: "I don't even know why I like you."

Sue's chipper answer came fast: "That's because in the previous life we knew each other, you were this gray big wolf and I was that little white fox you had a crush on."

For a split second, Kaden could smell damp earth and new trees; feel the softness of the ground when the spring finally came and the depth of the earth started thawing; and see sunlight filtering through thick branches and narrow leaves and pine needles, framing the prettiest little fox with snow white fur perching on a tree trunk, smiling a toothy smile. Kaden blinked, and he was back on concrete stairs, looking at chain-linked fences. A strip of blue sky dotted with white clouds could be seen between the roofs of townhouses.

Lynnette was laughing and saying: "Hey, tell me the truth, did you finish that Twilight series? What with the gray wolf and white fox unrequited interspecies love affair...."

Sue groaned with an air of resignation: "It's vampires, vampires and werewolves, Lynn. Be happy that you never ever have to read it. I have a niece who wants to read the series, and her mother tricked me into screening them for her. Man, that's a night I will never get back." Sue shuddered for effect. Then she grinned her cocky grin at Kaden, asked seriously, really wanting to know: "What's your problem with them anyways? We know you're big and bad, but I have never seen you acting, all...." she puffed out her chest, "what you say? Hulked out?"

Lynnette chimed in, all curious: "Yeah, what just happened?"

Kaden shook his head --- he'd never been able to stay pissed at the girls --- and explained as levelly as he could: "I don't like them. They make my skin crawl."

The girls said in unison, surprised, "What?! Why?"

"Yeah, well, I got this gut feeling. So I dug around, and found this....." he picked up his laptop, clicked a few quick clicks, turned the screen toward Lynnette and Sue.

It was a grainy security camera footage, showing two tall guys in the middle of a killing spree, apparently enjoying themselves. They looked remarkably like Sam and Dean Smith.

Lynnette watched for a bit and turned away as she couldn't stomach the violence any longer, said: "Oh, I remember this. It was all over the news for a while. You know, the psycho brothers, what's their last name?" she snapped her fingers trying to remember, "You know, the brand name of guns? Remington? Is it?"

"Winchester." Kaden corrected her.

"Oh, yeah, Winchester!" Lynnette sounded as if she got the answer to a brain teaser question.

"Huh! But didn't the news say the cops got them? That they are dead?" Sue asked skeptically.

Kaden sighed: "Don't believe everything on the news. They lie."

"But there isn't any more killing rampage after that." Lynnette pointed out reasonably, picture of logic.

"No, I don't think the Smith brothers are those two." Sue concluded after watching the clip for the sixth time, "The body language is totally different." she smirked at Kaden and said: "My gut is telling me that they are, well, not exactly harmless, but, ya'know, harmless."

Kaden shook his head again, exasperated, "They've been pronounced dead before, many times! Once by the FBI, even! They somehow always manage to come back. I am telling you, these two are the Winchester brothers, and they are bad news."

"Wait, so, they are really brothers, if you're right and they are actually the Winchesters?" Lynnette's question was so way out of the left field that Kaden could only stare at her open-mouthed for a long minute.

"What?! I have been trying to figure this out! They act like they were a married couple, I mean, they grocery shopping together! Besides, have you even heard of grown-up brothers living together?" Lynnette defended her curiosity feebly.

"Lynnette, baby, those two are bad news. Just listen to me, OK? Trust me, the less you know about them or talk to them, the better. In fact, I don't even like you looking at them. Just, don't. Please!" Kaden pulled out his frustrated authoritative voice that he rarely used.

Sue bit her lower lip with her front teeth to prevent herself from saying anything nasty, because while she didn't think Kaden was right, she didn't think he was wrong either.

"OK OK OK." Lynnette grumbled and checked her watch, said, "Ah, I should get going. My shift is about to start, you know, rounds to make, interns to yell at ... "

"Yeah yeah. Go'n save lives." Kaden shooed her.

Sue sat down with Kaden in companionable silence, watching Lynnette turning the corner on bouncy steps. She collected her thoughts on what she was about to say, and began in her we-need-to-talk voice, "Kaden, I love you." she blushed at Kaden's leer, "well, not that I am dying to sleep with you, though I won't really object...if you insist..." She shot a glance at Kaden inquiringly, eyelashes batting. This time, Kaden looked away first. Sue grinned in victory, went on, "But seriously, I grew up with five, five! overprotective big brothers. I didn't move halfway around the world to have another one in my life. I'm at my worst when that happens. I mean, it's nice and sweet of you to care so much about us and watch over us, but it just makes me really really want to do extremely stupid things."

"Yeah, you are kind of a brat." Kaden nodded amicably, smile warm and genuine.

"Hey, I am bearing my soul here!" Sue glared at Kaden, her indignation only half mocking.

"Brat!" Kaden turned his smile cocky, then proceeded to muss up her hair with a big hand.

"Jerk! See if I’ll tell you anything anymore!" Sue batted his hand away and started rubbing Dukie like she meant business, "Hey, Duke, who is a nice boy? You are a nice boy, you deserve a good rub, you like that, huh? You know what they say? They say boys are made of slugs and snails, and puppy dog tails!"

Kaden chuckled softly at her baby-talking Duckie and went back to do his computer stuff.

Just like that, apology made and accepted. All was forgiven and forgotten. Life on the block went on quietly.

On to part 2
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