A Twist in the Tale

by Squeakypeep

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Part 7/7

Disclaimer: Not Mine blah blah..No profit..blah blah….You've heard it all before and others are more eloquent than I.

Rating: Language a bit harsh in places. Slushy, romantic, suggestive.

Acknowlegements: Mog's Universe, apologies to anyone whose toes I've stamped on - I've read so many fics I can't recall who belongs to whom. Angel belongs to me and this is my first fic - go easy. I'm Irish so Texas speak was a challenge and I have a UK spellchecker - you have been warned. I still have to have the American jokes in these fics explained to me!

Warning: OFC If you don't like the boys getting hitched this Series is not for you. Think M7 meets Mills and Boon!

Comments: Squeakypeep@hotmail.com - be nice

Thank you to all the people who wrote to me as I've been sending in this series. It really encourages me to keep going - I'd been having a lot of trouble with Josiah (it's always the quiet ones). There may be an Epilogue to this series - thanks Debbie for the ideas - we'll see.

As for Josiah's wife's name - couldn't resist.

Josiah's Story
Present day

A Christmas Tree twinkled, sending dancing shafts of coloured lights across the threesome cuddled on the couch.

'This is called Jesus' Christmas Party', and it was written by Nicholas Allen.' Josiah's low voice rumbled out and the two little boys looked at him expectantly. He settled more comfortably in his seat, a child on each knee and began to read...

There was nothing the Inkeeper liked better than a good night's sleep.
But that night there was a knock at the door.

Four years earlier..
New Years Day

Damn but it was cold.

Josiah Sanchez leaned forward and threw another log on the fire, taking a quick glance out the window at the swirling snow before going back to his book. Team 7 had had a particularly rough series of cases. They'd been working for months without a real break and finally Orrin Travis had ordered the whole team to take a well earned vacation, running from Christmas Eve to January 5th.

The whole group had gathered, as usual, at Chris's ranch house for the holiday itself.

They had had a mad day trying to keep the hoards of toddlers from eating the Christmas decorations or throwing up on every surface, horizontal or vertical. They had even manage to prevent them from killing each other as they fought for possession of the much sought after cardboard boxes the expensive gifts had packed in.

Nathan and Rain, Kezzie and Angel, the medically inclined of the family had been kept busy exercising their skills.

At one point Nathan had held tight to a squirming Sarah Wilmington while Kezzie attempted to remove the pretzel shoved up her nose by her twin, Alexandra. At the same moment, Angel had been bandaging Liam Dunne's head where Ellie Standish had clocked him a good one with the toy trumpet given to her by her 'Big' cousin Billy. Meanwhile, Rain had been trying to keep Adam Tanner awake, after he'd slipped and cracked his head on the wet bathroom floor. He and his sidekicks, Joey Jackson and Vince Larabee, had decided that perhaps Mary wouldn't like the decorative lines they had painted with stripy toothpaste all over her bathroom and gone a bit mad with the water trying to destroy the evidence.

Fortunately, ten year old Billy Travis and newborn Christo' Tanner, were remarkably trouble free. The other seven, all toddlers, were more than a match for their parents and Josiah, as doting Uncle, had sat back and watched the entertainment, free from the responsibility. He loved all those kids, and his brothers and sisters, he'd couldn't ask for more.

After a heavy night - if the hangover he had this moring was anything to go by since he couldn't recall much of the latter part of the evening - he resolved to spend the first day of the new year quietly at home, with a book.

Josiah sipped at his whiskey and reached to turn the page.

There was a pounding on the door.

No point in calling it a knock, it was definately pounding.

Putting his book aside he headed across the living room of his 'seen-better-days' cabin and cautiously opened the door.

A young woman stood on his doorstep, shivering uncontrollably. Liquid brown eyes looked up at him from under the sodden tendrils of black hair and she whispered, 'Sir, please, help me...'

Catching her as her legs buckled Josiah drew her into the warmth of the cabin, casting a quick look up and down the empty street to check for danger, or perhaps another victim of the hellish snowstorm.

Wrapping the woman in his blanket and setting her before the fire, he hurried to the kitchen, returning with a steaming cup of cocoa. Easing the shivering form prone against his chest as he sat on the rug he enouraged her to sip at the hot fluid.

After a while the woman stopped shivering and looked at him with grateful, almond shaped eyes. 'Thank you.'

'Sister, you are very welcome to whatever assistance I can offer you. Right now perhaps you had better change from those wet clothes and take a hot shower. I'll get the water running and see if I can find you something suitable to wear.' He shifted from behind her and disappeared into the single bedroom.

Sorting though the clothes he kept in his house for his colleagues, left over from the times when they needed watching, he dug out a pair of JD's jeans, a warm sweatshirt that he thought was probably Chris's since it was black, a t-shirt of Vin's and some of Ezra's thick socks.

Having started the shower and made sure it was running warm, he returned to the fireplace and helped the girl to stand, handing her the motley assortment of clothes. 'Shower and change, I'll make you some hot soup and you'll be feeling better soon.' He held up his hand as she began to speak, alarmed that she suddenly jerked backwards. He let go of her arm and said gently, 'I won't hurt you, but don't talk yet, it can wait until you've eaten. Go now, the water won't last too long.'

The woman looked at him, fear and hope in her eyes, and then turned to do as he said when he made a shooing motion with his hands.

Thirty minutes later saw the huge man and the small woman sitting in comfortable silence at the small kitchen table, empty soup bowls between them.

'Would you like some coffee?' Receiving her assent he ushered her towards the couch and made their drinks.

She looked up at him as he handed her a mug emblazoned 'I drink, therefore I am' which had been a gift from Nathan and Rain.

'Sir, I..'


'Excuse me?'

'My name. Josiah Sanchez.'

'Mr Sanchez...'


She smiled at his tenacity. 'Very well. Josiah. I am Li Pong.'

'Pleased to meet you Li, or is it Pong? I am never quite sure with Chinese names.'

'Li Pong Mai. As you are Josiah, I am Li Pong.'

'Ah.' Josiah sipped at his coffee and watched her in the flickering firelight.

'I am sorry for intruding on you. I have had some difficulties which I am trying to deal with and I am grateful for your kindness.'

'Perhaps I can be of further assistance?'

'No. Thank you. My problems are of my own making, I must deal with them myself.'

'Are you sure? I can be a good listener, Li Pong, perhaps it would be better to have it out in the open. A problem shared is a problem halved.'

The black hair fell across her face as she shook her head, eyes focussed on the dancing flames in the fireplace. There ensued a long companionable silence, disturbed only by the crackling and spitting of the burning logs. Eventually she lifted her head and looked at her host, searching his face. She sighed heavily.

'I will trust you.'

Josiah smiled at her encouragingly.

'Josiah Sanchez. You understand that sometimes, by wishing something is one way, one cannot see that which really is? If one looks only for good, one can be blinded to the evil that is all around?'

Josiah nodded thoughtfully.

'I come from an Asian community in San Francisco. As in any community, there are many evil men there but I was naive to them, protected by my family. One day a rich man came to our restaurant and offered employment, good jobs in the travel industry, to myself and my cousin, Mei Ling. We both wanted to believe and we foolishly left our home and worked for this man, against the wishes of our parents.'

She sat silent and Josiah patiently waited for her to continue.

'For a while we did secretarial tasks, translating Chinese into English and back again. We were happy to be together, away from our home, free. Gradually we realized all was not as it seemed. Mei Ling wanted to leave, she feared that which we did not fully understand. I... I was... curious. I needed to know what was going on. You have a saying, 'Curiosity killed the cat.' She cast her eyes down. 'It is wrong. Curiosity killed Mei Ling.'

Looking up, Li Pong searched Josiah's face but saw nothing but compassion. 'I am sorry,' he rumbled and she nodded.

'We did not really find anything. It was as smoke, shifting, elusive. We could not see clearly. Every time we reached out to grasp, the pattern would change. One day, at my urging, Mei Ling entered the office of our boss, to 'dust'. We had been forbidden to enter his room. He caught her looking through his desk. I was in another office and when I returned I was taken to see my cousin's beaten body. I could not escape. Even if I had, I knew there was nowhere to go. I had seen enough to know they had protection from the police. I was forced to live on the premises, to act as assistant to the man who had murdered my cousin. On the surface he is a powerful Chinese American businessman dealing in imports and exports to China. It is all a facade.'

'Ki.., this man, he is an importer, Josiah, that is true. But his shipments are human.'

'He is involved in illegal immigration?'

'Not exactly.' Li Pong regarded him sadly. 'People pay their life savings to come to America, for a new life. The new life they have is one of slavery and degredation. I have seen the factories, the workers, some just young children, who produce cheap goods for the American market. When the label says 'Made in China', sometimes it just means 'Made by Chinese'.

'The man began to beat me and I feared for my life. A week ago I managed to slip free and I ran. He is hunting me. I cannot return to my family, I know that they are watched. Tomorrow I will leave here and move on. I do not wish for you to do anything, I tell you my story only because of your kindness, and because you asked. You are indeed a good listener.' She smiled softly at him.

'Li Pong, I am grateful you feel able to talk to me, and I appreciate your trust. Will you trust me to help you?'

'Josiah Sanchez, I do not wish for you to endanger yourself...' She looked quizically at him as he gave a deep rumbling belly laugh.

'Little woman, endangering myself is something I do all the time. I work in a dangerous field, but I am good at what I do, please, trust me to help you.'

'Josiah, you have a powerful chi, but are but one man. I could not ask you to risk your life. I will manage.'

'I may be but one man, but I have six friends who can be very dangerous men. They also possess powerful chis. We work for the government, our work means taking down men just like the one you described to me. May I introduce them to you?'

Li Pong gaped at him. 'A group of seven, with chis to match your own? Perhaps, Josiah Sanchez, it was fate that led me to your door. I will meet them. We will talk again but I must decide if we fight or if I run. Do you agree?'

'Sister, you will make the right choice.' They shook hands and lapsed into silence.

2nd January
The Larabee Ranch

'Brother Chris, good to see you. Is everyone here?'

Chris looked curiously at the young asian, but didn't comment beyond showing them into the hall.

'Yes, the boys are all here. Rain, Bella and Casey are babysitting all the Kids at the Tanners while Mary, Angel and Kezzie hit the sales. Those three shopping together gives me chills.' He shivered dramatically and Josiah laughed.

All the assembled Agents looked up as Li Pong and Josiah were shown into the Great room. The dainty chinese girl closely examined each man.

Closest to her, on a couch, an African American smiled at her with soft brown eyes. She studied his face. He was a carer, but a fierce opponent when it came to protecting his friends, she decided.

At the far end of the sofa was another large man, handsome with a broad moustache and a twinkle in his eyes. He winked at her. This was a man driven by his heart, loyal and strong. A defender of the weak. She could see that he would be often drawn into conflict to protect the innocent.

Between the two sat a much younger man, dark bangs falling into his big brown eyes. Still with the restlessness of youth, he displayed intelligence and honesty, determination and drive.

Lounging on the floor was a wiry, scruffy cowboy with wise eyes. She ran her glance over the square jaw and saw a survivor, toughened by experience but with a guileless beauty of spirit and a quick mind. Behind the twinkling blue eyes she detected a wicked sense of humor.

The last man, the only one to have risen to his feet as they entered, was small and compact. His face seemed blank and she had to look closely to see his chi. Emerald green eyes watched her keenly. This man was smart and cunning, but selfless and sensitive to emotional pain.

She turned back to the man in black, their host. His chi seemed to match his clothing. This man was strong, a leader, quick witted and lethal. He was fiercely protective of his loved ones and cared deeply when he allowed his emotions to lead him. Not a man to be crossed she perceived him to be the most dangerous of them all.

Li pong turned to Josiah. 'You are correct, Josiah Sanchez, you have power in this group and great strength in your oneness.'

Chris raised his eyebrows at his profiler who shrugged.

'Boys, this is Li Pong. She has a problem we can help her with.' He went on to explain how Li Pong had arrived on his porch and the story she had told him the previous evening.

Chris sat silent during the telling and watched his team for their reactions.

'We can do something for the little lady can't we Pard?' Predictable Buck.

'Ain't exactly our territory Chris, but that never stopped us before.' Nathan, Championing of the underdog.

'You can clear this with Travis right Chris?' JD, always believing Chris could do anything.

'Perhaps some further research would be advisable.' Ezra, always needing all the facts before committing himself.

Vin just raised his eyebrow and smiled lopsidedly. Come on Cowboy, let's hear the plan.

Chris took control.

'Okay. Li Pong, we need the name of this man and any further information you can give us, the names of his associates, businesses, any small details, even if you think they are unimportant. Talk to Buck and Josiah, give them what you have. JD, get on the computer and see what you can dig up. Ezra, Vin go to the store and find some clothes and stuff for our guest. You've been married long enough to know what to get. I think she'd be the same size as Kezzie.' Ezra looked at the girl in the oversized clothes and nodded.

'Nathan, she's been through a hell of an ordeal. Perhaps you'd better check her over.'

Team 7 rose as one and went to work.

Josiah smiled down at his guest who gazed back stunned. 'They don't even know me.'

'Li Pong, my friends are good men. They would not want to see their own womenfolk suffer the way you have and they are good at what they do. Let them help.'

By the time the Mary arrived home with Billy, Vince and a car load of packages, a plan was in place to destroy Kim Chow Sung. They had Three days left of their vacation before they had to tell AD Travis anything.

Mary was insisting that Li Pong stayed at the ranch as their guest.

'Josiah, Li Pong needs somewhere to stay, she can't go home with you, you only have one room and we have plenty of space.'

'Mrs Larabee...'

'Mary, my dear.'

Li Pong smiled. 'Thank you. Mary, I really would prefer to stay with Josiah, I am a liability. Kim Chow could find me and your children could be put in danger. It is better.'

'She's right Mare.' Mary glared at her brother-in-Law at the diminutive. Ezra chuckled.

'Mr Tanner, why is two syllables so difficult?'

Vin ignored him. 'Neither of ya should go ta Josiah's - She may have bin follered.' There was a pause as they considered this. 'I still got the apartment in Purgatorio. Ya can use that as a safehouse. I kin git the kids ta keep a watch out, see if'n any strangers appear.' Vin's old apartment was used by a gang of teenagers as a base, keeping them off the streets. They were Vin's own 'gang' and he usually managed to steer them away from serious trouble.

Mary was non-plussed.

'That would be good brother, thank you.' Josiah placed his hand under her elbow. 'Li Pong?'

'As you wish Josiah. I am concerned though that your brothers may need your assistance. I am sure I will be fine in Mr Tanner's apartment, you do not need to watch over me all the time.' Josiah's role in the 'case' was to protect the witness.

'I think Josiah would rather ensure your well-being, my dear, and we will be better able to perform our assigned tasks without having to concern ourselves with your safety.'

Eventually they were able to persuade the young woman that they were able to function without their Profiler's presence and the couple left.

As they stepped out into the snow Josiah turned to Chris.

'You will keep me informed of your progress brother?'

'Don't worry Josiah. We'll let you know what's happening every step of the way. You just look after that little girl.' Josiah nodded and joined his guest in Vin's old jeep.

4 January
Vin's Apartment, Purgatorio

Li Pong sat at the window staring out into the snowy night. The big profiler approached and stood leaning against the windowframe.

'That was a fine meal Li Pong.'

'I grew up in a restaurant Josiah.' She grinned at him. 'You expected roasted Dog? Only the Koreans still eat that.'

Josiah laughed. 'So tell me about yourself, are you American born or an immigrant?'

'I am American born. My father was an American soldier, he left my mother pregnant after the War. She decided to come to America to find him and I was born shortly after she arrived.'

'You aren't Chinese are you?' Josiah knew the answer before he voiced the question.

'No. I am from Vietnam.' She looked up into the profiler's face. 'There were many mixed race children, and they were not kindly treated. My mother wanted more for her child. She arrived destitute and was taken in by a family of immigrant Chinese. They accepted us as their own and became our family. I have seen you with your 'brothers', you know better than most how an adopted family can be.'

Josiah smiled ruefully. 'I do indeed. Though I seriously doubt that there any any others out there like mine!'

Li Pong laughed. 'Let's hope not.'

Josiah moved to the kitchen and poured them each some coffee. Handing her the mug, he folded himself into the tatty old couch.

'So what happened to your mother?'

Li pong sighed. 'She never found him and she never married. She is only 40 years old but she still loves my father. She will not even consider moving on with her life.'

They lapsed into silence, both lost in memories.

'I was in Laos. I wasn't a soldier, I did missionary work, flying an aid helicopter. I saw quite a lot of action over the border though and I helped out with airlifting the wounded from both sides whenever I could.' He smiled at his companion. 'Those were dangerous and chaotic times. Many men found comfort and love with local girls, only to be torn from them by death or duty. Perhaps your father was one of those.'

'Perhaps. Did you... I mean...'

'Did I have someone special? Yes. We were separated in the confusion. It was a long time ago.'

'A lifetime.'

There was a soft knock at the door and a call of 'Chris coming in.' A rattle of keys followed and the door opened to admit the rest of Josiah's team.

'Greetings, Brothers.'


'Mr Sanchez.'


Everyone piled into the room and found themselves somewhere to sit, taking the beers handed out by Buck. Josiah and Li Pong waited for everyone to get settled and then looked at them expectantly.

'Well?' He boomed.

'That was quite a piece of work you got yourself mixed up with Miss.' Buck smiled at the young asian.

'Was, Mr Wilmington?'

'Ya can call me Buck darlin', and yeah, was. No two bit slave dealer was a match for 'The Magnificent Seven'. We are the best of the best ya know!'

'You're so full of crap Buck. Sorry Ma'am.' JD apologised for his language even as he dodged the cuff on the head from Wilmington. He was getting better at that, he'd had lots of practice. Unfortunately he didn't see the look that his mentor had exchanged with Ezra and was startled by the clip round the ear from the undercover agent.

'Thanks Ez.' Buck chuckled at the expression of satisfaction on Standish's face.

'Hey you can't do that by proxy!' JD was indignant.

'Sure I can kid. That's what brothers are for!' JD scowled Buck before turning to glare at Ezra who grinned back disarmingly.

'I will admit that being propelled kicking and screaming into this bizarre family has had it's benefits. I can comprehend you reasons for the constant physical repremands, Mr Wilmington, that was very therapeutic.' Ezra grinned at JD who gaped at him.

'Ez. You're not gonna keep doing that are you? Buck is bad enough.'

'I believe once was enough Mr Dunne.' JD's expression of relief was short lived. 'However, perhaps our compatriates would like to sample the experience.'

JD blanched and swallowed. 'God I hope not.'

'Chris, what happened?' Josiah ignored the 'kids' and focussed on Larabee.

'It's over Josiah, everything went exactly according to plan, for once, except... Standish what was that whole thing with the card game?'

'Mr Larabee, on discovering Mr Sung's penchance for games of chance, we indulged in a straightforward hand of poker..'

'Ez, We've played poker with you. And nothing you ever do is straightforward.'

'Mr Jackson I resent the implication...'

'Ya always do Ez. Jest tell us how much ya took 'im fer.'

'My winnings are none of your concern Mr Tanner.' Standish fiddled with the cuffs of his jacket causing the others to get even mose suspicious.

'Ezra don't make me shoot you.' Chris mock glared at Ezra. Damn Southerner could sniff out a poker game in a nunnery.

'Mr Larabee, my profit was not monetary, and, as I informed you, is none of your concern. However,' Ezra gave in to the inevitable and spilled his guts, 'they may be of some interest to Miss Li Pong.' He turned to the little dark-haired woman who looked at him questioningly.

'Did you perhaps leave something behind when you effected your emancipation from the nefarious Mr Sung?'

Li Pong looked confused. 'I don't think so. What do you mean?'

Ezra reached into his pocket and extracted his cell-phone. Flipping it open he dialed. 'Kezzie, my darling, could you please bring the package up to Mr Tanner's apartment? Thank you.' He flicked his phone closed and smiled smugly. Holding up his hands he motioned that they should wait. Ezra moved to stand by the door.

Presently the sound of movement came from beyond the confines of the apartment. The door opened to admit Ezra's wife.

'Hello, Babe', she kissed her husband. 'Boys.' They all nodded to her. 'You must be Li Pong. I'm Kezzie Standish. My husband gave me something to keep safe for you.' Smiling at the other woman she moved further into the apartment and looked expectantly towards the open door. 'You can come in now.'

Everyone turned to look.

There in the doorway stood another girl, approximately the same age as Li Pong, blue-black hair swinging in a shiny bob.

'Mei Ling? MEI LING?'

Li Pong rushed across and hugged her cousin who winced.

'How? I mean..' Li Pong, along with everyone else looked to the undercover agent who now sat with his wife on his knee.

Ezra smiled as he carded his fingers through Kezzie's own black locks. 'I won her in that card game. It seemed that she had been moved to one of the factories as a 'worker' once she had regained her strength from the beating she had endured. When you were shown her body, she was just unconcious.'

'You kept this to yourself?' Chris glared at Standish.

'That's my Ezra. More than just cards up his sleeves.' Kezzie giggled as her indignant husband tickled her ribs.

'Keziah, are you casting aspertions upon my stellar reputation?' Kezzie giggled more.

'Yeah Right Ez.' Tanner grinned at his friend.

'Little Brother, you are always full of surprises.' Josiah looked at the two happy young women. 'Don't ever change.'

Ezra acknowledged him with his trademark two fingered salute and went back to tormenting his wife.

'Sisters, would you like to call your family? They must be very concerned for your welfare.' He handed over his cell and indicated that they should move into the bedroom to complete their call privately.

By the time they returned only Josiah remained. Li Pong gave him a long searching look, as if seeing him for the first time.

The profiler shook off the uneasy feeling of being under a microscope.

'If you ladies are ready, Chris and Mary are expecting us at the ranch.' They gathered their belongings and headed out to the car.

For the first part of the trip Josiah focussed on the snowy roads. The two youngsters sat in the back prattling on at each other in Chinese. Josiah felt more than saw the continuous looks thown his way.

During a lull, Josiah asked, 'How are your parents? I expect they were relieved to hear you are safe.' He watched in the rearview mirror as the two exchanged glances.

'My mother and Mei's father will be flying to Denver in the morning to get us. They want to thank you all personally for your help.'

Josiah briefly turned his head to look at Li Pong. 'We don't need...'

'Please Josiah. We will collect them from the airport and bring them to the Ranch, if that is alright with Mr and Mrs Larabee. If you could arrange for everyone to be there, we would be grateful.'

'I expect that would be alright. I'll talk to Brother Chris when we get there.'

January 5th
Larabee Ranch

As the old suburban, with it's four passengers, pulled up in the yard a cry went up.

'Billy! Vince! Adam! Joey! Sarah! Alex! Liam! Ellie! Lunchtiiiiime!' Mary Travis Larabee stood on the step of the front porch with her hands on her hips and yelled for all the kids to come in to eat.

Eight laughing, bedraggled kids in wet snowsuits approached. They were followed by four equally grinning bigger kids.

'Round the back all of you. Take off those wet things in the mud room. Aunt Bella and Aunt Casey will help you. Hurry up all of you. Grandma Evie made Chicken and dumplings and Grandma Nettie made peach pie for dessert.' There was a sudden stampede for the back door.

Mary looked over the heads of the wet men at their guests.

'Li Pong, Mei Ling. You made good time,' Mary turned to the older people. 'Welcome, I'm Mary Larabee and these yeti's are my husband, Chris Larabee, and his brothers, Vin Tanner, Buck Wilmington and JD Dunne.' Each man nodded as she introduced them. 'Please come inside and meet the others.'

Turning on the men who made to follow through the front door she frowned at them. 'Not you heathens. Round the back. Go on all of you. Don't give me that look JD. Just do as I tell you.' Four sheepish trained killers obeyed. The visitors laughed as they moved inside.

'Mrs Larabee..'


Li Pong Laughed. 'Just call them all by their first names mama. Believe me, it will save time!' She turned to Mary and introduced her mother and Uncle.

Mary helped her guests off with their coats, hanging them with the wide assortment already in residence, and retrieved Josiah's car keys. 'Follow me please. Everyone is waiting to meet you.'

Making their way into the Great room Mary was surprised to find all the men and their wives present. Ezra read her expression.

'Grandma Evie and Grandma Nettie decided that we were superfluous to requirements...'

'You mean Vin and JD were trying to eat the kid's dinner again.' Angel Tanner, as usual sitting on her husband's lap on the rocking chair, grinned at the spluttering sharpshooter and poked him in the chest.

'Angel! Cut it out. I'm not one o' the kids ya know!'

The women exchanged knowing looks. 'That's what you claim!'

Mary cleared her thoat. 'Children!'

Honestly, sometimes being married to 'Dad', made her honorary 'Mom' to this motley group of kindergardeners. Billy and Vince were angels in comparison to the big kids.

'We have guests.' Mary moved aside to admit the four newcomers.

Josiah choked on his whiskey and Nathan dutifully pounded him on the back.

'Careful there Josiah. You should drink it not inhale it.'

Josiah coughed and wiped his tearing eyes. He didn't look at the medic pounding a tatoo on his back but watched as the older asian woman, Li Pong's mother, crossed the room towards him.

The other three smiled at his startlement.

'Hello, Joe Zai Ah.' She pronounced his name as three individual parts, as if he too had a Chinese moniker.

'Chin Lo?' Josiah rose to his feet and towered over the dainty woman as he took her in his arms and hugged her. She hugged him back equally hard.

'I thought you were gone, I prayed for your soul.' Josiah took a step back and held her hands.

'I come to 'Merica. I long time look for you. Now I find you by mistake.' She smiled at him.

'Never a mistake. I Loved you.'

'And I you, Joe Zai Ah.'

The reunited couple smiled at each other and there were sighs from the women.

'Then Li Pong, she's...?' Josiah looked across at the younger woman who regarded them with tears in her eyes.

'Our Child.'

Josiah held his hand out to his daughter who ran to him and was swept into his arms. Hugging her and then setting her back on her feet he looked from his daughter to her mother and back again.

'Did you know, when you arrived on my doorstep?'

'No. It was yesterday, when I called mama to tell her that we were Okay. I told her I had been rescued by a big blue eyed American with a powerful chi, and when I said your name she nearly deafened me with her shouting!' She looked at her parents, seeing them together for the first time. Her quiet mother, tiny and gentle, and the huge bear of a man she could now call father.

'I never thought this day would come. I was fated to find you and bring you together.'

'Uncle Joe, that's the second time someone has dropped out of your past,' Bella smiled at her godfather.

'It is becoming increasingly apparent that you are destined to experience an excess of serendipidous encounters, Mr Sanchez.'

Everyone gawped at Ezra.

Chris laughed, looking slightly confused. 'Ez, that was a mouthful even for you.'

'Er, Kez?' Kezzie looked over at Vin. 'What's that in English?'

'He has more than his fair share of chance meetings Vin.'

'Jez, why didn't he just say that?' JD shook his head at Ezra.

'I DID!'

'See, ya do know some little words.' Ezra poked his tongue out at Vin childishly and Vin replied with a hand gesture which meant the same thing, if crudely.

'Look Ez and Vin are doin' the silent communication thing!' Buck.

'Oh God. it's contagious!' Nathan.

'I can quarrantine them in the barn if you think it's necessary Nathan.' Chris grinned evilly at his Agents who turned on him, proving just how many hand gestures they had in their silent vocabulary.

'Yes Chris, but you'd be out there with them!'

Chris looked up at Mary. His submissive 'Yes dear.' and saucy wink set everyone laughing.

Meanwhile, Josiah had drawn Chin Lo down beside him on the couch.

'Is it... I would still like to... make an honest woman of you, Chin Lo, if you'll have me.'

''You ask me before to Marry you Joe Zai Ah. I not change my mind.'

Josiah looked down at Chin's hand and saw the small diamond he had placed there himself more than twenty years before.


'Papa?' Josiah looked up from the book to see his daughter standing in the doorway.

'They are both asleep. Mama sent me to get you. Here let me take Samuel.' Li Pong gently took her son from his grandfather's lap. 'She is waiting for you in the den.' She disappeared up the stairs, the sleeping child draped over her shoulder.

The big man sat silently for a while, enjoying cuddling the remaining child. Eventually Chin came to find him.

'Joe Zai Ah.'

He started and looked up guiltily. 'I know Chin, I know. I can't hold him all night. It's just that I missed so much with Li and he's growing up so fast...'

Chin stepped forward and eased Nathaniel from his father's arms.

'Go to the Den, Joe Zai Ah. I need to talk with you.' Smiling to soften her words she padded up the stairs to put the three year old to bed.

Josiah was not surprised to find the room alight with candles. His wife preferred to light her life with flickering flame than with harsh unnatural light. He was, however, surprised by the bed made up on the floor in front of the fireplace.

He turned to Chin as she came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

'Chin, what..?'

'I not getting younger Joe Zai Ah. I think if Nathaniel is to have a playmate we need to get to work.' Smiling at his lustful expression she dropped her eyes and began to slowly peel off her clothes.

It wasn't until much later that the profiler remembered that, considering his family, young Nathaniel was never short of playmates!


Comments: Squeakypeep@hotmail.com