Production No. BPP-624

written by:

edited by: DebbieLD and Toni Rae


Loft, April 23, 2001, 4:00

"NOOOOO! Leave me alone!"

After hearing the shout, Blair moved to the bottom of the stairs, hesitating before placing his foot on the first step. Jim was having another nightmare. For the fourth night in a row, hearing his friend crying out in the darkness had awakened Blair from a sound sleep. He suspected Jim hadn't been sleeping well for longer than he was aware, probably for at least a week. Thankfully, there was a lull at work and the entire bullpen was catching up on old paperwork.

Clearly, Jim was in no condition to be chasing down Cascade's worst criminals. He had big, dark circles under two very bloodshot eyes. To make matters worse, he was eating less than he was sleeping. Whatever was bothering him was obviously getting more intense.

Blair wasn't sure what the nightmares were about. So far the dreams had all ended the same way, with Jim yelling at someone to put him down, followed by a tremendous scream that would suddenly be cut off by a pain-filled whimper.

The last two nights when Blair had gone upstairs to wake him, Jim had not been willing to talk about the dreams.

"Let me go!"

"Enough is enough," Blair muttered as he climbed the stairs yet again, determination etched on his face. "This time, I'm not leaving until he tells me what is going on."

Standing on the top stair, he could see Jim writhing on the bed, his hands held in a defensive position in front of his face. The nightmare had just begun. Blair didn't try to touch him. When he had touched Jim the previous night, it had thrown him deeper into the nightmare, and nothing Blair had tried had broken the hold the dream had on his partner's mind. He had been forced to stand by helplessly and watch as the dream ran its course.

Tonight he had a different plan of attack. If he treated this situation as if Jim was in a zone, it was possible he could wake his friend by using only his voice. "Jim, you need to wake up for me. You're safe. It's only a dream," Blair whispered soothingly.

He talked softly for several long moments, but it was clear that Jim wasn't responding. Blair could only watch as his partner continued to struggle with some unknown adversary, continuously crying out for help. For the first time, Blair noticed the tone of the wails somehow sounded younger, closer to a child's voice than Jim's normal voice.

He tried something slightly different. "Jimmy, it's okay. I'll protect you. You're safe now. I won't let anything hurt you. Just reach out and take my hand." Blair gingerly sat down on the edge of the bed and waited to see how Jim would respond. He continued to verbally reassure his friend that he would be safe and protected.

Jim relaxed slowly with each word Blair expressed. Still caught up in the nightmare, Jim sat up and reached with both hands towards Blair. Blair shifted closer to Jim, pulling Jim's head towards his shoulder as one would comfort a small child. "You're safe now. I have you. Time to wake up, buddy," Blair whispered softly.

Blair knew the instant the nightmare released its hold on Jim. He felt his partner stiffen slightly and pull away from him. "Blair?" Jim mumbled, still not completely awake.

"It's me. You were having the worst nightmare I've ever heard, and between the two of us, we've had some doozies. Do you remember anything?" Blair asked as he shifted backwards on the bed.

Blair could almost see the walls form as Jim pulled further away, leaning back against the headboard.

"Jim, don't close up on me now. I'm not leaving until we talk about this," Blair pleaded. He couldn't sit back and watch his friend suffer through another restless night alone.

When Jim remained silent, he tried again. "You're exhausted. If you don't want to talk to me, fine, but you have to talk to someone or Simon is going to confine you to desk duty."

The phrase 'desk duty' grabbed Jim's attention and the walls came tumbling down. He rubbed one hand across his eyes, resigning himself to the fact that Blair wasn't going to let go of this. "I'd rather talk to you. You're the only one I can tell who is likely to understand the dreams."

Jim paused, trying to organize the confusing images that had populated his dreams for the last several nights. "It's all so confusing, Chief. Until tonight, the dreams were almost exactly the same. I was a little kid, maybe six or seven. I remember trying to get away from someone. This person was really angry with me, but I don't know why. No matter how fast I ran, I can't get away. I felt them grabbing me and turning me around."

The longer Jim talked, the faster the words poured out. His words were becoming barely understandable as he came closer to describing the end of the nightmare. "They picked me up, under the arms, held me in mid-air so I can't get any leverage. My legs are too short to kick them even though I still try. I yelled at them to let me go."

Blair shifted a little closer to Jim, being careful to remain out of his personal space, but staying close enough to provide some emotional support. "Slow down, Jim. Do you recognize the person? Can you see their face?"

Jim frantically shook his head. "No, I can't remember. For some reason, I don't want to look at them."

Blair was pretty sure Jim was blocking the memory of the person's identity, but didn't force the issue. Now was the time to get as much information about the nightmares as possible while Jim was in a talkative mood. "Don't worry about that now. Tell me the rest of it. What happened next?"

Jim's words were punctuated with slight gasps for air. "I'm flew through the air. Then, there's nothing but pain. So much pain and the darkness swallowed me up. I'm alone in the dark and hurting so much it's unbearable. I screamed, but nobody heard me. Nobody came to help me. Knowing I'm alone is worse than the physical pain. I feel... so... so abandoned."

Blair waited for Jim to continue. When Jim didn't say anything else, Blair asked the question upper most on his mind. "Before, you said the dreams were the same until tonight. What was different about tonight's dream?"

Jim rubbed his forehead with his right hand, trying to ease away the headache that was forming. "Tonight the darkness didn't come. Instead, I was someplace completely different, umm, outdoors. I was sitting on the ground and in front of me was a cougar. The cougar had blood all over its paws... my blood," Jim forced the last two words around the lump in his throat.

"I knew the cat was going to kill me, but I couldn't move. I was paralyzed. I couldn't even call out for help. Suddenly there was a wolf standing in front of me, growling at the cougar, forcing it to move away from me."

Blair smiled. "Did the wolf look familiar?"

Jim ruefully grinned back, an impish little half smile, which appeared only briefly before the somber images were recalled. "I've seen him a time or two before. Normally he hangs around with this cranky black jaguar."

"Not cranky, just anal," Blair corrected with a knowing smirk before asking, "So, the wolf fought the cougar?"

"Not exactly. The wolf forced the cougar back into the woods. Once the cougar was gone, the wolf lay down next to me and rested its head on my chest. I felt safe and protected, and that's when I woke up."


Jim stared at his partner for a moment, waiting for him to continue, but Blair was lost in his own thoughts. "Would you care to elaborate, Darwin? Remember that I'm the monosyllabic member of this partnership."

Sandburg grinned and pointed his finger at Jim. "I'm thinking. Give a guy a minute. My brain isn't usually awake at this hour."

"Sorry, but you're supposed to explain all this convoluted imagery away for me," Jim said with a sigh. Eyeing his friend, he added, "So, how about you start explaining what it means?"

Blair shrugged before answering. "I'll give it a shot, but I want you to do something for me first." Bouncing slightly, he sat down Indian style on the bed in front of Jim, close enough to touch his arm.

"What?" Jim asked warily.

Blair rested his hands on his knees and leaned toward Jim. "I want you to try to remember the person attacking you in your dream."

"I told you I didn't see their face."

"I think you did, Jim," Blair countered. "I think you don't want to remember."

"Nothing different about that," Jim replied, rubbing his eyes with one hand. "Why are you pushing for me to remember?"

"I believe you're repressing your attacker because the person was someone you knew. I think that's the reason you used the word 'abandoned' to describe how you felt. Now, lean back and take a deep breath. You know the drill."

Jim stared wearily at his guide, hoping for a reprieve. Blair didn't back down. He refused to look away until Jim obeyed his instruction.

"Relax, Jim. I want you to concentrate on the dream. Close your eyes and picture this image in your mind. You're running, trying to get away from someone, but you can't."

Jim closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. He allowed the tension to slowly flow from his muscles as he listened to the soothing voice. The dream images flashed before his eyes again.

"Tell me what's happening, Jim."

"Close, they're close behind," Jim whispered as he started to rock slightly. Again, Blair recognized the much younger voice.

"I know, Jim. These are only memories and they can't hurt you." Blair was tense with anticipation. He knew they were very close to identifying the cause of his best friend's nightmares. He pushed on, prompting Jim's subconscious. "The person is right behind you. Hands reach out. They grab you and spin you around. You're looking at the person's face. You know who they are; tell me whose face you are seeing."

"Mama's face, but not mama." Jim was breathing hard, like he had been exercising.

Blair shook his head, puzzled by Jim's words. "What do you mean, 'not Mama'?"

"Mama's behind her, yelling at her to stop," Jim mumbled. "She doesn't stop though. She hurts me. It hurts." Jim's hands shot over his face and he hunched down into a ball, trying to protect himself.

Blair reached for Jim's hands, pulling them down so he could see his friend's face. "You're safe, Jim. They're just memories. They can't hurt you."

Jim wasn't paying attention. He was lost in the images Blair had painted for him. Out of fear, his head was ducked away from prying eyes. "No! No! NO!"

"Okay, buddy, that's enough. Wake up for me. Right now," Blair ordered as he shook Jim's arm. Jim quieted down but still didn't look up. Blair waited another moment before peering down, trying to see Jim's face as he asked, "Are you with me?"

Jim cautiously raised his head and studied the room. He was still curled up, muscles tense with fear. Blair could tell his partner hadn't completely freed himself from the memory yet. "Jim?"

Jim pulled away from him. The frightened child retreated as the cop personality surged forward and took charge. Jim got out of bed and started pacing around the room. "I remember now. Some of it, anyway. My Aunt Faith was the one who hurt me. My mom tried to stop her, but she was too far away. I had just turned seven. It was a few days after my birthday when it happened."

Distracted by his attempts to recall everything, Jim wasn't aware that his pacing was taking him closer and closer to the stairs. Blair climbed to his feet and stood in front of the agitated older man before he could make another circuit of the room. "Sit down before you hurt yourself," he ordered.

Over the years, Blair had learned to read Jim's emotions by the set of his jaw and by studying the icy blue eyes. Tonight his emotions were easy to read: loss, pain and confusion.

"I can't remember everything, just little bits and pieces. What could I have done to my aunt to make her want to hurt me, to hate me?" Jim asked, his eyes filled with sorrow, replacing the previous anger. "I can't remember why she was so upset with me."

"Nothing. No child deserves to be treated like that, no matter what they've done." Blair shook his head as he searched for the words to apologize. If he had had any idea of the cause of the nightmares, he never would have pushed so hard. "I'm so sorry, Jim. I didn't think..."

Jim waved off the apology. "You didn't think it would turn out to be a member of my own family who wanted to kill me."

"Nah, not that part. Everyone who knows you has wanted to kill you on occasion," Blair added in an attempt to dispel the sadness.

Despite his somber mood, Jim chuckled slightly. "Thanks, Chief. You always know the perfect thing to say to make me feel better."

"Anytime, Jim," Blair replied, thankful Jim could laugh a little after yet another painful repressed memory was forced to the surface. At the same time, he wondered how many more skeletons were locked away within his friend's past.

Jim shook his head before saying, in a more serious tone, "What I don't understand is why I'm remembering this incident now."

Blair thought for a moment before answering. "We probably unlocked the door to this memory when we found that picture of your Mom and her sister in Hanford. It's taken a little time for the memory to work its way into your subconscious. Now that you are actively trying to remember, the whole thing should come back to you eventually."

"I don't want to wait. I need to talk to my dad. I'm sure he'll know what happened." Jim reached for the cell phone sitting on the dresser.

Blair grabbed it first and held it behind his back. He took a few steps back from his friend before saying, "Whoa, Jim, it's four in the morning. This has waited for over thirty years. I think it can wait a few more hours. Allow your dad to wake up at a decent hour before interrogating him."

"Good point." Jim looked down at the bed for a minute before realizing he was not in the mood to go back to sleep. Looking over at his guide, who appeared equally wide awake, he asked, "How do you feel about an early breakfast?"

"Are you volunteering to cook?" Blair asked, raising one eyebrow.

"No, but the diner down the block is open twenty four-hours. I don't think I can get back to sleep."

Jim didn't want to admit that he didn't want to even try to go back to sleep. The nightmare was too fresh in his memory. His stomach rumbled loudly in agreement with the idea of food. "Besides, my appetite has returned with a vengeance, so food is a good option. If you're not hungry, you can stay here if you want."

Blair couldn't resist the wistful look on his partner's face. Jim didn't say it in words, but Blair knew he didn't want to be alone. "Nah, give me fifteen minutes. I could eat."

Prospect Diner, April 23, 2001, 5:00

It had actually been closer to thirty minutes before Blair had showered and been ready to go. Not that it mattered; the diner was almost empty so they were served right away.

Blair watched as Jim poured a generous amount of syrup over his pancakes. "Would you like some pancakes to go with your syrup?" he asked sarcastically.

"No thanks, and don't lecture me." Jim held the container of syrup in front of Blair's face. "This is the real thing. Not too many restaurants these days will serve real maple syrup. Trust me, these taste buds don't lie."

"Well, take it easy. Food and your stomach haven't gotten along much lately," Blair said, gesturing toward Jim's stomach.

Jim's expression was pure bliss as he swallowed a forkful of syrup-covered pancakes. "Heavenly," he muttered, closing his eyes to savor the flavor.

"Hedonist," Blair retorted, then chuckled aloud as he speared another piece of peach from the fruit cup he had ordered as a side dish to his omelet. He was actually happy Jim was eating again.

Eyeing his friend over another forkful of pancakes, Jim asked, "So, you think my nightmares are the result of the picture we found?"

Blair thought for a moment before answering cautiously. "In part, that whole series of events in Hanford brought back a lot of memories for you. It's probably a combination of both the photo and all the memories that have returned. We've been so busy the last few weeks that you really haven't had much time to process everything."

Jim nodded. "I hope my Dad can fill in a few of the details for me. Something tells me that it's very important we find out what's going on. Soon."

"Why soon?" Blair asked, knowing Jim's sixth sense was heightened also, even if his partner was too stubborn to admit it.

"It's just a feeling. A major storm is brewing and I'm not referring to the weather. I'm feeling something similar to what I felt just before you met Alex Barnes. It's not as strong though."

"I don't like the sound of that. We really do need to talk to your Dad," Blair replied.

Jim took a sip of coffee, stalling his next question. He was pretty sure he was about to hurt his friend's feelings, but it had to be done. "Blair, would it bother you too much if I talked to my dad alone?"

Blair lowered his head and stared at the table. He used his fork to shuffle the food around his plate before answering. "I have to admit, I'm a little hurt to hear that you don't want me there."

"Not because of me, buddy. I'd be more comfortable if you were there. You are the only one I trust with knowing everything about who I am," Jim quickly replied, seeing the hurt his words had caused in his friend's eyes. "I'm more concerned about my father's reaction to you being there. My dad refused to talk about my mom for all these years. Steven and I were forbidden to mention her in his presence. He's never mentioned Faith. I need him to talk about this and..."

"...And if I'm in the room, he probably won't discuss it," Blair concluded, looking up again. He didn't like it, but it made sense, knowing what little he did about Jim's father.

"Yeah. I promise to tell you everything when I get home. No more secrets, we've learned that lesson too many times."

"Word for word? You'll hold nothing back?" Blair asked, using his fork to emphasize each word.

Jim held up his hands in surrender. "If you want, I'll record it. That way you can hear for yourself, if that would make you feel better about it. Don't say yes unless you are really comfortable with the situation."

Blair sat back in the booth and weighed his pride and need for information versus Jim's need to know and William Ellison's need for privacy in this situation. Leaning forward, he speared another piece of omelet before he answered, "Your memory's fine. Just be prepared to discuss this as soon as you get home. No stalling," he admonished.

Jim crossed his heart with one finger, before making the Boy Scout salute with one hand. "Scout's honor, Chief. No stalling."

Jim had called his father from the diner as soon as they had finished eating. He knew his father was an early riser and would be awake. His father was surprised, but quickly agreed to the early morning meeting.

As he stood outside on the front walk, staring at his childhood home, Jim hesitated. Did he really want to pursue the truth? There were so many skeletons locked away in his mind, so much history about his family that had been hidden away from him. His memories of his teenage years were so clear. All of the anger at his father for the way he treated his sons.

The division between himself and his brother remained memorable, yet he could not remember much of anything from his early childhood. Even the few memories he had about his mother were very vague. If his subconscious had gone to all this trouble to repress his memories, did he really want to open them up again?

"Jimmy? Would you like to come inside?"

Jim was startled by his father's appearance at the door. "Hi, Dad. Sorry to get here so early, but it's important. Can we talk for a while or do you have plans for this morning?"

William waved for Jim to enter, stepping back to open the door fully. "Come inside, Jimmy. Sally is off today, but I'm capable of making breakfast for you if you'd like."

"Thanks for the offer, Dad. I've already eaten. If you've got a fresh pot of coffee though, I wouldn't turn down a cup," Jim answered as he entered the foyer.

William led the way into the kitchen, Jim right on his heels. The first thing Jim noticed was a half-eaten breakfast sitting on the table. He looked over at his father, who was pouring a fresh cup of coffee.

"Sorry, Dad. I didn't mean to interrupt your breakfast," Jim apologized as he took a sip from the cup and sat down next to where his father had obviously been seated.

"I thought I would finish before you got here. You made good time. I'm glad you stopped by, Jimmy." William picked up his fork as he studied his son's nervous expression. "Am I glad you stopped by? Is something wrong?"

"Why don't you finish breakfast before we talk. I'm pretty sure this isn't something we want to discuss while eating," Jim suggested.

William tensed at the ominous tone he heard in his son's voice. "I'm not sure I like the sound of this. I have the day free, so we have plenty of time to talk. Stevie is coming by later this afternoon. We were planning on having lunch. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you joined us."

"I'd like that. Steve and I haven't spent much time together lately."

William quickly finished his breakfast and the two men made small talk over coffee before moving into the study.

Jim sat down in a chair as his father moved around the desk to sit in his leather chair behind it. "So what's on your mind, Jimmy. Not that I'm unhappy you're here, but you clearly have something heavy on your shoulders if you came all the way out here this early in the morning."

"I've been remembering some things. At least I think I have, since the memories are coming back mostly in dreams. I'm not sure they really happened. I wanted to ask you about them..." Jim paused, before adding quietly, "...and about Aunt Faith."

William winced when his son uttered the name. "You remember your Aunt Faith?"

Jim nodded, but his gaze didn't lift from the floor as he answered, "Blair and I found a picture of her and Mom during a case a few months ago. Why didn't you ever mentioned her before?"

"Your Aunt Faith did something I couldn't forgive her for, several things actually. She caused this family a lot of pain, Jimmy."

Jim heard his father's fingers tapping nervously on the desk blotter. Obviously, Faith's past actions continued to be stressful for his father to talk about, even though many years had past. "I need to know what happened back then, Dad. I keep seeing these flashes of memories, but nothing makes sense. I know Aunt Faith attacked me, but I can't remember much," Jim said as he paced back and forth in front of the fireplace.

"Jimmy, your Aunt Faith had... well... problems. For whatever reason, in her twisted mind she saw you as a threat to her. There were several occasions when I thought she was a serious threat to you."

"I remember the reason I wound up in the hospital when I was seven. It was because of Faith hurting me."

"Yes, it was," William said sadly. "To this day I don't know what really happened. I only know what Grace told me."

Jim crossed the room to sit in the chair across from his father. "How could you not know?"

"It happened during the day while I was at work. You mother called me from the hospital. When I got there, she lied to me about how you got hurt."

Jim sat back in the chair, shocked by his father's words. His hands clenched tightly. It was hard to believe his mother would allow him to be hurt and, worse, protect the person who had hurt him.

"I didn't find out what really happened until years later. Truthfully, I hoped you would never remember that incident." William sighed. "I should have been more suspicious, but at the time I was more concerned about you. You were hurt so badly. We thought we were going to lose you. I never trusted Faith. I'd seen her behave questionably before, but Grace always convinced me there was a good reason behind her actions."

"What else happened between me and Aunt Faith? I really need to know, Dad. I can't sleep anymore without having these nightmares. I can't live like this." Jim's voice died down to a whisper with his last words.

William noted the dark circles under his son's eyes, contrasting with the pale face. It also appeared to him that Jim was losing weight. He couldn't hide the truth any longer. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure why it had been hidden in the first place. He was sure he had a good reason at the time. Looking at his son's haggard face, he knew that the silence had to end.

"Do you remember last year when I told you about a painting that was hanging in the foyer?"

"The one of the cougar?" Jim asked.

William nodded. "Yes, that's the one. Faith adored that painting. I think that was the first time I noticed she had a problem with you."

"It was her painting?"

"Yes, your mother bought it for her, but suddenly changed her mind and wanted it hung in the foyer when you were a toddler. You kept arguing with Faith that the cat was supposed to be black. You were a determined little cuss."

"Another genetic Ellison trait," Jim said with a chuckle. "Just ask Sandburg."

"I have to admit, you do come by your stubbornness naturally," William said. "Faith was so upset with you over that silly painting. Frankly, I never understood what the fuss was about."

"I don't remember arguing with her." Out of the corner of his eyes, Jim thought he saw his spirit guide lurking in the doorway to the foyer. The cougar had to have been Faith's spirit guide, but he didn't want to start explaining the concept of spirit guides to his father.

"Anyway, you were around five when this happened. I was sitting in the kitchen with your mother having a cup of coffee when I heard Faith start yelling at you. I walked out to the entranceway to see what the problem was. You were standing on a chair in front of the painting with your black fingerpaint container and a brush so you could reach the cougar in the painting."

As his father explained, his own memory of the incident tickled his brain. He just needed to hear a little bit more. "What happened next?"

"Faith took the paint brush away from you. At first, I was amused. Even at age five, you were strong-willed, Jimmy. I watched you stand up to your aunt, determined to convince her that the cat was the wrong color. The reason why you don't remember this is probably because Faith pushed you off the chair and you landed hard."

"She said I needed to be punished," Jim murmured, too softly for his father to hear. "My arm was hurt really bad."

"The black paint went flying everywhere, but mostly on Faith's dress and hair. I swear, if I hadn't been there, she would have gone after you again. You were on the floor screaming, holding your arm. Nothing was broken, but your arm was badly bruised."

Jim started to pace around the study. "I think I'm starting to remember, but it's all in bits and pieces."

"When Faith wanted you to be whipped as punishment, I told her she was overreacting. Your mother was on Faith's side. Seems her parents had often punished them by that method. When I refused to punish you, as Faith wanted, she pulled you to your feet and began dragging you upstairs. I stopped her from touching you. After I sent you to your room, I told her she was no longer welcome in our home."

Jim stared in surprise at father's explanation. He didn't remember his father ever standing up for him.

"Your mother and I separated shortly after that incident," William added sadly.

"I remember you getting divorced when I was eight," Jim said, puzzled.

"Yes, but we separated when you were five. Your mother wanted to go back to school. She was bored with... with the country club circuit, with the high society social scene. I was working long hours and wasn't here for her."

"And her sons were either too much trouble or weren't interesting enough for her to stay at home," Jim added bitterly.

"No, Jimmy," William amended quickly. "It wasn't about you and Stevie. She loved you both dearly. As angry as I was with your mother and the decisions she made, I've never doubted that she loved the two of you. She just needed... something... more. This house and family weren't satisfying enough for her. She wanted things that I couldn't give her. My edict concerning Faith was the last straw as far as your mother was concerned."

"What did she want that we didn't have?" Jim demanded angrily. This was a side of his mother he wasn't sure he wanted to hear about.

"Adults to talk to who were interested in the same things she was. For as long as I knew your mother, she had wanted a career. There was a wide gulf between her and her parents about that issue. They couldn't accept that she had a mind of her own and wanted more than being a mother and a wife."

"A lot of women have both."

"Today they do, Jimmy. Remember, we are talking about the mid-sixties. The early stages of the Women's Movement were just organizing at this time. Your mother joined these organizations when they were first founded. At the time, I admired her for having a brilliant mind of her own. I respected that about her, still do."

"I can't believe she would have left us because she wanted a job. Why did she even bother to get married, or to have children?"

"She thought she could have both. There were other problems occurring at the time. It wasn't just about having a job. She loved you and your brother, Jimmy. She left because she thought it was best for the two of you."

Jim didn't quite believe his father's words. How could her leaving be best for them? "I never realized that you and mom were separated that long. I always thought that you got divorced because of me, because of my getting hurt."

"No, your accident actually prolonged the marriage. Your mother didn't want to add any more stress during your recovery. When Grace asked for the separation when you were five, I made her promise that she would remain close to her children. We tried to keep our lives as normal as possible for you and your brother. It was probably because of that you didn't notice the separation. Also, Stevie was too young to remember much about this time."

"I don't remember much about those years. I remember Mom being here, but I also remember Sally being around more often.

"I know. Sally was only here part time before we were separated. When your mother said she wanted to go back to school, we hired Sally full time."

"I wish I could remember," Jim said as one hand rubbed his forehead. He could feel the headache forming behind his eyes.

"I allowed Grace to come and go freely within this house, as long as Faith wasn't with her. I didn't want to take your mother away from either you or Stevie. She was equally determined to remain a part of your lives. I figured this was just a phase she was going through. I thought she'd come to her senses and we would reconcile."

"But you didn't."

"No," William said sadly.

"Why not, Dad? Did you two even try?"

"You mother did something that made it impossible. It was completely her decision and she made it without consulting me."

"What? What could she have done that was so terrible?" Jim asked.

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