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John moved forward, ready to intervene as he saw Andrew's entire body tense and a dark look flash across his face.  But then the young man relaxed, realizing just who had wrapped him in a bear hug.

"Aunt Marlena?" Andrew said.  It came out as both a question and an expression of such obvious relief that John immediately relaxed and began to laugh.

"We thought you could use some reinforcements, kid," he said.

Andrew responded with an broad grin so different from the expression of just seconds earlier, and let go of Marlena.  "Uncle John, it's great to see you."  He looked back at Marlena.  "To see you both.  I'm just bloody surprised.  I thought you were in Switzerland."

"Could we come in?" Marlena asked.

Andrew flushed.  "Of course.  Sorry, I just forgot my manners in all the excitement."  Then he paused.  "You know what?  Give me a second to check on Mum?  She's not expecting visitors and kind of wanted to avoid them."

"That's not stopping us," John said.

"Of course not.  I wouldn't dream of it.  Not when I know you could easily kick my arse from here to Northampton."  He held up his hands.  "Just one minute while I prepare her."

John watched Andrew go.  It was instinct by now for him to size up any man he came across, and he seriously doubted any man could easily kick Andrew's "arse."  Andrew and John were about the same height and John could see that the young man was well-muscled.  Not muscle-bound by any means, but strong and agile.  He was hardly a man that John would want to engage in a fight.

"He's quite a young man," Marlena said.  "I'm suddenly glad Belle never spent much time at Donovan Manor."  She was obviously remembering some of their daughter's youthful interest in a much younger Andrew during his rare visits to Salem.  Of course, that was before John had learned that he was a Brady, which made Andrew and Belle distant cousins of some sort.

Andrew came back through the foyer, running his hand through his wavy hair.  "Shane always did that," Marlena said in a very low voice. 

"I'm sorry about that," Andrew said.  "Please come in.  I wanted to get Mum off the phone with her publicist and let her sit down."  Softly, so he could not be heard, he added, "I want to warn you.  She's a bit unsteady from the chemo and. . . ."

"And what?" Marlena asked.

Andrew pursed his lips a little -- another mannerism that John immediately associated with Shane.  "Try not to act too shocked by the wig." 

John and Marlena exchanged glances as Andrew led them through the foyer and into the living room.  Andrew's warning, unfortunately, had been insufficient, as the caught sight of Kim sitting on the sofa.  John heard his wife let out a bit of a gasp that turned into a cough to cover, while he had to stop himself from saying 'oh my god.'  But they both managed to recover pretty quickl, as they crossed the room. 

"Kim!"  Marlena reached the sofa first and gave her friend a big hug.  Kim seemed genuinely glad and they clutched each other tightly.  As they pulled apart, Kim looked up at John.

"Hey, big brother," she said, softly, her eyes filling with tears.  He could see the circles under her eyes and her skin was taut over the bones of her cheeks.  For the first time, it hit John that his little sister was really sick.

John pulled her tight.  "Oh, Sis, you don't know how good it is to see you."  He rocked her back and forth.  "God, I missed you."

"You're not looking so bad yourself," she said, before she let him go.  Then she looked at them both.  "I guess Bo and Roman can't keep a secret from anyone."

"Not when it's this important," Marlena said, reaching out and squeezing Kim's hand.  "So how are you feeling?"

"You know me," Kim said with a half grin and a bit of a wink.  "I'm hanging in there."  She did not say it, but John expected to hear her say that she was a survivor.  That summed Kimberly up to a tee.  She had lived through so much that, despite her frail appearance, he almost had to believe cancer was just a minor obstacle that she would soon overcome.  He felt a surge of pride that he doubted would have been any stronger if she had actually been his biological sister.  He was watching her so intently, that he barely heard her ask, "So how long will you be in LA?"

"I'm not going any time soon," Marlena answered, her response in a tone that made clear she would brook no objection.  "John has some . . . business so he's just going to be here for a few days?" 

Kim obviously was able to read Marlena as easily as she could read him, because she gave John an inquisitive gaze.  "Business?  Somehow I doubt business got you out of that clinic in Switzerland."

Before John could even respond, Andrew spoke.  "Uncle John's looking for Father."

"Yeah, what he said," John said, shuffling slightly and not sure how Kim would react.

"Shane?" Kim looked at John expectantly.  "What have you found out?  And you. . . " she turned to Andrew.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I don't know anything, Sis."  John tried to downplay his investigation.  The last thing Kim needed was a disappointment.  Out the corner of his eye, John caught Marlena watching Kim intently.  "I've just put out a few feelers, nothing much, and I'm following up on a few things.  Andy knew because I called him for some information about Shane."

"But you're going to look?  I know you, John, and if anybody could find Shane, it's you."  She gave him a soft smile.  "Thank you.  I may not be married to Shane any more, but our children need their father."  John suspected there was more to what she was saying, but he just nodded as Kim looked around a little more.  "Hey, where's your luggage?"

"Oh, we've got a room booked at the Malibu Inn," Marlena said.

"Rubbish," Andrew said.  "The only good thing about this monstrosity of a house besides the location is that it can house an entire cricket team.  There's a bunch of rooms here and, before you say it, you won't be imposing."  He glanced around the room.  "And it would be good for Mum to have you stay."

"Absolutely," Kim said.  "I wouldn't hear of it."

Marlena took a long look at Kim.  "Only if you let me take some shifts on duty.  Andy looks like he could use a break."  John chuckled as Kim rolled her eyes.  They both knew that when Marlena spoke like that, the discussion was over.

"Actually, what I could use is some food," Andrew said with a grin.  "And you need some too, Mum.  Hey, John, why don't we go on a little food run?  I don't really have enough in the house for all of us, and I bet Mum might like some pasta and salad from the neighborhood Italian on PCH."

Kim groaned.  "It doesn't matter what you get.  I won't be able to keep it down."

John caught a look from Marlena that told him she wanted some time to talk alone with Kim.  He took his cue like a pro.  "I think Italian sounds great, kid."  He leaned over Kim and gave her a quick peck on the forehead.  "It's good to see you, Sis.  Now you let Dr. Black work her magic on you for a bit."


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
from the ashes
love, love, love this chapter!! Love how Andrew is acting, but so much more will always think of Kimberly as John's sister, he was so much a part of their lives when he was "Roman". Good Chapter, enjoyed it.
Nov. 6th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: from the ashes
I loved the Rojohn/Kim relationship. I stated watching Days just before Roman "died" on Stefano's island and stopped watching regularly before Wayne Northrup returned, so when I picture "Roman," I tend to see Drake. I also loved how the Bradys, after their initial surprise, told John that he was still a member of the family.

One of the things I absolutely love about the "golden age" of Days is how they created realistic and supportive family relationships and friendships, and I hope to stay true to that in the fic.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )