[A/N: This takes place a couple of years after the end of NASIS. This might not make sense until you read that first.]

Sebastian was getting sick of Jakob. More specifically, he was getting sick of Jakob's shit.

"I love you," Sebastian had said for what felt like the one billionth time.

"Mmm," Jakob replied without glancing up. It was his standard response.

"Can't you say anything else?" Sebastian demanded.

"What would you like me to say?" Jakob asked with polite indifference.

Sebastian had glared at him for a few seconds, then had stomped off to bang on something with a wrench.

That had been three days ago. Sebastian's temper had not improved.

"What is this?" he asked, sitting down to lunch.

"Mandarin salad," Jakob replied. He was across the table, a book open in front of him.

Sebastian speared a mouthful and examined it. There were orange segments and dried red berries that might have been cranberries, mixed in with a spikey sort of lettuce. Sebastian was constantly surprised by the endless variety of lettuce Jakob provided. As far as Sebastian was concerned, it was all just leaves. He shoved the salad into his mouth and chewed sullenly. Leaves, he thought, that's all he ever feeds me. Would it him to come up with something new once in a while? Sebastian swallowed, ignoring the way his taste buds responded to the slightly sweet vinegar of the dressing, of the spiciness of the lettuce or the burst of favor from the orange pieces that popped in his mouth.

'Damn leaves,' Sebastian thought.

Jakob was eating without looking at his plate. As Sebastian glared at him, he removed a yellow highlighter from behind his ear and marked a section of text.

"Studying for the pilot's exam?" Sebastian asked. Jakob glanced up.

"No," he said. He might have added more but Sebastian exploded before he got the chance.

"Why not? You already failed twice! What happens if I get sick or hurt and you can't fly the ship?"

"I'd send out a distress signal."

"A distress signal?" Sebastian threw up his hands. "Sure, that would work. If someone hears it, and if they aren't murderous pirates!"

"Space-pirates," Jakob said with that quirk in his lips that meant he thought something was funny. His eyes met Sebastian's, inviting him to join in on the joke. It only annoyed Sebastian more.

"This is serious, Jake! I don't want to die out here just because you're too lazy to study."

"I have been studying."

"Not enough!" Sebastian yelled. "Living in space isn't like a planet. It's dangerous out here. We're entirely dependent on the ship. If something goes wrong, I need to know you'll be able to handle it."

"I know," Jakob said, the faintest hint of annoyance trickling into his voice. "You don't have to lecture me."

"Obviously I do! You said you would learn how to fly the ship two years ago!"

"No, I offered two years ago," Jakob replied. "You didn't start teaching me until six months ago. Besides, you flew around the universe by yourself for years. Why the all concern about having a second pilot now?"

Because now it wouldn't just be him that died, Sebastian thought. But he couldn't say it aloud. He was too angry.

"Forgive me for being responsible," he said, shoving his plate aside. "I'll be in the cargo bay."

"You didn't finish," Jakob said.

"I'm not hungry!"

An unproductive afternoon in the cargo bay did not improve Sebastian's mood. He was working on a pet project, a new type of transporter that would work for living matter. It was based on an entirely different set of equations than transport in use now. This meant designing from scratch all new machinery. Sebastian had been working on it off and on for about eighteen months. Recently, it had seemed like he was close to getting a grasp on the project. Then today, he discovered an error in his calculations that blew everything all to hell. All he had done over the last three months would have to be scrapped.

Sebastian swore and gave the now useless machine a sharp kick. Great. Now he was pissed and his foot hurt. Limping more than was strictly necessary, Sebastian walked to the kitchen. At least Jakob would have dinner made.

The kitchen was dark. When Sebastian turned on the light, he saw some supplement bars on the counter. Dinner, the note next to them read in Jakob's neat handwriting. Sebastian stared at it, then grabbed one of the bars. It wasn't even warm. Jakob was feeding him cold sup-bars.

Sebastian stalked into what Jakob called the den. Most everyone else would have called it a living room. A large couch had been pushed against the wall, so they could sit and watch movies. The light was warmer here, more yellow, and both Jakob and Sebastian tended to leave half-finished projects, books, various odds and ends, scattered around the room. The walls were even programmed to mimic Earth-style wall coverings. It was the homiest room on the ship and usually Sebastian felt more relaxed just be entering it. Today, however, he just thought it looked messy.

Jakob was lying on the couch, one arm thrown over his eyes. His breathing was deep and even, but he wasn't asleep. After two years together, Sebastian knew when Jakob was asleep and when he was awake.

"What are you doing?" Sebastian asked. "Why didn't you make dinner?"

"Resting," Jakob replied without moving his arm. "I have a headache. There's leftovers from lunch if you want that instead."

"If you have a headache, why didn't you take something for it?"

"I just did," Jakob said.

"Well, why didn't you take it earlier."

"I didn't have a headache earlier."

"Then what have you been doing all afternoon that kept you from making dinner? You have one job on this ship, Jake. One. You could at least pretend to put some effort into it."

Jakob lowered his arm and stared up at his lover. "You--" He stopped for a moment, then spoke again, his voice cool. "I was in the flight sim," he said.

"What? Oh." Sebastian ran a hand through his hair, feeling faintly guilty. "How did you do?"

"I failed," Jakob said.

"Again?"

"Again. I crashed into a sun and caused a supernova. Destroyed the planet Hoth."

Sebastian frowned. Jakob had insisted on naming the planets in the simulation. At the time Sebastian had just rolled his eyes. Now it was another example of Jakob not taking things seriously.

"What did you do this time?" he asked.

"I don't know. Go read the log if you want."

"I don't understand how you keep making mistakes," Sebastian said. "You're not an idiot. A child could pass that sim. I passed the pilot's exam when I was eight."

"I'm not good with machines," Jakob muttered.

"I'm not asking you to build me a spaceship," Sebastian said, losing his temper once again. "Just to fly one. It's practically all automated. All you have to do is stabilize the buffers, calculate the relative factors, adjust the engine output, input coordinates, align star charts--"

"Stop," Jakob interrupted. "Please."

Sebastian glared at him. "You just don't want to learn. Too bad. I can be just as stubborn as you. You will pass the damn pilot exam if I have to kill you in the process."

"Sweet of you," Jakob replied.

"What do I have to do to get you to take this seriously? I'm getting a little sick of your immature games."

Jakob raised himself up onto his elbows. "Is this some weird male PMS your species goes through?" he asked. "Are you going to through Pon Farr?"

"That isn't real," snapped Sebastian.

"Too bad," Jakob said. "It could be fun."

"Is that all you think about? Sex?"

"No," Jakob lay back down and closed his eyes. "It's just want I think about most."

"There are more important things!"

Jakob cracked an eyelid. "Seriously, are you ill?"

"I'm fine," growled Sebastian.

"Mmm."

"Don't do that!" yelled Sebastian. "Don't 'mmm' at me! I don't want to be 'mmm'ed at!"

"Yeah, you're fine." Jakob rolled off the couch and stood up. For the first time, Sebastian noticed how pale he was. His freckles were stark against his skin and there were dark circles under his eyes. Sebastian felt another, stronger stab of guilt.

"Do you want me to help you study?" he asked. "I can go over the--"

"No," Jakob said shortly. "Thank you." He sighed. "I'm going to bed. Good night."

After Jakob went to bed, Sebastian wandered around the ship feeling useless. Everything he started to do ended in frustration. He felt guilty about yelling at Jakob, and because he didn't like feeling that way, he got angry. So when he finally went to the bedroom he and Jakob shared, he was back up to his original levels of annoyance.

The lights were off. Sebastian keyed them on, not bothering to dim them. Jakob was curled up, one hand stretched out towards the other, empty side of the bed. Sebastian undressed, making as much noise as possible. His inner voices, never able to be quiet for very long, informed him that was being passive-aggressive. Sebastian drop-kicked them to the corners of his mind and slammed the door after them.

"Hey."

Sebastian turned around. Jakob blinked at him and yawned.

"Sorry," Sebastian said. "Did I wake you up?"

"'s okay." Sleep slurred Jakob's words. Damn, Sebastian thought. It was unfair for him to look so adorable and rumpled and sexy. He resisted the urge to crawl into bed and wrap his arms around him. That was probably just what he wants, Sebastian thought.

'Duh,' replied a voice that had escaped his initial exiling binge. 'He's your boyfriend.'

'Shut up,' Sebastian thought. 'This isn't any of your business.'

'I'd be up for a little cuddling,' offered the voice. 'Do it.'

Sebastian tossed the voice in the brig. He wasn't sure why his brain had a brig, but it was there and he just couldn't let it go to waste.

"You coming to bed?" Jakob asked.

"In a minute."

"'Kay." Jakob closed his eyes. Sebastian watched him for a few seconds then walked into the bathroom. It was amazing how much time he could waste there. When he came out, Jakob was asleep. Turning off the light, Sebastian pulled back the blanket and lay down. Jakob shifted, moving closer. Sebastian rolled away from his reach, but Jakob's hand still rested against his back. It was a long time before sleep came.

The next day turned out to be even worse than the day before. Sebastian spent the morning working on the flight sim with Jakob. Towards the end, even Jakob's endless calm was shattering. He was snappish and when Sebastian yelled, he yelled back. Lunch was tense and silent. Jakob grilled chicken breasts and made subs with fresh spinach and tomatoes. They were delicious, but Sebastian refused to admit it. He managed to imply with every line of his body that he was doing Jakob a favor by eating the food he had made.

It got worse after lunch. Jakob flat out refused to go back to the flight sim. He retreated to his library and buried his face into Slaughterhouse Five. Sebastian stomped around the ship for a bit, then confronted him. There was more yelling, and several books thrown. Words were said. And since Jakob tended to be vicious and horribly accurate with his barbs, they were very intense words. Finally they separate to opposite ends of the ship.

Two hours passed before Sebastian calmed down enough for his hands to stop shaking. He regretted what he had said. It wasn't as though he didn't know Jakob and machines clashed. Of course, he would fall in love with a man that could break a calculator just by looking at it. The universe loves irony.

"Hey." Sebastian leaned against the door frame, his hands jammed into his pockets. Jakob glanced up from his book.

"Hello," he said.

"I'm sorry," Sebastian replied.

"Don't worry about it." That was it. No apology. Sebastian inhaled and tried to grab hold of his temper. This wasn't something new. Jakob didn't apologize. There was no reason to think he would today. Still, it irked Sebastian more than usual.

"Do you want to try the--"

"If you say flight sim, I will hurt you," Jakob said. His voice was cool, his eyes were not.

"Jake, it really is important."

Jakob closed the book with a snap.

"I think we need a break," he said.

"What?" Sebastian stared blankly. "We just had a fight. It's happened before."

"You've been a pissy little bitch for the past four days. It's starting to annoy me."

"Well, you're not exactly a ball of sunshine yourself," Sebastian snapped. "You think it's easy living with you?"

"Would you like me to leave?"

Sudden physical fear made Sebastian's stomach drop to his knees.

"I'm not the one that wants to take a break," he said.

"I just think we need to see other people."

Oh, that one hurt. Sebastian's heart seized and his lungs went on strike.

"You want to break up? That's what you're saying?"

Jakob shook his head. "That isn't what I said."

"It sounded like it."

"It wasn't."

"Then why do you want to see other people?"

"I don't want to date other people," Jakob said. "I want to see them." He sighed and stood up. Sebastian was still looking hurt and defensive. "Let's go to Earth," Jakob said. "I'd like to visit Delilah."

"I'll drop you off."

"No, you're coming too. You need to leave the ship every once in a while."

"Why?" Sebastian asked. "It's a wonderful ship."

"And you're slowly going crazy aboard it," Jakob replied. "Time to spend some time apart."

"I'm fine," Sebastian said. "You're the one with the problem."

"Fine. Humor me."

Sebastian scowled. "Okay," he muttered. "But I won't enjoy it."

They managed not to get into anymore major fights before reaching Earth. Still it wasn't the most pleasant three days Sebastian had ever spent. Nearly everything Jakob said or did made his blood pressure spike, and not in the good way. When Jakob asked what was wrong, Sebastian just snapped at him. After all, what was he was going to say? You won't tell me you love me and its slowly making me lose my mind? Sebastian knew he was a neurotic bastard, but that didn't mean he wanted to go around babbling about it.

Jakob, for his part, tried to avoid ticking off Sebastian as best he could. He was practically compliant. Except this only annoyed Sebastian more. What, was he some kind of child that couldn't handle himself? He didn't need Jakob to tiptoe around him. There were rougher things in the universe and Sebastian had tackled those just fine, thank you. The fact that he wanted Jakob to be himself, yet be completely different only served as another annoyance.

"We're here," Sebastian said via intercom. "I'll meet you at the shuttle."

"Okay," Jakob replied. He brought their bags and waited as Sebastian started firing up the shuttle. They didn't speak until the shuttle had landed behind Delilah's house.

Technically, it was Jakob's house. He still owned the deed, but Delilah had been living there for the past two years. Not officially, of course, since for most of the time she was underage. Her parents assumed she was living Jakob. That was a bonus in having a forgettable brother. Diane could go months before realizing she hadn't seen Jakob for a while. Even then it was only a fleeting thought.

"Hey!" Delilah opened the door, dressed in jeans and a shirt with the words 'Live Long and Prosper' on it.

Jakob arched an eyebrow. "That's new," he said.

"Have you seen the new Star Trek?" Delilah replied. "New Spock is hot." She grabbed her brother's arm and pulled him into the house. "Come on, we'll watch it. I just got the special edition DVD. You too, yummy-sensei. There's a seventeen-year-old you can lust after."

Sebastian sighed. That was the problem with dating your former student. Everyone assumed you were a pervert. Never mind that Jakob was the aggressor, or that he was of age, or that Sebastian was only six years older. Nope, he was automatically the creepy guy that went for seventeen-year-olds. Which he did not. Jakob had been nineteen. Entirely different.

"I didn't know you were coming for a visit," Delilah was saying as she gathered up piles of discarded clothing. "I would have, you know, cleaned or something."

"Uh huh," Jakob said.

"Well," Delilah grinned. "I wouldn't have given my maid the week off."

Sebastian surveyed the room. While he didn't posses Jakob's level of OCD tidiness, he wasn't a slob either.

"You manage with just one maid?" he said. Delilah threw a sock at him.

"At least I pay mine," she said.

"What does that mean?" demanded Sebastian.

"You know," Delilah replied darkly.

"Del," Jakob said with a note of warning.

Delilah tossed her hair, unrepentant. "Well, it's true," she insisted. "I bet he doesn't even say thank you."

"Delilah," Jakob said. "Enough."

"Whatever. I'm going to throw these in the washer." She stalked off, a load of dirty clothes in her arms.

"What was that about?" Sebastian asked.

Jakob shook his head. "It's nothing." He began collecting the various dishes and glasses scattered around the room.

"You don't have to clean up her mess."

"I clean up yours," Jakob said with a sharp edge in his voice.

Sebastian shifted guiltily. It was true Jakob did most of the chores on the ship.

"I didn't ask you to," Sebastian replied.

"I know."

Sebastian watched him for a moment, then began helping him. Together they restored the room to something approaching livability. Sticking the last load of dishes into the dishwater, Sebastian straightened and rubbed a hand over his hair.

"Thanks," Jakob said. He was standing in the doorway, eyes downcast. He still looked pale, Sebastian realized. Crossing the kitchen in long steps, he tipped Jakob's chin up.

"Are you sick?" Sebastian asked.

"I'm just tired," Jakob replied. Sebastian frowned. He placed his hand against Jakob's forehead.

"You have a fever," he said. "Do you feel okay? Do you have a stomach ache?"

"I don't have a fever." Jakob pushed Sebastian's hand away. "I feel fine."

"You look like hell."

"Gee, thanks," said Jakob with a ghost of a smile.

"Maybe you should see a doctor," Sebastian said. "You might have the flu."

"I live on a spaceship with one other person," Jakob pointed out.

"Maybe it's the space-flu," suggested Sebastian. This earned him a flash of amusement from Jakob.

"I just need to sleep," Jakob said. "I haven't been getting very much sleep recently."

Sebastian hadn't noticed. He had been too wrapped up in his own anger and neuroses.

'Jakob would have noticed,' one his voice's said.

'Shut up,' Sebastian thought back.

'I'm just saying.'

'Shut. Up.'

"Sebastian?"

Sebastian blinked. "All right," he said. "But if you feel worse, promise me you'll go see a doctor."

"Yes, Mr. Strange." Jakob still called him that occasionally. It was the closest he got to a pet name.

"Jake--"

"So I was thinking--"Delilah stopped and looked from Jakob to Sebastian. "Did I interrupt something? Are you two having a gay love moment? Should I leave you alone?"

"It's fine," Jakob said. "What were you thinking?"

Delilah gave her brother a considering look, then shook her head slightly.

"Pizza," she said. "We should order pizza. You can get a salad," she added to Sebastian. "And ice cream. Betty's just opened for the summer. I want a banana split."

"Okay," said Jakob.

"And watch new Star Trek, because you are going to love Spock."

"Okay."

"Do I get a vote?" asked Sebastian.

"No," said Delilah and Jakob together.

The brief return to normalcy in the kitchen evened things out between Jakob and Sebastian, but something still hung between them. Having Delilah around helped, it gave them both of them a buffer of sorts. There was someone else to talk to, or rather, talk through, when things got tense. Jakob did get less tired-looking. He sat out in the sun every day, getting more freckles and a light sunburn. He was reading outside when Delilah confronted Sebastian.

"So what's going on with the two of you?" Delilah demanded, her arms folded over her chest. Jakob stood like that, Sebastian realized. It was strange how many traits he and Delilah shared. Of course, they did grew up together so maybe that was it.

"Nothing," Sebastian replied. "It's none of your business."

"It is my business. Jakob is my brother and he's miserable."

Sebastian stopped and lowered the sudoku puzzle he was doing.

"What?" he asked.

"God, two years and you still can't tell when he's upset?" Delilah's scowl deepened. "Do you enjoy having your head shoved up your ass?"

"I know when Jake's upset," Sebastian said defensively.

"Then why haven't you done anything about it?"

"It's none of your business."

Delilah huffed. There was no other word for it. She inhaled, and then just huffed.

"Look," she said. "I don't know why but Jakob loves you. So as long as he's happy, I'm happy. But now he's not happy, which means I'm not happy. And I want to know why."

"You think so," Sebastian said.

"I think what?"

"That he loves me."

"Of course!" Delilah threw up her hands, then placed them on her hips. That, at least, was nothing like her brother. "It's obvious to anyone who knows him."

"He doesn't say it," Sebastian said softly.

"That's your problem?" Delilah shouted. "That's it? What's wrong with you? Have you even met Jakob?"

"I don't think I'm being unreasonable," Sebastian replied, his own voice raising. "It's three words. Three words! Four-year-olds can master them."

"Four-year-olds also think adding the word 'butt' to everything is the height of hilarity," Delilah shot back. "Are you sure they're the example you want to run with?"

"I don't know why I'm even talking to you about this. You're always going to take his side."

"Duh." Delilah rolled her eyes. "He's my brother. But you're still wrong."

"Why? Why is it wrong to expect some affection from my damn boyfriend?"

"This isn't about affection. It's about your own neurotic need to be told constantly that you're loved. If you just paid attention, you would know that Jakob is stupid is love with you." Delilah paused to breath. Red spots appeared on her cheeks and her hands were balled up into fists. "But nooo, you'd rather get hung up on three stupid, pointless words. Jakob could say 'I love you.' He could say it all fucking day long. But it wouldn't mean anything because that's not who he is. He shows you he loves you, and if you can't handle that, then maybe you don't deserve to be with him."

Sebastian's mouth dropped open. He couldn't think of a thing to say. Unfortunately, Delilah wasn't done yet.

"God, I don't even know what you're complaining about. Are you that needy? You already get more from Jakob than I ever will."

Sebastian's mouth shut. He thought about Delilah's last comment.

"What?" he asked.

Delilah lifted her chin and glared at him.

"Did you just say what I think you just said?" Sebastian asked. "Do you…I mean…are you…?"

Comprehension didn't so much dawn on Delilah as violently explode.

"No!" She shook her whole body as if to shake the idea loose. "Yuck!"

"Because it sounded like--"

"Fucking Christ! What is wrong with you? That is so gross! God!" Utter disgust was sketched in vivid detail on Delilah's face. "What I was trying to say, before you drove the conversation into Creepyville, is that Jakob is my most important person. But I'm not his. Understand?"

"No."

"For the love of-- Are you that thick?" Delilah looked as though she wanted to grab Sebastian and shake him. "You are his MIP, you stupid motherfucker! Goddammit!" She stormed from the room, leaving a stunned Sebastian behind.

After a few moments, when he could feel his legs again, Sebastian walked outside. Jakob was laying on his stomach, a book open in front of him. His shirt was in a pile next to him, and his back was a light pink.

"You're getting burnt," Sebastian said.

Jakob rolled over onto his side.

"What were you and Del fighting about?" he asked.

Sebastian sat down next to him. "Nothing." He picked a blade of grass and shredded it. "You could hear?"

"Her voice carries," Jakob replied.

"No kidding. You should put your shirt on."

Jakob stretched. "I like the sun." Sebastian's eyes skimmed the long, lean lines; hard angles, warm and golden. When he glanced back up at Jakob's face, then there was a smirk in his green eyes. "I'll end up with more freckles," Jakob said.

"And you'll spend a week in pain," Sebastian said.

"You can play doctor," Jakob suggested. He sat up and wrapped his arms around Sebastian. "Then afterwards you can play connect the dots with my freckles."

Sebastian grinned. "Sounds fun, but put your shirt on anyway. I'll make do with the freckles you already have."

Jakob sighed, but put his shirt on. "Happy?"

"No, but I'll survive." Sebastian nodded towards the book. "What are reading?"

"It's not for the pilot's exam."

"Yeah, I guessed that," Sebastian said.

Jakob held up the book so Sebastian could read the title.

"The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy," Sebastian read. "What's it about?"

"It's hard to explain. Here, take it. You'll like it. It's funny."

"Thanks." Sebastian had learned to trust Jakob's suggestions. He was usually right. "You've read it already?"

Jakob nodded. He reached up and traced the curve of Sebastian's ear, then down along the line of his jaw.

"What?" Sebastian asked. A corner of Jakob's mouth quirked up.

"You're cute," he said. Sebastian felt himself start to blush. It was ridiculous. Two years and Jakob still did that to him.

"So are you," he replied.

Jakob shrugged.

"I--" He stopped. There were raised voices coming from the house.

"What is it?" Sebastian asked.

"My mother." Jakob stood up quickly. "Let's go."

"Why? I've never met your mother."

"And I want to keep it that way."

"You've met my mother," Sebastian said.

"That's different."

"How come?"

"Your mother isn't a bitch."

"She hit on you."

"She has good taste."

"It was horrifying," Sebastian muttered.

Jakob laughed.

"It wasn't funny!"

"It was if you could see your face."

"You--" Sebastian was cut off by a door slamming shut. An elegant woman in a ivory suit was striding across the yard.

"Oh bloody hell," Jakob said under his breath.

"Jakob." The woman stopped a few feet in front of them. "Explain yourself."

"Hello, Diane," Jakob said in what Sebastian thought of as his stranger-voice. "How are you?"

"Do not attempt to change the subject," Diane snapped. "Tell me exactly what you think you're doing."

"I was reading."

"Don't be obtuse, Jakob. I'm talking about Delilah."

"Are you?" Jakob raised his eyebrow. "That's nice."

"I know you are behind this latest…stunt of hers."

"Delilah is more than capable of making her own decisions."

"Don't use that tone with me."

Sebastian blinked. As far as he could tell, Jakob wasn't using any tone at all. He could have been discussing the weather.

"I never should have let her stay here. I knew you would be a bad influence."

"God, Mom, stop it." Delilah had followed her out of the house. "It isn't Jakob's fault. He doesn't even know yet."

"Please do me a favor, Delilah. Don't lie to my face."

"I'm not lying!"

Diane ignored this. She turned back to Jakob.

"I demand that you fix this," she said. "I refuse to be embarrassed this way."

"What way is that?" Jakob asked.

"Jakob, please. I am tired of your constant troublemaking. For once can you not just behave like a rational adult? All I ask from you is that you not destroy your sister's life as so completely as you have yours."

Delilah out a tiny gasp. Jakob just stood there, his face blank.

"Do you have anything to say for yourself? Diane asked.

"I have something to say." Sebastian rose, putting his hand at the small of Jakob's back.

"Who are you?" Diane asked.

"Sebastian. Jake's boyfriend."

"His boyfriend?" Diane's eyes flicked to Jakob. "You have your fling staying here too?"

"Sebastian isn't a fling," Jakob said.

"I don't know what you are thinking--"

"Shut up," Sebastian said.

"Excuse me?"

"I said, shut up."

"You have no business being here," Diane said. "You are not a member of this family."

"He's more of a member than you are," Delilah said.

"Delilah Rose, do not speak to me that way. I am still your mother."

"Unfortunately," Delilah muttered.

Diane pretended not to hear that. She turned her attention back to Sebastian.

"I think it's time you leave," she said.

"No," said Jakob.

"You leave," Sebastian added. Diane narrowed her eyes.

"I will not. These are my children."

"You don't act like it," Sebastian said, flushing with anger. "I'm amazed Jakob turned out as well as he did. You're rude and self-centered and cold. I don't think you've had a maternal feeling in your life. You're the most unpleasant woman I've ever met, and--"

"That's enough," Jakob said. "Thank you."

Diane had gone white with rage. She was actually shaking.

"I am not going to be insulted like this. Delilah, this is not over." With that, Diane stalked away. When she was finally gone, Delilah let out a small, nervous giggle.

"That was awesome," she said. "Can you come to Christmas? Oh, please come to Christmas."

"That was awesome," Jakob agreed. He gave Sebastian a kiss on the cheek. "Let's go home."

Sebastian sat in the middle of wires and discarded parts. He examined his blueprints again, then looked at the machinery around him.

"I had a slip belt somewhere," he muttered.

"Busy? Jakob asked. He walked towards Sebastian, a book tucked under one arm and a plate in the other hand.

"I can take a break," Sebastian replied. "Is that food?"

"Yes." Jakob moved some parts aside and sat down.

"Cinnamon buns?"

"Whole wheat," Jakob said. He pulled out the book and retrieved the yellow highlighter from behind his ear.

"They're good," Sebastian said with his mouth full. He looked at Jakob. Blonde hair hung in his face, hiding his eyes.

"Seriously, what is it that book you keep reading?" Sebastian asked.

Jakob glanced up and after a second of hesitation, passed the book to Sebastian.

"The Low-Cholesterol Cookbook: Over 170 easy and delicious recipes for a nutritionally balanced diet." Sebastian risked a glance at Jakob. He was turning a heat sink over in his fingers. It was hard to tell if he was avoiding Sebastian's eyes or he was just interested in the part.

Sebastian flipped through the pages. Some of the recipes were highlighted. A few of those had big X's through them. Some had stars. The one for cinnamon buns had a folded down corner and five stars across the top. Sebastian grinned.

"Jake," he said.

"Yes?"

"I love you."

Jakob smiled in the way he only smiled at him, with the look in his eyes that he only had when he looked at him, and said, "Mmm."

And Sebastian was okay with that.

The End.