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Jim had to admit he hated seeing his big strong dad sitting in a recliner chair with a blanket draped over his shoulders and he felt the need to punch Sam in the nose for his earlier assurance their dad was okay. It brought home for Jim that his parents weren’t going to live forever. No one did, of course. But…

“There’s my baby!” His mom rushed at him, pulling him into a very tight and long hug.

“Don’t maul the boy, Win,” his dad grumbled.

“I’m not a baby or a boy,” Jim protested as his mother dragged him forward.

“Sit down on the couch there across from Dad. What can we get you? Are you hungry? Do you want a sandwich? I have fish in the freezer. Or maybe you’d rather have steak?”

Jim laughed. “Mom. I’m good.”

“You left right after work though right? You didn’t eat? You didn’t eat one of those awful, greasy fast food burgers while you were driving, did you?”

“Mother, leave him alone.” But Sam was grinning.

“Well.” She sniffed. “He’s probably hungry.”

“In a bit, Mom. I want to see how you and Dad are.”

“Fine, fine. You didn’t have to come all this way,” Dad said. “But since you did, how about a game of chess later?”

“You’re supposed to rest.”

“Chess isn’t going to wear him out, Mom.”

She stuck her tongue out at Jim’s brother.

“Jim almost brought someone with him.”

Jim almost did kick him then. “Shut up. Why did I tell you?”

“Because you tell your brother shit like that.”

Mom looked at Jim doubtfully. “You met someone, Jim?”

“Why do you all react like that?”

His father chuckled and patted Jim’s leg. “Because you’re bookish.”

“I am not bookish. I’ve had plenty of dates and things. They’ve all just not worked out.”

“Who are you sweet on?” his dad asked.

Jim groaned. “I’m not sweet on anyone. I just…I like my neighbor. I only just met him which is why I didn’t bring him.”

“If he’s like that Gary person, no thank you.” His mom shuddered. “He gave me the creeps.”

“He’s nothing like Gary.”

“What about Ruth? She was snooty,” Sam pointed out.

“I still say she stole my bracelet.”

Jim buried his face in his hands. “He’s not a snooty thief either.”

Dad laughed outright. “What’s loverboy’s name?”

Jim stood. “You know what, Mom? I am hungry. Starving in fact.”

“Okay, okay.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the kitchen. “You do look too skinny.”

Jim loved them. He did. But man was he glad he hadn’t brought Spock.