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Scotty had decided long since that he was a fan of kitchens. Not even so much for the sake of cooking; despite all that had gone wrong there, his best memories of that house he grew up in nearly always centered in the kitchen. Then, he had found another kitchen to fall in love with -- the Corrigan family kitchen, with the classical white and pale yellow paint.

Now, he was in Abby's. The flat wasn't large, and so the kitchen wasn't all that large either, but it didn't feel cramped because of the open floor plan. It was all wood-paneled, like his mother's had been, but there were far more windows. The only thing he thought to be a flaw was that there wasn't room to actually eat in it; no room for a table. The table that should have been in the kitchen was technically more in the livingroom.

But he liked it, even when all three of them were in there together just for the sake of company and conversation, and half tripping over one another. Even when it had been a rough day and they didn't say much of anything. Only just a couple months ago, he would have never once imagined half-living here; now, they all sort of just moved around each other comfortably, as though they had been doing it their whole lives. Something he and Corry mastered long since, nearly lost, remastered; something new between him and Abby, that he had never quite expected.

How much that companionship had cost was high, but he could never believe that it was too high.

Currently, Abby was likely on her way home. She was a decent enough cook; she could make simple meals, and her and Scotty usually traded off cooking whenever he wasn't back in South Bristol with Melinda and Aaron. Corry was still a kitchen disaster, though, and had been relegated to doing cleanup every night. Finally frustrated at always being the one having to wash all of the dinner dishes because he couldn't cook, he did something about it.

"All right, now, I butter the bread..."

"All the way to the edge, not just in the middle."

Corry nodded, focused on this task with the kind of intensity he usually saved for his experiments.

Scotty watched, half-dreading what was going to come of this little cooking lesson. The last time Corry had tried to cook was when he had tried to make breakfast in bed for his fiancee a few weeks before. Needless to say, at 4:30 in the morning he was shaking Scotty awake from his spot on the couch and the smell of smoke was more than apparent in the air.

If it weren't for the fact that Cor looked so helpless and so sincere, Scotty might have found being rousted like that annoying. Especially on a day off. But instead, he rescued breakfast and made sure there would be no major infernos, then proclaimed that the next time Cor wanted to touch a skillet, he had to ask permission and be monitored.

That was now, and Corry had solemnly vowed that he would at least learn to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

"Not so thick," Scotty said, watching rather carefully.

Someone else might have found that scrutiny annoying, but Corry didn't. He nodded, scraping some of the butter off with the knife carefully, and then starting on the next piece of bread. "All right... stove just a little above medium. Skillet's ready. Cheese is ready. Next?"

Scotty had already made one of his own so he could demonstrate, and he carefully picked up a piece of the bread, laying it butter side down in the skillet. "First the bread, butter to the pan." He following through the motions -- he liked grilled cheese himself, though he preferred it on rye rather than white bread. "Then the cheese, then the last piece o' bread, butter side up."

Cor watched, nodding. Then, all of ten seconds after it started sizzling, he asked, "Time to flip it?"

"Wait for it." Scotty grinned a bit. "Ye don't wanna rush it, ye know. Then it just melts the butter, doesn't crisp up nice."

"Right." Another ten seconds. "Now?"

"Patience."

Corry made a face at that, but kept his peace. Regardless, after yet another ten seconds, he was kind of bouncing on his toes.

Scotty actually waited a little longer than he normally would have, just for the sake of making Cor even more antsy. Not kind, maybe, but amusing. Then he grabbed the handle, flipped the grilled cheese (or half-grilled cheese) sandwich, and set the skillet back down. "See? Maybe a wee bit dark, but with a bite to it. Ye don't want it mushy."

Cor was staring. "That was the greatest thing."

"No, the greatest thing is grilled cheese on rye, but this--"

"No, no," Cor broke in. "How you flipped it like that. That was amazing!"

Scotty blinked. He hadn't even thought about it. Though, now that he did, he realized that he probably should have flipped it with a spatula. He couldn't very well expect a rank amateur like Corry to actually flip a grilled cheese in the pan without it hitting the ground or the stovetop. "Well, ye'll probably want to use a spatula. Bit easier for a beginner."

"Do it again?"

"No, I should really--"

"Please?"

Scotty rolled his eyes and after an appropriate amount of time, flipped the sandwich back over. Perfect side, this time. Golden brown. He went to go dump it on the plate, then set the skillet back on the stove. "So, d'ye have the basic idea? Sans flippin'?"

"I think so," Corry answered, but there was a worrying gleam in his eyes.

Scotty immediately pulled out a spatula, offering it over and peering over an imaginary pair of reading glasses. "Use it, Cor. For the sake o' the food."

Corry made another face, took the spatula and then started setting up his own grilled cheese on the stove. Scotty made damn sure to watch; he knew what that gleam could mean, especially when it came to Cor. But after a couple of false starts, Corry managed to use the spatula to flip the grilled cheese; maybe a bit underdone, but not too bad.

"Just a hair longer next time," Scotty said, finally convinced that there wouldn't be any major disasters. In retrospect, though... well, in retrospect, he honestly should have known better. But he turned back to the counter to start getting everything together, including one last set of ingredients to make a sandwich for Abby, and kept his ears on the sizzling behind him.

At two seconds before it happened, a sense of foreboding hit. At one second, he had pretty much turned back to see why.

And then it was too late.





It had been an average day, but Abby was still glad to get back home. If only so she could peel herself out of her uniform and throw it in the laundry unit; the accumulated funk of being bumped into by travelers all day, many of them at least a day or more stale, was something that she liked to get away from as soon as she could. She wasn't what anyone could call squeamish, but it was nice to feel like she hadn't been rolling around in a big, heaping pile of sentient beings.

But all thoughts of getting cleaned up scattered when she walked into her own flat and found that scene.

Now, she had mostly gotten used to them. She had been used to Andy, naturally, though only in recent months did she finally feel the trust that she knew he was worthy of. But when Andy and Scotty were anywhere in the same vicinity, it became a whole different thing -- they had already had their own language, their own rituals, and she knew that it would be awhile before she would understand how they could communicate the way that they managed to. They spoke the language of brothers, and that language was as much about how their lives were braided together as it was about any number of words.

That was fair to her; they all had a common language, and over time it was getting deeper and more rich. She wouldn't begrudge the man she loved, nor the one she was coming to think of as a brother herself, that which they had built and fought for over these years.

On the other hand, there were times when she was pretty sure that they weren't so much brothers as they were aliens who could communicate telepathically.

This wasn't one of those times.

No. This time, she was absolutely sure that they were simply idiots.

The scene was Scotty with his head in the sink, Andy pretty much holding him there in a headlock, and the subsequent mess of water that got everywhere because it wasn't a passive event in the least.

"I said I was fine, and if ye don't let me go, I'm gonna shove YOUR head in the sink! And hit the bloody disposal!"

"If you weren't so stubborn, I wouldn't have to do this!"

Scotty, despite the fact that he was in a fairly pinned position, managed to give Andy a good kick in the leg. Abby might have winced in sympathy, if she weren't trying to hard to fathom what could have possibly brought this on.

"It's not that bad!" Scotty railed, and the tone was pure exasperation. She couldn't blame him.

Andy's reply was decidedly unsympathetic, "You can't be too careful with burns!"

She couldn't take it anymore. Putting on her best Shore Patrol voice, she barked, "WHAT is going on here?!"

They both jumped; Andy let go of his brother, and Scotty put his head into the faucet, which did make her wince in sympathy. As he retreated sulking and dripping to the other side of the kitchen, she stepped into the mess and turned the water off. "What the Hell?" she asked, when neither of them volunteered.

Scotty was rubbing at his head, giving Andy the evil eye. "I was tryin' to teach him how to cook."

Andy looked something between guilty and... well, amused. "See, through this series of... of unfortunate happenings, he got a bit of a burn on his face, but then he wouldn't go and run any cold water on it because," there he imitated Scotty, letter perfect, "'It's not that bad, will ye please just drop it?' So..."

"So you put his head in the sink for him." Abby closed her eyes for a moment, in a long-suffering gesture. She loved Andy. But no matter how much she loved him, there were still moments that he really was a dipshit. Unfortunately for Abby and pretty much anyone else, that was a shockingly endearing quality. She looked over at Scotty, and was rather unsurprised that even with a scowl on his face, there was amusement right under it. Proof positive that he could be a dipshit, too. "Show me this traumatic injury," she said, still more a command than anything else.

He obligingly turned his head and she eyed the burn. It really wasn't that bad; a little red, and definitely not anything that should have required dire intervention. She had the sneaking suspicion that it had actually turned into a wrestling match just because they seemed to get a kick out of needling each other.

She glanced around the kitchen again, taking stock, then her gaze settled on a grilled cheese sandwich. She eyed it a moment, then picked it up, comparing the edge of that to the red mark on Scotty's face.

"You two are idiots," she said, dropping the sandwich back on the plate once she confirmed the match.

"Two? I was an innocent victim!" Scotty crossed his arms and huffed out a breath.

"Victim? Oh, come on!" Andy said, crossing his arms as well.

She looked between them for a moment; the identical poses, the intentionally exaggerated offended expressions, and the laughter that was right under it all. In that moment, she realized that she wanted to laugh herself, just because. And in that moment, she loved them for it -- they were idiots, but she loved them for it.

"I'm gonna go call for carry-out," she finally said, and wasn't able to keep the chuckle out of her voice as she turned to go to the comm.

"Good idea," they answered in unison.


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