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Coming Home

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Two years. It had been two years since 98 children and one Robot vanished through a wormhole and landed on Alpha Centauri, scaring the shit out of every official who had marked them dead seven months before. Two years since the Robinson children had seen their parents. Two years since anyone on that transport ship had heard from their families.

Alpha Centauri had never seen anything like it. A ship full of children who were essentially orphans, captained by a 19-year-old nobody. They only had rudimentary structures in place for foster parents or orphaned children, and they certainly weren’t ready 98 supposedly dead colonists to land a Jupiter where there should have been a Resolute, about a year later than they should have. They weren’t ready for anything.

Judy, stressed and half-dead from exhaustion, told their story from beginning to end at least four time to various superiors- mayors and governors and one particularly curious custodian. Questioning began from the moment they touched down, and only ended when Judy exploded and said that unless she was under arrest for getting these children to safety, she would like to go, please, and check on her children. Her siblings, Samantha, and all of the others. That is what the 97 children came to be known as, later on. Word spread about Captain Robinson’s bravery, and of her children. To be one of Judy Robinsons’ kids became a badge of honor.

The Robinsons got lucky. Since Judy was an adult, she was able to become the legal guardian of her siblings, and they got to move into the house they were supposed to, all those months ago. The other kids were quickly taken in my other willing residents of the colony. Apparently, when you return from being declared dead, everyone wants to be your best friend.

So, the Robinsons moved in. That night, not for the first time, Will wrapped his arms around his oldest sister and mumbled into her shoulder, “I’m glad you’re here.”

Not for the first time, Judy was too.

Samantha remained close, and the Robinsons made efforts to see her often. Judy constantly reassured the girl that she was sure that everyone’s parents would find their way back soon, while privately looking for a way to gain guardianship of the girl. Six months later, Samantha was officially under the care of the Robinsons. Slowly, they found their way to a new normal. Their parents and Don were gone, but they found that in talking about them often, and keeping their memories alive, made it more bearable.

Penny and Vijay began dating in earnest, and he came over for dinner at least once a week. One night, Penny giddily reported to her sister that Vijay had become a much better kisser. Judy tried to find a balance between gushing about the boy with her sister, and acting like a guardian. She missed her whole family keenly in times like these. Her mom, her dad, and even Don. They had been there one second, and gone the next. Their absence felt like a hole in her chest, aching and unable to be filled.

Judy had never let Will see her cry. He was getting older, she knew, but in her eyes he would always be her baby brother. She had to stay strong for him.

Penny, though. Judy found herself relying on her younger sister more than she was proud of. However, Penny didn’t give her much of a choice when she found Judy on that first night, crying alone in the control room of the transport ship.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Judy admitted between sobs. Penny was sitting next to her, and Judy rested her head on her sister’s shoulder. “I’m not mom, or dad. I can’t- I just can’t.”

Penny wrapped her arm around Judy, holding her. “No, you’re not our parents.” She agreed. “But you’re all we have. You can do this because you have to do this.” She gripped Judy’s hand tightly. “But you’re not alone. I’m here. I can help.” She stroked Judy’s hair and cried with her. “I’m here.”

It wasn’t until after Judy had dried her eyes, and they were walking back to their bunks, that Judy asked, “You’re not going to put this in your next book, right?”

Penny regarded her suspiciously. “Who told you I was writing another book?”

“Common sense. Rumor has it your first book completely sold out.”

Penny smiled slightly at that. “Well, my publisher seems to be a little busy right now.”

Judy laughed. After that night, Penny was no longer only her sister, but her friend. She missed Don then, too. He had always been so easy to talk to. Before this, he had been her person. She hoped that, wherever he was, he was okay. Each night, she looked out her window at the stars, and wondered where he was. She wondered if he was thinking of her, too.

So. It had been two years since they landed. The Robinsons had finally fallen into a routine, and found a sense of normalcy. Penny, Will, and Samantha went to school. Judy went to work. Most nights, she was home for dinner, but when she wasn’t, Penny would comm her with updates about their nights- everything from what they ate for dinner to who actually did their homework. On weekends, Judy would bake their grandmother’s cookies, and the Robinson siblings would introduce Samantha to their favorite Old Earth shows. They still missed their families, but they were able to put away the hurt so they could keep on living- the one thing their parents wanted them to do.

Judy was at work when the call came in, because of course she was. One minute, she was doing rounds in the pediatric ward, and the next, her attending was dragging her down the hallway, talking so quickly it took a long moment for Judy’s mind to catch up with her body. Pagers were beeping all around her, and doctors and nurses’ voices rose with… excitement?

“- And I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but it’s the only way to get you to the port. They might want to ask you questions, but hopefully your answers two years ago will suffice. They-“

Judy shook off Dr. Beck’s hand. “What are you talking about? Who are ‘they’?”

Dr. Beck’s gaze was steady and serious as she said, “The lost colonists.”

The elevator arrived with a pleasant ding. Judy’s body went numb, and Beck had to haul her through the doors. Judy slumped against the wall, her heart nearly pounding out of her chest. “My family. My-my parents, Don, are they-?”

“We don’t know.” Beck cut her off, staring at her tablet. “All we know is a transport Jupiter radioed space traffic control ten minutes ago, requesting landing, and asking for an ambulance. No time for a manifest or a full set of questions yet.” Beck stopped typing to look sideways at Judy. “A lot like your landing.” We don’t know. We don’t know.

The elevator dinged again, and the doors slid open. The first floor was as busy, if not more so, than the pediatric floor. Staff was running left and right as they prepared the ER for the influx of lost colonists. They had very little information other than there were “some people with minor injuries”, but they lived by the creed of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Beck ushered Judy out, herding her through the swarms of people towards the doors, where two Chariots were waiting. “So, technically, I’m bringing you to help me out in the field, for anyone who can wait to head to the hospital.” Beck climbed into one of the Chariots and gestured for Judy to follow after her.

“Technically?” Judy did as she was instructed, accepting the kit that was handed to her. Don. My parents. Don. My parents.

Beck gave her a rare smile. “I like you, Judy. And I know you’d probably find a less-than-sanctioned way to get to the port if I didn’t take you with me.” Judy opened her mouth to protest, before realizing yes, that was exactly what she would have done. “Also, if my family had gone missing, and then their ship had mysteriously reappeared, I would have fought tooth and nail to get in there and see them.”

Judy reached out and squeezed Beck’s hand in gratitude. “Thank you.”

The Chariot began to move, and Beck gave her a nod. “Of course.”

“Oh my god, I have to call my sister.” Judy realized, fumbling for her phone. “Penny, she needs to know…”

The line rang twice before Penny answered. “Jude, what is it? I’m in class-“

“Their ship. Their Jupiter, it’s- it might be them. Mom and Dad, their ship just landed. I’m going there now.”

“Holy shit,” Penny breathed. Then louder, and more excited. “Holy shit!”

Judy smiled despite herself. “I don’t know if they’re on the Jupiter, they didn’t send in a manifest. But look, you need to get Will and Samantha, bring them home, and wait for me.”

“Bring them home?” Penny sounded incredulous. “If Mom and Dad are alive, I want to be there. And Don, too. We all deserve to be there. I need to see them.”

Judy pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to breathe normally. “I know, I know, but it’s going to be chaos there. Two thousand lost colonists just appeared out of nowhere. It’s going to be like when we landed, except two hundred times worse. And there are injuries.” Judy knew Penny still wanted to argue, so Judy threw in “They won’t let you in, even if you tried.”

A beat passed. “Even if Samantha does the puppy eyes?”

“Even then.”

Penny blew out a dramatic sigh. “Fine. But I expect you to tell me the minute you find out if they’re alive.”

“The very second, I promise.”

“Okay, love you.”

“Love you too.”

They drove for a few more minutes in a terse silence. Judy’s knee bounced up and down, and her entire body was buzzing with nerves. Beck, to her credit, didn’t say anything, which was fine because Judy wouldn’t have heard it anyway over the sound of her thoughts swirling around in her head. Mom, Dad, Don. For all that she thought of her parents (and she thought of them often), she thought of Don just as much. He had become part of her family in those seven months they had been stranded, and for a brief time, she had thought maybe his teasing and flirting might have led to something more.

But that time was over, and it was two years later, and all she cared about was if he was alive.

After what seemed like an eternity, the Chariot parked just outside the fence of the port. Sure enough, as soon as Judy climbed out of the vehicle, she saw a beaten and blackened Jupiter Transport on the landing pad. There must have been hundreds of people all standing outside. The other Chariot pulled up next to them, and more doctors jumped out and made their way towards the gate, where security officers stepped aside to let them in. Judy was swept along with the wave of her coworkers. She gripped her bag tightly as they neared the survivors.

The lost colonists who were closest to her did double takes when they noticed her among the group of doctors, but none of them were her parents, or Don. She didn’t hear them murmuring, “That’s the one, she’s the one who saved the kids. Robinson’s kid.”

She noticed that there were actually quite a few people laid out on mats on the ground, and that’s where most of the doctors went first. Beck was speaking to one of the guards by the gate, who was pointing towards the ramp. Judy turned to look where he was gesturing, and her breath caught, and then she was running. She dodged and weaved around the clusters of people, and in seconds she was at the base of the Jupiter, and there was her mom, speaking to someone in a uniform. The sight hit her like the crush of cool water on the hottest summer day.

“Mom!” She cried. Maureen turned at the sound of Judy’s voice, and then Judy slammed into her, and wrapped her arms tightly around her mother’s body. Maureen stumbled back, startled, and then hugged Judy back fiercely. Judy blinked back tears as her mom held her in strong, warm for the first time in two years.

Too soon, Maureen pulled back, and placed her hands on either side of Judy’s face, and tears cut tracks in her face, which was covered in dirt, mixed with what looked like blood. The past couple of days hadn’t been kind to her. Her eyes were wide, as if she was drinking in every aspect of her daughter’s face. “Oh, my baby girl.” She kissed Judy’s head. “Judy.”

“I’ll give you two a moment.” The man in the uniform backed off. Neither mother nor daughter paid him any mind.

“You’re alive,” Judy breathed. “You- and dad, where’s dad?” She braced herself to hear bad news- a lot could have happened in two years.

To her relief, her mom smiled. “He’s here, and he’s fine. He’s helping get our injured people over to the doctors.” She looked over Judy’s head and waved her arm, and Judy turned to see her dad making his way towards them. “We have so much to tell you.”

He looked so much older- they both did, truth be told. The lines on his forehead were deeper than before, and silver streaks appeared in his hair where there had been none before. But he was still her father, and he was alive. He wrapped Judy in an all-encompassing hug, and she allowed herself to relax into his embrace. It was all she had wanted for two long, painful years.

“Judy!” He hugged her so tightly, she could swear she felt her ribs crack, but she wasn’t about to complain. “Penny, Will, are they okay?” Her dad asked as he pulled back, looking over her as if he was checking to make sure she was real.

“They’re fine, they’re great.” Judy promised, looking between her parents. “I had them stay home- I didn’t want them here if you weren’t- if you didn’t make it.” She didn’t mention Samantha- there was too much to unpack at the moment.

Their expressions wavered from joyful to grim, and Judy wondered just how close her parents had come to that possibility.

Judy blinked, realizing something was wrong. “Where’s Don?” Her stomach swooped as her parents exchanged a look. “What happened?” She demanded, twisting to look for him.

“He’s alive, he’s going to be okay,” Her mom began.


“But, he was injured a few days ago, broke his leg- or so we think. And then he broke his nose today on the landing.” John gestured towards the area where the injured were being attended to by doctors. “He’s trying to convince everyone that he’s fine, even though he can hardly walk right now.”

Judy smiled despite herself. “That sounds like him.”

She desperately wanted to see him, but at the same time, she didn’t want to be parted from her parents. Her mom, however, seemed to sense her internal war. “We need to speak with the head of the space port and debrief. Go check on Don, and we’ll meet up with you in a few minutes.”

Judy nodded. “Okay- actually, wait a second.” She held up a hand as she pulled out her phone and called Penny.

She picked up on the second ring. “Jude?”

“I have some people who want to say hi to you.” Judy passed off the phone to her parents.

“Penny? Will?” Maureen and John crowded around the phone. Judy heard Penny yell something, and smiled and waved as she turned and waded through the crowd, making her way to where the rest of her coworkers were swarming around the injured.

She thought Don would be hard to find, but he wasn’t. She heard him before she saw him. “No, my nose is fine. Is Dr. Robinson here? Did she make it? She’s kind of an expert on my-” Someone moved, and he came into view, and his brown eyes locked with hers.

If her dad had looked rough, Don looked worse. His dark hair was cropped close to his skull, and his beard was thick. His nose was very clearly broken, and there was more blood on his face than she was used to. His right leg was sticking out, wrapped in what looked like a makeshift splint. His face split into a wide grin though, and her heart swelled as she gently pushed Ramirez away and knelt in front of him.

“Judy! You made it.” He sounded relieved, and she realized that while she had been worrying that her parents were lost, they hadn’t known whether or not her crew had made it to Alpha Centauri either.

“I did.” She said, unable to repress her own smile. “What the hell happened to you?”

Don waved his hand. “Oh, violent planet here, alien fight there. Pretty standard fare at this point.”

Judy was rifling through her kit, and began to wipe the grime off his face, looking for additional cuts. “Rumor has it you broke your nose on the landing.”

“It was a violent landing! I had to make sure Debbie was strapped in.”

She placed a butterfly bandage on the small scrape on his forehead. “Debbie’s okay?”

He nodded. “Getting up there in age, but she’s still good. Provided plenty of omelets for the crew.”

“Good.” Her hands drifted down to his nose. It was disturbingly familiar territory for them. “So, you were looking for me?”


“I heard you talking to Ramirez,” She teased, pressing her thumbs against the bridge of his nose. “Apparently I’m an expert on your something.”

“Yeah, my nose. But, you know, I’m fine with it being broken actually.” He said, grabbing her wrists with his soot-covered hands. He had a burn on the back of his left hand, and Judy made a mental note to treat that next. “It’ll give me a more badass look.”

Judy rolled her eyes. “We’ve had this argument before, and no it won’t. Just let me pop it back in to place.”

He tried to pout at her, but the look wasn’t as effective when he had two streaks of blood down his face. “But-“

“But nothing.” She placed her hands on his face again, and tried to focus on his nose, which was difficult when she could feel his wide eyed gaze on her. “What is it?” She asked, trying to keep her voice light.

“It’s strange.”

“What is?”

He was staring at her like she was an equation that he couldn’t sort out. “You look the same, but different, somehow.”

Judy’s hand stilled on his face. “I could say the same about you. What is with your hair?”

He laughed, and ran a hand through his cropped hair. “Yeah, well. Not many great barbers on that ship, believe it or not.”

She smiled back at him. “I know what you meant, though.”

Don was still staring at her, and all of the bustle and noise of the people around them faded away. For a moment, she was back in the medbay of a Jupiter, and she had her hands on Don’s face, and he was staring at her like this. A mixture of wonder and sadness and hope.

“I missed you.” He admitted, and then they were back, and she was kneeling on the tarmac, and they were both a little more broken than before. Even so, he still had that look of hope in his eyes, and her heart beat a little harder as she drank in his presence. Three years, and one thing remained the same.

“I missed you, too.” She whispered. “Everyone thought you all were dead, but I knew- I just knew you were alive. You weren’t allowed to die.” She realized that the conversation they were having- even with hushed tones and the guise of treatment- was far too intimate to have on an open tarmac.

He licked his lips, and looked away for a quick moment, and then brought his eyes back up to hers again. “I thought about you every single day.” He confessed. “I know I shouldn’t say it, and there’s a million things happening right now, but I’ve wanted to tell you for two years, and I felt like I would go crazy if I didn’t tell you right now.” Judy still had her hands on his face, and she could feel as his cheeks warmed with his confession.

She bit her bottom lip, and then with a swift movement, wrenched his nose back into place. He yelled out in pain and rocked out of her hold, a hand flying up to his nose. “What the hell? I thought we were having a moment there.” He cast a betrayed look at her.

Judy let a giddy laugh bubble out of her lips. “We were. Come here.” She pulled him close and pulled his hand away. She let her eyes rake over his face again. “I thought about you too. What you would do in the morning, if you were getting ready for bed at the same time as me” She all but whispered this against his lips. “If you missed me the way I missed you.” She leaned in for gentle kiss.

There was the sharp metallic taste of blood on his lips, but that was fine because it meant he was alive. His hand came up to cup the back of her head, and she let her fingers cup his jaw, scraping the skin underneath his beard. She took care not to press against his nose too hard, so as not to ruin this moment. This peaceful, pristine-

Someone behind her cleared their throat, and Judy pulled back and turned to see Beck standing there, trying to look disapproving, and failing miserably. “Dr. Robinson, is it standard protocol to kiss patients?”

Don coughed on a laugh as Judy spluttered out, “No, I was just- we- uh. No. Sorry, Dr. Beck.”

Beck gave her a curt nod. “I’ll let it slide this once.” She winked before walking away.

Judy covered her face with her hands as Don burst out laughing. “It’s not funny.” She groaned. “That was my resident.” He just laughed even harder. She glared at him. “I hope your nose hurts.”

“Worth it.” He gasped out, and pretended to wipe a tear from his eye. “Oh, that was gold.”

Judy let out a hum of disapproval. “See if I kiss you again, then.” She said, moving out of his reach to check on his leg. He grinned, like he could easily see through her lie. “What the hell happened here?”

“Well, you see, we landed on this planet, and there were these plants…”

It was hours before she was able to make it home. She tried to send Don on to the hospital, but he refused, saying he was fine. She rolled her eyes, but managed to dig out some crutches for him once she had wrapped his leg up properly, and he followed her around like a very loud, very dirty puppy as she tended to other patients. Eventually, Beck let her go, and she met back up with her parents, who had been pulled into questioning in the same way she had been years before. She texted Penny with periodic updates, but it was evening by the time they set out on the road. 

“Will’s almost taller than you, dad.” Judy informed them as she turned on to their road. “And Penny’s nearly done with her Lost in Space trilogy. Samantha’s doing great, too.” Samantha, whose mom was recuperating in the hospital.

“You’ve done an amazing job, sweetie.” Maureen said, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder.

Judy didn’t know how to respond to that. She couldn’t very well say, Thanks, I had no choice!, but a simple smile didn’t seem to cover it. “I tried.” She managed, not making eye contact with her mother. “I felt like I was doing everything wrong for a long time- on the ship, and after it.”

John let out a huff of laughter from the backseat. “Like you were driving a car and there were no controls?”

Exactly like that.”

“That’s how parenting usually feels.”

Judy didn’t know how to respond to that, which was fine because she was pulling into the driveway, where Penny, Will, and Samantha were all waiting.

 Her parents were barely out of the car before they were swarmed by the three. There were a lot of tears and hugs, and chatter. Judy turned to help Don out of the Chariot, while he grumbled about crutches, and his splint. Judy rolled her eyes, and wrapped her arm around his torso to steady him. The feel of him against her was another reminder of how much she had missed him. He smiled down at her, and she was sure she was grinning like an idiot.

“Don!” Penny and Will darted towards them, and Judy barely had time to call out, “Careful!” Before he, too was engulfed in the hug.

Maureen was kneeled by Samantha, no doubt telling her about how her mother was doing, judging by the girl’s smile.

John came up to wrap his arm around Judy’s shoulders. She melted into her dad’s side, feeling two years of weight being lifted from her shoulders. Everyone she loved was in one place, and they were safe, and alive.

“You okay?” John asked, surveying the scene in front of them.

Judy hummed, mulling over her answer before deciding for honesty. “Getting there.” She met Don’s eyes. “Better than before.”

John followed her gaze, and Don stared back, and to Judy’s shock, grinned at her dad. His eyes glinted in the dying light.

“I’m guessing he told you?”

Judy turned, gaping at him in shock. “He told you?”

John let out a flat hmph. “’Bout a year and a half ago. I just about lost my mind, but,” He sighed. “He’s a good man. Saved my life more times than I can count.”

“Huh.” Don untangled himself from Penny and Will’s clinging limbs and reached for his crutches. “I can’t wait to hear about that.” She murmured.

Everyone was ushered inside, Judy staying close to Don to make sure he didn’t hurt himself worse. He reminded her, in his loud voice, that he was fine, but still allowed her to press a hand to the small of his back, and bump her foot against his (good) one when they were all at the table.

Maureen and John complimented Will’s cooking with a tone that suggested immense surprise. Will clearly didn’t know whether to be offended or flattered, but beamed under his parents’ praise nonetheless. They had been subsisting on nothing but MRE’s and strange alien food for two years. A pasta bake and fresh vegetables were more than welcome. Samantha sat close to Judy all throughout dinner, unusually quiet.

They didn’t get caught up over dinner. There was a silent understanding that everyone had suffered- maybe more than expected- over the past two years. That night was a joyous celebration, and was treated as such. Only light stories and laughter appeared at the table that night. Stories were exchanged about missing class and strange planets were chucked across the table at lightning speed- two years of memories condensing into a single dinner. The Robinsons were whole again, and Judy felt that hole in her heart slowly begin to close.

It was when she was tucking Samantha in that the girl finally spoke up, explaining her reserved manner from before.

“Are you going to kick me out?” She asked as Judy was tucking the covers around her.

“What?” Judy sat on the side of her bed, reaching out to smooth down her hair out of habit. “Why would you think that?”

Samantha nibbled on her bottom lip, a habit she had picked up from Penny. “My mom’s back, and I’m gonna live with her. But I still wanna come here, too. If I live with my mom, are you going to give my room away?” Samantha’s room was the guest room, and Judy had redecorated it to accommodate her. Judy felt a wave of relief wash over her as she realized this, at least, was a question that was easily answered.

“Of course not. You room is your room whenever you need it. You’re our family, sweetheart.” She promised, and reflected Samantha’s bright grin. “Make sure you get some sleep. Tomorrow, you get to see your mom.”

Samantha reached out to wrap Judy in a hug. “Thank you.

Judy was still smiling when, a few minutes later, she wandered into the living room. She was in her pajamas- a grey t-shirt from a 5k run, and sweatpants.

Don was sprawled across the couch, in shorts borrowed from Will that only barely fit, and one of her dad’s college sweaters; the sight was oddly domestic, and Judy realized in this moment that she had been considering him part of her family since before they were separated. This night wouldn’t have been complete without him.

“Hey.” She greeted him as she sat down on his right side.

“Hey.” Don echoed. He had his left leg propped up on pillows- he was going to get a proper boot at the hospital tomorrow. “Nice night.”

“Best one we’ve had in years.” She agreed. She was aching, dying to touch him. But she hesitated, unsure if what had happened between them was just a kiss between a man and a girl she no longer was. She wasn’t sure if he wanted to pick up where they left off, or if he would be willing to start anew with this person she had become. “Sorry you got the couch. Samantha took the guest room.”

Don reached out for her hand. That, at least was a good sign. “It’s fine. I’ve slept in much worse places than this.”

She slipped her fingers in between his. They fit like she expected them to. Her callouses brushed against his, and his grip was strong and sure.



She swallowed her nerves and tried to look at him head on. His eyes were staring into hers, open and vulnerable. She could get lost in those dark, dark eyes if she wasn’t careful.

“I’m not the same girl that I was.” She blurted out. “I- losing you, losing my whole family? It changed me. I’m not who I was on the water planet.” I’m not who you might have fallen for.

“Judy.” He tried again. He was smiling, but he wasn’t teasing. “I’m not who I was either. But I know that some things about you will never change. Your care for others, and your selflessness. Your need to run headfirst into danger without beginning to think about the cost to yourself?” Judy rolled her eyes, and Don tugged her hand closer to his heart. “Your heart.”

Her throat felt tight when she tried to tease, “You’re ridiculous.”

Don’s eyes were serious. How was it that she could see so much in them? “Judy. I was fighting for my life every day for the past couple of years. Sometimes, the only thing that kept me going was thinking of you. What you were eating for breakfast. If you had a difficult patient. If you were thinking of me.” He kissed her hand. “And sure, I missed Penny and Will plenty. But you were- you are- the one that I…” 

Judy touched her forehead to his, and his lips stilled. “Every night, I looked up at the sky, and wondered where you were. I knew you were alive. All I was waiting for was the day you came back to me.” Her hand came up to his cheek, and she let her fingers trail over his beard. “I wondered what you looked like without a beard. I wondered everything.”

He looked like he wanted to say something else, but she was tired of talking. She tilted her chin and leaned in for a kiss. Don met her willingly, and now, no one was watching them. Maybe their kiss was a little too intimate for living room behavior, but Judy had been waiting two years for this moment.

His lips were warm and yielding. He was pressing as close as he could without disturbing his leg, and she found herself laughing unexpectedly.

“I should go to bed.” She breathed.

“Maybe,” He agreed, pulling her in for another filthy kiss.

A few minutes later, she leaned back. “I mean it. You need sleep, too.” She was still smiling with a giddiness that she couldn’t hide.

“Probably.” He grinned at her. “Talk tomorrow?”

“And every day after.” She promised.

He winked at her. “Sleep tight, doc.”

She pressed a soft, final kiss to his cheek. “You too, princess.”

She was supposed to get up. She was supposed to walk back to bed and climb under the covers and not rush into anything. But when Judy woke up early the next morning, squeezed onto the couch in Don’s arms, she couldn’t complain. She just smiled and leaned her cheek against his chest. This was how it was always supposed to be. After two years, she was finally home.