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Author's Chapter Notes:
Once again I owe my thanks to my lovely friend clair_de_lune for her inspiration, encouragement and the read-through.
It was while he was at Loyola. Janey Hulbertson, his sort-of-girlfriend, had taken Michael home with her one evening and the most memorable aspect of that visit was the kitten she had just acquired. It made Michael fondly remember the little stray he had taken home to show his mom and Linc; he’d found it hiding under a bush on the edge of Mr and Mrs Brodie’s small garden.

Lincoln had gently pulled back one side of his little brother’s coat and smiled down at the little whiskery face that gazed solemnly up at him, looking for all the world just like Michael did when he thought he might be in trouble . Lincoln had petted the kitten delicately and told Michael that he had done the right thing bringing the kitten home if it was lost so why didn’t they give the little creature a saucer of milk then take him - or her? - to the neighbourhood animal shelter so they could find the cat’s family?

Michael’s eyes had clouded over at that but Lincoln had reassured him that if the kitten was still there in a week, they would ask mom if they could adopt it. Smiling bravely, Michael agreed to Lincoln’s plan, running his little hand gently over his new friend’s furry little head.

Four days later, Lincoln met his baby brother from school clutching a note in his hand which he immedaitely gave to Michael. It was a letter from the family who had lost their new kitten, complete with a folded ten-dollar bill and an effusive thank you to the little boy who had found Phoebe and taken her to the animal shelter where the children had been joyously reunited with her. Lincoln had made a point of calling in each day to check if the kitten had been claimed.

Michael smiled happily, throwing his arms around his brother lovingly, as Lincoln leaned down and hugged him back. The ten dollars was more money than either of them had ever had at one time, but for Michael it was much more about the kitten going home again and he was grateful to Lincoln for facilitating the reunion.

Whatever the future might hold for them, Michael had the best big brother in the world.