Cain took the nervous Jack's fishing rod as Natalie pulled Connor from the fishing hole's bank. "He'll be alright," he assured the boy.
"Your dad has had all his tetanus shots," Natalie said over her shoulder. Then she turned to Connor. "You don't fish, why are you trying to teach him how to fish?"
"He has a merit badge to earn." Connor grunted as he sat down with his back against a tree.
Jack sighed. "Frank said this would happen," he confided in Cain. "The first aid kit is in my pack."
"First aid, you should be helping him with merit badges in that." Natalie dug the smaller red pack out of Jack's blue one.
"I already got all the merit badges you can get in first aid when I was a Cub Scout." Jack shrugged at Natalie's stare. "I'm trying to expand my survivalist knowledge now."
She shook her head and knelt next to Connor. "Why am I not surprised?"
Cain's lips twitched. "Your father just showed you how not to bait a hook, so we'll practice that. Get a worm out of the bucket."
Azkadellia and Miles were approaching their group, holding hands. That was less surprising than the eldest princess in trousers. DG had told him about Azkadellia's plans and it seemed like she was using this time waiting to see if the ill would fully recover to experiment with Other Side fashions. The shirt and trousers were similar to ones Natalie had worn, the coat looked like it belonged to Miles, and the canvas boots were pure DG.
"That wasn't so hard." Jack waved the fishing hook and the worm didn't fall off it.
"Now you have to get it into the water where the fish are." Cain demonstrated casting the line into the water.
Miles and Azkadellia had reached the tree, and Miles grimaced. "Maybe now's not the best time."
"Just spit it out, Miles," Connor growled. "My mood's probably not going to get better."
"Hold still or I'll have to get a scalpel," Natalie said.
Miles took a deep breath. "Azkadellia wants to come back to Earth with us."
"We're not supposed to take illegal aliens back with us." Conner sighed.
Jack's cast wasn't graceful, but the bait ended up in the water and the line remained untangled. "That's good," Cain said. "Now reel it in slow."
"DG said you might say that." Azkadellia conjured a blanket and sat down on it. "She is changing her papers, so I can use them. I can't in Kansas where she grew up, but no one knows her in Maryland."
"Ow!" Natalie smirked as she handed Connor the gauze. He grimaced while she serenely repacked the contents of the kit, and he turned back to Azkadellia. "So your sister approves of this plan?"
"DG thinks I have a chance to be happy on Earth and she wants me to take that chance." Her tugging on Miles' arm finally had an effect and he plopped down beside her on the blanket.
"She wants to study medicine," Miles added.
"And you promised to help her?" Natalie asked as she fastened the gauze around Connor's thumb.
"Yes," he answered, just a touch defensively.
Connor sighed. "You're both adults, you don't need my permission. Now, go; I'm supposed to be enjoying this time with my son."
Both of their grins were relieved and they scampered back to the manor house, grabbing hands again. Natalie sat down on the blanket they left behind. "You don't need my permission?"
"Approval, permission; they're happy, Natalie, what more do you want?"
Jack's pole suddenly bent. "Hey! I got one!"
Cain talked him through reeling it in faster, so not to lose it while Connor and Natalie joined them. The boy won and the bright yellow fish dangled from the end of the pole. Cain grabbed the fishing line. "A yellowscale, good job." He looked at the beaming father and son. "So what do they consider the end for this merit badge on the Other Side? We always said after you cleaned and cooked it."
Jack grabbed the bucket to set the fish in. "Wait, you have Boy Scouts in the O.Z.? You don't have baseball or football, but you have Boy Scouts?"
"Had. Before the war. Jeb never got to participate in it." Cain shook off past regrets and looked at Connor.
"He's supposed to clean and cook it," Connor answered. "So it's best to be practicing that."
Natalie folded the blanket over her arm. "Okay, I'll see you guys back at the house."
Jack snickered. "Come on, Natalie, it's just a fish autopsy!"
"I don't eat my autopsies, okay?" Her determined stride didn't relent.