Christel Khalil, Kate Linder, Bryton James"The Young and the Restless" panel discussion in celebration of the show's 45th Anniversary Presented by SAG/AFTRASAG-AFTRA James Cagney Boardroom Los Angeles04/04/18© Howard Wise/jpistudios.com310-657-9661
Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

All brothers and sisters should be as close as the on-screen duo that plays Devon and Lily.

On Christel Khalil’s birthday on November 30, Bryton James didn’t just buy her a present or cut her some cake, he spoke from the heart. “To be understood is a gift in life,” he Instagrammed, “and that gift is my best friend.”

It’s not like we didn’t know what a sweet, sensitive guy James is, but even we were like “wow” as we read his message to his on-screen sibling (with whom he’s pictured below in 2004). Her “talent is only surpassed by her ability to grow herself, be the parent [her 10-year-old son] Caden deserves and be the accepting, compassionate, honest friend we all deserve.

“I love you forever,” he concluded. “Happy birthday.”

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Christel Khalil, Bryton McClure "The Young and the Restless" Set CBS Television City 11/9/04 ©Brian Lowe/ 310-657-9661

From the looks of Khalil’s November 30 Instagram post, that’s exactly the kind that she had: It’s simply a beautiful photo of herself and Caden accompanied by heart emojis. But if you’ve even glanced at the image below, you already know that, don’t you?

James and Khalil go way back — further than you may even realize. They didn’t meet in 2004 when he joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as Devon, the youngster who’d become the adopted brother of her Lily. They met in 1996, when she guest-starred on an episode of his TGIF sitcom Family Matters. (The below scene is really all about Urkel, but in it, you can glimpse the babies — and seriously, James and Khalil were babies!)

“That week that she was on, we shared a classroom together,” he recalled for Soap Opera Digest earlier this fall. “We were hanging out in our downtime together. We got along great back then…

“It seemed like it was meant to be when I ended up getting Young & Restless and having her there,” he added. “I did my screen test with her, actually. That was the first time I realized that was the same person.” (The below shot is from a year into James’ run on the CBS soap.)

Christel Khalil, Bryton McClure Christel Khalil/Bryton McClure Photo Shoot JPI Studios 1/27/05 ©John Paschal/ 310-657-9661

Since then, James and Khalil have only grown closer — to the point that he’s Caden’s godfather. “We just went through very important times in our lives together,” James told Digest. “Her getting married at a young age, having her son, I was right there.

“Same with me,” he went on. “I got married at a young age, too, and went through a separation… When you share [such important times] with someone that you see every day… that natural bond kind of just develops.”

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Bryton James, Michael Hensley (Christel Khalil's son) attends The Young and the Restless Cast at the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimers at the The Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles, CA on November 3, 2018 © Jill Johnson/ 310-657-9661

On your way to the comments to join James in wishing Khalil a happy (now-belated) birthday, stop off at the photo gallery below to revisit memorable moments and much-missed characters from the 11,999 episodes of The Young and the Restless that preceded its big 12,000th.