(20 Years Ago. . .)
Far away, on the outer reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, a planet was destined to be turned into dust by a looming black hole, and the people of the Earth-like world were desperately trying to ascertain that their legacies would carry on into the future. Top scientists had been gathered to begin researching a way to save the Sharyneese people, but it was believed by the Seers of the world, that only a few were destined to survive the great disaster that was nearly upon them. The Seers instructed the scientists to continue work on two ships. One would be large enough to house nearly three thousand of the Sharyneese people, while the other ship, would only carry five passengers aboard it. Then, it was time to find the passengers for each vessel.
For the larger vessel, the Ark, the government held a lottery to fill the seats with any person beneath the age of forty, as long as they did not hold any life-threatening conditions. This rule automatically removed many of the government's leaders, as well as the Seers, themselves, from having any chance of surviving the approaching maw of destruction.
The crew of the smaller ship was selected by the government of Sharyn and the Seers. Together, they chose five boys, all below the age of thirteen, who would be able to handle the trip through space in Hibernation Sleep. Just to be certain that they had chosen the correct boys for the journey, the government brought in one-hundred other boys to put through the same testing procedures. Once the final preparations had been completed, the pod with the five boys aboard, was launched towards the other side of the massive spiral galaxy, beginning its two-decade journey to Earth.
One boy was left with his mind awake, though, responsible for keeping watch over the ship and their surroundings. Tymrk had been chosen as the leader of their crew, and it was to him that the chore fell after it was learned that he possessed a capacity for telepathy, a skill needed to maintain control of the ship as it traversed the hazards of space.
The scientists of Sharyn had little faith in the capabilities of the Seers of their world, so they created a third ship; one only large enough to carry a single passenger. The passenger that was selected, would spend eighteen years in the peaceful depths of Hibernation Sleep, while his ship traveled along another route to the destination of the Sharyneese people. The scientists also invented a biological agent that would keep their subject from ever suffering permanent damage to his person, not knowing what they were truly releasing upon the Universe.
"Why are you in Charleston?" Melissa asked in disbelief. "I need you here, Charles. There's something going on with Alexander. . ."
"I found a boy that was shot in the park when Marc and I were on our way back from the ice cream place," Charles said, interrupting his wife. "He wasn't going to make it unless we got him to the hospital. Marc has assigned some medbots to working on the kid, right now, but it doesn't look good, Melissa."
"Oh," Melissa said softly. "I'm sorry, Charles."
"It's fine, Melissa," Charles told his wife. "How busy are you, right now?"
"I just found out that my dad killed my little brother," Melissa said, barely containing her anger. So many years of her life had been nothing but a lie.
"I don't think that I heard you correctly, Melissa," Charles said in disbelief.
"No," the woman said, a slight sob in her tone. "You heard me correctly. Nick Martin murdered Alexander Martin on December 24th, 1985, and he fucking lied about it, Charles." The woman lost control slightly as a sob escaped her throat. "I've spent the past nineteen years wondering who would ever do something like that, Charles. It was the entire reason that I joined the Federation Youth Services. Now, I. . . I. . ." The woman faltered as she struggled to maintain control of her tears.
"How did you learn about this?" Charles asked.
"You're not going to believe this, Charles," Melissa said in disbelief, still trying to come to grips with everything that had happened.
"Try me," Charles said dryly.
"Alexander is a real boy, again," Melissa said as a smile spread across her lips. "Charles! I got my brother back!"
"Have you started the adoption procedures, yet?"
"What?" Melissa asked, stunned that she hadn't thought of it first. "Are you being serious, Charles?"
"Yes, Melissa," the woman's husband said with a light chuckle. "I've got another boy that I want you to place with us, as well."
"Charles?" Melissa asked in confusion. "What's going on? Tell me more about this boy that you found."
"His name is Enon," Charles explained. "When Marc and I found him, he wouldn't let Marc work on him unless I promised that I wouldn't leave his side. The medbots are working on him, now."
"Who shot him?" The Director felt her heart drop as she started to recall the other details that her husband had told her. "I'll send Harold once he has a chance to reconcile with Harris."
"That could take days, Melissa," Charles complained. "Arys has a lot of work to go through."
"Theresa worked a miracle," Melissa said with a smug grin. "Like I said, you shouldn't have left when you did, but I am glad that you found that boy. I'm also proud of you for deciding to take in the boy, Charles. I hope we can help him and Alexander both."
"Me, too, Melissa," Charles said in agreement. "So, Harold and Harris are working it out?"
Melissa looked over to where Harold was walking around with Harris tightly in his arms. Arys' head was lying on his father's shoulder, a dreamy smile on the boy's face as he was finally able to relax without a single care in the world. Melissa snapped a picture of the duo as Vanek watched them from his wheelchair. She sent the picture to her husband with a smile on her face.
"Look at your phone, Charles," Melissa told her husband.
"Why?" Charles asked for a moment before he fell silent.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, love," Charles replied with a light sniffle. "Do you see how happy they are?"
"Don't worry, Charles," Melissa reminded her husband. "We'll be a happy little family again in a few hours."
"I called Geoff and told him what was going on," Charles informed his wife. "He had a few choice words for me."
"Why?" Melissa asked in disbelief that her fifteen-year-old would ever utter a foul word.
"He's mad that I didn't call him sooner, and tell him what was happening," Charles said with a chuckle. "Needless to say, your pride and joy is okay with us adding to our family. You might want to call him and tell him about Xander, though. I didn't have any details about that."
Melissa giggled before she finally told her husband that she would call their son and give him the rest of the information.
"I need to talk to Alex, first," Melissa said, "but I think he'll be okay with getting a new family."
"He's spent two years on the streets, Melissa. That boy deserves a family.”
"I feel the same way," the woman said in agreement. "I'll ask Lieutenant Esparar to take me to Charleston with Harold, if I can get him to leave Harris with Vanek."
"Good luck with that, love," Charles laughed abruptly. "That man probably won't put that boy down until his arms fall off. You've got a fight on your hands."
"I'll call you back in a little bit," Melissa said before she ended the call with Charles after saying goodbye to the love of her life. He managed to keep the spark in their relationship, and Melissa only loved him more, and more, every day. She would do anything for him without question. Now, she needed to help him save a child, and bring the boy's abuser to justice. The only way she could do that was if Harold went with her, but she didn't want to make him leave Arys. The boy had already been through too much, and she didn't want to stress out the family any more than necessary. Then, Melissa looked down at her brother Alexander as he sat on one of the nearby benches and just stared in wonder at the feeling of the sunshine on his arms. The boy's smile was bright, and the woman couldn't stop from smiling as she continued to watch her little brother. Her gaze darkened for a moment as she thought about what he had been through, the way his life had been tragically cut short by the one man the siblings had thought was supposed to protect them. Instead, their father had ended Alexander's life, snuffed him out of existence like a candle's flame in the wind. Another life ended short by someone that had no right to judge any other soul. Melissa would get her revenge against the man that had lied to her for the duration of her life. Melissa would make him pay for destroying their family. I will avenge your murder, little brother.
Melissa was about to call out to her little brother when Noah Barnes came up to her, his platinum blond hair was nearly white in the sunlight. Melissa smiled at the assistant director as he joined her.
"What can I help you with, Noah?"
"I need to get back to Charleston," Noah said quickly. "Marc needs my help with a few things that are happening around the hospital there. He, also, told me to bring you along with me."
"I need to go anyway," Melissa said with a nod. "I need a few people."
The woman glanced back at the three security personnel that were shadowing her and her family. Lieutenant Greyson was constantly scanning their surroundings as he watched the small group. He was clearly dedicated to the safety of his assignments. She hoped that he and his team would be able to remain flexible over the next few days as her new division settled into a routine. Melissa also hoped that her routine wasn't going to be as unpredictable as it had been the past day.
"Melissa?" Noah looked up at her with concern in his eyes. "Are you alright?"
"I will be, Noah," Melissa said with a timid smile. "I just need to take a moment and process everything that has been going on."
"I have a friend that can help with that," Noah said with his own grin before he shrugged. "If you want. If not, I'm sure that adding a few kids to your family would help you adapt to the situation."
"I think that my husband is already trying to fill my home with children," Melissa said with a mischievous smile.
"Would you have it any other way?"
"No," the woman said as she glanced over and saw her little brother wave at her with a huge smile on his face. "I wouldn't give any of this up for any reason, Noah."
"Good, Melissa," Noah said with a firm nod. "I was hoping that you would say that."
"What are you up to, Noah?" Melissa asked the boy who suddenly looked innocent.
"Who? Me?" Noah asked with a giggle. "Come on, we've got places to be."
Arys held on tightly to Vanek as he watched the group of adults vanish in front of him. Isaac was propped in his improved wheelchair, visibly trembling as the columns of light from the transporter beams completely enveloped his tiny body and the chair. Harold gave his son a small wave as he vanished from sight.
"What would you like to do until the return of your father, Harris?" Vanek asked the child that was propped on his lap. "It would appear that we have been left to fend for our own entertainment."
Vanek turned his chair towards the elevator.
"Would you like to see what the cafeteria has to offer in the form of sustenance?"
"I guess," the boy replied before his stomach growled, betraying his true hunger. Arys' cheeks flushed red in embarrassment as Vanek smiled warmly at the child and patted his back.
"You do not need to hide your true feelings from me, Harris," Vanek told the child as he wheeled them towards the elevator. "I am your a'nirih, and it is my responsibility to make certain that you are taken care of until your sa-mekh returns."
"Can I call you daddy, too?" Arys asked shyly as they waited for the elevator to open.
"I do not see, why not, Harris," Vanek told the child. "We will inform your sa-mekh of your decision upon his return."
Just then, the elevator doors opened with a chime, and Arys gasped in disbelief. The doors of the elevator had opened to reveal the inside of a Denny's Restaurant. A small boy with spiky-auburn brown hair and hazel eyes stood at a podium with two menus in his hands and a wide smile on his face.
"Hi, welcome to Denny's," the boy told the Vulcan and his companion who were both stunned into silence. "The food here is better than any hospital, and probably the best grub you've ever had in the entire Universe! Is there only the two of you dining with us, today?"
"What's going on, daddy?" Harris asked, his entire body trembling in terror.
"I am not sure, Harris," Vanek said as he tried to reassure the boy. "I think we should go with it, though. If the food here is as good as they claim it to be, we should at least give it a try."
Arys looked at Vanek for a moment before he finally turned to the boy and grinned shyly.
"Yeah," he said quietly. "There's two of us."
"Follow me, please," the brown-haired boy said with a giggle before he led Vanek and Arys to a table. "Can I get you something to drink while you wait on your server?"
Arys took a spot at the table while the Host made room for Vanek's wheelchair, carefully moving one of the chairs out of the way.
"I would like a coffee, please," Vanek said with a nod.
"And you, sir?"
Arys frowned. He had never been to a restaurant before, so he didn't have any idea of what he could even possibly want. He felt a tear slide down his cheek as his shame started to take over him. Harris was about to jump from the chair he had just sat down in when the boy standing with them made a suggestion.
"It's okay," he said with a reassuring grin. "I know the perfect thing!"
"Umm, thanks," Arys said with a sigh of relief.
"No worries, my new friend," the boy said. "I'll make sure that your server gets you the yummiest food, too, okay?"
"Okay," Arys said timidly.
The boy smiled and went to get their drinks, leaving Harris sitting across from the wheelchair-bound Vulcan.
"Is this your first time being in a restaurant, Harris?" Vanek asked softly. The boy nodded in embarrassment. "Do not ever be afraid to try new things, Harris. You will miss out on too many new experiences if you let fear hold you back."
"Are you ever scared, Daddy Vanek?" Arys asked nervously.
"I used to be scared, all of the time," Vanek told the boy. "But when I was a little older than you, I learned how to lock away my emotions and use logic to solve problems."
"So, you don't have any emotions?" Arys asked in confusion.
"That is far from true, Harris," Vanek said dryly. "I still have emotions. I still feel things. I just decide whether or not to display those emotions to those people around me. I still feel a strong connection with your sa-mekh, just as I feel a strong connection with you, my son. That is never going to change."
"Is it love?" The boy asked. "I mean, do you love us?"
Vanek allowed himself to smile at the boy.
"Yes, Harris," Vanek told the boy. "I love you both, and I am looking forward to sharing my life with you."
"I've got your drinks, guys!" The boy that was acting as the host said as he walked up carrying a small plate with a mug of coffee on it, and he had a large milkshake in the other hand. The boy set the coffee cup in front of the Vulcan. "Here you are, sir." Then, the boy pulled several packets of cream from his apron pocket. "I have better creamer in the back, I'll bring it out in just a moment."
"Your attentiveness is appreciated, young man," Vanek said with a brief nod of his head.
The boy blushed slightly at the praise from the Vulcan before he slid the milkshake to a spot in front of Arys. "One strawberry-peanut butter shake, made special just for you," he said with a wide smile. "Your server will be right with you, gentlemen."
Then, the boy vanished in the blink of an eye.
"What was that?" Arys asked in disbelief.
"I believe that we are being toyed with, Harris," Vanek stated as he took a glance around the restaurant until he saw a mop of silvery-blond hair duck down behind a booth. The Vulcan turned his attention back to Harris. "Do not worry, Harris. I believe that Tyler only wants to give us some time to connect with each other."
"Tyler?" Arys asked, hoping for some sort of explanation.
"The details are still foggy to me, Harris," Vanek explained. "But I believe that he is not entirely human."
"Not even a little bit, Mr. Vanek," a steel-gray eyed boy said as he suddenly appeared in the seat next to Harris, making the boy jump in surprise. Then, Tyler dumped several different packets of creamer on the table next to Vanek's coffee cup. "Unless you're counting when I used to be human."
"I could be," Vanek stated. "Where is your counterpart?"
"He's around," Tyler replied with a shrug. "I think he's helping to hunt down the man that shot Enon, right now."
"Is the child going to recover from his injuries?"
"He'll recover from the gunshot wound," Tyler informed them grimly. "That's not why you're here, though."
"Would you care to explain, then?" Vanek pushed.
"I don't need to explain, Vanek," Tyler said cheekily as another boy wearing a server's uniform approached their table.
"Hi, guys," the waiter said with a wide smile. "The Host has already ordered for the brown-haired boy, I just need to know what you would like, sir." The boy smiled at Vanek.
"I will have the same thing as Harris," Vanek told them.
"That wouldn't be a good idea," Tyler said with a smug grin. "I think you would prefer what I'm having, Vanek."
"I shall heed to your warning, Tyler," Vanek said before he turned his attention to the waiter. "I will have the same thing as Tyler."
"Excellent, sir!" The waiter said as he took the menus and went to the back.
"Make sure you try your milkshake, Arys," Tyler said with a grin. "It's delicious."
Arys looked at the boy beside him before he leaned forward and hesitantly started sucking on the straw. His green eyes went wide in amazement as the flavors hit his tongue, and soon the boy had devoured half of his glass without another thought.
"That's really good," Arys said with a smile. "I'll have to thank the Host before we leave."
"Enjoy your meal, guys," Tyler said with a smile. "I have a Grand Slam waiting on me at my table."
Vanek looked at the boy with a raised eyebrow.
"What?" Tyler asked mischievously. "I'm a growing ball of energy, I need as much food as I can get!"
Arys giggled slightly as he returned to trying to finish off his milkshake. Then, Tyler vanished in the blink of an eye.
"Does he do that a lot?" Harris asked nervously.
"I do not know, Harris," Vanek told the boy honestly. "I only met them yesterday."
"Them?" Arys' mouth fell open in disbelief. "How many people can do that?"
"I believe that they are a species known as Mikyvis, Arys," Vanek tried to explain. "We will have to ask Tyler the next time our paths cross one another."
"Here you go, guys," the waiter said happily as he walked up to the table with a tray covered in plates of food. He set a massive pile of bacon in the center of the table before he set a plate of pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse in front of Arys. Arys' mouth watered at the sight of frosting and chocolate syrup drizzled over the different-sized pancakes. Vanek was given two servings of their Grand Slam breakfast, which the Vulcan enjoyed, immensely.
"Did you enjoy your pancakes, Harris?" Vanek asked the boy once Arys had put the last drizzly morsel into his mouth.
Harris nodded with a happy smile.
"Good," Vanek replied with a brief nod. "What would you like to do next?"
"What is there to do, Daddy Vanek?" Harris asked, looking expectantly at the blue-eyed alien.
"I shall pay our check, Harris," the Vulcan informed the boy. "Then, I will take you to visit my office."
"At Starfleet?" Harris asked, in wide-eyed disbelief.
Vanek nodded in confirmation.
"Am I dreaming, Vanek?" Harris asked suddenly, his tone serious as he stared at the man. "None of this seems real."
"If you were dreaming, Harris, I would not know," Vanek responded. "I would only be part of your dream, but I do not believe that you are dreaming. All of this feels like reality to me. You saved my life, and now, you are a part of my life, Harris. I would not have it any other way."
"Okay," Harris said, quietly. "I trust you, Daddy Vanek."
"Check, please!" Vanek said loud enough for a passing server to hear. Suddenly, their waiter appeared at the end of the table with a goofy grin on his face.
"Can I get you gentlemen anything else, this morning?"
Vanek looked at Harris who was blushing.
"I believe that Harris would enjoy another milkshake in a takeaway cup, if possible," Vanek said, ignoring the grin on both boys' faces.
"Is that all, sir?"
"That will be adequate, young man," Vanek told their server. "I would also like our final bill."
The boy shook his head.
"Your meal is on the house, gentlemen," the waiter told them with a grin. "Clan Short Division Leaders and Diplomats from Federation Youth Services always eat for free here."
Then, the boy held out his hand, and a large plastic cup appeared in his grasp. The waiter handed the cup to Arys with a smile.
"Here's your shake, sir," the waiter said. "Enjoy! Thanks for coming guys! I hope we cross paths, again!"
"Me, too!" Harris said in agreement before he and Vanek headed towards the exit, with Arys walking next to Vanek's wheelchair.
Tyler peeked over the back of the booth that he was sitting in and smiled as he watched the father and son walk out through the doors of the Denny's and back into the lobby of the hospital in Springfield, Vanek not even realizing that he had left his wheelchair behind.
Charles sat next to the biobed and held the tiny hand of the unconscious boy lying there. Charles's mind was spinning as he thought about the boy's blue eyes fading before the frail child fainted. The medbots had done their duty, and now the boy's recovery was solely on the child. The biobed was only accelerating the boy's natural healing, and Marc had told Charles that Enon would awaken within an hour. Charles expected the boy to be groggy when the anesthesia started to wear off, but the man could still not wait to meet his new son. He had decided to adopt the boy the moment he had promised to never leave the child's side. Enon would be his and Melissa's next child, left to grow up with Alexander as he continued his second chance at a human life. Charles only hoped that he would be able to give the child every ounce of love that the boy deserved.
"Can I talk to you for a minute, Charles?" Marc asked quietly as he stood across from Charles.
"Sure, Marc," Charles said wearily. The events of the past day were beginning to catch up to him, and the man still needed to sleep at some point. His rush of adrenaline was beginning to wear off and, he fought against the urge to yawn. "What's up, buddy?"
Marc smiled. "You look tired, we have cots available."
"Nah," Charles waved off the boy's offer. "Thank you, though. I promised Enon that I wouldn't leave his side. If I start breaking promises, now, it'll set a poor precedent for the future."
Marc knew the promise that Charles was talking about. It was the same reason that the medbots had complained when they were first trying to save Enon's life. Charles had refused to let go of the boy's hand. Marc didn't care, though. He told the medbots to find a way to save the boy's life without the boy's future father being removed from the situation, and they did, even if several of them complained about working conditions. Marc uttered one word that immediately corrected all of their attitudes in a flash, and he never heard another complaint out of them.
That was all it had taken before the medbots devoted themselves to saving the boy's life.
"You're a good man, Charles," Marc said, still grinning. "Now, about Enon." The boy sighed as he glanced at his clipboard. "The biobed has detected a substance within his system. It's proving to be a little more complicated to remove than we first anticipated. Whatever it is, it seems to be alive, Charles."
"Alive?" Charles asked in disbelief.
"Yes," Marc nodded. "Alive."
The boy sighed and sat on the edge of the biobed.
"It's definitely intelligent, to say the least," Marc admitted. "It doesn't just move throughout his body; I think it's trying to take over him."
"What is it, Marc?"
"I. . . I. . . I don't know, Charles," Marc admitted. "I've got an entire team of Medbots trying to figure out how to deal with this situation, at the moment. We don't even know what it's going to do to him when it spreads."
"What can you do in the time being?"
"We could always try a blood transfusion, but I doubt that it would work," Marc said in defeat.
"What blood type do you need?" Charles asked curiously.
"Perfect," Charles said with a grin. "He's just my type, Doc! You better go get your kit before I change my mind."
"Are you sure about this, Charles?"
"Positive," the man replied sincerely.
"We need to check you, first, to make sure that you weren't contaminated when we rescued the boy," Marc said grimly. "If you were, then I'm going to have to place both of you in isolation until we learn what this thing truly is capable of."
"Let's get this over with," Charles said soberly. "The only thing that matters is that Enon lives, Marc."
"Charles?" Marc looked up at the man in shock before his brow furrowed. "I appreciate the martyr act, but I don't think it will come to life or death. Hopefully. . ."
"Hopefully," Charles agreed before Marc left him alone with the boy.
Charles looked down at Enon and smiled at the still slumbering child.
"It would seem that you and I are going to be together for the long haul, Enon," Charles said with a slight smile. "I hope that you're ready for this, kid."
Tymrk shed several mental tears when he felt the Ark get pulled into oblivion as it passed near the core of the galaxy. The boy had no idea what had happened to the ship's telemetry, only knowing that his people were gone. He had felt the mental cry from the former home of the boys' when Sharyn and its solar system were eaten by the approaching black hole, but it was nothing like the cry he felt from the Ark. Tymrk did his best to shield the other members of his crew from the tidal wave of emotions, not wanting to break their minds after everything they had been through together. The chosen five had spent several months going through rigorous training, sharpening their minds and their muscles for the trip they were taking.
The Sharyneese had sent out multiple distress signals, only for all of them to be ignored by the intergalactic community. There would never be enough resources to remove everyone from the planet, but there was enough to make sure the planet wouldn't be completely lost in history.
Tymrk mentally sighed as he noticed their destination growing closer on the data reports that the evacuation pod had been giving him, regularly. He saw the regular space flights around the planet, and felt his spirits lift, hoping for a welcoming reception. The Seers had refused to tell the evacuees what to expect on their journey. All they knew, was that they would make it to safety. So, Tymrk was left without knowing anything besides what the rescue pod could detect.
The rescue pod automatically cloaked itself as it felt a variety of ships passing nearby at a high rate of speed. Tymrk was surprised that anybody could travel that fast. He did some mental calculations and figured that it would only take them hours to days to cross the galaxy, unlike Tymrk's rescue pod. He and the four other boys had been drifting for twenty long years. Long enough for Tymrk to lose his mind amongst the stars as he automatically attuned himself to their song. He could feel powerful beings bouncing around the galaxy as the pod drifted through space, the propulsion unit being powered by the different radiation particles that it was picking up as it traveled. No matter where the pod was located within the galaxy, Tymrk's mind could pick up the sense of hope coming from the direction of their destination. The hope was faint, at first, but it wasn't until the ship was within a month of the green and blue planet, that the feeling was the strongest. It was almost strong enough to pull Tymrk from his hibernation sleep, and the boy didn't want to spend an entire month living in a cramped cabin that was only meant to be used for the extremist of emergencies. Tymrk had thought they were going to have to pull out of hibernation sleep when the pod passed too close to the galactic core, and the vessel's sensors had found different anomalies within the life support systems of the ship. Luckily for the five boys, the sensors had returned to normal just as the ship started to turn away from the massive black hole, and its clutch of death. Tymrk had counted them lucky, and mentally checked on each of his companions to make sure that they didn't suffer any long-term medical conditions from their exposure to the gravitational forces exuded by the black hole. He didn't relax until he was certain they were all clear. Tymrk wasn't taking any chances.
The moment that the glow faded from around Melissa's body, she gave Noah a look that told the boy she needed to find Charles. Melissa glanced down to where Alexander stood beside her, a soft smile on his lips as he looked around at their new location. The small group was standing in the lobby of another hospital, a sign above the reception desk reading "Saint Mikey's Medical Center" on it in bold letters. Several sofas and chairs lined the waiting area, designed to make patients feel welcome, unlike most hospitals that only cared about their profit.
"Come with me, Melissa," Noah said as he motioned towards a set of double doors on the other side of the lobby.
"I can't leave Alex behind," Melissa said absently, already assuming the role as her little brother's guardian. She would make sure that the eleven-year-old would be able to enjoy his childhood this time. Alex glanced up and slid his hand into hers. Melissa looked down into the boy's blue eyes and smiled. "I need to talk to Charles, Alex. Do you want to come with me?"
Alexander nodded in reply and was soon walking with Noah and Melissa to the doors. The boy was quiet, which sort of shocked Melissa, but she put it off as everything the boy had been through since Arys arrived in their lives.
Melissa turned to see Harold and her Security Chief jogging to catch up to her. Lieutenant Greyson did not look happy as the group waited for them in the middle of the lobby.
"Director Conner," Daryl said, stressing the woman's title. "I would appreciate it if you would inform me when you are going to relocate, so that I may do my job."
"I apologize, Lieutenant Greyson," Melissa said humbly, listening to Noah snicker under his breath. "I'm still not used to having my own security detail."
"I'll let it slide, this time," Daryl said as he fell in beside Melissa. "Though, it would be beneficial for my stress levels if you tried to remember that I exist, ma'am."
"Of course, Lieutenant," Melissa smiled shyly, making her little brother laugh out loud.
Daryl narrowed his eyes at the brown-haired boy. "You're not free from the scolding, either young man," the lieutenant warned the boy, crisply. "Until I say otherwise, you are no longer permitted to go anywhere without one of my security team members with you. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Alexander answered meekly.
"Why does Alexander need an escort with him, now?" The Assistant Director of the Clan Short A.I. Division asked curiously.
"I'm surprised that you haven't figured it out yet," Daryl stated with a grin, reaching back, and pulling the young Alexander into his side. "This child just got his second chance on life. Add to that, the fact that he is the son of the Director of the F.Y.S. Ohio Valley Division, Alexander deserves as many bodyguards as you do, Mr. Barnes."
"I stand corrected," Noah said with a grin before he finally pushed the doors open to the I.C.U.
Alexander looked up at the brown-haired man with a shy smile.
"Thank you, sir," he said.
"It's my pleasure, Alexander." Daryl said with a grin.
The small group stepped through the doors, only to fall short when they noticed all of the medbots moving up and down the corridor. Noah pushed to the front of the group just as Marc came out of the furthest room.
"Stay there!" Marc said urgently. "Don't come any closer! We're under lockdown!"
"What's going on, Marc?" Noah asked, urgently.
"Go!" Marc practically shouted. "I'll get ahold of you on the communicator. Just, don't come in here!"
Noah looked at Marc, a steely glint in his eye until he nodded once, and turned and left the hallway, ushering Melissa, Daryl, and Alexander along with him back to the lobby. Melissa was clearly distressed, her thoughts focused solely upon her husband that she knew was in the I.C.U., right at the center of the contamination.
Isaac Jennings spun his chair around in a circle, smiling as he giggled, happy that his mother could never harm him, again. The boy had been reunited with his father. Finally, after so many years of being lied to by the woman that he thought loved him, Isaac had true love back in his life. He felt it every time that his father looked at him or hugged him. Isaac felt the strong pull of love wash over him, making him feel lighter in his soul, than he had ever felt before. Isaac was happy.
Dalton Jennings, Isaac's father, was busy studying the hospital around them, glancing in his son's direction whenever he felt his son watching him. Isaac would smile sheepishly, every time his father caught him staring, but his father would just smile at the boy, before returning to whatever he was doing. Isaac's attention was drawn to where Director Conner came back out of a set of double doors with Noah Barnes, Alexander, Harold, and Lieutenant Greyson following her. Melissa looked panic stricken, she clutched onto Greyson's shoulder tightly, her hand pressed lightly to her lips. Noah was talking quickly, but they were too far away for Isaac to hear what they were saying. The wheelchair-bound boy managed to catch Alexander's eye and waved the boy over.
"Hey, Isaac," Alexander said with a nervous grin. "What's up, man?"
"What's going on over there?" Isaac asked, motioning towards the group that had just come out of the I.C.U. "Your mom looks terrified, Alex."
"There's a quarantine in effect," Alexander informed the younger boy. "Noah is trying to get details, now." Then, Alexander seemed to have caught what Isaac said. "Did you just call her my mom?"
"She adopted you, didn't she?" Isaac asked, not really understanding what Alexander's confusion stemmed from.
"Yeah," Alexander replied, absently. Then, he turned to study his older sister. He had never expected to be able to touch her, feel her arms wrapped around him as she reassured him whenever he was sad, never knowing that it was their father that was destroying him ever since the day that their mother had died. Isaac is right, he thought sadly. I don't have a mom, anymore, and my dad killed me before dumping my body along the railroad tracks. Melissa agreed to take me into her home and raise me, she's more of a mother than I deserve.
Isaac could only smile as Alexander walked back over to Melissa with a dreamy smile on his face. Alexander reached out and squeezed Melissa's hand as he got closer to her. Melissa glanced down at Alexander, noticing the expression on his face, she picked him up into her arms and held the boy against her chest.
"Is daddy going to be okay, momma?" Xander asked in a soft voice. Isaac heard Melissa gasp in surprise before she hugged Alexander tightly and kissed his cheek.
"What are you doing, mister?" Dalton asked, as he studied the smug grin on his son's face.
"Nothing major, daddy," Isaac replied innocently. "Just helping a friend figure something out, is all."
Dalton followed his son's gaze, and saw Melissa holding Alexander, nearby. He looked back down at his son, who managed to look sheepish for a moment. "Nothing major, huh?"
"Not really," Isaac grinned. Then, the blond turned his head towards the lobby doors for a moment. "Can I go outside, dad?"
"Let me get a guard for you," Dalton said as he waved over one of the younger looking security guards. Isaac watched nervously, as the young man with brown hair headed towards him with a brief smile on his face.
"How can I be of service, Assistant Director?" The brown-haired man asked.
Dalton motioned to his son. "Would you be willing to take Isaac outside for me, Lieutenant. . .?"
"Lieutenant Jeff Sawyer, sir," the security officer, responded quickly. "It would be my pleasure to look after Isaac."
"You look young to be security, Lieutenant Sawyer," Dalton admitted as he studied the younger looking man.
"I'm seventeen, sir," Jeff replied with a grin. "I joined Starfleet when I was fifteen."
"He's one of my best officers, Assistant Director," Daryl said as he joined the trio, still keeping a close eye on Melissa and Alexander. "He would probably be safer if he went outside, anyways. The I.C.U. is under quarantine, until Doctor Furst says otherwise."
Dalton nodded and knelt next to his son's chair.
"Are you going to be alright if I go take care of some business?" The man asked Isaac softly, his hazel eyes were filled with concern.
"Are you going to make sure that Alexander gets the justice that he deserves?" Isaac asked, he risked a quick glance where Melissa and Alexander were still talking with each other.
"I won't stop until he does, Isaac," Dalton promised. "That's my job!"
"I love you, daddy," Isaac said softly. "Don't forget about me."
"I could never forget about you, Isaac," the man replied before he gave Isaac a quick kiss on the forehead. "I love you, baby boy."
"Are you ready, Mister Jennings?" Jeff asked the boy as he moved around to push the boy's wheelchair.
Isaac giggled. "It's just Isaac."
"Okay, but that's a really weird name, Just Isaac," Lieutenant Sawyer said with a dismissive shrug. The man appeared to be just having fun, but he was always scanning the environment as he pushed the small boy towards the door. "You should go by Isaac, though. It's easier, Just Isaac."
Isaac giggled again, not knowing that his father was watching with a silent tear of happiness rolling down his cheek.
Tymrk panicked when the alarm sounded throughout the interface. The life support systems were running low on power, and Tymrk was going to have to make choices as to who would live or die amongst his team. It was the only way to ensure the survival of the others. He unconsciously ran the calculations for the amount of power that the pod would need to reach its destination before he came to a grim conclusion. Only two of them would be able to survive the journey.
The choice needed to be made, though, and his people had chosen him to be the leader to make that decision should the time come. He had spent the past several years going through different scenarios in his head, should a situation like this arise, but he never thought to actually have to put his idea into action. There was only one choice to logically join him.
It has to be Samy, he told himself. He's the only one of us that is guaranteed to survive.
Tymrk reviewed the other boys' records one last time to make certain that he wasn't making a mistake. If he chose the wrong one, they would all die, and everything that they had been put through would have been for nothing. Tymrk's initial assumptions were correct, though. Samy was the one with enough power left in his life support system to make it the entire duration of the journey. Only Samy had the skill and training to revive Tymrk himself from his hibernation sleep. Samy would be revived just before the pod entered the planet's atmosphere, as long as everything worked properly with the Life Support systems, and once the ship had landed, it would be up to Samy to revive as many of the other crew members as he could.
If he can revive us, Tymrk thought miserably. I guess we'll find out in a half hour.
Then, Tymrk entered the command that would set into motion the landing procedures, which would pull the power from the remainder of the pod.
It's up to you, Samy, Tymrk thought as he said a silent prayer for the others aboard the pod.
Charles lay on the biobed with a very nervous looking doctor holding a scanner over his body. Charles chuckled lightly. "So, what's the prognosis, Doc?" His eyes widened at the youthful chime of his voice. "Could I, umm, get a mirror, Marc?"
"In just a minute, Charles," Marc reassured the man. His brow was furrowed as he studied the readout on the scanner. He mumbled to himself. "This is so, weird, Charles. I have no idea what's going on, but it seems to be slowing down, now."
"What is it, Marc?" Charles asked, still confused by the sound of his voice. "Just be forward with me, man. I can take it." Charles winced when his voice squeaked.
Marc frowned. "Are you sure, Charles? This is life changing."
Charles nodded grimly. "Out with it, Marc."
"Fine," the young-looking doctor said. "You were infected with whatever is in Enon's blood, Charles. It did something to you, though. It reversed your aging."
"Bull shit," Charles squeaked again before he could stop himself. Marc chuckled lightly.
"Watch your tone, young man," Marc chastised the man with a mock frown. "Let me go get you a mirror, really quick."
Charles followed Marc from the room with his eyes, still confined to the biobed, his eyes fell upon Enon's sleeping form in the biobed across the room. That poor kid, Charles thought with a frown. I wonder how this thing affects his body. Charles turned his gaze back towards the ceiling and stared at the tiles as he waited for Marc to return.
"Are you okay, Charles?" Marc asked as he came back to Charles's bedside, a handheld mirror in his right hand.
"Yeah," Charles replied with a slight smile. "Just trying to gather my thoughts."
"I brought that mirror you requested," Marc announced, holding the mirror up before hesitating to give it to Charles. "Promise me something, Charles?"
"What is it, Marc?" Charles asked seriously.
"Promise me, that you won't freak out, and try to leave your bed when you see your reflection, Charles," Marc stated seriously. "It's for your safety, and the safety of everybody in this facility that you do exactly as I say."
"I understand, Marc," Charles acknowledged, remembering how fast the strange virus had spread throughout his body. "I won't leave this bed, but I can't promise to not freak out, Marc."
"Deal, then," Marc said warily before he handed Charles the mirror.
Charles took a deep breath and tried to relax himself before he brought the mirror up to where he could see his reflection. Instead, of the nearly forty-year-old man with crow's feet and wrinkle lines all across his face from years of constantly working, Charles saw himself at twelve-years-old, just stepping into the cusp of puberty, full of the youthful energy that he had felt over twenty years, prior.
"Oh, shit," Charles mumbled in disbelief. "This is impossible."
"Obviously," Marc said with a teasing grin. "It's not impossible, Charles."
"Melissa is not going to be happy about this," Charles stated sadly as he continued to study the boy staring back at him from the mirror. The boy in the mirror frowned as he considered the fact that he was going to lose everything he had worked so hard to gain. The hardest part for him was the realization that he was going to lose Melissa, as well. His thoughts were filled with sadness. I look younger than my own son, now.
Suddenly, Enon sat up, screaming in terror, making Charles and Marc both jump in surprise.
"They're going to die!" Charles and Marc both looked at each other in confusion, until Enon's blue eyes fell upon the younger form of Charles. His voice was full of sadness and regret as several tears fell down his cheeks. "Oh no, I did it, again."
"What did you do, Enon?" Marc asked nervously.
"I'm so, so, sorry Charles," Enon apologized quietly. "I'm so, terribly, sorry. This should have never happened to you."
"Enon," Charles said the boy's name sharply to grab his attention. "What's going on?"
"My blood," the boy tried to explain. "Some scientists from my home world, they altered it, made me better. Or so they claimed. It's a curse really. As long as you don't transfer bodily fluids with someone, you'll never pass it on to anybody else, though. That's the only good thing about it, Charles. You can contain it to just the two of us. We'll be stuck together through the end of days, though." Enon looked sad, again. "So many lives lost, lives that could have been saved if they would have just sent everyone. . ."
Marc approached the boy's bed, slowly, his hands held out where the child could see them. "Are you okay, Enon?"
"Now that I'm not alone?" Enon asked with a hopeful smile cast in Charles's direction. "I'll always be okay, Doctor Furst."
"Good," Marc said with a grin. "Would you mind telling me who is going to die?"
Enon's eyes went wide in fear.
"We have to get to Springfield, Marc!" The boy pleaded desperately. "Their ship is almost here, and it's out of control! They're going to crash!"
"Are you sure that the "stuff" in your blood is only transmitted by exchanging body fluids?" Marc asked, clearly hesitant to lift the quarantine. "This is huge risk for us, Enon."
"I'm sure, Doctor Furst," Enon said with a nervous giggle. "There's only two people in existence that have it."
"Me and you," Charles said absently as he continued to look at the other boy. "Will I ever grow up, again?"
"No," Enon said sadly. "This is who you are, forever."
"Okay then," Marc said with a decisive nod. "Let's get you guys dressed, and I'll see if we can get some transpo-."
Marc's voice suddenly fell silent, all of the boys vanished, leaving the room empty.
"A new property has been chosen for you, Melissa," Noah was telling the woman who was barely registering what was being said. "We made sure it was something within your tastes, of course, and you will always have the option to decorate as you see fit."
"Wait," Melissa was trying to make herself focus as her mind continued to drift to thoughts about her husband. She knew that Noah was trying to distract, and only the mention about a new house had managed to snag her attention. "A new house, Noah? Don't you think that's overboard?"
"It doesn't hurt to be ready for the inevitable, Director Conner," Noah reminded her. "Wouldn't you like to have room for your growing family, or did you really think that Alexander was going to be the last one?"
"He's already mentioned adopting, Enon," Melissa said with a slight grin, realizing that Noah was completely correct when it came to the idea of having a larger home.
Melissa rolled her eyes and pushed the boy away from her playfully.
Then, Alexander walked up to her, and slid his hand into her own. Melissa immediately looked down at her little brother, his smile seemed to warm the woman to her very core as she gazed into his sparkling blue eyes. Melissa couldn't stop herself from lifting Alexander into her arms so she could hold him. She needed his comfort, as much as he needed hers. That was the way it had always been for them when they were children.
"Is daddy going to be okay, momma?" The boy asked as he nuzzled into Melissa's shoulder, not realizing how loud his voice was carrying, until Isaac smiled at him happily. Melissa gasped in surprise at the use of the word, and kissed Alexander soundly on the cheek. Then, Alexander whispered only loud enough for Melissa to hear him. "Will you be my mom, Melissa? You're all I have."
"I would be proud to call you my son, Alexander," Melissa told the boy, barely able to withhold her tears. "I love you so much, baby boy. Charles is going to be so happy."
"Momma Melissa?" A small voice asked, making the woman turn around. She smiled when she saw Kyle Richardson standing in front of her, kneading his hands together, nervously.
"Hi, Kyle," Melissa greeted the boy. "What's wrong, little one?"
Melissa wanted to hold her son, but she also wanted to comfort the tiny boy standing before her. His brown eyes were filled with worry, and Melissa could almost feel the worry emanating from his small frame.
"I have bad news for you, Momma M," Kyle said softly. "You're not going to like this."
Melissa gasped when she suddenly found herself sitting in one of the nearby chairs, Alexander cuddled up in her lap, with Kyle cuddled up in Alex's lap, whispering softly to Alexander. Melissa could hear the words being spoken between the two boys sharing her lap, but the words were forgotten like dust on the breeze. Then, the spell seemed to break, almost as soon as it began.
"Sorry, Momma M," Kyle said sheepishly. "I had to tell Alexander something, and nobody else was allowed to know what it was." The boy giggled nervously.
"I understand, Kyle," Melissa reassured the boy. "So, I doubt that my cuddles are good enough that you searched me out just to sit on my lap."
The tiny Mikyvis blushed.
"I wish that was the only reason, Momma M," he said in a barely audible voice. "It's about Charles."
"What happened, Kyle?" The woman asked, trying to keep herself from panicking.
"He contracted an alien-made contagion that has reversed his age," Kyle told Melissa. "He's got the body of a twelve-year-old, now, Momma M."
Then, Melissa started laughing, making Kyle and Alexander exchange nervous glances. Kyle frowned when Melissa continued to laugh before the brown-haired woman burst into tears, clutching onto the two boys as tightly as she could without hurting them, sobbing as her emotions finally caught up to her. The idea of losing the man that she loved was the proverbial "final straw", pushing the woman into the arms of her grief. Alexander cried along with his mother.
Arys and Vanek walked along the sidewalk in front of the hospital, the boy holding the Vulcan's hand as they talked loosely with each other, Vanek helping to ease the boy's remaining apprehensions regarding his father. Harris asked question after question, growing more at ease with the Vulcan every passing moment solidifying their blossoming bond.
Harris Conner couldn't stop smiling as he listened to Vanek's stories about his childhood on Vulcan, hearing why Vanek would only emote around Harris, and why it was a joke for his Uncle Charles to try and get the Vulcan to show any type of emotion. Arys giggled as the Vulcan described some of the different ways that Arys' uncle would try to do it.
"Did you ever break?" Harris asked curiously.
"Not on accident, Harris," Vanek replied honestly. "I would let your Uncle Charles assume that he had won, and that would give me a reprieve from the game for a day, or two."
Arys giggled and bumped his shoulder into the man's hip. Vanek squeezed Harris's shoulder affectionately. Harris smiled before something caught his eye coming from the skies above.
"What's that?" The boy asked, watching the silver speck grow larger.
"I do believe that it is an alien vessel, Harris," Vanek replied, never removing his hand from Harris's shoulder in case they found themselves in a hostile situation.
The father and son watched with bated breath as the vessel burned the skies, heading straight towards them. Vanek was just about to pull Harris into his arms, and make a dash for the hospital, when Doctor Furst appeared with two boys in tow.
"They're coming in too fast!" The black-haired boy said, his voice filled with panic.
"What do we do, Enon?" The brown-haired boy asked as he stood next to the boy named Enon.
"I don't know, Charles," the black-haired boy replied. Both of the boys looked at Marc, expectation clearly evident in their eyes.
"What do you want me to do about it?" Marc asked, but it was Arys that figured out how to handle the out-of-control ship.
"Use a tractor-beam!" Arys shouted towards the trio, not even catching the names that the boys had called each other.
Marc pulled out a small communicator, and shouted orders into the device without hesitation. Harris watched in awe as a strange light suddenly surrounded the ship, the vessel slowing down, almost instantly.
Enon and Charles hugged each other excitedly, before they both ran over to envelope Harris in their celebration.
"Thanks, Harris!" Charles said, his green eyes sparkling with excitement. "I can't believe that it worked!"
Arys looked at the two boys in confusion.
"Who are you guys?"
Charles froze, and turned towards Harris, slowly.
"You don't recognize me?" Charles looked at Harris, the excitement that had once once with filled his expression was replaced with sadness.
"I'm sorry," Arys tried to reassure the boy. "I'm not from here, so I don't know many people."
"It's okay, Arys," Charles said, hugging Harris tightly. "I'll explain everything to you, once there's time, buddy."
Harris looked at Charles in disbelief. "Uncle Charles?"
The brown-haired boy giggled and shrugged his shoulders.
"What happened to you?" Arys couldn't believe that his uncle looked just like a kid, again.
"I'll explain it later, Arys," Charles repeated himself, rolling his eyes in mock annoyance. Harris couldn't take his eyes off of his uncle. Charles just giggled before he hugged Arys, again. "I promise."
The rest of their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the vessel's thrusters sputtering to life into a dull whining noise. Arys and Vanek both looked at each other.
"Intriguing," Vanek stated with an arched eyebrow. "Very intriguing, Harris."
"I agree, daddy Vanek." Harris replied with a serious nod. "Very intriguing."with filled his expression was replaced with sadness.
Melissa stared at the house, her heart hammering in her chest as the memories of her childhood flooded back to her. She had left this place when she graduated from college, and Melissa had never returned to the house where she grew up. The memories that were filled with lies from the time that her mother had died from cancer.
"Are you alright, Director Conner?" Dalton Jennings asked as he stepped up to Melissa's right side.
"I will be," she said, the determination in her voice was tainted with anger.
"Are you sure, Melissa?" Harold asked, taking the spot to Melissa's left. The security guards had already spread themselves out around the trio, ready to defend their lives if needed.
Lieutenant Greyson took the lead, motioning for Melissa to follow him. "Let's move, Director Conner. The suspect is confirmed to be inside the house."
Melissa felt her heart flutter at Daryl's words, and she took a deep breath to calm herself before allowing her body to follow the security officer. By the time her knuckles made contact with the front door, Melissa was as calm as she could get. The woman took several deep breaths as she listened to the heavy footsteps approaching the door.
"Who is it?" A man demanded gruffly, Melissa recognizing the sound of her father's voice immediately.
"Nicholas Martin?" Melissa called out, knowing that the man wouldn't open the door until he knew why they were all there. "We're here to discuss the murder of Alexander Martin. . ."
Melissa was cut off as the door was yanked open violently, and a tall, overweight man stepped forward threateningly. "Who the fuck do you think you are?" Melissa looked up at the white-haired man with a pointed expression on her face. The man's mouth fell open, his blue eyes wide in disbelief. "Melissa? Is it really you? It's been years. . ."
"I know," Melissa said quickly. "It would have been longer, but we found some new information regarding Alexander's untimely demise."
The man faltered, fear flashing in his eyes. Then, he took on a look of resolve. "Your information is false, Melissa."
"I have it on good authority, Mr. Martin, that you are directly responsible for the death of Alexander Charles Martin," Melissa told him dryly.
"Your source is wrong," the man said, clearly confident that he had settled this matter, years ago. "Why would you ever reopen a case that caused our family so much grief?"
"Because, dad!" Melissa stated pointedly. She thought about everything that her little brother-, no. That wasn't right. Alexander is her son, now. "My son deserves justice for everything that you did to him!"
"You have no idea what you are talking about, Melissa!" The man snapped angrily. "Why would I ever harm my own son?"
"Let's ask him for ourselves, Mr. Martin," the woman said before she turned and nodded to Dalton. The Assistant Director stepped away from the group, pulling out his cell phone and dialing a number. Dalton had barely put the phone up to his ear when Tyler appeared, clutching Alexander's hand tightly.
"Never mind," Dalton could be heard saying before he shoved his phone back into his pocket. The blond-haired man turned to face the two boys. "Thank you, Tyler."
"You're welcome, Mr. Jennings," Tyler replied with a giggle. Then, he turned and scowled at Nick Martin who was staring at the two boys in disbelief. Tyler hugged Alexander suddenly, turning the boy away from the man that used to be his father. "Hurry up, Harold. Alex shouldn't be here. He's shaking out of control."
"This isn't possible," Nick said, his voice barely a whisper. Nobody saw the look of anger flash through the man's eyes except for Daryl Greyson, the only man focused solely on the imposing man standing in front of Melissa. Nick felt his anger growing. He felt like they were playing a joke on him. This was a little boy that just happened to look like his long dead son. Nick wouldn't stand for this. He would make his daughter pay like he should have when she was a child.
Melissa turned back to face her father when she heard the report of a gunshot. The woman's face fell as she was in time to witness the red stream of blood begin to pour from the tiny hole that was sitting just on the bridge of the man's nose, directly between his eyes. Then, Nick Martin fell backwards, dead before his body struck the ground. Melissa looked back to see Lieutenant Greyson just slipping his pistol back into its holster.
"My apologies, Director Conner," Daryl stated, trying to keep the agitation from showing in his voice. "While you were looking at your son, the suspect moved to attack you, ma'am. As for the pistol, I was informed by one of my superiors before coming here, that I wasn't supposed to use my Starfleet issued phaser for this security detail."
"It's true, Melissa," Tyler piped up. "Mr. Martin thought you were playing a trick on him, trying to make him confess. He was going to try to kill you."
Melissa turned and looked at the corpse of the man she had known to be her father. Mentally, she hoped the man would rot in Hell for eternity, knowing that would be too good for what he did to Alexander. Melissa turned to check on the boy, just as he slammed into her. The woman had no choice but to hold the boy, mother and son weeping together as they felt relief over the end of their nightmare. The past was the past, now. All Melissa and Alexander had to look forward to, was their future together as mother and son.
'It's up to you, Samy.'
The voice was Tymrk's. Samy knew that much as he slowly felt himself drift back to consciousness. It was only his mind that was waking up, though. The life support systems weren't powerful enough to keep everyone alive, and the boy could feel the rest of them fading fast.
Did the Seers predict this when they sent us on our journey? Samy asked himself, as he felt Krof slip away into the void of the afterlife. The boy did everything he could to ignore his grief, focusing on keeping the shuttle from crashing into the approaching planet. They would all die if he lost control, now. Samy studied the reports from the small ship's scanners, mentally frowning in disgust as he saw how much power had been lost after the vessel had passed closer to the galactic core than expected. Nobody is going to be alive when we land, especially if I don't figure out how to keep the power cells from overloading.
The shuttle began to shake with turbulence as the vessel performed its aerobraking maneuver in the upper atmospheres of Earth. Samy could hear the steady corrections the computer was making to keep the shuttle from tumbling out of control. Samy also heard the mental groan of Zylnas as his life slipped away. Then, Samy felt the vessel slow down rapidly. He checked the feedback from the sensors, expecting to see the Earth swallowing the shuttle whole. Instead, the ship carrying the boys was bathed in a white light, making it hard for the alien to even see the ground beneath them. Samy felt something, though. Someone that he had not felt with his mind in a very long time.
Could Enon really be here? Samy thought with a sense of hope. Enon had gone missing two years before Tymrk and the others left Sharyn behind. Orez, Samy's life mate, and Enon's identical twin, had suffered the most when his brother went missing, but now, there was hope for all of them. Orez had only made it aboard the ship because Samy had fought with the boy, tooth and nail, to keep him from giving up. Samy couldn't live without Orez, much like Orez couldn't live without Enon. It was only by the grace of the gods that Enon and Orez would be able to hold each other, again. Samy pushed out with his mind, finding the familiar link that he shared with Orez, and sent feelings of joy and peace to his life mate. They could be a family, again.
The computer used minimal power to keep itself level as the landing gear slid out from the bottom of the vessel, just in time for the ship to touchdown upon the surface of the Earth. Samy gave the command for his brethren to be awoken from their slumber. It was time for them to mourn their losses, so they could carry on the name of their people.
The air outside of the hospital was chilly, but Isaac didn't care as long as the boy could feel the warm glow of the sun upon his face. Lieutenant Sawyer was sitting on the bench next to Isaac's wheelchair, his eyes constantly scanning their immediate surroundings. Isaac wasn't put off by the man's demeanor, though. The boy found it interesting that the young man would want to guard him so fervently. Didn't he have his own life to look forward to? Didn't he have his own family?
Isaac smiled thoughtfully; his eyes drawn towards the glow of the sun peeking out over the top of the hospital as it traversed the skies above. The boy had a lot to consider, his entire future lying wide open before him. The possibilities were endless for Isaac, and he was finally beginning to get used to the idea of having people that cared about him. The boy had been through too much in his life, and he wasn't certain that he could handle anything else untoward, that life could throw at him.
"You're too young to have that much on your mind, Isaac," Jeff said, making Isaac grin. "You should be out here, running around with friends, living the life that God gave you."
"In case you haven't noticed, Jeff," Isaac stated as he grabbed his wheels and spun himself around. "I'm stuck in a wheelchair, and I don't have any friends. The life that God gave me didn't get better until a few hours ago."
"I think I remember coming in near the end of that, Isaac," Jeff responded with a grin. "Now, from what I remember, you have at least, two friends. Aren't Alexander and Harris your friends?"
Isaac shrugged. He liked Alexander. The boy had rescued Isaac when he had finally found a way to break free from the room his former mother had imprisoned the nine-year-old inside of. Then, there was Arys, the boy from another universe. He was the son of Harold Conner, the man that had passed the death sentence on Isaac's mother. Isaac hadn't had the chance to introduce himself to Harris, because the boy was either clinging to his father, or he was clinging to the Vulcan named Vanek. Isaac wanted to ask Alexander what Harris had been through, but Isaac had decided at the last moment that it wasn't any of his business.
Are they really my friends, though? The boy asked himself. Could they be my friends?
Isaac couldn't help but grin as he envisioned the three of them sitting together. There were others there, but Isaac couldn't make out their faces. He could see Alexander the clearest of them all, though. Even the vision he saw of himself wasn't nearly as clear as the one he saw of Xander, his hero. Finally, Isaac had an answer for Jeff.
"I want to be their friends," the boy said, timidly. "Do you think that they'll want to be friends with me, even if I'm in a wheelchair?"
"From what I remember, Isaac, you haven't been told that you couldn't walk," Jeff reminded the boy. "You're only in the chair until Noah and Marc can figure out everything that's wrong with you. They're just being cautious."
"Oh," Isaac said, his spirits slowly lifting, again. "That gives me a better chance at making friends, huh?"
"I'd say that it does, Isaac," the security guard confirmed.
"Thanks, Jeff," Isaac grinned at the young man. "You're pretty smart for an old guy."
The seventeen-year-old rolled his eyes and proceeded to tickle the wheelchair-bound boy, making Isaac cry out in happiness and joy. Jeff finally relented his attack, leaving Isaac breathless and smiling. Jeff and Isaac both glanced over at the sound of transporter beams, in time to see Dalton Jennings appear with another guard beside him.
"Daddy!" Isaac cried out happily, making Dalton smile as he hurried over to his son. He didn't stop until he had the boy in his arms and was hugging him into his chest. Isaac kissed Dalton's cheek. "It's okay, daddy. You're never going to lose me, again."
Dalton couldn't stop the slight sob that escaped his throat. The man kissed his son on the cheek, repeatedly.
"It would kill me if I did, Isaac," Dalton told his son. "I love you more than life, buddy."
"I love you, too, daddy," Isaac responded. "Forever."
"Mr. Jennings?" Father and son turned to see Noah standing there.
"What's up, Noah?" Dalton asked the smiling boy.
"The quarantine over the I.C.U. has been lifted," Noah informed them. "I'd like to have one of my doctors take a look at Isaac, if you don't mind."
"Could you give us a moment, Mr. Barnes?" Dalton asked. "I promise that I'll bring him right in."
Noah nodded with a grin, before he turned and went back inside the hospital. Isaac smiled at his father as the man set him back down in his wheelchair.
"There's always work to be done," Dalton said with a mock frown, making Isaac giggle. Then, Dalton pulled a small black box from his pants pocket. He placed the small box in Isaac's lap. "I was able to bribe a friend into making a quick pitstop before dropping me off here."
"What is it, daddy?" Isaac asked curiously. It was rare for him to ever receive gifts from anyone without them expecting some kind of favor in return.
"Open it, Isaac," his father told him warmly.
Isaac nodded and reached out with trembling hands for the box. He lifted the lid from the black box and smiled when he saw the two silver chains resting inside. At the end of each chain was a half of a heart, one with Father eloquently stenciled across its surface, and the other with the word Son in the same font. The boy's trepidation faded quickly, realizing that this gift from his father would only need one thing in return. He looked up at Dalton with tears in his eyes. The man couldn't resist the sudden urge to hold his son and pulled him back into his arms. Jeff chuckled lightly as he watched the father and son interact with each other. Then, the security officer grabbed the black box to keep Isaac from dropping it and proceeded to help the duo put on their individual necklaces. Isaac smiled dreamily as he studied the word Son that was on his half of the heart. Then, the boy reached forward and took his father's half of the heart and held the pieces together for a moment.
"We're whole when we are together, Isaac," Dalton said softly, kissing the boy on his cheek. "Come on, let's not keep Director Barnes waiting, any longer. I want to get home."
Dalton went to put his son back in the wheelchair, but Jeff had already pulled it out of reach, and was motioning for the man to lead the way with Isaac. Dalton silently thanked the man, grateful for the extra time with Isaac in his arms. Dalton knew that he would never be able to get enough of the affection he was receiving from the child that had been kept from him for so long.
"Is Xander going to be okay, daddy?" Isaac asked as they approached the glass doors leading to the Emergency Room lobby.
"Alexander is going to be perfectly fine, baby boy," Dalton reassured his son. "His former father is now residing with your former mother."
"Good," Isaac said with a nod, surprising his father. "They both deserve to rot."
"Yes, they do, son," Dalton agreed. "Yes, they do."
Holy crap! Another chapter done and out of the way!
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As always, special thanks to all of my readers, and to my editors for tolerating me as I've been working through this chapter!
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