From: Snwdemon

Subject: Who will catch my fall (Part 2)

Chapter 1: (M/b, b/b, abusive situations, no sex)

            WARNING: This story contains descriptions of abusive acts, both physical and sexual in nature, involving MINOR boys. I wish to explain that this story is not true! Further, it is not intended to promote illegal acts against minors, but to educate people as to what a minor child has to do in order to survive in a severely abusive environment that they are trapped. One of the most famous examples of this was Steven Stayner, who was kidnapped at age 7 and severely abused for 7 years. He was subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse. I have had the privilege of working with a number of boys like him, and I consider all of them to be extremely brave. Many people still believe that children who stay with an abuser/captor do so because they want to. This is utterly untrue, and is proven through numerous interviews, behavioral, and psychological studies conducted with these victims. A young child does not have the same ability to cope with stressful situations as an adult would because they have not had the privilege of time and experience that an adult has. Therefore, they rely more on their basic instincts, and learn quickly what they need to do in order to survive. Thus, when they are removed from that abusive situation, they have an extremely hard time adjusting to their new environment because they are not familiar with trust, caring, and compassion. These are emotions that a child has to learn once they are introduced into a new, non-abusive, and stable environment. People assume that these emotions are natural. Many do not realize that all of our human emotions are learned.

The following story is a work of fiction; however, it does incorporate actual events that I learned from various victims I counseled over the years. It also contains certain facts from my personal notes from one of the cases that I worked during my career as a forensic psychologist, which is better known as a criminal profiler. While certain facts have been changed to protect the rights of individuals and victims, most of the basic facts are true. However, this story is still a work of fiction because I have created, embellished, and alters many facts and individual characters for this story. In addition, this story is not intended to be erotic or sexual in nature, but because I have given this story's e publishing rights to Nifty Archives, I am required to include this legal disclaimer. Therefore, I do not encourage others to perform any kind of abusive or sexual act with minors as described in this story. If the subject of Man/boy sex, child abuse, and/or rape of minors offends you, or this material is illegal to possess such material of this nature in your place of residence, or if you are under the legal age to possess such material, do not read further! Finally, I would like to thank Nifty for e publishing this story because without their archive, I would not have the large fan base now.

By downloading this story: "You implicitly declare and affirm under penalties of perjury that you are not a minor or in the company of a minor, and are entitled to have access to material intended for mature, responsible members of society capable of making decisions about the content of documents they wish to read." The story is copyrighted under my pseudonym, Snwdemon, and pen name Damion Perez. A copy has been placed in these archives for your enjoyment. The story cannot be used to derive monetary gain. However, if you want to place a copy of this story in your free access archives or free access website, then I give my permission for you to do so. If your website requires payment for access and you wish to place a copy of my story on your site, then please email me for my permission. The story cannot be placed in any archives or website that require payment for access, or be printed and distributed in any form that requires payment either directly or indirectly without my written consent first. Any similarity to individuals, living, or dead, is completely accidental. Reference is also made in context to some locations, businesses, characters, and people to define the story line. No other implication about the true sexuality or actions of the people, businesses, or places mentioned is intended.

Author's Note: (This was originally written in December of '07) hello everyone, this is an update to those who have read my stories and followed the progress of my son Simon and his battle against this disease. He is doing very well, and we all received an early Christmas gift last year at his doctor's appointment the first week of December. His doctor said that the type of Hodgkin's he has is highly curable with a 95% cure rate if discovered in the early stages. However, that figure drops dramatically to just 75% or less that depends on whether the cancer has reached an advanced stage by spreading to other parts of the body. Even if the cancer is advanced, the survival rate remains high if the cancer remains within the lymphatic system itself. The advanced stage is broken down into four sub stages with stage 2A being the least advanced and stage 2D being the most advanced.


When Simon was initially diagnosed, we were told that he had stage 2B Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer since there were two tumors in the lymph nodes in his neck at the time, but that quickly was changed to stage 2C because more tumors were found in his chest near his lungs, and in his abdomen. The classification of 2C meant that his cancer had spread beyond the neck and thoracic cavity, meaning it had spread past his chest cavity and armpits, and to the lower body where it was located in his abdomen. This usually is a sign that it will spread to other organs in the body beyond the lymphatic system, and we would have to wait and see where it showed up. If his cancer did spread to any part of his body outside of the lymph system itself, then he would have been classified as stage 2D Lymphoma which is the most advanced stage with less than a 40% survival rate. Still, Simon was only given a 65% chance of living long enough to get his driver's license, but after the first surgery to remove the tumor in his chest, neck, and right armpit, his survival improved to 80% overall since the tumor in his abdomen was still in its early stages. That is because the doctors were able to accurately identify the specific type of Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer that he had.


His type of Lymphoma is a slow growing cancer that, in most cases does not spread beyond the lymphatic system itself unless ignored without any treatment. The tumors are often discovered in the very early stages, as was the case with the tumor in his abdomen, but even if discovered in the advanced stages the cancer responds well to chemotherapy and radiation. His doctor also told us that because it is a slow growing type of cancer is why my son would need future regiments of chemotherapy and radiation therapy as new tumors are discovered and removed. However, he also told us that Simon would not need any more chemotherapy or radiation until a new tumor is discovered in the future, or unless his blood work shows that his cancer has returned. Then he told us to come back in six weeks for a check up to see if Simon had gone into remission.


It has been three years since Simon was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease cancer, and in that time, he has undergone three more surgeries to remove tumors, and four subsequent regiments of chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy. The radiation leaves the skin of the treated area with a severe burn that is much worse than the most severe sunburn you have experienced. While it is not his favorite beverage, the radiation therapy requires Simon to drink large amounts of Aloe Vera juice to keep the underlying skin underneath the burn very elastic to minimize scarring as well as using topical creams for the burn areas themselves. He is also required to take a number of other medications daily to fight off infections, and to treat the severe effects the chemo has on him. Still, there were some times when Simon could not even wear pants or underwear for weeks while the radiation burns slowly healed. While running around inside the house naked is nothing new to him for brief moments, he is not used to being naked all of the time, and it causes him a lot of embarrassment and discomfort. It has also made him a prisoner in our home because we cannot even have the curtains open to let in the sunlight in order to allow him to move freely about the house even though walking causes him enough discomfort itself. During these times, it meant that we could not have company over including family, or take him outside of the house since it would be most embarrassing for him since he could not wear any clothing to cover the affected area until the burn healed. I must thank my mother because she made him a dozen ankle length nightshirts and knee length oversized t-shirts for him to wear around the house, and even a few more durable ankle length shirts to wear when he went out of the house. That gave him back his freedom again instead of him having to go around naked and shut up inside the house like a prisoner. As you can now imagine, between the chemo and the radiation Simon endured without much complaint, the last three years have been pretty hard for all of us.


Therefore, in December of `07 when Simon heard the news that he was in full remission, he was completely overcome by his emotions. Because he had spent the previous six weeks preparing himself for the news that another tumor had been discovered, that he needed more surgery, more chemo, more radiation, and that meant more pain, embarrassment, and discomfort for him to endure. So he was totally unprepared for it when his doctor said the two words that every sick child with cancer, and similar diseases always dream of hearing; that he was in "full remission." Needless to say, we both cried together for almost 30 minutes after hearing this wonderful news. I had been prepared to be his pillar of strength, while he was prepared to endure the pain, the sickness, the weight loss, the weakness, the burns, and everything else that the chemo and radiation caused him in order to kill the cancer inside his body before the chemo and radiation kills him. Yes, to put it in the simplest term that is all that Chemotherapy really is, it is poison that is just as deadly as the cancer itself. The basic idea of chemo is to give the patient enough of the poison with the hope that it will kill the cancer before it kills the patient and that is why the effects of chemotherapy are so severe on the patient.


If you have ever seen one of those true life shows like `Forensic Files' on Tru TV, then you know that poisoning someone has many of the same effects on people that chemotherapy has on a cancer patient. Therefore, those two wonderful words, full remission, were something that he had not even dared to think about because they meant that he has won this round of the fight, and that there would not be more chemo or radiation because the cancer was gone for now. I say this round because even when a patient is declared cancer free, it does not mean the cancer is gone. It just means that the waiting begins to see if or when the cancer returns is all. That is why cancer patients are told they are in full remission instead of cancer free because with his type of cancer, he has to be cancer free for ten years without any recurrence of the cancer before Simon can be declared cured. Until then, he is classified as symptom free in remission, or full remission.


Still, full remission are the magic words for him that tells him that the disease had stopped, that the cancer is gone from his body, and that he has beaten the odds for now. That he has beaten the cancer, and earned the chance to live, and maybe even to be able to grow up into an adult. It tells him that he can dream about the future again instead of just take it day-to-day or week-by-week depending on how sick the chemo has made him. In this game that he was forced into playing, where the stakes are so extremely high because you live if you win, and you die if you lose. So, to hear those words, it means that he has won, and beaten this disease for now.


It is a very humbling moment in anybody's life, and for those brief minutes when we cried together, Simon was able to be his true self again. He was just a young boy who has overcome a deadly disease, and he is my son who needs the comfort that only a parent can give to their child. He is allowed to relax his control now, and just be a normal kid again without the crushing realization that he is fighting for his life. Now, he can go to school and not be afraid to make new friends. Because he knows that he will be here long enough for the other kids to be able to say that he is their friend instead of them just saying, "Yeah, he's in my class sometimes, but he is always too sick to really get to know him." They are nice to him, and most of them pity him while keeping their distance because they want a friend who is fun to be with, and not so sick all of the time. They don't want to be around someone who is so sick that he can hardly walk at times, that looks so swollen one month because of the chemo only to look like a walking skeleton the next month. It's not fun for them when even the slightest smell of food causes him to throw up violently, for him to have sudden nose bleeds, diarrhea, or suddenly faint from exhaustion without doing anything. Most of all, he can see and feel others pity for him, and the distance they stay at because he is so sick and that hurts him just as much as the chemo does.


Now he is just my son Simon, instead of him having to be set in his usual persona of him being the tough little kid nicknamed "Spritemite" by his doctors and classmates because of his fierce determination to fight to the death that he always wore during his cancer treatments. For this brief period, he is able to be a child again, with no worries of what tomorrow might bring. Just the here and now to deal with instead of worrying if he will be missed by anyone when he dies other than his brother Eric, my partner Dan, or me. He doesn't have to be so grown up, or so serious for a little while because he knows he's got some time still. He doesn't have to make each day, or every minute count because he may not get a tomorrow because full remission means that he does have a tomorrow, a next week, month, and even years. He can dream again because full remission gives him the chance for those dreams to come true. For myself, I just thank God for allowing me to have him with us for a while longer and hopefully to be able to see him recapture his dreams for the future, and watch him as he achieves them. I thank you Lord, for allowing me to have Simon with me in my tiny piece of eternity.


(This part was originally written in March of '08) As for his psychological prognosis, Simon is doing well considering what he has been facing. He has remained optimistic throughout his treatment, he did not let the setbacks get him down too much for too long, and our lives have slowly returned to a semblance of normalcy since his last appointment a week ago. However, he did choose to change his nickname a bit from `Spritemite' to `Spritemite the chrome dome'. It is one of the longer lasting side effects from his radiation and chemotherapy that his hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes have not started to re-grow yet and probably will not for several more months. So he has started making his own tie dye "head buffs" similar to the ones used on the TV series Survivor, and "do rags" as well. About the only thing he has always found depressing is his lack of eyebrows and eyelashes, because he thinks it makes him look weird, although he has refused all of my offers to draw them on with an eyeliner pencil. Well, I told him that they might begin to grow back before school started again after the holidays so that made him feel a little better about it, I just didn't tell him that I was referring to Christmas `08 and not the Easter Holidays is all. He tires easily for now, but he still manages to get into more and more trouble every day. So, that is a good sign for him, but it has also increased his pain level too, primarily in the posterior region of his body.


While I have always been hesitant to spank my kids considering that both Eric and Simon came to me from abusive situations along with Simon`s illness, still, a swat on the butt has always been quite common for them, and Simon occasionally needs a reminder now and then that he is pushing his luck and my patience. It is the reason God gave us a butt in the first place, as cushioning for when we slip and fall, or for the occasional transgression that requires a firm hand to get our children's attention now and then. However, I have never found it necessary to administer more than one swat per transgression with my hand, although depending on the transgression, it also determines if the swat will be administered to the posterior as it is protected by layers of fabric, or if it will be skin-to-skin contact with the latter being for the most severe transgression. Simon has only received the latter just once since he joined our family six years ago, and that one time does not really count either since it was a setup on his birthday. While it was done in good fun, I also did it in order to get Simon to relax, and the stress on a seriously ill child can hamper them or make their condition worse. Most of all, when Simon relaxes and stops keeping everything bottled up inside him. That is when he tends to open up with us and tells us what is really bothering him, and it also allows us to help him by easing his fears and worries so he can concentrate his strength on beating this disease.


Anyway, it was on his last birthday and he was being a nuisance, or most specifically, a pain in my ass. He knew that we had planned his party to be held at Chuck E. Cheese's so that he and a dozen of his friends could go hog-wild for the afternoon playing video games and eating pizza till their hearts were content. However, I know that he was excited about the party when he woke me up at 5AM to ask if we could go earlier than our planed 2 PM time. I told him to go back to bed, and he grudgingly complied, but he almost knocked me down as I headed to the kitchen at 6:30 to make my coffee. He was already fully dressed, and had my coat and car keys in his arms when I got to the kitchen. I could have snapped at him, but this was the first time in months that he actually felt well and strong enough to go out of the house, so I patiently explained that we were not leaving until 1PM. Now, I know that he was taught to tell time back in the first grade, but apparently, that knowledge was misplaced since he just had to inquire every 30 minutes, "how much longer do we have to wait?" After a half of dozen warnings, I finally told him that he had earned himself a swat. Still, after being pestered a half of dozen more times, I upgraded his swat to a skin on skin swat, a first for him so that really got his attention. However, since it was his birthday, I decided that it would wait until we got him home after the party to give it to him.


As I said before, the punishment definitely got his attention because since he became a part of our family; this punishment was the worst "whipping" that he will have ever gotten from me. The rest of the day passed without further incident, and we all enjoyed the party even though I know that he was praying for me to be struck with sudden amnesia on the way home. One thing I can say about my son Simon is that he is a world-class worrier because he will fret about anything no matter how ridiculous or minor it may be. He used to bite his nails until they are bleeding, and I had to tell him to stop biting his nails several times on the 15-minute drive home until I finally had to make him sit on his hands. After returning home from the party, I reminded him that he still had his punishment coming, and I told him to go to his room and that I would be in to administer his punishment in a moment. When I came into his room, he was very apologetic and teary eyed as well as fully dressed still. However, I put on my sternest "Dad" face and reminded him that it was to be my bare hand on his bare butt. After a few moments of hesitation, he finally lowered his pants and underwear to his ankles as his tears began to slip down his face, and I told him to turn around and bend over, which he did. I saw that he had his eyes shut tight with a grimace on his adorable face as he waited for the pain from the swat. Instead, I lightly pinched both butt cheeks and said "a pinch to grow and inch!" before cackling with laughter and high tailing it out of the room.


I know, most will think that doing that was not nice, but it was deserved because of the trouble he was causing earlier, and I did say that it was a setup. I know that my kids will test my patience, and even do and say things on purpose to see how I will react. They do this because to them, their life is a tug-of-war, and all they know is what is at each end, abuse and neglect at one end, and love and caring at the other. I do not have to be firm or forgiving with them because either one is bad to an abused child. Too firm and controlling is too much like the abuse they've suffered, but too forgiving only tells them that I don't really care about them. That is why I am steady all the time, and I am always forgiving while being firm with them, but most of all I know when they are just testing me for a reaction. When Simon became sick, it caused him more depression because I stopped being steady, and forgave everything until he let it slip that I no longer loved him because I no longer cared if he did something wrong. I told him that wasn't true, and he just rattled off a list, a long list if things he did on purpose the last week just to see if I would punish him, and since I didn't, that just confirmed to him that I no longer loved him. Then, because he was only nine, his reasoning as to why I no longer cared was because he was going to die, and that I was distancing myself from him because he would die soon.


That wasn't the case at all, and it took me almost the entire five months of his chemo to convince him that he was not going to die, and my hand along with his butt still aches a little a bit whenever we think about that time period. That is why both him and Eric know that once they mess up, and are punished, that it is gone and forgotten forever. It hurts them more by my disappointment of them than of any corporal punishment I could inflict because they have been severely abused and neglected, so they want to please me, and respond when I notice their efforts. Even when they push, I notice, and I do just enough to let them know that I notice and am disappointed with them, just as I notice and praise or reward them when they do good. They are not normal because of what they went through early in their lives, and they will never be normal for the same reason, but they will feel and live as close to normal as they possibly can be because of everything I do. Which brings us back to the setup, because of everything that had been going on at the time, Simon needed my prank just to let him know that I was still there noticing him whether he was sick or well.


Of course, he realized that he had been tricked as soon as I pinched him and fled, and it took a few seconds to retrieve his pants from his ankles before catching up to me in the den. After wrestling around with me, which involved quite a bit of tickling to his feet, ribs, belly, neck, and under his arms, I finally allowed him to pin me. As he sat on my chest he pronounced with a pout that I was mean for scaring him like that, and I promised that next time I would just play connect the dots with the freckles on his butt instead of pinching him, and that touched off another 5 minute wrestling session. We were both breathless and tired with me lying on the couch with him lying on top of me. I then kissed him, and told my son, who had not even been 12 for 24 hours yet, happy birthday. Then he thanked me, and after a few moments, he became very quiet and serious before asking me if we would be able to do this on his next birthday. Of course, I told him yes, but then he asked if that was the truth, and I told him that I honestly did not know, but hoped that we would be able to. Then, for the very first time since he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's in August of 2004, he let down his guard and told me that he did not want to die before his eyes filled and spilled over with his tears. That simple admission told me about the crushing fear that he has of not knowing if he will live long enough even to be a teenager let alone an adult, and of his fear that he had about his upcoming doctor's appointment. That was why he needed it, because he was wrapped so tight with his fear that he was holding everything inside even though he was about to burst. I did my best to comfort him as he whimpered into my chest, and I told him that I did not want him to die either. It killed me because I could not promise him that he would not die since I just did not know on November 17, 2007. Now you all know that his b-day was only two weeks before his appointment where we all got our early Christmas gift at that time.


Today, we are all happy for the almost yearlong respite, but it has made it even harder on Simon when we were told last month that his cancer was back. We are now slipping back into the routine I had hoped we would never have to endure again, but this time it is a little different. Simon knows that he can win this fight, and while this is a small setback for him, he is stronger now and more prepared for what is to come mainly because he has achieved one of his goals he did not think was possible four years ago. He will be 13 in less than a month; he has survived this disease to become a true teenager. Therefore, his resolve to win this battle is more fierce than ever, and he already knows what to expect and what he has to do this time. He is not letting things get him down; well one thing does make him a little down. His hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes have just begun to grow back, so he is not looking forward to losing them again, but only because it will interfere with his next goal and that is to get a girlfriend. I know, it is somewhat shocking to hear that a gay man and his partner are raising our son, in an all male household, to be heterosexual. That is because we have not taught him that there is a difference whether he loves a girl or if he loves a guy like our son Eric does. We have always taught them to go with what feels right to them inside their hearts, and not to let others tell them what is right or wrong. Also, I believe that because we are gay, it is easier for us to tell if he is gay, and Simon has never shown us those tendencies of being attracted to the same sex while Eric always has.


Eric recently turned 18, he and his boyfriend have been together for six years now, and just so you know, his boyfriend is now 27. Yes, Eric was only 12 and he was 21 when they became friends, and eventually boyfriends not long after that. However, since Eric was a minor, and had been severely abused, Tim understood that he could not allow their relationship to become intimate because Eric was not ready or able for that. He has been patient and steady with Eric just as we have always been with our sons. Even when Eric pushed, and believe me he did push him to see if Tim truly loved him, or if he was just sexually attracted to him. The man has demonstrated to all of us that his love is real, and I am happy that he is part of our family. Most of all, that steadiness has helped Eric to heal and trust again so that he is able to return Tim's love without believing that there is something more expected from him. For that alone, I cannot thank him enough, and the last four years have been truly wonderful for Eric, and for us as we watched him grow and reclaim his ability to be happy and to enjoy life again.


Finally, I want to thank everyone who has responded to my stories and offered helpful tips. It is appreciated because it helps me improve my writing ability, which in turn improves the story's readability. Most of all, I really want to thank everyone who has written to Simon, and for all of you who have included him in their prayers. All of you are angels in disguise to my son, and to the rest of our family as well. All of your caring and prayers really made a difference to him, and helped him remain strong, or never to lose hope that he will eventually beat his disease. While my partner and I give him the love, comfort, and security that he needs to overcome his cancer, it is your prayers that have kept his faith strong by letting him know that God was listening. For that, all of you have my sincerest respect, prayers, and deepest thanks. God Bless you all. Damion.





Recap of Who will catch my fall -- Ch. 13:

"What do we do about Parrish?" The man asked.

"He's expendable, the feds are going to hang his ass, what else can they do?  The fucking idiot deserves to be crucified anyway because he was so damn careless.  The dumb motherfucker was so horny to stick his dick up a new voychick's ass that he left the tape and disks lying there on his desk.  When the little boy cunt Ari escaped, he grabbed the tape and disks, and took them with him when he ran.  Those dumb shits didn't even notice that the kid was gone with the tape and disks until the next day."  Cass said angrily before adding.

"I took care of things though by planting doctored copies of those disks in Parrish's home, and in Terry's home office.  He was so fucking shocked and surprised when they found those disks on the underside of his desk drawer, so it looks like he did not want those disks found.  I just wish I had a camera so I could have taken a picture of him when he watched Roberts dump the contents of the draw, and that is when he found the disks.  Terry was still protesting that he was being framed as he was led away in cuffs, and that he had no idea what was on those disks, or where they came from.  Roberts found the disks I planted this morning when they raided the places, and everything points to my brother, Terry, and Parrish.  I made sure that there was nothing to implicate any of us Mr. Foxworth, and there is not any information that reveals the identities of the boys that were grabbed, and reprogrammed.  The cops have their hands full right now just trying to find out how many boys were killed.  That is going to take them fucking months to find out that information.  There is nothing on those disks that will lead them to you, I mean us, or to the boys that were kidnapped and reprogrammed."

"Except for the real disks the boy hid someplace, and that tape.  If those get into the government's hands, then we are both fucked.  Most of all, if Rojas ever gets that tape, then there will not be any place on the planet that we can hide.  Therefore, I want those disks, and that tape, and I do not care what you have to do to get them.  Even if it means that you have to terminate Roberts, the woman, and his two boys understand!"  The man told him.

"Yes sir, Mr. Foxworth.  I understand, but we cannot do anything about it right now.  We've got time though, and that kid isn't going nowhere until after the trial, so relax."  Cass told him before taking another pull on his cigarette.

"So what do we do Jonas?"  Mr. Foxworth asked him, and Cass laughed.

"We wait because we have time.  Wait until the storm blows over with this trial, then we strike.  That is what we are going to do for now, we wait and watch for our chance.  Then I grab the voychick, and get the disks."  He said before downing his cognac in a single gulp and laughing.


End of Chapter 13




Who will catch my fall Part two

I want to thank Miguel Sanchez and Ben Bear for proofing this chapter.  I would also like to thank Jess for his editorial assistance.


Chapter 1 -- January 1996

Ari awoke suddenly when Simon whimpered, and it took him a few moments to shake off his sleep.  Once he became aware of room, he looked over at Simon, and could see his pain contorted face as he pressed his left hand tightly over his eyes.

"Si, you ok?" Ari asked worriedly as he looked at him. He gently touched Simon's face and could feel that he was burning hot with a fever.

"It hurts Ari. It hurts really bad," Simon whimpered in a voice just over a whisper.  Ari did not hesitate as he scrambled out of the bed and bolted out of their room and down the hall.  At the last moment, he remembered the rule about knocking, and skidded to a halt in front of his parents' door.  However, after he knocked loudly several times, he did not wait for an answer before opening the door and going inside.

"Poppi, Poppi; wake up!  Simon's sick again."  Ari exclaimed breathlessly as he darted over to John and started frantically shaking him.

"Ari, what's wrong?"  John asked as he sat up trying to shake the sleep from his head.

"It's Simon, Poppi.  He's really sick gotta come quick!"  Ari told him tearfully as his bounced nervously on his heels with worry.  John threw off the covers and was out the door almost before Ari finished speaking with Sara right behind him.  Ari followed them, and he waited anxiously by the door as John and Sara rushed to Simon's bed.  They found Simon in agony, and Sara turned on the lamp beside the bed as she sat next to him.  However, Simon cried out in pain from the light, and pressed his left hand over his eyes even tighter as he twisted his face away from the light.  It took John only a moment for him to make the connection with the light and Simon's agony.

"It's the light Sara!  Turn off all the lights now," he said to her and Ari.  Ari and Sara quickly extinguished the lights in the room and hallway as John pulled the heavy drapes closed plunging the room almost into complete darkness.  After a few moments, John's eyes adjusted enough to the darkness so he could barely make out Simon's small form in the bed beside him.

"It's all right now son, we're here, and the lights are all out."  John told him softly as he gently placed his hand onto Simon's forehead.

"He's burning up Sara," he said softly as Sara moved next to him and felt Simon's forehead herself.

"He sure is, but that shouldn't be causing him all this pain.  I will get him some medicine for his fever and headache, and then I want to call his doctor.  For now, let's cover his eyes, and give him some cold compresses to try and get his fever down some."  She said in the same soft tone before getting up and carefully leaving the room.  As she passed Ari, she touched his bare shoulder indicating to him to follow her before closing the door, and telling him to turn on the small dim night light in the hall bathroom.  Then she ushered Ari into the master bedroom and closed the door before she turned on the overhead lights.  As she did this, Ari squeaked out a little `eek' before covering his groin with both his hands as he realized that he was still naked.

"I'm sorry," he said shamefully as his eyes welled up with tears while his face burned with shame.

"Simon was just lonely...we both were.  We didn't do anything bad, I swear."

"It is ok even if you did honey, just remember to get dressed while we take care of your brother.  Now take these to your father."  Sara said with a look of understanding as she handed him her black sleep veil and a couple of instant cold packs from the first aid kit while Ari blushed crimson.  He stared at her for a long moment while she continued to ignore him and go about her business until he realized that he was not in trouble.  Then, with a look of relief on his pixie face, he hurried out of the room while clutching the veil and compresses with one hand, and covering his privates with the other.

"Don't forget to close the door," she called after him before chuckling to herself as she opened the medicine cabinet in their bathroom.  After getting the medicines she wanted, she went back to the boys' room, and waited a few moments in the dark hallway until her eyes adjusted to the darkness again before going inside.  When she opened the door, the dim light in the hall from the master bedroom did not affect Simon this time because his eyes were covered with the veil.  She also saw that Ari had put his pajama pants on, but was still blushing with embarrassment as he stole a few small, guilty glances at her.

"Honey, go get your brother a cup of juice, please?"  She asked Ari quietly before sitting down next to John on the bed.

"I brought him some Motrin and a valium. That should help his headache and his fever too.  Between the two, they should help him until I can speak with his doctor."  She said in a hushed voice because she knew that normal to loud sound would make his migraine worse.

"It's the same as last time Sara, with the most intense pain coming from his eyes and light, but this time he is burning with fever."  John said solemnly in the same hushed voice.  Then Ari returned with the small glass of juice, and John held the glass as Simon swallowed the pills.  Then Sara had Ari go back to the kitchen for one final task.  When he returned, he was carrying six quart sized zip-lock bags filled with ice.  Sara immediately started placing the bags around Simon's slim nude body with the hope that it would help lessen his scorching fever.  Then she quietly spoke with Ari before helping him into his own bed, carefully covering him up before kissing him on the forehead.  After fifteen minutes had past, both Ari and Simon appeared to have drifted off to sleep again.  However, Simon's sleep was still wracked with pain from his migraine headache and fever.  Only after another 10 minutes had passed did John and Sara quietly leave the room.

"So what did you say to Ari, because he was very self-conscious and embarrassed when he brought me the veil and compresses?"  John asked her with a grin once they were back in their room.

"Nothing, I just ignored the fact that he was naked is all, and he told me that they were both felling lonely earlier.  It does not matter why to us, and I guess he forgot about his nakedness in his rush to tell us about Simon.  Anyway, I am more worried about the severe headaches Simon is having than what they do at night.  Although, you have to admit that Ari is so cute when he blushes," Sara said with a light laugh before asking John.

"Where did you put Dr. Sloane's number?"

"It's in my wallet on the dresser, and I think he is absolutely adorable.  You want some coffee, babe?  I'll go make us some while you call him."  John said to her, and waited until she nodded her head before leaving the room.  Once John left to make the coffee, she dialed the phone and waited for someone to answer.  After several rings, Dr. Sloane's groggy voice answered.

"Hello?"  He said sleepily.

"Hi, is this Dr. Sloane?"  She asked.

"It is, do you know what time it is?"  He answered irritably.

"Yes, I do, but you told me to call if there was any problem with my son Simon, and there is a very big problem."  Sara told him emphatically.

"Simon Roberts?  Yes, I did.  I am sorry, I did not recognize your voice Sara.  What can I do for you?"  He asked in a concerned tone of voice.

"We don't know Dr. Sloane, but this is the third time in the last week that Simon has woken us up in the middle of the night with a severe migraine, but tonight he also has a high fever, and it seems that the cause of the migraine is coming from his eyes.  It doesn't follow any type of pattern, and he is not presenting any other symptoms that should be present for a migraine disorder except hyper-sensitivity to any kind of light."  She explained to him worriedly.

"How is he right now?"  Dr. Sloane asked.

"I covered his eyes with the sleep veil like you told us to do, and gave him the Children's Motrin and a 2mg valium as well.  We also put bags of ice around him to help bring down his fever too.  It seemed to help enough to allow him to go back to sleep for now, but he is still in pain because he will cry out every now and then even in his sleep.  Our concern is that the headaches seem to be increasing and getting worse instead of getting better as you said."  She told him while John came in with a cup of coffee and handed it to her.

"I understand Sara, but there is little we can do until morning.  Monitor him for tonight, and if his fever spikes again or the migraine worsens then take him to the Emergency Room.  If not, then I want you to bring him to my office at University Medical Center first thing in the morning.  Also, have him fast other than a few sips of water to take his medication so I can have some tests done on him.  If you do end up taking him to the ER, then call me and I will meet you there."  Dr. Sloane explained before they said goodnight to each other and she hung up the phone.  Sara relayed his instructions to John, and he agreed with it, but still seemed worried.

"So I guess we wait until morning.  I hope you used the decaf coffee."  She said.

"Yeah, I did," he replied before turning towards the door.

"I'm going to check on Simon."  John said before he went into the boys' room and quietly sat down on the bed next to Simon.  He gently placed his palm on Simon's now cooler forehead being careful not to move the sleep veil shielding Simon's eyes from the painful light.  After quietly listening to his raspy, but now relaxed breathing, John leaned down and kissed him on his forehead.

"Sleep well son."  He said before getting up and repeating everything with Ari.  Then he quietly left the room, but left the door open a few inches so the dim light from the hallway fell across Ari's bare chest.  He knew how upset the boys became if they were forced to endure complete darkness, which was why the irony of the situation with Simon made him even more worried.  He still had to suppress a laugh as he thought about Ari's nakedness as he went back into the master bedroom and Sara saw the silly grin on his face when he came in.

"Well?"  She asked him.

"Simon seems to be better because he is resting much easier now.  I think Ari was asleep, but I have no doubt that he will be back in Simon's bed before morning."  John told her as he sat on his side of their king sized bed.

"Want to bet that he's already in the bed now?  I've got $20 that says he is."  Sara said with her light laughter, and after a moment of thought, John shook his head `no' because he knew that she was probably right.  John knew that this was not some sexual desire that Simon and Ari shared, instead they did this for the physical contact and closeness with each other whenever they were feeling lonely.  Neither of the boys could stand anyone touching them except for those closest to them, and this was true for Seth and Lucky as well.  Yet, they still desired affection and tenderness, so they looked to each other for these things.

"I'm more worried about what is causing all of this Sara.  I've just got this gut feeling that something was missed by the docs is all."  John told her as he leaned back against his pillows and relaxed before sipping his coffee.

"As for Ari though, it took me longer to realize that Ari is the dominate partner with him and Simon.  I could not see that because he always appears to be the submissive one.  However, I can see it now that you pointed out the way that Simon waits for Ari to speak before he decides anything whenever he is unsure.  Ari makes the decisions, and Simon does whatever he decides."

"I know dear, but I guess that I've just had more exposure to these types of relationships because I'm a nurse.  It is very complicated because it is always the passive partner in these relationships who appears to be the submissive one but they are always the one in control.  With Simon and Ari though, this is actually a good thing they are like this.  Simon has no experience making decisions for himself because of everything that bastard did to him.  Now that he has Ari though, it is much different for him because Ari is the smarter of the two of them.  While he may be smaller and physically weaker than Simon is, Ari loves him so much that he always considers what will be the best for Simon instead of thinking of his self only.  Therefore, Simon is the brave, strong-willed, and protective one while Ari is the thoughtful, considerate, and caring one.  They fit together perfectly because Simon can show his weaknesses, doubts, and fears with Ari and let him make the decisions, while at the same time Ari doesn't have to be brave or strong because Simon will do that for both of them."  Sara said as she scooted over and snuggled up to John.  He kissed her on the cheek as he draped his arm around her enjoying their own closeness as she snuggled against him.

"Now that I understand this, I can see why Simon was able to defy Bill. Bill forced him to decide between him and Ari, thinking that Simon would do as he was told because of the control he had on him.  He never realized how powerful love could be though because he probably had never experienced it, or has forgotten it.  Once he forced Simon to choose between him and Ari, he was doomed, and that was his mistake.  Simon saw nothing but constant pain and torment with him, and he saw love, caring, and hope with Ari.  I know that both of them may be permanently scarred emotionally from all this, but what Simon told us is true because when they are together, they are both stronger." John told her as he thought about their sons before asking.

"Do you have any ideas as to what is causing these headaches?"

"Not really, but I do agree with you that his doctors missed something.  Whatever is causing these migraines is not a disease or a virus so it has to be something physically wrong that is the cause."  Sara told him.

"I just wish that everything wouldn't be so hard for Simon."

"Me too," John said quietly.


(The next morning)

The remainder of the night passed without any more problems.  At 8 am, they paused at the door for a few moments and just watched Simon and Ari as they slept in each other's arms.  Ari had gotten back into the bed with Simon, and now he was tenderly cradling Simon's veiled head that rested on Ari's bare chest.

"Aw.  They are so cute together!  I don't know why I had Ari get in his own bed because we both knew that he was going to end up with Simon."  Sara told John quietly.  Then they both went over and sat down on the bed, and Sara gently shook Ari while John woke Simon.

"Good morning Simon.  How does your head feel now son?"  John asked him softly as he held Simon's good left hand while also gently placing his other hand on Simon's forehead.  Simon had started to stir when they sat down, and he could not help smiling when he heard John's voice because of his promise.

"Hi Dad," Simon croaked out in his soft but hoarse voice.

"I'm better, but my head still hurts, and my chest and throat hurts when I cough."

"We know darling, and Dr. Sloane wants to see you this morning so he can find out why you are having these headaches, and I think you might have a cold too."  Sara told him before leaning over and kissing him on the cheek before telling him.

"For now, let's leave the veil on, and you can start lifting it up little by little until your eyes adjust to the light once we get to the docs office, ok honey?"

 "All right Mom, and thanks for helping me last night, and not being real mad at Ari too." He said softly to her while his smile grew bigger.

"Anytime sweetheart," she said before turning her attention back to Ari.

"You didn't do anything wrong, even if Ari thinks otherwise."  John told him with understanding.

"Come on Mejo, it's time to wake up." Sara said as she continued to pull Ari out of the depths of sleep.  It took a few moments of gentle prodding before Ari came awake and opened his eyes.  He yawned for a moment before smiling at them, but he spoke first to his brother.

"How are you feeling Si?"  He asked Simon after gently kissing him on his cheek.

"It's a little better R, but it still hurts."  He said before using his left hand to feel Ari's face gently until he located his lips, and then kissed him.

"Here, I got your medicine and some water.  You can't have juice or anything because Dr. Sloane wants to run some tests before you eat or drink."  Sara told him, and Ari sat up and held the cup while Simon took the pills.  Then Ari got up and went to the bathroom while John helped Simon use the plastic urinal jug and Sara got their clothes laid out for them to wear.  While John helped Simon get dressed, she helped Ari who was still blushing prettily whenever he looked at her.

"Are you sure you aren't mad about last night?"  He finally asked her meekly after she had him step into a clean pair of underwear after removing his pajama bottoms.

"Why would we be mad honey?  Remember the rules we all made together?" She asked him as he sat on his bed so she could put on his socks.

"Yeah...but," he said hesitantly.

"Yabbits have long ears darling."  She said calmly, but it took a moment before he got the joke, and began to giggle.

"We already talked about this, and we do understand, so you guys have to understand that you did nothing wrong.  Well, maybe next time you could take a moment to put on some pants instead of streaking through the house.  The way the moonlight was brazenly flashing off your lily white bottom almost blinded me, but I thought your freckles were really cute too."  She said before smiling and winking at him.  As if on cue, Ari blushed prettily again before dissolving into giggles once more, and then she finished helping him to dress.  Once they were ready, John carried Simon downstairs while Sara and Ari followed.   She asked Ari what he wanted for breakfast, but he declined and said that he would wait until Simon could eat something.  Therefore, John and Sara were able to get everything into the van before coming back for Simon and Ari.  John carried Simon out and put him in the seat behind the driver's seat while Sara followed Ari out, and had him sit in the seat that was located behind her seat on the passenger side.  Then they got into the van, and John drove towards the medical center.

It was a little after 10 am when they left the house and it took them 20 minutes to drive downtown to University Medical Center in the center of Seattle.  They arrived at the doctor's office at 10:30 am and signed in, but the receptionist had them bring Simon into a large exam room without waiting.  Simon's doctor, Dr. Sloane, was the chief of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Department at the hospital, and he took Simon as his patient to see if he could help restore some movement to his paralyzed right arm, or at least discover the cause of his paralysis.  He also headed the team of several other doctors that were now providing care to not only Simon and Ari, but to Seth and Lucky as well.  The nurse told Sara to change Simon into a gown because Dr. Sloane was going to do a complete comprehensive exam.  John and Sara helped undress him, and then put on the exam gown before covering him with a blanket.  Then she sent Ari to let the nurse know that they were ready while John spent the next 15 minutes slowly removing the veil from Simon's eyes until his eyes adjusted to the light.  He said that the light still made his head hurt, but that it was not too bad unlike the way even the dimmest light had hurt him earlier.  After they had waited for another 10 minutes in the exam room, Dr. Sloane came in with a flurry of apologies.

"Sorry, but I had to speed up my rounds in order to fit you in.  Hello Simon, you remember me don't you?"  Dr. Sloane asked him and Simon nodded apprehensively to him.

"That's good, because I remember you too.  Now, I know that you really do not want to be here, and that you are frightened a little too.  However, I heard that your headaches have been very bad lately, so I want to have a look at you and see if we can find out why they are so bad.  Now, can you tell me how you feel when you know that a headache is beginning?"  He asked him while at the same time he was also doing his preliminary exam.

"My eyes hurt...sort of," Simon told him meekly.

"They do?  How do you mean that they hurt?  Is a stabbing pain, or more of an aching kind of pain?"

"It's not the first one cause that always comes later when the light is really hurting my eyes, but it's not the other one either Dr. Todd."

"Ok, well...can you describe the pain to me the best that you can?"

"It's kind of a pulsing pain. Um...I didn't say that to good."

"That's all right Simon; you are doing very well so far.  This pulsing pain, is it like a toothache, or maybe like when you cut yourself perhaps?"

"No, it is like when someone hits you. It is the same kind of pain that I had when mean Bill," Simon faltered at this point and looked over at John, but Dr. Sloane was quick to reassure him.

"It is ok, Simon.  I understand what you mean when you say `Pop'.  Now just tell me about the pain, please."

"Ok, Dr. Todd."  Simon answered in a quiet, raspy voice as he relaxed a little before continuing.

"It is the same kind of pain as the time Pop hit me in the face, and made my eye swell shut.  It's that kind of pulsing pain that I felt when my eye was swelling up that I mean."  He said softly as he tried not to look away this time while his eyes welled.

"Everything is ok Simon, so don't get yourself upset.  I think I understand what you meant now. When you say pulsing, you mean a throbbing pain like when you smash your finger or stub your toe, right?"

"Yeah, that kind of pain...only it's a lot worse Dr. Todd.  That is how my eyes feel right before my head starts hurting bad.  They feel like they are swelling up and want to pop out of my head."

"You are doing very good Simon.  Now, when your eyes gets this throbbing pain, does it affect your vision at all?"

"Sometimes, it makes everything real blurry, or I will see two of everything, or both."

"And when does the light start hurting your eyes?"

"It, um, it sort of always hurts all the time Dr. Todd, but it really gets bad when my head hurts."

"You are saying that light always hurts your eyes, even when you don't have a headache?"

"Yes sir. Any light hurts my eyes, and the brighter it is then the more it hurts."  Simon told him in his soft voice as he watched Dr. Sloane's face.  He knew immediately that whatever he had just said had answered what Dr. Sloane had been searching for because he saw Dr. Sloane's face change slightly.

"Ok, now I am going to show you some different lights, and using a scale of one to ten, I want you to tell me how much it makes your eyes hurt.  Understand Simon, one means very little pain, and ten is the most pain." Dr. Sloane told him before taking out his pen light and he waited until Simon nodded his head.  Then Todd lowered the lights to half of their normal intensity before turning on the pen light.  Next, he showed it to Simon from various angles and distances while Simon told him a number for how much it hurt his eyes. Then he turned on the surgical lamp located over the table, but Simon cried out in agony while covering his eyes with his left arm even though he was looking away from the source.  Dr. Sloane quickly extinguished the lamp before he continued testing him by adjusting the overhead lights with the dimmer switch on the wall.  The more intense the light, no matter where the source was located, the more pain it caused Simon.  Finally, Dr. Sloane called in another doctor and introduced him to Simon and his family.

"This is Dr. Sihdu, and he is our 3rd year resident Ophthalmologist on staff here.  He is going to give you a quick vision test to determine if you need corrective glasses Simon, okay.  The rest of us will be in my office right across the hall."  He said before escorting John, Sara, and Ari out of the room and into his office.  There was a large TV set up in the office that showed everything that was going in the exam room where Simon was in.  Dr. Sloane had them all take seats, and they watched via the CCTV feed as Dr. Sihdu had Simon sit up after putting some drops into his eyes.  Then he had him read a special vision chart of shapes and arrows that he hung on the wall while adjusting the room's overall light level. They all watched Simon do the poorest on the test when the light was turned up all the way, and do the best when the room was almost completely dark.

"I was afraid it might be like this, but I won't know for sure until after I get some scans of Simon's head and brain though."  Dr. Sloane said to them when Dr. Sihdu was finishing up.

"What do you mean, Dr. Sloane?"  Sara asked him.

"Please, call me Todd.  I suspect that Simon may have some damage to his retinas and optic nerves Sara.  It is most likely a result of the physical abuse that he went through with Jefferies.  When you told me that it seemed that the light itself was hurting him and that his eyes seemed to be the cause of his headaches, I called Dr. Sihdu.  He said that the cause could only be one of three things; macular degeneration disease, which we have already ruled out, so that left physical trauma and injury to the eye or optic nerve, or some type of infection, or possibly both.  Dr. Sihdu will be able to make an accurate diagnosis once we do the scans, and then give you a more informed prognosis for Simon.  However, if it is bad news, you can tell Simon, or Dr. Sihdu and I can.  Whatever you think is best is what we will do, but I can promise you this no matter what we find out, we can help stop his headaches from recurring."

"You mean that Simon won't be able to see anymore like a blind person?"  Ari asked tearfully as his eyes welled up and his tears spilled down his face.

"Its possible young man, but then again maybe not because we may have discovered the problem in time and be able to fix it, or at least treat it so that it doesn't get any worse.  I also want to have the same tests done on you because you suffered the same abuse as your brother, and I want to be sure that you are ok."  Todd told him, but this only caused Ari to cry more as he covered his face with his small hands, and wept.

"It should be me, not him, it was my fault."  Ari said in anguish.  Sara went over and gently picked him up into her arms as John tried to explain things to the doctor.

"He blames himself because Simon always took Ari's punishment so that Jefferies would not hurt him."  John told him quietly and he understood.  Dr. Sloane got up and moved over to the seat beside Sara as she tried to soothe Ari.

"Hold on for a moment Sara, may I speak with Ari for a few minutes, please?"  He asked and Sara finally nodded her head before passing Ari over to him.  Todd could see the anguish in Ari's face, and he felt a sharp pang of sympathy for him.

"I know that you feel like this is all your fault Ari, but you have to hear me out ok."  He told him with a serious expression.

"But it's not fair that he is going to be blind because he took my punishment.  It should be me instead of him Dr. Todd.  Pop always hurt him more cause he took my punishment." Ari wailed in anguish.

"Maybe you are right that it is your fault Ari, but then maybe you aren't.  I will tell you the truth if it turns out that the problems with his eyes are because of the punishments he took for you.  However, that means that you have to tell me the truth and answer all of my questions so I can find out if it is your fault or not.  Now, do you promise to tell me the truth so I can do that?"  He asked Ari, and after hearing this, Ari was able to stop crying except for a few sniffles while he looked long and hard into Todd's eyes before nodding his pixie head.

"I promise if you promise," Ari said softly.

"I promise too Ari.  First, I want you to tell me how many times that you can remember when Bill Jefferies hit Simon on his face and made his eyes swell shut."  He asked him.

"Both eyes, or just one eye," Ari asked him thoughtfully.

"Every time; I want you to count all the times that Bill hit Simon, and made one, or both of his eyes swell shut, or almost shut."  He told him, and Ari thought very hard about it while he counted on his fingers all the times he could remember when pop had hit Simon in his face hard.

"Just the times when his eyes swelled shut only?"  Ari asked with a slightly confused look on his small face as he wiped his nose with the back of his sleeve.

"Yes, I only want to know how many times his eyes actually swelled shut or almost shut after Pop hit him.  We will get to all of the other times in a moment."

"Ok, I can remember nine times when Pop hit him hard enough that his eyes swelled shut or almost shut Dr. Todd."

"Very good, now do you think you can remember how many times Pop hit Simon hard enough to turn his eyes black or blue, but I do not want you to count those nine times when Pop made his eyes swell shut."  He asked him, and again Ari went silent while his face scrunched up as he thought about every time Pop blackened one of Simon's eyes.  Again, he counted the times out on his fingers as he did this.

"I think it was just 11 times if I don't count the times when Pop made his eyes swell shut too."

"Now can you tell me how many times did Pop hit Simon on the side of his head right about here and made him pass out?"  He asked him after touching Ari on the temple area of his head.  After another long pause, Ari held up three fingers.

"Three times that I can remember when Pop did that to him."  Ari said with another sniffle, then Sara passed over the small box of tissues from his desk, and he gave Ari a few.

"Now for any of those times that Pop made Simon's eyes black, swell shut, or knocked him unconscious, was it always his fist only that Pop hit him with?"

"No, not all the time," Ari told him. Then he accepted the tissues, and blew his nose.

"Tell me what kind of object Pop used to hit him with, how many different times he used some object to hit Simon with, and for each time, how many times he hit Simon with that object."

"I remember two things he used to hit Simon with.  Once he used this stick just like the police use, and the other time it was a crowbar from the garage.  I remember that one because Pop had bought this real expensive safe, and he hit Simon because he dropped his side of the wooden box `cause it was too heavy.  Simon fell down and Pop hit him two more time with the crowbar.  It was sorta the same when he hit him with the stick too."

"He did, and how was Simon afterwards when Pop hit him with the crowbar?"

"He was really hurt bad Dr. Todd, and Pop couldn't get him to wake up for over a whole week.  He even had his doctor friend...umm...I mean Mr. Robinson come over and check on him, and when he did wake up, he couldn't remember what happened and he couldn't see very good for a whole week before his sight kinda went back to normal."

"When did that happen?"

"The first time was right after I came to live with them, um, it was right before Pop put me in the bad place the first time.  Besides hitting him on the head with the crowbar, he also hit him on his side and kicked him, and Pop hit him on his leg and broke it.  I had to take care of him until he was better, and that's why Pop didn't put me in the bad place when I first got there."

"The bad place?"  Dr. Sloane asked Ari, but John quickly told him about the Sensory deprivation chamber and tactics that Jefferies had used on the boys.  However, he did not elaborate on the details even though he could see Todd's confusion, and he let him know that they had not talk to either Simon or Ari about this yet so Todd moved on.

"All right last question and we are done.  I want you to count how many times Bill Jefferies hit Simon and either knocked him out, made his eyes swell shut or become black because he was taking your punishment."  Ari went silent again, and they could see it in his small face as he struggled with these memories.  Then a look of complete, utter confusion came over his face.

"I can only remember one time.  It was when I knocked over the salt on the table, but that can't be right Dr. Todd cause Simon always took my punishment."  Ari said to him because he could not accept this answer as the truth.

"Hold on Ari, now it's my turn like I promised.  The only way that someone can cause damage like this to the optic nerves that will cause partial or total loss of sight is if Simon was hit with Pop's fist, and had his eyes blackened, or swelled shut almost every week for years.  However, if he was hit hard with some object just one time like the crowbar or the nightstick that you told me about, then that is most likely what is to blame for his problems with his eyes now.  The bones were broken, and all of the tissue around his eye was damaged.  The body will heal, but it might not be able to fix everything that was hurt.  I know that you thought that because Simon always took your punishment, that you caused this, but you said so yourself that Pop only hurt Simon very bad just one time when he took your punishment for you.  That means that nothing you did was what caused this problem with his eyes.  The only person who is responsible for this is Bill Jefferies only. Do you understand that?"

"You mean it isn't my fault because it's Pop's fault for hurting him with the crowbar and the stick."  Ari asked him with an understanding and hopeful expression.

"Yes, and it's the truth Ari.  You told me about every time Bill hurt Simon's eyes while he was protecting you, and you said that Bill only hurt him that one time because of you spilling the salt also.  Now you know the truth because sometimes people can lie but the facts never lies.  It is not your fault because Pop did not hurt his eyes bad enough when he took your punishment for that one time.  That one time was not enough to cause the hurt to his eyes.  His eyes were probably hurt when Pop hit him with the crowbar and the nightstick."  Dr. Sloane carefully explained to him.

"So it can't be my fault then, because Pop hurt his eyes right after I came to live with them and the day Simon made me run away.  I never thought of it like that before...I just thought it was my fault.  Simon always took my punishment so Pop wouldn't hurt me and make me go away like all of the others."  Ari said to them in bewilderment, and then he turned and gave Dr. Sloane a crushing hug.

"Thanks Dr. Todd; you are the kewlest doctor in the whole world."

"Thank you Ari and I think you and Simon are the bravest boys in the whole world too.  I know that many things are very hard for you and Simon right now, but you cannot blame yourself for all of the bad stuff that you could not stop or change.  You have to remember that you and your brother are still young boys and that it is our responsibility as grown ups to take care of you two and make sure that you two are not sick or hurt.  From now on, I only want you to worry about you and your brother getting well, and for you not to worry so much about who is to blame for hurting you and Simon, ok.  We already know who is to blame for doing that, don't we?"

"Ok, I promise Dr Todd.  But what's going to happen to Simon now?  Is he going to be all the way blind or just a little blind?" Ari asked him emphatically.

"We don't know yet until we do all the tests.  Then I will be able to tell you the truth, just as I promised you."  Dr. Sloane told him before helping him to stand up.

"Now, I want you to go over with Simon and let Dr. Sihdu test your eyes too."

"Ok, um... is it going to hurt?"  Ari asked him a little sheepishly.

"No, it won't hurt just to test your vision, but I will tell you if we have to do any tests that do hurt."  He told him as he opened the door and ushered Ari through it.  One of the nurses' was moving the gurney that Simon was on out of the exam room as Ari came out into the hallway.

"Where's Simon going?"  He asked in a concerned voice.

"I'm sending him to get some pictures taken of his head.  The test is called an MRI Scan, and it will show me what the bones in his face and head look like and where they were broken when Pop hurt him.  It will also show me pictures of his brain and the optic nerves to the eyes so I can see if there is any damage to them also from where Pop hurt him."  Dr. Sloane answered him after kneeling down next to him.

"You mean an X-ray," Ari said.

"Sort of, only it is a special kind of X-ray, and it is done in a machine that looks like a long giant doughnut.  Simon will go through the tube in the center, and it takes pictures of his bones and organs like his eyes and brain."  He replied, but Ari became alarmed when he said this.

"No!  You can't do that to him.  It will hurt him Dr. Todd!"  Ari exclaimed as he turned and grabbed the end of the gurney, planted his small feet, and stopped it from moving.  John and Sara both came out into the hall when they heard the commotion and Ari immediately went to Sara and grabbed her arm.

"Don't let them take him, please Mommy!"  Sara quickly knelt down and hugged him before trying to calm him down.

"It's alright honey, it is just a picture, and it won't hurt him at all."  She said soothingly to him.

"No, it will hurt because it's just like the bad place Mommy.  You can't let them put him there.  He was sleeping when they did it last time when he was here so it didn`t hurt, but he's awake this time and it will hurt him."  Ari spluttered so she would understand, and he knew that both her, and John did understand when he saw their expression change.

"He is right Sara; Simon was sedated when they did the scans the first time.  I'm sorry Dr. Sloane, but unless you sedate him, I won't allow you to do the tests."  John told him, and seeing his look of confusion John pulled him off to the side a bit before he continued.

"You can't do it because being inside the tube of the MRI machine is exactly the same as when they were put into the sensory deprivation chamber.  They were put in a box and kept there for weeks, or sometimes months, in complete darkness with the only sound being their own breathing.  That box was about the same size as the tube in the MRI machine, or a coffin and they could not move at all.  Now do you understand?  If Simon is awake when you do the scan, then it will be the same for him as it was when he was put into that box.  Simon and Ari are the only victims that we know of, who have survived being put into that box more than once."

"Dear God, how could anyone be so cruel?"  He said as he realized what John was telling him, and then he looked directly at Simon and Ari.

"Yet, both of you survived; somehow you found a way to survive.  You guys don't know how special you really are by doing that."  He said, but then he saw the knowing looks that passed between Simon and Ari.

"On second thought, maybe you do know."

"They know Todd. That is how they were able to beat Jefferies in the end.  Simon knew how to survive in the bad place, and he told Ari.  However, Ari was the one who figured out how to keep from forgetting everything about their past, and he told Simon this too.  That's how they beat Jefferies, because he couldn't erase their memories or control them anymore."  Sara told him.  However, Todd looked at Ari for a moment, then at Simon, then at Ari again.

"I think you told someone else too, didn't you guys?  You told Seth also, because he went into that bad place and survived also...didn't he?"  He asked them and both Ari and Simon glanced at each other before blushing and looking down before nodding.

"Why did you tell him?"

"We didn't mean to tell him exactly.  We told Lucky; because I heard Pop telling Mr. Robinson that they could make a lot of money from Lucky `cause he was so little, but they would have to prepare him first by making him forget.  I sort of remembered the bad place because Pop put me in there so many times.  I told Ari about it when he took care of me while I was hurt right after he came to live with me so he would not be so scared, as I was when Pop put him in there. He was the one who figured out that Pop was making me forget by putting me in there, and I told him how to fool Pop into thinking that it had worked.  I did not always forget everything after the first couple of times he put me in the bad place.  That is how I knew what to do to fool him.  Ari used what I told him, and figured out how not to forget ever.  That is why he never forgot anything because of that, and neither did I the last two times he put me in there.  When we told Lucky about it, Seth heard us talking and came in, so we had to tell him about it too."  Simon said softly as he held Ari's hand with his left hand.

"I guess that Seth didn't forget either, and told you that we had told him, right?"

"Yes, he didn't forget, but he just told me that you told him only, not Ari or Lucky."  Dr. Sloane said to all of them.

"That's because Simon told them that they could never tell anyone about me or I would go away like all of the other boys had."  Ari answered quickly.

"So can we go see him, please?"  He asked while Simon nodded in agreement with him.

"Yes, you can, but just for a short visit while we wait for the medicine to work on Simon.  You need to get these scans done so we can stop all of these headaches and help your eyes."  Dr. Sloane told them before instructing the nurse to go get the sedative.

"Now, the pill won't take long to work, and you will probably sleep for a few hours afterwards also.  You two can visit with Seth until Simon goes to sleep, then I want you to come and get your vision tested while he gets his scans done.  Seth is still real sick, so don't get him real excited because it won't be good for him."

"We promise, don't we; Si?"  Ari said before asking his brother who nodded also.

"How's he doing Todd?"  Sara asked him about Seth.

"He is doing much better now.  The blood infection has almost cleared up entirely, and he is doing great in rehab.  I would like to cut off the person's fingers that put those IVs in him because the infection almost killed him in the weakened state that he was in when you found him.  Whoever was responsible also nearly starved him to death too.  Those IV bags were supposed to have glucose and protein in them, but all they had was plain saline water in them.  That is why Seth was so emaciated when he was found."  He said angrily as he thought about his frail, young patient.

"Come on, we can talk while we take them to see their friend."  Sara helped him with the gurney Simon was on while John sent Ari into the exam room to retrieve Simon's clothes and shoes before following them to the elevators.  The nurse came by and gave Dr. Sloane the sedative for Simon, and he told her about the changes in the tests he wanted since Simon would be sedated before getting into the elevator with the others.  They took the elevator up to the sixth floor where the Pediatric Critical Care Unit was located.  Seth had been moved there from the ICU once he started responding to the treatments.

"So how goes the investigation after you spoke with Seth?"  He asked John once the elevator doors closed.

"We are making progress.  However, we cannot talk here because there are too many ears about.  I will talk to you later once we are alone, all right?"  John told him as the elevator chimed and the door opened.  John had to include Dr. Sloane as part of the investigation taskforce because of what Seth had told him in the initial interview with him right after Christmas.  He also felt it necessary to include him since Todd was now the primary physician for all the boys.  Therefore, he had to know what was going on so he could give the boys proper treatment and therapies.  The things Seth told John completely contradicted the evidence they had found and with what Simon, Ari, and Lucky had been programmed to tell them. A Seth's account also matched many things that the three "hit men" had said in their interrogation. John, Juan, Jerry, and Chief Smith felt that someone was playing them for fools.  Therefore, John's first priority became the retrieval of the evidence that Ari had taken and hid.  However, he figured that somebody would be watching them, so he asked Dr. Sloane's cousin, Officer Gary Sloane who was currently assigned to Lucky's protective detail.  John asked him to go undercover as a runaway teen and sent him to retrieve the hidden evidence after Ari told them where he hid the key.

Just as John suspected, the shelter where Ari stayed at and hid the key to the locker where the real tapes and disks were hidden, it was under surveillance.  However, because of his very youthful appearance, he was able to go there as a homeless runaway seeking help, and retrieved the key without suspicion.  Then he found the locker and retrieved the crucial evidence without alerting whoever was watching.  They were watching for the police to come and search, but were not expecting the tactic that John had employed.  Once John had reviewed the evidence and a couple of the tapes, he realized that they were dealing with a criminal organization of staggering proportions.  Therefore, other than the handful of people on the taskforce that absolutely had to know what was on those disks, everyone else was kept in the dark, which included most of the members on the taskforce.  He had decided to do this because he was working on a plan to turn the tables on the criminals responsible for everything done to all of the kids involved.  In order to do that, his office and the few privileged taskforce members that John trusted, his office was secretly conducting the true investigation while John and Captain Lee Smith provided false information to the taskforce.

"Hey, Lucky's here," Ari said as they entered the guarded private room where Seth was in.  Sara and Dr. Sloane brought in Simon, and put his gurney next to Seth's bed before transferring Simon to the other bed in the room.

"Hi guys, why are you here?"  Lucky asked as he came over, and hugged and kissed Ari and then Simon.

"What's wrong Simon?  Are you sick?"

"His headaches won't stop, and Dr. Todd thinks it's because Pop hurt his eyes.  He needs some special tests, but Dr. Todd has to make him go to sleep first."  Ari told him while his face showed his concern.

"Yeah, I have to go into the tube for the x-ray tests, but I can't unless I'm asleep."  Simon added after kissing Lucky.

"I can't go into the tube when I'm awake because it's just like the bad place."

"Hi Seth, are you feeling better today?"  Ari asked him as he went over, and hugged and kissed his friend. Seth's arms and thighs were still covered with bandages because of the serious infection the apparently dirty IV needles had caused which in turn caused his veins to collapse.  He still had IVs, but they all went into a machine with a single tube that went to the port in his upper chest area that the doctors put in him surgically.  Seth looked much better now because in the three weeks he had been in the hospital, he had gained almost 15 pounds and was becoming stronger every day as the infections cleared up.

"Hi guys. Yeah, I am feeling better Ari, and Dr. Todd might even let me go home with Lucky soon if I keep doing better."  He said as he sat in his bed wearing his Spiderman pajamas that Simon, Ari, and Lucky had gave him for Christmas.

"I am still having blackouts and nightmares though, but Dr. Todd thinks they will stop soon as I do my therapy more with Dr. Cruz."  He said sadly, and everyone could see the dark circles under his ice blue eyes that told all of them about his difficulties sleeping.

"We know Seth, Ari still has nightmares about the car still, and I still can't remember a lot of things too.  It's been months, but I'm still having nightmares about Pop shooting me while I'm running away, and Dad has already said that we will be going to see Dr. Cruz next week with you also."  Simon told him with an expression that conveyed his concern and understanding to him.  It told Seth clearly that Simon, Ari, and Lucky knew and were experiencing the same things he was going through.  Because of this, it had brought all four of them closer together to the point that they were closer than brothers were, and always would be.  Then Lucky went over to Sara, and jumped into her arms before kissing and hugging her happily.

"Hi Mom," he said with a wide, happy smile.

"Hi darling, we've all missed you at the house.  Where's your dad?"  She asked as she sat down beside Seth while noisily kissing Lucky.  Then she leaned over and did the same to Seth who blushed and smiled as he hugged and kissed her too.

"Hello gorgeous, I'm glad you are feeling better."

"Hi Mom," he said happily.  Lucky had asked her if she could be Seth's Mom also when they came to see him on Christmas day after church, and she told him that she would be if Seth wanted her to be his Mom.  Afterwards, it became increasingly apparent that Seth and Lucky had the same special bond with each other in the same way that Ari and Simon had with each other.  Tom told them that Seth had always tried to protect Lucky from Jake and Charlie when they lived with the Robinsons.  Then Tom went ahead and filed the paperwork with Judge Orndorf's court, who appointed him custodial guardianship for Seth.

At the same time, John discovered that Seth Jordan had never existed until he was found sleeping on the streets 18 months ago, and that whoever had created his identity was very adept in covering their tracks.  John and the other members of the taskforce figured that Seth had been reprogrammed and placed with the Robinson's for a specific, but unknown reason.  Therefore, John brought in Dr. Cruz, who was a specialist familiar with treating people who had similar problems as the boys had from their reprogramming.  Behavioral modification and identity reprogramming from sensory deprivation had been tried numerous times over the last fifty years with very little success.  Most of the test subjects were criminals in prison, the mentally unstable or military personnel. Almost all of the test subjects regressed and most of them were made more unstable because of the testing.  That is why the testing was discontinued and discouraged by the scientific community over the last decade.  Dr. Cruz specialized in working with these people, and had helped to reverse some of the more harmful effects of the reprogramming in these patients, and he was looking forward to treating Simon and Ari.

"Dad is seeing some other patients here at the hospital, so I came with him to stay with Seth while he was busy."  Lucky told her.

"So what's wrong with Simon?"

"We don't know darling, that's why we are here."  She told him before turning to Dr. Sloane and asking.

"Does Simon still have to fast before his scans, or can he have some juice to take his medication with?"

"No, he doesn't need to fast any longer.  If you like, why don't we let him eat something before he takes the sedative and his medication, that way it won't be so hard on his stomach."  Dr. Sloane told her, and both John and Sara agreed with him.  Since it was already lunchtime for the patients, Dr. Sloane had the nurse send for three more meals so they could eat with Seth.  She returned ten minutes later with the meals, and after Lucky said the grace, all four of them were quickly devouring their lunches while John, Sara, and Dr. Sloane went into the nurses' lounge for coffee.  As they were coming out of the lounge, they saw Tom exiting the elevator, waved to him, and waited until he came over.

"Well, fancy meeting you guys here. So, are the boys here for a social visit, or is it something more serious?"  Tom asked as he hugged Sara, and shook John and Todd's hands.

"It's Simon, his headaches are worse, and Dr. Sloane thinks it might be from an injury to his eyes because light in general is very painful for him.  Last night we had to put a veil on him and turn off all the lights in the house because the light was hurting him so badly."  John told him seriously.

"Oh my, I'm sorry to hear that John.  I hope that our friend Todd here can help him."  Tom said.

"I hope so too, but I need to get some MRI scans of his head and brain first before I can tell if I can help him."  Todd told him.

"No offense Todd, but you might have a problem if you send him into the MRI machine.  I think all of the boys will have problems if they are put into a small, confined, place like that after what they have been through."  He told him with concern.

"I know already Tom, John explained the reason why, and I plan to sedate him before doing the scans.  Anyway, even if they didn't say anything to me, I don't think Ari would allow me to touch his brother unless I sedated him."  Todd told him with a smile.

"So are the four pre-teenage mutant ninja turtles together right now?"  Tom asked.

"What do you think?"  Sara asked him with a smirk.

"You know that all of us are going to have a problem keeping them separated once Seth is released from here."

"No we won't.  They will spend school days at your house, and Friday evening and the weekend at St. Michael's with me, although I will probably have to add a couple of rooms to my apartment."  He replied with a big grin as they made their way to Seth's room.

"Hey, why do we get them for school days?"  Sara demanded to know although she was not being serious.

"Well, you volunteered to be their Mom.  It's only right that you get them for school days since you're the mother, while I'm just a simple man of the cloth, so you are going to have all the authority over them anyway."  Tom explained piously with a feigned look of innocence making them all laugh.  When they came into Seth's room, Lucky practically sprang up out of his chair and ran over into Tom's arms.

"Hi Dad, look who's here with us; so, are you done yet?"  Lucky asked him after hugging and kissing him.

"Why? Are you in a hurry to leave or something?"  Tom asked him as he set Lucky down on his feet again.

"Ah, we were just thinking that maybe you could take us swimming at the pool in the rehab center again?"  Lucky asked him after blushing cutely before putting on his best "sad puppy" face.


"Well, what about your friends here?"  Tom asked him.

"They can come with us."  Lucky and Seth said almost in unison.

"No, I don't think so guys.  Simon is very sick, and he is going to be asleep for a while after his tests.  So it wouldn't be fair to go swimming while he can't."  Todd told them, and both Lucky and Seth blushed shamefully for not thinking about Simon.

"How about this; let me do the tests and the other stuff that I need to do with Ari and Simon today.  Then if it is all right with your parents, you three can stay the night with Seth here, and watch a couple of movies.  Tomorrow, I will let all four of you go swimming for a couple of hours after lunch when Seth finishes his physical therapy.  How does that sound to you?"  He asked them, and they all brightened up before looking expectantly at John, Sara, and Tom for permission.

"Talk about us spoiling them," John said to Todd before all of them broke into laughter.

"I don't see a problem with that, do you Sara?"

"Well, I better run home and bring them some clothes, or are you planning on letting them all go skinny dipping Todd?"  She asked him with a raised eyebrow.

"I don't think so, if they did that then none of the nurses would get any work done at all because they would all be downstairs watching these four cute guys frolicking in the pool."  He said while waving his hand at the boys who all blushed on cue.

"That would be quite a sight though, but this IS a hospital AND there are sick people who need help, so I guess no skinny dipping is allowed."  Tom said with a much exaggerated expression and voice.  Then he looked at Lucky and said.

"Anyway, I see the freckles on his butt enough already."

"DAD!"  Lucky exclaimed while blushing crimson.

"That's nothing; he almost blinded us last night streaking though the house showing off his freckles."  Sara told him while looking at Ari.

"MOMMY!"  Ari said in a shocked voice, as he blushed crimson too.

"Its ok boys, we are just teasing you a little for fun because your freckles are the cutest in the whole world."  Sara told them as she hugged Ari and Lucky.

"But you don't have to tell everyone about our freckles, even if they are cute."  Lucky told her bashfully making her laugh.

"You know that we would not do it if we did not love all of you so much, and think that you are the cutest boys in the whole world also."  She said before kissing them noisily on the cheek, and both Ari and Lucky melted into her embrace before smiling.  Then she herded them both over to Seth's bed before saying.

"If we let you stay, then you two will have to take care of Simon and Seth because they are both sick still.  Lucky, I want you to go get the nurse immediately if Simon wakes up with a headache again like last night, and Ari; you already know what to do for him if he does.  Seth, your in charge since you are the oldest, and you three better listen to him, or we won't let you stay with him anymore until he comes home, understood?"  She told them, and Lucky and Ari both promised to behave and listen to Seth.  However, Seth was surprised though when she put him in charge though, and had a confused look on his face.

"What's the matter honey?"  Sara asked him after seeing his confused expression.

"Why me, I don't understand?"  He asked as he looked at all of them with confusion and tears in his eyes.  Unknown to them, he was finally facing one of the things that he had talked about with Dr. Cruz.  He could not understand why all of these people, who were mostly strangers to him, why did they care so much about him.  What was it that made him so special to them, and why did he always feel so guilty and ashamed afterwards when he was alone?  All of these things ran through his mind as he looked back at Sara and stammered.

"I'm nobody...I don't even know who I really am, and I'm not even related to any of you.  So why do all of you care, and why do all of you treat me like I am part of your family?"

"It is because you are a part of our family now.  Our family is very special because up until a little over a month ago, all four of you were trapped in a horrible nightmare.  Yet, somehow, you boys managed to find each other and to help each other until all of you could escape the nightmare that was your lives.  However, all of us share one thing in common, and it is why you are special just as Simon, Ari, and Lucky are special."  Sara told him with all of her heart and soul in those words.

"See, what makes you so special just like your brothers here, and just like each of us, is that you are all alone in this great big world.  You do not have anybody to turn to when you need someone.  Ari told us why after we rescued him; he said that being all alone with nobody to care about you is a very bad thing, and each of us were alone until we found each other.  So we all know what it is like to be all alone, and that is why we want you to be part of our family now.  You are all alone just as we used to be, and that makes you special to us.  You are special because you are the same as each of us, and we want you to become part of our family so you will not ever be alone again.  You need us because you don't have anyone right now, but we need you too because we were all just like you before you guys came into our lives."  She explained carefully to him as her eyes glistened with tears.  John sat down next to her, and Tom sat down on the other side of the bed while Lucky and Ari stood at the foot of the bed.  Then John spoke to him with the same caring, love, and compassion that Sara had.

"Before we all met you little guys, each of us was alone.  First, I was alone until I found Simon fighting for his life after Bill tried to kill him for saving Ari.  I had lost my whole family, my wife Lori and daughter Katie, in a horrible car accident seven years ago, and a big part of me died when they died.  When I found Simon, he looked so much like my daughter Katie, and I found that the emptiness inside me was still there because they were gone and I was still here all alone.  I learned that Simon was all alone too just like me, but that emptiness went away when I was with him.  Then, because of Simon, I found Sara who was just as alone as I was, and we were no longer alone anymore and neither was he.  Next, he led us to Ari, who was very scared, sick, and alone just as you were when we found you.  He felt the same way as you do now and didn't understand why we wanted him as we want you."  John told him, and then Ari spoke.

"It's true Seth, my family was killed in an accident too, and we were all alone.  They sent us to the boys' home, but I ran away because they were hurting me.  They found me and sent me back to the home, and they hurt me even more before sending me to Pop.  He was supposed to kill me, but he didn't and put me in the bad place instead, and made me take care of Simon because he had hurt him very bad.  I took care of him and helped him until he was better, and then he stopped Pop from hurting me.  That is when I met you and Lucky, but the people who sent me to Pop found out that I was still alive.  Pop said that he had to kill me or they would kill him, but Simon told on him, and he freed me and made me run away.  That's when Pop caught him and shot him because he let me go.  When Simon brought Dad to the place I was hiding, I was so sick and weak.  When I was better, Simon told me that Dad and Mom were going to adopt him, and I wanted to stay with him, but they told me that I could not stay with him unless I let them adopt me too.  So I did and now he's my brother, and we aren't alone anymore and never will be again."  Ari explained while his tears slipped down his face as he remembered some of the worst things in his life along with the best things too.  John reached over and gently pulled Ari to him, and then he hugged and kissed away his tears as Sara spoke again.

"Once we got them home, Simon still did not know who he was, but he knew that he did not want to be Devon any more.  He was so sad and confused when Ari remembered why Simon did not run away with him after he left him go.  He remembered where Simon had kept his special things, and one of those things was a postcard from his mother.  Ari went and got those things from Pop's house even though he was so scared to go back.  He brought them to Simon and helped him to remember his family as well as who he really was.  Then Simon remembered Lucky; who was one of his best friends, and that he was an orphan like him and that he was alone too.  That is when we met Tom, who was alone the same as Lucky was, and we could see how much they needed each other the same way we needed each other.  Therefore, we helped them to be together so they would not be alone anymore."

"That brought them into our special family too because we all saw how special each of you are, and how much better and stronger each of you all are when you are together.  Finally, on Christmas Eve, Simon and Ari remembered the bad place, and told us about it.  John went there with our friend Ty so that he might be able to help Simon and Ari get better.  That is when they found you in the bad place all sick, hurt, and alone.  We didn't know who you were until they told us that you were their best friend too.  Then on Christmas Day, Lucky asked me if I could be his Mom so he could have one just like Simon and Ari have, and I said yes.  However, after church, instead of going with the other children, all they wanted was to come here to see you, because you were their only other best friend that they have in the whole world, and they had to know that you would be ok.  That's when we all met you, and we all knew from that moment.  We knew that you were now a part of our special family because you are same as all of us used to be, alone."  She told him as she gently wiped away his tears.

"Now with us, you won't be alone anymore, and have a real family full of people who care and love you.  Lucky has already asked me about you living with us, and he has even changed everything in his room.  Now you have your own bed, dresser, and even your own desk with your new computer on it.  Then you asked Sara if she could be your Mom too, and she said yes.  Therefore, I went to the courthouse yesterday, and I asked the judge if you could come live with us at St. Michael's, and he said yes.  Now, that makes it official, and now you are a part of our special family."  Tom told him, then he gestured for Lucky to come over to him, and he came and climbed up into his lap.  Then, both of them looked at him with very serious expressions that were also hopeful.

"However, I talked with Lucky, and we both agree that we don't want you to just come and live with us.  Instead, I have asked the court for permission, and now I am, we are both asking you Seth; would you want me to be your Dad and Lucky be your brother from now on.  We both love you, and all of us here want you to be part of our family.  I would be honored to be your father, and Lucky could not find a better brother, so will you allow us to love you, and become be part of our family?"  Tom asked him while both his and Lucky's eyes filled. Seth sat there stunned for a long moment as the meaning of what Tom and Lucky was asking came to him.  Then he looked around at the others, and he saw that they wanted him, and that answered his question, `Why me?'  They loved him because he mattered to them, and they needed him.  Most of all, he discovered that deep down, that he loved them too, and that he needed them to fill the emptiness inside him that he had known for so long until this moment.  His tears streaked down his face as he let all of their love fill up that emptiness inside him, and with his entire being, he answered.


Everyone just stayed silent while Seth cried along with Lucky and Tom as all three of then held each other.  Then Tom worked his magic as only a father could as he comforted, and reassured his sons that everything was all right.  Once he had calmed them, and dried their tears, he said.

"Now you are all together again, but none of you guys will ever be alone again anymore, and neither will we.  You boys all share a special bond with each other that all of us can see, and that is why each of you is so special to everyone here because of that bond.  Oh, and we cannot forget Uncle Jerry, Aunt Jeanne, and Junior either.  So you see, no matter what has happened in the past, or whatever happens in the future, you will never go back to being alone because all of us will always be here for you whenever you need us."  He explained carefully to Seth while all of their love for them showed on their faces as he looked at each one of them.

"Thanks guys, I love all of you too.  Maybe Dr. Todd will let me come home soon to my new room and brother, Dad."  He said in his warbling and almost scratchy voice as he smiled.  The effect was almost instant as he said those words for the first time.  He watched Tom's face fill with care and love when he heard `Dad' while Lucky had a huge grin on his face as he looked at his brother.

"We do too, but you gotta get well some more first Seth."  Lucky told him.

"It's going to be so kewl having you as my big brother now, but if you ever call me `Baby brother' I'll hafta hurt ya!"  Lucky told him threateningly although he could not help grinning.  Even Seth had to laugh at that before hugging him as best he could with his bandaged arms.


End of Chapter 1

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