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Kindred 8: The Jock

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“So where are we going?” Carey’s eyes were on Morris, his knuckles white as he held the harness as tight as he could, “what deal did you make with them?”
Morris shared a glance with Jesse.
“We will take everyone except Keandre back to Dallas,” his voice rose over the noise from the cargo plane, “he will separate when we get to London, then we will be on our way home.”
“And what happens when we get there?” Mark was staring at him.
Taylor looked over to where Keandre sat, listening intently since hearing his name. Taylor knew all of his luggage/personal things would still be in Tulsa.
“We will see about getting each of you home,” Morris insisted with a straight face, “at least, those of you we are able to send home.”
“And what does that mean?” Taylor demanded.
“He’s talking about me,” Jesse countered, “part of the deal to get me back into the country is that I hand myself over to the authorities.”
“You did this,” Taylor remembered, not knowing why he was surprised, “…how?”
“I called in a favor,” Jesse made it obvious he wouldn’t explain further.
“With these guys?” Mark demanded.
“No,” Jesse looked him in the eye.
“We were contacted shortly after Jesse’s call,” Morris explained, “and given the honor of retrieving you.”
Mark scoffed at that.
“But for what purpose?” Carey’s eyes narrowed, “just to be your lab rats instead of theirs?”
“No, to send you home,” Morris corrected calmly.
“Why? What’s the point of that?”
“Because we’re the property of the US government,” Jesse explained for him, not bothering to skirt around it, “and they want to keep their acquisitions on home soil.”
“Except for Keandre,” Carey countered, nodding toward the Frenchman.
“Keandre remains under watch, and eventually he will undergo similar testing as to what the rest of you have already been through,” Morris assured.
Keandre frowned at that.
“What’s the point in sending him home if you’re just going to abduct him again?” Taylor’s eyes narrowed as well.
“It’s not technically abduction,” Damien defended, “it’s reclamation.”
“Fuck that,” Mark scorned as Carey began to protest.
“Being taken against our will is abduction whether you see it that way or not,” he spat, “being attacked and thrown in the back of a van while out for a jog is not a formal fucking invitation. Being drugged, being analysed, being left unconscious in a nearby alley where anything could happen? You might as well have been aliens to us!”
“I was taken from the alley behind work the first time,” Taylor agreed.
“And I’m still mad as hell about being knocked unconscious straight up,” Jesse agreed.
“I was taken at gunpoint,” Mark weighed in.
Damien smirked and the twins both glared in his direction.
“The intention was never to cause you harm, or to make you hate or fear us,” Morris attempted to dispel, “we just had to do our jobs.”
“Then why is fuck-face here smirking?” Mark demanded, getting a glare from Damien.
“And why did you come after my kids?” Taylor demanded, “you didn’t just try and talk me into it, you literally got me out of the way so that you could hunt them down. And you want us to trust you?”
His brow furrowed incredulously.
“It’s never gonna happen! We’ll be looking over our shoulders for the rest of our lives thanks to you. My kids will be living in fear, thanks to you.”
“I never wanted that,” Morris insisted.
“Well you got it,” Taylor scorned.
“But you did make our jobs very, very hard,” Morris quickly went on, “and we had to account for that.”
“So Carey walking down the street made your job hard,” Mark’s tone was similar to Taylor’s, “me trying to work on my bike was making your job hard.”
“I was speaking of Taylor and his family specifically,” Morris amended, “how you were first brought to us was Damien’s idea.”
“Oh what,” Damien scowled at being thrown under the bus as all eyes suddenly went to him.
Your idea?!” Carey’s voice rose.
“I don’t have to put up with this,” Damien shook his head, “I shouldn’t even be here. How did they get into the lab in the first place?!”
“What, like it’s well guarded?” Mark smirked.
“We did believe it was Jesse mounting an attack at first,” Morris admitted, not looking in his direction, “we didn’t even think that they might have been after you.”
“Thanks,” Damien scoffed, turning away.
“You had to know where we were,” Mark set his eyes on Morris instead, “I still have a tracer.”
“We did,” Morris agreed with a nod.
“Then why didn’t you come for us?” Carey shrugged, “was this a game to you?”
“Of course not,” Morris began to undo his harness, “but relations between us and the Russians have never been steady, and you were taken without our consent. We’d barely managed any formal communication with them before Jesse’s word came through and broke the barrier, so to speak.”
Everyone bar Damien, Jesse and Keandre were suddenly on edge when Morris stood from his seat and made his way toward the twins. He stooped in front of Mark a little as he attempted to study his face.
“This is new,” he said after some time.
“Not to me it isn’t,” Mark countered, “it took forever.”
“And wasn’t by choice,” Carey added.
“Remarkable,” Morris was appreciating their work, “and yet they decided to leave your tattoos.”
“They didn’t have time to screw with them,” Mark glared at him, already annoyed at being singled out, “but they were going to.”
“Fascinating. We’ll need to update your profile photography before you leave us for… Chicago I presume.”
He returned to his seat.
“I don’t think I want to go back,” Mark lowered his voice, looking to Carey.
“I don’t blame you,” he assured, “but my stuff is still in your apartment, so I have to go there anyway.”
“I thought you’d want to go straight to LA? For, you know…”
“I don’t know how much time I have,” Carey frowned when he realised before beginning to panic again, “what if I’m too late?! What if it’s happening right now?!”
“If you’re talking about the birth of your daughter, I’m afraid you missed it,” Morris was redoing his harness.
“What?” Carey demanded scornfully, “what are you talking about?”
“We knew she was pregnant,” Damien insisted.
“But we haven’t been gone that long!” Carey’s voice rose, “did something go wrong?!”
“Nothing went wrong,” Morris assured, “she was carried to term and born just over a week ago.”
“But that means-“
“We’ve been gone for two months,” Mark finished for him with a frown.
“Two months?!” Taylor’s brow furrowed.
Natalie had to be beside herself by now. Especially under the circumstances in which they’d been taken.
“What did you do?” Carey demanded, “why do you know all this?”
“We’ve been keeping a careful eye on her progress. She’s been doing very well,” Morris continued, “we had one of our doctors oversee the delivery without her knowledge and some quick tests were done within the first few days. She is very healthy. They both are.”
Carey’s eyes closed at that, trying to imagine Emma having to give birth all alone. Not even Mark had been there.
“Hey,” they opened again when Mark put a hand on his lap, “it’s okay. You’ll see her soon.”
Carey took a deep breath and tried not to panic further.
“If you were watching them,” Taylor really didn’t want to ask, but he had to, “what about mine?”
“They are fine,” Morris assured, “they were notified as soon as we were able to retrieve you.”
“Did you tell Emma?” Carey jumped in.
“No,” Morris shook his head.
“Why not?!”
“Let’s just deal with it when we get back, okay? She’s going to have enough going on,” Mark insisted.
“This isn’t fair! Why are we getting the raw end of this deal?!” Carey scowled.
“You think you’re getting the raw deal?” Taylor’s brow rose.
“Stop it,” Jesse’s voice suddenly dominated the conversation, “none of this will change anything, and I am not going to sit through a pointless argument. Vent your anger when we’re on the ground.”
Carey immediately sobered at the reminder that he was in a plane. Taylor paused before leaning back into his seat.
“I am going home?” Keandre’s voice broke the awkward silence that followed.
“Yes Keandre,” Morris replied, “we are taking you home.”
Keandre’s expression was hard to read. Remembering what had happened in the Russian labs, Mark was now watching him with interest.

The flight to London took just over four hours. The other clones weren’t even allowed off the plane for a break. Keandre was escorted off with a quick wave in Taylor’s direction, and the plane sat on the runway for at least another hour.
After many complaints, particularly from Carey as he just wanted to get the flight home over with, they realised they were waiting for a delivery. Not only food was brought on board, but clothes and blankets as well.
“Oh thank god. I’m sick of wearing this dress,” Mark took whatever had been on top of the pile and stood aside to get dressed.
Taylor approached it next and took his time to sift through for something suitable. After waiting impatiently, Carey just found something comfortable. Jesse offered Alex a choice of what was left before throwing Damien what he didn’t want.
“The flight to Dallas will take about ten and a half hours,” Morris informed them, “I suggest you all try and get some sleep after we’ve eaten.”
“Very funny,” Carey muttered.
“I don’t know about you,” Mark turned to him, scratching at his beard, “but I’m looking forward to anything that isn’t potato. It could be Brussel sprouts for all I care.”
“I’m sure you’ve been through enough, we don’t need to subject you to anything further,” Morris walked over to the twins.
“Was that a joke?” Mark was confused.
“What’s that?” Carey was eyeing a plastic bag in his hand.
“We recovered some personal items from the research center where you were held, I thought you’d like this back.”
Carey took the bag once he’d held it out, soon realising it held his wedding ring. As Morris walked toward Taylor with the next bag he struggled to break the seal as fast as he could and study the gold band to make sure that it was actually his.
“Lucky break,” Mark considered.
Once Carey found the engraving inside with his wife’s name and birthdate, he had to wipe at his eyes.
“Yeah,” he agreed, quickly slipping it back on.
Taylor had been watching and his right hand had gone to his own as if to make sure it was still there. He remembered them trying to take it and realised Carey hadn’t been so lucky with his wedding being so recent. Morris handed him back his necklaces without a word before walking away.
Jesse was just trying to focus on Alex instead. He’d been quiet for the whole trip and he knew he wouldn’t be able to protect him once they landed in Dallas. If Morris was lying about his intentions for Alex, they wouldn’t find out until it was too late. After Morris handed Alex a new basic-looking pair of glasses he decided to try and engage again.
“What are you thinking about?” Jesse asked him as they took their seats next to each other again.
“Nothing,” Alex replied, surprised at being asked, “why?”
“I mean you’re not yourself, we can tell,” Jesse insisted, “and I know there’s reasons but…”
“I just have nothing to say,” Alex shrugged, redoing the harness.
“What will you do when you get home?” Jesse asked.
“I don’t know if I want to go home,” Alex admitted, “that’s if I get a choice.”
Jesse didn’t have a response to that. It was exactly what he’d been afraid of, after all.
Once they were all strapped in again Morris gave the okay for them to take off. After sitting on the runway for nearly another half hour while waiting for their turn, the long flight back to Dallas began. After another long and awkward silence, Damien was the first to speak up.
“Why don’t we make deals right here and now with them?” he was talking to Morris, “when it comes to surveillance and reporting. We need to keep track of Taylor and Carey’s kids.”
“Excuse me?” Taylor’s brow rose as Carey scowled.
“And why?” Carey demanded, “what business is it of yours anyway? Our family has nothing to do with your science shit.”
“Incorrect,” Morris considered, “as your DNA belongs to the program and its founders, anything – or anyone – it is passed to also falls under our jurisdiction.”
“You don’t own my kids,” Taylor’s voice lowered in warning, “you have enough from them already.”
“Not true. We were interrupted,” Morris corrected, giving Jesse a glance, “we will need further genetic material from them, particularly a few years into the future.”
“What are you saying?” Carey demanded, “you can’t lay claim to our kids! We have our own lives to live. For that matter, we…”
He indicated all of them.
All have our own lives. You need to let us live them!”
“We need to do nothing of the sort,” Damien smirked.
“Stay out of this,” Mark warned him, despite sitting on the other side of Carey.
“I’m suggesting we come to some kind of agreement where this doesn’t have to interrupt your perfect little lives, is that such a bad thing?” Damien scorned.
“What do you want?” Taylor demanded outright, “why in a few years? What’s your goal?”
“Our goal is to study how the modifications to Isaac’s genetic coding have passed down,” Morris explained openly, “we want to know if your children can reproduce, for example, or if the changes we somehow failed to make with the two of you will be passed onto them instead.”
“But how can you tell?” Carey was confused, while Taylor was doing the math in his head.
“You want to wait until they hit puberty,” he realised, “I don’t think I like where this is going.”
Carey’s eyes shot to him as he caught on.
“I don’t want my girls subjected to that,” Taylor shook his head, “they’re only kids, and they don’t know what’s going on.”
“Then you have some time to teach them before they’re needed,” Morris insisted.