Actions

Work Header

What it is the William Chronicles part 2.

Chapter Text

I didn’t sleep that well that night. Thinking of how Louis and Karen were on the 3rd floor just below us. Thinking of how he was related to Lionel. How, he was here keeping an eye on me for him. He had said so himself.

I woke up a couple of times feeding Seamus and Mary. Once around 3am and again around 5. I changed them and rocked them back to sleep. After that I must have slept for a while. I had to of because next thing I knew I woke up startled as my bedroom door opened it creaking as James appeared coming quietly inside and shutting it behind him.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“I think he’s like him,” James told me looking at me.

“Who?” I asked him.

“Luke’s brother,” James said and I nodded my head holding open my covers.

“Did he hurt you?” I asked him.

“No. Just a bad feeling. Karen’s up and she’s making pancakes. She woke Cat and I up but almost everyone else is sleeping,” he told me climbing into bed with me.

“Are you still tired?” I asked him.

“No, I just wanted to be with you. You said if we were together it would be ok. So I wanted to be together,” he informed me.

“Ok bud,” I said holding him before I kissed is cheek, “But if you aren’t going to sleep maybe you should go play with Catty. Play tea party with her.”

“But I want to play cowboys,” he told me.

“Try and see if she’ll let you play cowboy tea party ok? Especially if you think he’s like them. We can’t leave her alone with someone that’s like them,” I told him.

“Why? She’s a girl,” he told me.

“Yes, but sometimes they hurt little girls too. And we don’t want Cat to get hurt do we?” I asked him.

“No. I love Catty,” he told me.

“Then why don’t you go play with her and I’ll take a shower and come out and play with you guys in a little bit ok?” I asked him.

“Ok,” he said, “I love you too you know?”

“I know, I love you too bud,” I said getting up and walking him to my bedroom door, shutting it behind him.

I looked at my alarm clock it was nine. I had gotten maybe four hours of actual sleep but, if he was up I didn’t want Louis being anywhere near them without Karen or me around. Not after last night. Not after he had looked at me like that. I hated to think of him alone with them.

If he could look at me like that how did I know he wouldn’t look at them like that? That he wouldn’t scoot close to them until their hearts felt like hummingbird wings in their chest, until they couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. I didn’t and I wasn’t going to take the chance that he wouldn’t so I sighed going into my bathroom and starting my shower.

I made it as quick as possible drying myself off and hanging my towel back on the towel rack before I opened the door shutting it quickly my heart hammering when I saw him standing in my bedroom. He must have heard me shut the door because after a second I heard a knock on it.

“Will? Why don’t you come out here? Karen wanted me to ask you if she would make bacon or sausage,” he told me.

“Tell her bacon,” I said through the door.

“Ok,” he answered and than said after a moment of silence, “You have a nice room. It’s very clean.”

“Thanks. I’m huh, naked so can you just like…go tell her about the bacon?” I asked him.

He laughed lightly, “I have two little brothers one of them a little older then you. I promise I’ve seen a naked boy before.”

That wasn’t the point. He knew that wasn’t the point. I didn’t want to be naked in front of him. I didn’t want to be naked in front of anyone really. Especially not him or anyone that was related to any of that.

“Could you? Please?” I asked him.

“Yeah. Of course,” he said.

I waited until I heard his steps recede until I heard him shut the door before I came out. I tried to be as fast as possible getting dressed pretty sure he was coming back and sure enough just as I pulled my shirt out of my dresser he opened the door without knocking making me jump around 10 feet in the air.

“Are you really going to wear that?” he asked looking at me.

“What?” I asked.

“That,” he said snatching my shirt out of my hand, “I mean it’s long sleeved why would you wear that? It’s not even that cold outside let alone in your actual house.”

I felt my face burning red as I folded my arms over my chest. I felt like I wanted to cry. What was he doing? Why wouldn’t he just leave me alone?

“Papa was right. You’re very beautiful,” he said taking a step forward causing me to take a step back hitting my dresser with my back.

He took another step forward and I felt my eyes go wide, “I just told you you’re beautiful. Are you going to say anything?” he asked me as he put his hand against my cheek.

Say anything? Was I supposed to thank him? I mean I’m sure in his eyes that was a compliment but it my eyes it wasn’t. In my eyes it felt like him trying to make an excuse. My brain blanked out as I looked at him trying to figure out what I was going to say and all I came up with was…

“Can I have my shirt back?”

“You are shy,” he said his smile growing, “It’s ok. You look nice without it.”

I remember thinking about how that wasn’t true. I was scrawny. Being around 5’1 almost 5’2 already at that age my limbs seeming long and lanky. I didn’t look nice without my shirt and I didn’t feel comfortable without it. I just wanted my shirt back and was about to tell him that when he pressed his lips to mine first a small peck and then he deepened it.

I put my hands against his chest trying to push him away push him off me when my door opened again without knocking and then I heard a screech as Louis shoved me backwards into the dresser, my side hitting it as I fell under the force of his shove landing on the ground as he threw my shirt at me.

“What is wrong with you kid?” he asked me as I stared at him wide eyed before I glanced at the door where Karen was standing, “Like I know you have issues but are you serious? Calling me in here to help you find a shirt and then kissing me like that? I’m not gay, thanks. And if I was I would not be ok with someone your age,” Louis hissed at me.

“Your Da has screwed you up you fucking little faggot!” Karen yelled at me, “Hitting on my boyfriend? What the fuck is wrong with you you little butt fucker!!! You know what they do to people who assault and sexually harass people? They send them to jail. You want to go to jail?” she barked continuing to scream at me, “You want to go to jail you little shit? Because that’s where you belong. Come here,” she said grabbing me forcefully by the elbow as I barely managed to pull my shirt over my head and pulling me to my feet.

“Karen, the kids obviously…” Louis started

“NO! he just assaulted you. I don’t care if he’s a kid or not. I’m taking him downstairs and my Dad is going to have a very serious talk with him about this,” Karen said dragging me from the room.

“Ka…”

“I don’t want to hear it!” she hissed at me pulling me down the hall to the lift and punching the button, “You’re lucky you’re a kid or I would fucking kick your ass right now. Maybe that’s what you want though. You like people touching your ass? You want it up the butt don’t you? You little shit. No wonder your brothers are so fucking screwed up. You’re probably sleeping with James aren’t you? Touching him. That’s why he wants to be in your bed all the time isn’t it? That’s why you don’t kick him out. You’re molesting your own little brother. Disgusting!” she continued to yell at me.

She wouldn’t even let me speak. He had forced me to kiss him and now she wouldn’t even let me defend myself.

“I didn’t do it!” I finally managed to get out as I started crying.

“I SAW IT! You sick little fuck!” she hissed at me.

“NO, I DIDN”T!” I begged her, “I didn’t do it!”

“Whole family of fucking liars!” she hissed as the lift opened on the 2nd floor and she walked over to the guest room door knocking on it.

“DAD!” Karen screamed, “DAD!”

“I’m down here Karen, what are you shouting about sweety?” Hank said from down in the kitchen as she dragged me down the hallway towards his voice practically throwing me down the stairs at him.

“Woah, Karen you need to calm down. What happened?” he asked her.

“This fucking little faggot kissed my boyfriend. Louis looked absolutely terrified!” she screeched.

“You need to calm down. Louis is a grown man I’m sure he can take care of himself,” Hank said.

“I don’t care. Tell this little brat what happens to rapists maybe that will set him straight. I don’t want to see his fucking face again today,” Karen hissed turning around and stomping back up the stairs.

“I di…” I started to say as Ben came up behind me and punched me in the face.

“That’s for being an asshole. You don’t step out on a contract! NEVER! I didn’t give you up so you could fuck around. You hear me?” he shouted the impact of his fist forcing me to the ground again.

I didn’t have any fight left in me. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t kissed him. Was he going to tell Lionel? Was Lionel going to think this was my fault and then make everything that must worse on Friday?

“I DIDN”T I SWEAR I DIDN”T PLEASE I DIDN”T DO IT!! I DIDN”T DO IT!!!” I screamed not even daring to get up off the floor where I had fallen. I knew he probably hit me again.

“You’re a fucking shit,” Ben hissed at me, “You know what? How about we call him? See what he thinks about all of this?” he said turning and grabbing the phone that he started dialing.

“Oh come on Ben it wouldn’t be the first time Louis has gotten handsy and he’s a pretty boy. You can’t really believe it was his fault,” Hank sighed.

“I don’t give a shit. I’m not allowed to touch him but Louis is? That’s bullshit,” Ben said before there was a sound on the phone, “Yeah, Lionel?” he muttered, “Karen, Hanks daughter just brought my nephew down here said she caught him playing tonsil hockey with your oldest grandson. Can I ask… ok, fine, Yeah here he is. It’s for you.” Ben hissed at me as he thrusted the phone into my face.

“Hello?” he asked.

I sighed I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to cry where he could hear me either so I tried to quiet my sobs but he must have heard me sniffle.

“Oh little one it’s ok. I know it wasn’t you. You would never do that to me because you’re a good boy. I know it wasn’t your fault. There’s no need to be upset,” he said quietly, “Don’t worry about a thing ok? Has anyone else touched you?”

“N---no,” I barely managed to stammer.

“Good,” he said after a minute of silence, “How about you go sit somewhere quietly and I’ll talk to your uncle?”

I stood up as I handed the phone over to my Uncle Ben. I went and sat in the living room trying to calm myself down as I hiccupped. He didn’t blame me. Louis had kissed me and he didn’t blame me but everyone else sure seemed to be. I just wanted it all to go away. And Karen thought I was molesting James? What if she told mum that? Would mum believe her? Or would she believe me?

Even thinking about it made me feel sick to my stomach. How could she think I wanted to do that to him? I would never do that to him. Not ever. I would kill myself before I ever did that to anyone. Did she even realize how bad that made you feel? Even if it didn’t physically hurt how bad it tore you apart inside? How could she even imagine that I would do that? Just thinking that someone could believe I would do that made me so angry and so upset. I started crying again this time silently as I sat on the couch. I still didn’t have any idea where John was and mum wasn’t due home until tomorrow. I felt completely and utterly alone not even my younger siblings around to tell me it was ok. That I wasn’t the person Karen had accused me of being. That they believed me because no one else did. No one that mattered.

I could hear Ben fighting with Lionel over the phone for a while as I sat there thinking to myself until I heard a light knock on the threshold to the living room, “Hey,” Hank said quietly holding a cup, “Can I come in?”

I looked at him and my eyes must have showed my fear, “You’re under a no touch order even if I wanted to I’m not allowed to put as much as a hair on my head near your body. I just brought you hot chocolate. Used to cheer Karen up when she was feeling down and she was your age,” he said setting two cups down on the coffee table before he sat in a recliner to the right of the sofa I was sitting on.

“Thanks,” I managed to say quietly.

“Look I don’t know what happened but, just know that Karen is…she’s sheltered ok? She doesn’t …she see’s what she wants to see. It’s one of the things I love about her,” he told me.

“I didn’t do it,” I said quietly.

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Hank said, “I know we haven’t talked a lot but, you seem like a good kid. I think you’re smart and I think you’ve had things explained to you enough that you wouldn’t cause trouble. I think you understand a lot of things other kids probably don’t. So why don’t you sit here and calm down ok?”

“You don’t think I did it?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, “I don’t think you did it. So just stay here, watch some TV and in a few hours after Karen has cooled off you can head back upstairs.”

“Can I ask you something?” I asked him figuring this was my chance to find out where John was, what was happening to him. If he was ok or not.

“Sure. I can’t tell you I’ll answer but ask away,” Hank said.

“Where is John?” I asked him quietly looking at the carpet under my feet sighing. I really hoped that didn’t make him mad.

I heard him exhale heavily me avoiding looking at him so I didn’t have to see how mad he was, how upset the question made him before he answered, “He’s fine. He’s safe and he’ll be back with you guys in no time. That’s all you need to know ok?”
I nodded my head. I didn’t want to push it. I knew it was a lie. That wherever he was he wasn’t safe but he was wherever Uncle Ben and Hank wanted him to be. He was probably in the house somewhere. Probably downstairs and I knew it from Hanks answer. Because where else would he do those sort of things to John? I sat down there for maybe 20 or 30 minutes before I decided I was hungry making myself a snack from the downstairs fridge and after that the com rang out.

“Dad it Karen, are you there?” I heard her ask and waited for Hank to come back from wherever he was but he didn’t, “Fine you little shit you can come upstairs. I can’t take the screaming anymore so come and calm James down.” She said addressing me.
I sighed but took that permission that I was allowed back upstairs and when the lift opened on the fourth floor I could hear the shierking and screaming all the way down the hall, “I WANT WILLY WHERE IS WILLY HE”S GONE WHY IS HE GONE HE CAN”T BE GONE, HE SAID AS LONG AS WE”RE TOGETHER AND WE”RE NOT TOGETHER WE”RE NOT…” he screamed until he ran out of breath and the floor filled with silence before he let out a wordless shierk. I ran into his bedroom, noticing how quiet the floor was besides his screaming, his screams of panic and terror.

“I’m right here bud,” I said going into his room and hugging him, “I’m right here it’s ok.”

“He was here,” he barely whimpered.

“What makes you think he was here?” I asked him quietly.

“You…you said as long as we-hiccup-were-hiccup to-together it w-would be ok. But you were gone s-s-so i-ittt w-wasn’t ok,” he whimpered, “s-s-ssso he h-had ttt-to be he-he-here.”

“No he wasn’t here. Karen was just mad. That’s all so she sent me downstairs. He wasn’t here I promise. He’s with mum and Da he wasn’t here at all. You were scared he was because I disappeared?” I asked him and he nodded his head.

“H-h-he ww-was going to hur-hurt you and th-th-then c-c-come get me,” he sniffled.

“No, bud. He was never here. We’re safe. We’re ok. I’m ok,” I told him “Shhh…it’s ok. It’s ok.”

I cradled him in my lap rocking him gentle as he finished crying it out. He seemed so terrified. So concerned that I had been hurt. That I had been taken away from him. And Karen thought this was how a kid acted towards someone that was hurting them? She knew nothing about psychology. No, this was a kid that was beyond terrified someone would hurt him if I wasn’t there. Or that someone was hurting me because I wasn’t there. This wasn’t a kid who was scared of me, just of everything else.

“It’s ok buddy,” I said climbing into his bed with him under the covers, “It’s ok. We’re safe.”

“You promise?” he managed to ask me after a few minutes, after he had started to calm down.

“I promise,” I told him.

“Why don’t we think of something good. You have anything good you want to think about?” I asked him.

“You’re safe,” he told me cuddling me.

“Besides me. How about we play a game, if you could choose anyone to go in your safe castle with you besides me, who would you choose?” I asked him.

“I’m tired I think,” he told me.

“I know but answer the question. Think hard about it,” I told him.

He was silent for a minute or two with his eyes closed as I ran my hand through his hair trying to soothe him, trying to make him feel safe and loved. After a minute he sighed.

“Robby,” he told me.

I smiled, “Who is Robby?”

“He’s my friend. You met him once. On the playground,” he notified me.

I thought hard to recall. A little boy with brown hair and dark eyes. I remembered that, I did I remembered him.

“Why Robby?” I asked him.

“Because I’m going to marry him,” he told me.

I had to stifle my own laughter. I didn’t want to explain to him that six year olds couldn’t get married let alone get into the discussion of why men couldn’t marry other men but it was a cute answer. I thought about it for a second and smiled into the crown of his head before I kissed it, “Ok bud whatever you say.”

“Will you cuddle with me?” he asked me sleepily and at that I did laugh a little bit.

“We are,” I pointed out.

“Ok,” he said yawning, “I love him though. Robby. I mean I love you too but I love you like a brother and I love him different so I’m going to marry him.”

“How about you just close your eyes and we’ll nap ok?” I asked him.

“That sounds…” he trailed off his speech slowing down, “nice.” And with that he let out a big sigh and his whole body relaxed against mine as he started to drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

I must have drifted off to sleep after a while myself because next thing I knew I was being pulled from the bed by arm.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Karen hissed at me.

“We were napping,” I answered looking at James who looked super scared.

“I wanted you in your own room so I didn’t have to see your pervert face,” she spat, “Go to your own room.”

“NO!” James shouted at her, “NO! He’s my brother and he’s not a pervert! he’ll protect me.”

“Protect you from what?” She asked him.

He went quiet looking at his hands his face turning red. He didn’t like being asked about it. About the stuff going on. However, it had been drilled into us from the start that you didn’t talk about it with people. The things that Da made us do. The things that Da let Lionel do.

“Protect you from what James? Answer me,” she said.

“I-I-I don’t, he said as long as we’re together we’re safe. I want to be safe. Willy keeps me safe Karen.”

She sighed sitting down on the bed in the spot where she had just pulled me from by my arm, “Is this about your Da again?”

“We’re not allowed to talk about it,” he told her quietly.

“It’s already been talked about. I talked to my Dad and he said that he has never met a more upstanding man then your Da so he seriously doubts that he would ever hurt any of you and he’s going to be having a serious talk with all of your older brothers about spreading these ideas that he would ev…what happened to your eye?” Karen asked glaring at me.

“You sent me downstairs and I got punched in the face by my uncle. What exactly did you think was going to happen Karen?” I hissed at her.

“Another lie. He would never hit you. I truly doubt your Da would let him be around if he was violent,” Karen said.

At that point, I was done. I had dealt with Karen and her accusations of both of us lying more than enough. This bitch was bipolar or something because her mind about the whole thing was changing so fast and so often it was giving me whip lash. I stood up as tall as I could looking at her and then I smiled at James.

“Bud, why don’t you go to the kitchen. Karen did say she was coming to get you for food, didn’t she?” I asked him.

“No, she said she wanted you away from me,” he told me.

“Well,” Karen sighed, “That is why I came in here to get you so …”

“What about you?” James asked me.

“I’ll be there in a minute. Don’t worry this will only take a second,” I said as he got up and took my hand and I walked him to his bedroom door and shut the door behind him.

“Listen you need to stop. You don’t want to believe your Da fucks little boys fine. But don’t you dare fucking tell me my Uncle didn’t hit me. I was there and you weren’t. I was lucky he didn’t rape me. You handed me to him on silver platter. Because regardless of what you want to believe my Da has done horrible things to me and not just to me myself but my brothers. All of my brothers I’m pretty sure. He’s touched Cat. She has told mum that herself and John and me. So, you want to keep calling us liars that’s fine. But when a real cop finds out and comes knocking on our door to ask about it I’m pointing a finger at you and telling them you fucking knew and you didn’t do anything but call us all liars,” I said.

“Do you even know what rape is?” she asked me.

“It’s when you shove your dick or your tongue or you finger or anything else in someone when they don’t want you to. Yeah, I’m very aware of what rape is. Or when you use your mouth somewhere a person doesn’t want your mouth to be. Even though I think that’s more classified as sexual assault.” I answered her.

Just then the com buzzed before Uncle Ben spoke into the speak, “Karen? What’s your code?”

Karen sighed and opened the door walking out of the room and over to the com before she hit the button, “4134, why are you asking?” she asked him.

“I have some stuff I’d like to discuss with Louis. I want to hear the whole story here,” he said into the com, “I’ll be up in a second. If you want to take a break for a few minutes that’s fine. I can watch everyone.”

She smiled, “I get a smoke break. Finally,” she looked at me, “You accuse him of anything else I’m quitting.”

He came upstairs using the lift. Did this mean he was allowed to hurt me? Had he talked to Lionel again? Had he given him permission? No, no no no.

“Karen, you should stay,” I said coming out of the bedroom behind her to beg her to stay. Not to leave us up here with Uncle Ben and Louis alone.

“I need a break. The babies are fine. I just fed and changed them. The toddlers are down for their nap. It’ll be no more than 30 minutes,” she tried to assure me, “If anything he should be the one that’s worried. For all I know you’re going to accuse him of murdering your imaginary friend next.”

Just then the lift opened.

“Well, I’ll be back,” Karen said stepping into the lift, “It’ll be fine.”

The lift shut behind her.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“I need to blow off some steam,” he told me as he walked past me barely looking at me and marching into the living room where Mike and Matt were playing video games quietly for once. Matt was the first to look over and see him standing there.

“Uncle Ben…”

“Not now Matt. Mike what are you doing sweetie?” he asked quietly.

“Uncle Ben no,” Matt said shaking his head as Mike set the controller he was holding down on the coffee table and started to back up slowly as Uncle Ben started to walk towards him.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Ben don’t you…”

“YOU LOST THE RIGHT TO CALL ME THAT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO FLAUNT YOUR LITTLE ASS IN FRONT OF MY BOSS!” he hissed at me causing me to balk at him.

Was that really what they all thought of me? That I wanted Lionel to do that? That I wanted to be with him, to have sex with him? I didn’t. That was the last thing I ever wanted.

“Come on Mike, I won’t hurt you. You know if you’re good I won’t hurt you,” Uncle Ben said to him holding out his hand to Mike.

“Uncle Ben can I come too?” Matt asked.

He shook his head at Matt, “I want alone time with him. I’m tired of you always sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Maybe next time ok?”

“Uncle Ben please? He’s not like me. He doesn’t…please? Just please take me instead, ok?” Matt begged him.

“Mike, now,” he said to which Mike sighed.

Mike stepped forward trying to walk past Ben and Ben grabbed him by the waist and whispered something in his ear. I saw Matt out of the corner of my eye as Uncle Ben grabbed Mike and threw him over his shoulder and he started screaming. Matt’s eyes going wide in horror before they went small and cold as Ben carried Mike down the hallway and into his room.

“I hope your happy. This is your fault,” Matt spat at me.

“How is this my fault?” I asked him, “I’m not the one whose about to hurt him.”

“He’s going to rape him! He’s never…Mike’s never done that before. I’m always there. I always…because it doesn’t bother me. If you weren’t such a tease this wouldn’t be happening. This wouldn’t be…it’s your fault if he gets hurt. It’s on you,” Matt spat before he ran down the hall into his own bedroom slamming the door.

I didn’t know what to think. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if Lionel had never met me. Maybe it would be me instead because then I wouldn’t be off limits and Mike would still be ok. Because I knew after this, it wouldn’t be ok anymore. I sighed going into the kitchen to get a drink and found James hiding behind the counter between the fridge and the rest of the room his knees pulled to his chest and eyes closed. I had forgotten I had sent him out of his room to yell at Karen. Karen who had decided to go on a smoke break.

“Are you ok?” I asked James who shook his head at me as he stared at his knees, “It’s ok. He won’t hurt you.”

“Not now,” he said quietly, “He’s like Da though and him. He’ll hurt me later. I know he will. He’s going to hurt him a lot. Like He did. I know he will.”

“And we’ll be there for him. Both of us, like John and I were there for you ok?” I told him.

Just then I heard a door open and thought that maybe Ben had changed his mind standing up and finding Louis coming out of the nursery. He hadn’t. I hoped to god he hadn’t done anything to any of them. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before that he might be in the nursery alone with them but, it just hadn’t.

“Will,” Louis said smiling at me, “Everything ok?”

I snorted or something making a noise at him and shaking my head as I reached down and picked James up to take him to my room. My room where if I wasn’t alone I would feel safe because I was clothed and James would be with me. And because Louis wasn’t supposed to touch me anyway.

“Will I’m sorry. About earlier,” Louis said.

“You’re just sorry you got caught,” I hissed.

“Got caught doing what?” James asked from my arms.

“Nothing bud,” I said shaking my head.

“She only see’s what she wants to see,” Louis said shrugging his shoulders, “Even though I’m probably in a bit of a hot spot with my grandfather but, I think it’ll be all right.”

“I bet,” I spat.

“If I were you I wouldn’t so happy it. It means you’re his for sure. What do you think is going to happen to you when that bit of information gets out? You’ll have 0 friends because my grandpa doesn’t like people messing with his things. You’re not a person anymore. You’re just a toy. Enjoy it.” He said before he walked past me and into the living room.

I wanted to be mad at him but, I knew he was right. That to Lionel I was just a toy, a thing to use until he got bored of me. The only thing I could hope for was he got bored of me fast. Was that he decided after the trip to the zoo I wasn’t worth his time. That he didn’t want me.

I took James into my room, carried him there. He didn’t say anything as we climbed into my bed together letting me cuddle him because he could sense I needed him. That I was deep in thought. We stayed there silent for hours. I didn’t fall asleep but eventually James did probably because he was being held and it was warm and quiet. I don’t remember hearing Mike scream even once. I don’t even remember hearing the lift turn on and then off again and then on again as Karen came back upstairs and Uncle Ben left. I don’t really remember anything until heard yelling in the hall.

“Will? Will you come out here please,” John called down the hallway.

I sighed untangling myself from James who was still asleep. I was tired. I felt like maybe he would blame me too. Tell me what had happened to Mike was my fault. That if I had been behaved none of this would be happening. That maybe Karen was my fault too. It felt like everything was my fault and I was tired of being blamed. I opened the door and walked over to where him and Karen were standing.

“What?” I asked him quietly wrapping my arms around myself as John looked at me a frown contorting his features.

“Who hit you?” He asked me.

“He claims your uncle did that,” Karen spat.

“He did! Shut up fuck face!” I hissed at her.

At that point I had, had enough. I was tired of being blamed for everything that was going wrong. Of being blamed for Louis shoving his tongue down my throat. For uncle Ben being mad, for Mike and Matt being his new targets. I was tired of being called a tease and whore and everything else you could think of and I was tired of knowing that if I had just been more careful maybe none of this stuff would be happening.

“At least I don’t dream of getting it up the ass from my relatives,” she shot back.

Before I could reply John shook his head angrily and spoke, “Karen are you fucking five? He’s 11. Shut your fucking mouth.”

“Said the 13-year-old,” she said turning back to John.

“Oh, dear god Karen. If you don’t believe us that’s fine but please just get out of our faces about it, ok?” John said calmly still shaking his head.

“Well, it’s kind of hard to believe people who hang out with my brother,” Karen said.

I saw John clench his fists. At first, I thought he was going to hit her. His face turning slightly red like it did when he got really angry and had since we were little before he barked at her, “KAREN!”

Then he did something I had never seen him do before. Something that he usually never did in front of people anyway. He lifted his shirt up. I was behind Karen so I didn’t get to see her face but I see John’s chest heaving. He was probably closing his eyes, bracing himself for something bad to happen like it probably would have if Da or uncle Ben had been around before he put his shirt back down.

“Does this look like a lie to you?” he asked her as he lowered his shirt, his face still slightly red probably from embarrassment.

“No fucking way,” she muttered barely above a whisper.

I wouldn’t believe he had done that. That he had pulled the attention away from me by exposing himself like that. Letting someone see his body. That had taken guts. He didn’t even look at me turning and walking over to his bedroom before he shut the door hard leaving me standing in the hall with Karen who was probably staring ahead of her, her mouth on the ground because it was still open wide when she turned to look at me.

“Well, that was unexpected,” she managed to say after a minute or two.

“That’s all you have to say?” I asked her.

“What else am I supposed to say? For all I know he got attacked by a dog,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure dogs don’t bite you under your nipple like that,” I said.

She opened her mouth to say something and shut it thinking better of it before she tried again, once again coming up with nothing before she sighed heavily. The com crackled and John came back out of his room.

Karen turned to look at him, “Rough sex?”

“How many 13-year old’s do you know that are having sex?” John shot at her as he stepped into the elevator and disappeared behind the closing doors.

I sighed walking down the hallway. I was hungry and it was past the point where dinner should have been ready. I mean there had been a lot going on but, I really wanted food and was pretty sure everyone else was probably hungry as well. The lift kicked back to life shortly after.

When John stepped off the lift he stepped off with Pat who turned to look at Karen who had just entered the kitchen.

“Hi bitch, how are you today?” Pat said to her causing my mouth to drop open.

Granted Karen was a huge bitch and we all knew it but I wasn’t about to tell her that to her face. I wasn’t about to call anyone a bitch to their face. That took a lot of guts. Even if it was his older sister.

She blinked at him, “Excuse me? You know what dad would do if he heard you call me that?”

“You don’t know half of it Karen so shut up,” Pat shot back.

John sighed putting his hand on Pat’s fore arm drawing Pat’s attention himself. I sighed. There it was again. It made me wonder how long he had been there. If they had figured out how they felt about each other yet. I almost wanted to tell them then and there to get a room and then John spoke.

“Can we just go to my room?” he asked Pat as he looked at him.

“Yeah,” Pat agreed giving him a small smile, “let’s.”

So, they were getting a room. That meant they had figured it out and it had only taken them what? A week. Not the longest by far but still seemed like a while to me from the way they had looked at each other the first time they saw each other. I personally wasn’t sure what to think of it but was pretty sure, “can we just go to my room” was code for “I want to make out with you and possibly touch you under your clothes.”

I cleared my throat. This was going to be awkward. I mean John deserved a break but, I still wasn’t sure what to think about him with someone.

“I see,” Karen said picking up on the same thing I was probably seeing, “Does dad know?”

“Know what?” John asked her frowning before a look of understanding crossed his face, “Oh, we haven’t done anything.” He told her as Pat nodded his head beside him.

“Really? I think your chest is telling a different story John,” she said, “Wait until I tell your mom. I wonder what she will think.” Karen told them giving them a devious smile.

Yeah, she was a major bitch. What business was it of hers? And why would she tell my mum? It was bullshit. The whole thing was bullshit.

“No, it’s really not like that,” John insisted.

“John, it’s no use explaining anything to her. She doesn’t care. She will believe whatever she wants to believe,” Pat told John shaking his head.

“But it’s really not like that. You know that Pat,” John said shaking his head actually looking hurt, “It’s not fair.”

“Yeah? Well, she’s quitting anyway so why does she matter?” Pat pointed out, “Who can she tell that doesn’t have a slight idea and like you said we haven’t done anything.”

“Can we talk about this in my room?” John asked Pat.

“Karen? Can you please just leave them alone and make some dinner for us?” I asked her.

“That’s disgusting. That they would…ewww,” she said shaking her head.

“Karen, food please?” I asked her.

“Yes, I’ll make mac and cheese. Can you make some hotdogs please?” she asked me.

“Karen, I’m not sure I want to do anything for you. I didn’t kiss…”

“I saw it. It looked like you were trying to hold onto him. Make him kiss you,” she said.

“He could have easily hurt me. Why would he let me assault him?” I asked her.

“Because he was afraid of hurting you. He’s a nice guy. He would never want to hurt anyone. I honestly am not happy that you’re even up here with him. For all I know you’re going to drag him into a room alone and try to assault him again,” Karen told me.

“Karen,” I said feeling defeated, “I won’t touch him ok? I’m going to stay either where you can see me or I’ll be in my room. That way you don’t have to worry about it, ok? But please just don’t bring it up again. It’s embarrassing.”

“Deal. Will you please help me cook the hotdogs? All you have to do is poke them with a fork and put them in the pot. I’ll boil them and get them cooked ok?” She asked me.

“Deal,” I said nodding my head before I got the hotdogs ready and on the stove.

Just as I walked out of the kitchen to go sit down Matt came up to me and cleared his throat, “Yes?” I asked him.

“Because it’s your fault you need to call Dr. Palmer. Because Mike is sore. He’s never had it happen like that before and he’s scared. John is with him right now,” he told me.

I sighed. Of course, it was still my fault. Matt was right though. If he was sore he needed medical attention to make sure he wasn’t bleeding or that there wasn’t any damage that would become a problem later. I turned around and went back into the kitchen picking up the phone and dialing the number on the sticky note on the fridge. Instead of calling the first one deciding to call the one that said cell.

“H-Hello?” Dr. Palmer himself asked into the phone.

“Hi Dr. Palmer it’s Will McGregor. Uncle Ben…earlier he. He hurt Mike and someone needs to come and make sure he’s ok,” I said as Karen snatched the phone from me without saying a word.

“Dr. Palmer ignore them. The whole lot of them need some psychological help. His Uncle was up here for may…Ok. Yes, I understand. All right. No, I won’t argue. Ok when you get here I’ll let you up. Thank you,” she said slamming the phone down.

“He said to tell you that if there is anything seriously wrong to call 911 but otherwise you have to wait about an hour. I can’t believe you called a fucking doctor over probably something that’s completely in your head,” she told me.

“You really think it’s in my head? Why don’t you go check on him? Make sure he’s ok,” I told her.

“You’re probably the one who did it,” she told me.

“Karen I’m 10,” I told her.

“So? What does that have to do with anything?” she asked me.

“Karen I’m 10 I can’t…” I sighed trying to figure out how to explain it without embarrassing myself.

Trying to figure out how to explain I had never penetrated anyone and I doubted I could. But the more she stared at me the more I realized how odd that seemed that I thought I couldn’t. I was 10 but I had started puberty. I could ejaculate, I very well could have. I felt my face heating up as I thought about it. About how I really seriously could.

“I wouldn’t,” I said shaking my head, “I…never.”

“You were the one who told me about that remember?” she asked me, “Mr. pubescent.”

“I still wouldn’t!” I insisted.

“Your whole family is way beyond fucked up. How do I know what you would and wouldn’t do?” she asked me.

“You know me Karen,” I said.

“I know you’re moody. I know you can…well that you’re a young man. I also want to believe that you would care about them enough not to do that but, look at how you’ve been raised if what your brother Matt said is true,” Karen pointed out to me.

“It hurts though. I wouldn’t ever want to hurt them. Not any of them,” I said quietly.

“Well either way Dr. Palmer is coming over I suppose?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I answered.

“I’ll deal with it when he gets here,” she told me sighing, “I supposed it doesn’t hurt anyone to have him check on Mike.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“I would like you to tell Louis you are sorry though,” she told me.

“For what?” I asked her, “Not kissing back? I don’t know how you can think…” she cut me off.

“Because I know him. He wouldn’t do that. He likes me he doesn’t like little boys ok? So, if you just tell him you’re sorry you and I can let it go so I can work my last week, next week in peace,” she told me.

“You’re quitting that soon?” I asked her.

“Yes, your mum is starting to feel more at ease being here. Less stressed and she said she felt like it would better to have just you guys and her. There’s a lot going on here that I can’t handle. I’ve talked to my Dad about it and he’ll see what he can do to help you guys but, I can’t be involved in this anymore. Not when I can’t trust you and John and have trouble deciding what of the things you two say is true and what isn’t,” she told me, “I don’t think your bad kids. Either of you, really. I just think you have problems and I don’t know how to deal with them or how to help you. Or even if you’re safe to be around your younger siblings and none of those are my call to make so I have to leave. You understand that don’t you?” Karen asked me.

I had only seen this side of her once before. The first time she mentioned telling her Dad about what our da was doing to us. How she had pointed out I did things I didn’t need to do in order to take care of our siblings. How I never stopped moving, stopped picking up after them or cleaning even if I was giving them direct care like changing their nappies or feeding them. Something told me that her distain for us, for John and I wasn’t really distain but more confusion. Over what she could do to help us.

“I should go let everyone know what’s up,” I said to her before I walked away down the hallway. I knocked on the door but no one answered, my knock so quiet they probably didn’t hear it over their own quiet chatter.

When I opened the door, John was sitting on the bed with Mike’s head in his lap rubbing his hair as Matt sat by Mike’s feet. Mike’s eyes were closed but I could tell he was in pain. That whatever Uncle Ben had done it had really hurt. Matt glared daggers at me.

I knew Matt blamed me. He had told me himself that he thought it was my fault because I was off limits otherwise it would have been me. We all knew it would have been me. It wasn’t a secret that Ben liked me. I chose to just ignore him sighing heavily as they all looked at me as Pat looked up at me from the floor.

“Dr. Palmer is coming. He said it might take him a while to get here though, that if he’s bleeding we should call 911,” I informed them.

“The Villa,” Pat said and John and I both nodded our heads.

We knew the villa was open. That they were probably having some type of party. It was after all the new year. Parties weren’t uncommon during the new year. So, it only made sense to me that they would have their own type of party.

“Should we bathe him?” Pat asked quietly.

John shifted Mike’s weight standing up, “Come on pal, we have to stand you up and make sure you’re not bleeding.”

“He’s not,” Matt said causing Pat and John to look at him.

“How do you know?” Pat asked and I could tell his brow was furrowed in confusion even in the dark.

“They have a twin thing. He probably told him,” John said as Matt nodded his head.

“Weird,” Pat mumbled mostly to himself.

“Always,” John and I said in unison.

Mike shifted grabbing the back of John’s pants and pulling on them, “It hurts,” he said quietly.

“I know pal,” John said moving to sit back down, to pull Mike back into his lap, “It’ll be ok.”

I watched them in silence for a minute from where I was standing by the door way. John really loved all of us so much. Usually the twins kept mostly to themselves but in that moment, I saw Mike leaning on John, depending on John and it reminded me of just how small they were. Just how important John was not just to me but to them too.

He really cared. He really loved us. He wanted to be there for him. To take away his pain if he could. And it was pain I had caused. Maybe not directly but I felt responsible for it. If it hadn’t been for the leader Uncle Ben would have come to me and Mike would have been safe from it, from that pain for just a little bit longer. I felt so angry about that. Almost like I wanted to scream. It wasn’t fair that he had done that to him. Mike who would never hurt anyone. Mike, who just like James was one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet.

I could see the pain in John’s face as he sighed closing his eyes as he ran his hand through Mike’s hair. As he tried his best to comfort him. To convince him that it would be ok. John didn’t like seeing them like this, just like I didn’t.

“How long ago did it happen?” John asked Mike and Matt.

“I don’t know a couple hours ago,” Matt said.

“Shouldn’t you call your parents?” Pat asked looking at John as he stood up.

“They’ll be home tomorrow anyway so I’m not sure if we should,” John answered him, “Mike do you want me to call mum and Da?”

“No, Da will be mad,” Mike mumbled before turning his face away so he was facing the wall as John continued to rub his head.

“Ok Pal, whatever you want. Ok?” John said before bending over his own lap and laying a kiss on Mike’s temple.

Pat sighed and looked at me before he got up. Walking past me out of the door. I shut the door softly behind him. It was just the four of us for a second but I felt like I had to ask him something. Something Matt had told me earlier when he had pointed out that this was happening to Mike and it was my fault.

“Was it really your first time Mike?” I asked him quietly.

“Of course, it was,” Matt nearly hissed at me, “Why would I lie to you? Especially about that he’s never…”

“Matt,” John said shaking his head, “Calm ok? Will didn’t do this. We all feel horrible about it ok?”

“It’s his fault though,” Matt insisted as Mike sat up a little bit his face grimacing. He was in a lot of pain, he had to be.

You never got used to that feeling. The feeling of your anal cavity being empty after been that full for a bit. How your whole body just hurt because you had been so tense for so long under them, not even really sure what was happening, what your body was doing. How scared you were that your body felt those things from something you didn’t think was possible. Thinking about it made me feel sick to my stomach.

“You know it’s not his fault. You know what uncle Ben said last…” Mike started to say as Matt shook his head.

“No, no. He says that all the time. He’s never done it before. He’s never not let me …before. He said he wouldn’t do that to you. Not really. He told me once when it was without you. He said that he’d let me…,” Matt started crying.

“He lied,” Mike said, “He lies. We know he lies. It isn’t Will’s fault he lies. That he…I’ll be ok. I know I’ll be ok.”

“But it hurts. John says it hurts normal people and you’re normal Mike,” Matt said through his tears, “Sometimes I wish you weren’t but you are. You’re not like me.”

“You don’t even really like it Matt. You know deep down you don’t. It just doesn’t really bother you. He’s mean to you. I know he’s mean to you,” Mike said.

“If I just let it happen it’s usually ok though. It’s only when I fight or don’t do what he wants that it hurts. Did you fight him? Is that why he…?”

Mike shook his head, “No. It just…it feels weird.”

“It will for a little bit,” John told him, “It hurts. It doesn’t matter how gentle they are. The first time it always hurts.”

“Yeah,” I said my brain going back to that point.

The point where I had closed my eyes and held open my hand expecting him to give me a present. To give me something I would like and not shove his tongue down my throat. How scared I was. How panicked I felt when I finally figured out what was happening. I thought about how Mike had just gone through that. How scary it probably was.

I went out into the hallway after a minute of silence shutting the door behind me. I didn’t want to think about that. How it was my fault. How if …I sighed. I tried to let it go.

There was nothing I could do to change it. The only thing I could do was be there for him. I couldn’t be there for him when I felt like this though. When I felt like it was all my fault.

I was standing against the wall outside the door when Louis walked by walking towards the lift, “I’m leaving,” he told me.

“Good. You should go,” I said to him.

“I really am sorry. You know that, right?” he barely whispered to me.

“I’m sorry too,” I said.

I didn’t know what I was saying sorry for other than it seemed like everything was my fault. Like I should have been smart enough to stay in the bathroom. Like I should have been smart enough to not shower when he was there. Not after the night before when he asked if he could be my friend in that way, with that tone in his voice. With the way, he kept scooting closer and closer to me. I should have been smarter than that.

“Well, I’ll probably see you later some time,” Louis said as he walked to the end of the hallway past me and hit the button the lift opening as he stepped inside leaving.

I exhaled deeply as it closed behind him. When I was sure he was gone I went into my room, sitting down my bed only to be alone for a minute or two when James walked by my open door, “Are you ok?” he asked poking his head.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied.

“It’s ok to not be fine. Remember?” he reminded me of what I had told him before.

That made me smile, “Yeah I know. I’m really ok though. I promise.”

“Mike’s hurt,” James said.

“I know,” I said nodding my head.

“Uncle Ben did that thing to him, didn’t he? Like the mean man did to me?” he asked.

“Yeah. And we’ll be there for him just like we were there for you ok?” I told him.

“I want to make him cookies. I like cookies and I didn’t get any cookies when the mean man hurt me but, I wanted them,” he told me.

“That is actually a very nice idea,” I said standing up, “I think we have some cookie mix. You want to go ask Karen if she’ll help us make cookies for Mike because he feels bad?”

“Yeah, I’ll go ask,” James agreed giving me hug before he walked down the hall to the nursery to ask Karen for help just as the com buzzed.

It was the outside com. I could hear the wind blowing around making the com sound static and hard to understand as the person spoke into it, “It’s Dr. Palmer. You guys called for help?”

“Yeah,” I said going over and pushing the button, “I’ll be right there.”

It didn’t take long for me to make my way downstairs and to the front door, unlocking the front gate with a trigger code and letting his car pull up into the drive way as Louis stood watching, waiting. Dr. Palmer hurried out of the driver’s side as soon as he parked and another person got out of the passenger side looking closely at Louis. The guy that got gotten out of Dr. Palmers car glanced at me and then back at Louis. He looked young. Probably the same age as Louis was, maybe slightly younger but his frown deepened when his eyes turned away from me and towards Louis.

“What are you doing here?” the guy asked him.

“Karen is their nanny, I was helping her watch them. Their parents went on a short 2-day vacation with the leader,” Louis answered him, “What are you doing here Flynn?”

“I was out. With Vic,” Flynn said.

“You still hitting that? Vic isn’t he a little old for you?” Louis asked looking at Dr. Palmer as he pulled his medical bag out of boot of his car.

“Whom I spend my time with isn’t your co…” Dr. Palmer stopped speaking as he saw him staring at them from the open front door, “Will are you ok?”

I nodded my head, “Mike’s upstairs.”

“Ok, fourth floor, right?” Dr. Palmer asked me slinging his bag over his shoulder and coming up to the door using his arm to guide me away as I heard Louis and the other guy, Flynn start talking again.

“I can’t believe she’s actually stupid enough to….,” I heard their voices fade away as Dr. Palmer kept pushing me gently away from the door shutting it in front of me.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said, “They know each other.”

“I figured. Did they go to school together?” I asked him quietly.

“That among other things, yes. Louis has a type, it’s a …”

“Brotherhood thing and I’m his type? Like I’m the leaders type,” I said to Dr. Palmer his frown seeming to deepen for just a second before he nodded his head.

“You ok? Did he hurt you?” Dr. Palmer asked me.

“I’m fine,” I said, “He kissed me but otherwise, I’m fine.”

“You’re sure you’re ok? That’s all it was,” Dr. Palmer asked me, pleaded with me.

“I was…it was…,” I took a deep breath trying to calm myself down.

“It’s ok. Take your time,” Vic said.

“I had gotten out of the shower and I was trying to get dressed and he kissed me. Karen walked in and saw it. She told me it was my fault. That I was trying to seduce him,” I admitted to Dr. Palmer.

“That girl. She makes me so angry. I’ve only talked to her a handful of times but every time she makes herself seem like she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed,” Dr. Palmer said.

“She’s about as sharp as an infant spoon,” I agreed to which Dr. Palmer laughed lightly as the door opened behind us, “What happened?”

“Told him off. Told him I didn’t want to hear about him being around here again. I only know what you told me in the car but, it seems bad enough to me already if they’re uncle is Ben. Poor kids already have it hard enough. They don’t need him sniffing around or his nasty grandfathers,” The guy muttered as he looked at Dr. Palmer.

“Sadly, that’s something we can’t prevent. However, we can help the one upstairs for right now,” Dr. Palmer said, “How long ago did it happen? Can you tell me what happened?”

“Uncle Ben asked to see him. I didn’t hear him scream or anything but Matt and him both said it was the first time anyone has ever…penetrated him,” I told Dr. Palmer.

“That poor kid,” Flynn said shaking his head, “Those fucking…how old is that one again?”

“Who are you?” I asked him.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Flynn. I was with Vic when you called him. Am I intruding? I can go wait in the car if you want me to,” Flynn said.

“No, it’s ok. I mean if Louis is out there who knows what he might do right?” I asked him.

“Louis? Louis won’t hurt me kid. I’m worried about him hurting you. You’re just his…”

Dr. Palmer cleared his throat, “Enough of this. Let’s go see how Mike is doing. And to answer your question Mike is 8.”

“That’s too young. That poor kid,” Flynn said shaking his head looking like he was going to cry, “I don’t know how anyone could…”

“I know,” Vic said hugging him, “I know. It upsets me too but right now it’s my job to make sure he’s physically ok. So, we have to go up there all right, button? I’ll take you home after ok?”

I frowned and Dr. Palmer looked up laughing, “Sorry Flynn. I almost…sorry.”

“It’s ok,” Flynn said, “I really wished you hadn’t but, it’s ok.”

“You’re dating?” I asked them.

“Yeah,” Flynn said blushing slightly, “It’s…on going.”

“What’s it like?” I asked Flynn as we climbed the stairs and got into the lift me putting in my code.

Flynn frowned at me, “What do you mean what is it like?”

“I think he means dating someone,” Dr. Palmer answered him knowingly to which I nodded my head even though I felt my face flushing.

What did he think I meant? Having sex? I knew what that was like, kind of. But what was it like holding hands with a guy and kissing him and wanting him to kiss you? What was it like to not be scared of your own body when he hugged you, when you hugged him? Was it good or was it just scary like all of them were? I wanted to know.

Was it wrong I wanted to know? Wanted to know what it was like to actually be with someone you wanted to be with. Flynn sighed looking at me thoughtfully before he answered.

“It’s different. Than a contract, then all of that. It’s nice. He doesn’t scare me. He respects me. It’s strange to get used to but, I can’t imagine going back to a real contract after this. After being with him and him listening to what I want and how I feel,” Flynn answered me honestly, “Is that what you were asking about?”

I nodded my head. I felt better knowing that. Knowing that it was different from them. Because I was afraid it would always be the same. The same scared and panicked I always felt. The same frozen terror.

“Hey, it’s ok. It’s ok to want to know. I remember how scary it is. I do. And it’s nothing like that ok? I promise. You’ll find that special girl and she won’t make anything feel that way ok?” Flynn tried to reassure me.

“What if it’s a guy?” I asked him barely above a whisper.

“Well, then it will be a guy. Nothing wrong with that. I mean I’m with him so you would hope I was at least a little gay,” Flynn said causing Vic to laugh.

“A little gay? You? I love you to death but you are super gay,” Dr. Palmer said before he started laughing heartily and got smacked.

“Be nice to me,” Flynn said as he started laughing to before the lift door opened and we walked out onto the floor both of them turning serious.

They both sighed taking a deep breath as I walked over to Mike’s room and opened the door showing Dr. Palmer inside. I shut it behind him leaving Flynn and I in the hallway alone for a minute before James poked his head out of his bedroom door catching Flynn’s attention as he waved at him sheepishly.

“Who are you?” James asked him.

“I’m Flynn. I’m a friend of Dr. Palmers,” he told James, “Who are you?”

“James,” he answered him, “Are you nice?”

“I like to think so,” Flynn said smiling.

“He seems to be. What do you want Bud?” I asked him.

“It’s almost bedtime. Can you read me a story?” he asked me.

“Did you brush your teeth?” I asked him.

“Do I have to?” he asked me rolling his eyes.

“Yes, yes you have to. I’ll go ask Cat if she wants a bedtime story too ok?” I told him.

“Ok, and I’ll brush my teeth,” he told me before he turned around going back into his room.

“How many of them are there?” Flynn asked me.

“You mean younger than me? Nine,” I answered him.

“Are they all up here?” he asked me his eyes going wide in shock.

“I certainly hope so. Otherwise Karen isn’t doing her job. Don’t worry, five of them are probably already in bed and they don’t walk,” I told him, “I’ll be right back.”

With that I walked away leaving him standing in the hallway as I went over and knocked on Cat’s bedroom door.

“Come in!” she shouted loudly to which I opened the door.

She was sitting at her desk chair two dolls perched on her desk top in her hands. She was already wearing her PJ’s like she had gotten ready for bed but that didn’t mean anything. So, I sighed and looked at her.

“Did you brush your teeth?” I asked her.

“Yeah,” she told me, “Karen said it’s bedtime soon but Jennifer wasn’t done playing. She just put the babies to bed and now her and Tad are going to go to bed soon.”

“I see. Well, would you like a bedtime story? James asked me to read him one,” I told her.

“Yeah,” she said putting Jennifer and Tad down gently and standing up coming over to me and hugging me.

“What is this for?” I asked hugging her back.

“Because I love you,” she said, “My friend Terra said that her older brothers never play tea party with her or anything. She said I should love you guys because you’re all so nice to me. She has an older sister too but she says all her older sister wants to do is go to the mall with her friends.”

“I see. I love you too. Very much, how about we go read that story and then we’ll come back in here and I’ll tuck you in ok?”

“Yeah, that sounds ok,” she told me.

As we were walking by on the way to James’ room I saw John standing in the hallway talking quietly with Flynn. By the time I came out of James’ room to take Cat back into her bedroom and tuck her into bed Flynn and Dr. Palmer were both gone. So, I went to my room to read.

At some point, there was a knock on the door and I turned to look at my clock before I mumbled a tired, “Come in.” to discover that it was close to nine, close to my regular bedtime and I figured it was Karen coming to tell me it was time for lights out but when the door opened I was pleasantly surprised to find mum standing there.

“MUM!” I said loud enough to even startle myself not realizing how much I missed her into I threw myself forward into her arms, “But you weren’t supposed to be back until the morning.”

“I know but we cut it short. I figured we were done partying and we had a nice time but that it was time to come home. To be where I belong. Is everything ok love?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I answered her.

It felt better to have her home. To know she was home and that it wasn’t Louis or Karen or Uncle Ben and Hank but mum. Mum would make sure we were ok. That everything was ok.

“Can you tell me why Dr. Palmer called me and told me Mike had been hurt?” she asked me.

“Uncle Ben,” I answered.

“That’s what I thought. Your Da didn’t tell me he was around until this afternoon. After that I insisted we leave but he convinced me one more meal with Mr. Lord was needed but I’m here now,” she told me, “Did he hurt you? Did he hurt anyone else? Dr. Palmer told me that Mike is going to have a hard time the next couple of days but that physically he’s experiencing what’s expected.”

Her voice sounded heavy like she wanted to cry but like she was holding it back for me. Because she didn’t want me to worry about it. Because she didn’t want me knowing how badly it upset her to hear that another one of her children had been mistreated, used, raped. She sighed heavily rubbing my back for a minute making sure I couldn’t see her face before she pulled back from me.

“I don’t think he hurt anyone else,” I told her, “John’s friend is here. Patrick.”

“Your Da told me about that too. I was going to go check on him next. I’ve been in to see the babies and figured everyone else was probably sleeping or at least should be. I’ll take a peek at them shortly but, I wanted to check and see how you were,” she explained to me.

“Why me?” I asked her.

“Because you take care of everyone. I know you do and I know it’s not fair to you. It makes me worry about you love. You shouldn’t have to worry about them. That should be my job but, I find a lot of things rely on you and it makes me worry about you. So, I figured I’d come and tuck you in,” she explained, “I’ll try to be a better mum from now on ok? I promise.”

“You’re a great mum,” I told her as she turned over my bed covers and had me climb back in bed.

“Thank you. I try. I love you,” she told me as she kissed my forehead, “Get some sleep.”

“Ok mum. I love you too. Goodnight,” I said as she turned off my lamp and shut my door behind her.

I had probably just fallen asleep when I heard a light knock on my door, “what’s that?” I asked the air before I realized no one had actually come into my room yet and I cleared my throat, “Come in.”

“Hey,” I heard Pat’s voice.

“Yeah?” I asked sleepily.

“Can I ask a favor? I think your mom is kind of upset so could I sleep in your room?” he asked me.

Now that got my attention. What did she have to be upset about? Him being there or…was there something else going on.

“Yeah but you have to explain that to me,” I answered climbing out of bed and turning on the light before I walked into my closet pulling down a bunch of my spare comforters and stuff for him.

“Huh, ok. Let me go tell him you said it was cool. I’ll be right back,” Pat said before he hurried away.

I waited for him with the light on for about 10 minutes before I decided I was going to settle back in and there was no point and waiting up for him. That he would probably wake me up by coming into my room anyway so I turned off the light.

It didn’t take long before my door opened again after a soft knock and Pat came into the room, “You still awake?” he asked me.

“A little bit,” I answered, “So why are you sleeping in my room?” I asked him.

He didn’t turn on the light but climbed into his pile of blankets on the floor and settled in before I heard him sighed heavily, “Well…your mom she walked in on us…we were kissing.” He said after a minute.

“Oh,” I said turning to look at him, “That was a bad idea you realize?”

“That’s all you have to say?” he asked me.

“Neither one of you hid it well. That you like each other,” I confessed.

“Well thanks for pointing it out. That would make me worry if I wasn’t already,” Pat muttered laying down.

“About what?” I asked him.

“We’re property. We’re not allowed to like each other like that. My Dad caught us. And your uncle. They said they wouldn’t say anything if we…,” he sighed heavily taking the pillow out from under his head and covering his face with it.

“Cole said that’s what happened to Justin, that because they liked each other like that they…you know,” I said quietly.

“Yeah,” Pat sighed removing the pillow from his face, “It nearly broke him. Every time he ends up at the Villa he ends up in tears because that’s where…it’s the last place he ever saw him alive. They have a weird big room in the basement Cole says. They called it the morgue because half the people that go into that room don’t come out alive. It was bad. He doesn’t talk about it. There’s a lot of things that go on there that he won’t talk about.”

“So, you really care about him?” I asked Pat.

“Yes,” he said nodding his head, “Like I thought I might but, I wasn’t sure until. Until they both left the room. Left us locked down there together. I could tell he felt weird about it. I mean, I did too but then he gave me this look and he said something and I. God this is weird to talk about.”

“You like him. So, what? It doesn’t have to be a big deal,” I told him.

“I’ve never liked a guy like this before. The first time I saw him I wanted to kiss him,” Pat confessed.

“Yeah, I could tell,” I said to which Pat snorted.

“You could not,” he told me.

“No, I could. Even when you were talking to me you were looking at him. Granted he was looking at you and stuttering like he had gone stupid but, you totally didn’t take your eyes off him,” I said.

“God damn it,” he sighed, “So your dad probably knows too. Awesome.”

“I don’t think he does. He…I don’t know about Da. I think he doesn’t want to believe someone else could want John like that. For who he is and not just for you know,” I said.

“You really think so? What is up with that anyway? I mean most of the men in the brotherhood aren’t into incest. Not like your Da is. Like I think he really loves him. Like really really loves him,” Pat said.

“John is a lot like mum. He wants to believe that the world is good almost like he wants to believe deep down somewhere that Da is different. That Da doesn’t want to be like he is and he can’t help it. Or at least that’s how it used to be when we were at home. I don’t know. I wish I could tell you why but, I can tell you Da loves John more than he loves any of us. John loves everyone he loves so deeply. You have to understand that. I think Da wants that. I don’t know why but I think he does,” I told him.

“I can…I sense that,” Pat said, “About John I mean. He tries so hard to act like he’s ok. Even when he’s falling apart. I’ve watched him fall apart several times and he even tries to hide that. Like he’s trying to protect me from it. Even though we just…it’s only been a week since we met and yet I can’t. I can’t imagine being without him. Living life without him here somewhere.”

“You two have it bad,” said, “You better be careful. If mean they killed Justin what makes you think they wouldn’t kill you two?”

“They probably will if they ever find out. Justin and Cole hid it for years and they hid it well. Art caught them at home in bed one day. He told them he wouldn’t say anything if they…well, you can guess what he wanted them to do. They did it and he told anyway,” Pat explained.

“That’s bull,” I sighed, “You won’t hurt him, right? You’ll try to keep him safe and if you get caught…?”

“I’ll throw myself at them before I let them even consider it being him instead of me. You guys need him. No one needs me. I mean Cole might think he needs me but he can do it without Justin he can keep going without me.”

“I don’t know,” I said before I let out a huge yawn on accident, “excuse me.”

“You’re tired. We should go to sleep,” Pat said, “So you don’t think this is bad?”

“If you hurt him I’ll kill you otherwise no,” I told him.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Pat sighed, “Goodnight Will.”

“Goodnight,” I said before rolling over and falling asleep.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next morning to the sound of the toilet flushing it scaring me awake before I realized that Pat had spent the night in my room. Laying my head back down as he came out of the bathroom.

“Did I wake you?” he asked me.

“Yeah, it’s not your fault though. I’m a light sleeper,” I told him.

“Ah, I understand that,” Pat said, “It seems like John once he’s out he’s out,” he told me.

“Yes,” I said nodding my head, “I mean unless he’s too worried to go to sleep. Then he’ll stay up until he can’t stay awake.”

“Sounds like him,” Pat commented.

“He tries, he really does,” I said.

“Yeah, he’s great. What time is it?” he asked me before he looked at the watch on his wrists, “7am. Are you going to go back to sleep you think?”

“Probably,” I answered, “I don’t need to be up right now. I think Mum is going to check on the babies soon. You could go back to sleep too you know?”

“Nah, usually when I’m up, I’m up. I don’t fight it. I find it’s easier not to fight it and try to go back to sleep. I end up more tired if I try to go back to sleep. You think there’s coffee somewhere?” he asked me.

“Downstairs probably,” I said.

“Thanks for letting me stay in your room,” he told me.

“You’re welcome,” I said, “I figured it would just be easier if you know mum caught you guys making out and stuff.”

“Well, I went to go check on him afterwards. After you were asleep. I was lucky I didn’t wake you. For a second I thought you did and it was…not what I was expecting. Your Dad is really fucking strange,” Pat muttered.

“Da was up here?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said clearing his throat, “Can I smoke?”

“What?”

“A cigarette,” he clarified.

“Huh, sure? I can crack my window,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said grabbing a half-used pack that he had set on my nightstand as I got up and pulled my window open that was behind my nightstand and he lit up leaning over it.

“Why do you do that?” I asked him.

“Smoke? Stress relief. It helps me not think about things sometimes or just chill out as I think about them. I don’t know. I know it’s bad for you but it helps,” he told me, “I would say you could try it but, you’re 10.”

“I know I’m 10,” I said.

He smiled at that, “Well yeah. I mostly said it because sometimes I forget you’re 10.”

“Really?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said flicking some ashes out my window, “You’re just so mature it’s hard to remember you’re 10. I suppose I wasn’t a normal 10-year-old either if it makes you feel better.”

“Not really but, thanks,” I told him.

“Ok,” he said finishing his cigarette, “ I think I’m going to head out and go watch TV or something. Thanks again. I’ll see you later.”

“Yep,” I told him before I shut my window and laid back down in bed.

I slept again for a little bit longer until there was a knock on the door turning to look at my alarm clock and finding that it was 10am. So I had gotten a few more hours of sleep and then I heard mum’s voice on the other side of the door.

“Will love can you help me out here? Seamus needs a change and I’m getting ready to set out breakfast,” she said through the door.

“Yeah, I’m coming mum,” I said getting up and walking out into the hallway to have a baby thrusted into my arms as mum walked away smiling, probably happy that she didn’t have to change his diaper because boy did he stink, “Hello there. You left a big ripe poopy in that diaper didn’t you?” I asked him to which he gruggled happily.

I sighed and took him back the nursery where I changed him. When I was done changing him I changed Mary and then took them out into the living room and put them in the swings. After a while I remember mum leaving to go talk to Da because he called her on the com but don’t remember much else until she came back upstairs and sighed heavily.

“Ok everyone. Grab a buddy we’re going to head downstairs for a bit. I’m going to make a family meal,” Mum said as she picked up Mac.

“Why?” I asked her.

“Well, I want to give Da a show of faith. He told me your Uncle Ben was back, admitted it to me . So, I’m going to show him we’re not afraid of him or your uncle,” Mum said.

“Mum he just raped Mike last night,” I reminded her.

“I realize,” Mum said, “But there’s a reason. And I figured Matt would be there close by. He hasn’t left Mike’s side all day.”

“Can you blame him?” I asked her.

“No, I just think it’s keeping him safe. I’ll put a movie on while I make dinner. I’m just asking you to keep everyone in the living room that way I can easily see them. I would say you could take them swimming but, I don’t know where John went after he left the house earlier and I feel like that’s asking too much of you,” Mum told me.

“Ok,” I agreed.

I took Mac down and it took two trips to make sure everyone made it safetly downstairs. We watched a movie and then ate dinner in the downstairs kitchen for once. Da was supposed to join us but he ended up working late on something in his office upstairs and it was soon time for bed. Once everyone was tucked in I too found myself starting to drift off as I tried to do some evening reading and ended up turning in early.

I didn’t wake until the next morning when my alarm went off and I went to go check on the babies nearly bumping into mum on her way out of the nursery.

“Aren’t you going to get ready for school?” she asked me.

“Yeah, I was coming to check on them,” I said, “I’m used to it between you sleeping and Karen…being Karen.”

“Well, I’m here now love and I’m fine. I’m back in the swing of things so you don’t have to worry about it. If I need your help I’ll ask you, all right?” Mum said.

“Ok mum,” I said, “Are you feeling ok?”

I sighed. I wasn’t ok. My count down was still ticking in my head and I had four more days before I went to zoo with him, with Lionel. Cole had said he wouldn’t do anything to me on the way to the zoo or while we were there but, on the way back home. It scared me. The whole idea scared me but, I wasn’t allowed to tell mum that. I wasn’t allowed to tell her anything about it. Dr. Palmer had made that perfectly clear.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just sad vacation is over. Happy I get to see my friends though,” I told her.

“Ok love, go get ready for school. I love you,” Mum said hugging me.

“I love you too mum,” I said before I ran off to my room.

I showered quickly and had sat down to breakfast just as John was getting onto the lift to take the bus to school, his first day. I hoped it was good. I knew he’d be ok because Pat would be there with him and Cole. He would be ok as long as he had them and they would tell him who he needed to watch out for, I knew they would.

After I ate I made it out to the bus stop and to school perfectly fine. I don’t remember much happening that day until I got to lunch. Teddy moving seats to come sit next to me when I sat down at the table. I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with Teddy but, I didn’t want to be rude so I looked at him.

“Hi,” I said.

“How was your vacation?” he asked me.

“It was ok,” I told him, “How was yours?”

“I huh, I spent Christmas with my dad in California. We went surfing. It was fun. I came back two days later and had a late Christmas with mom and my grandpas,” he told me not taking his eyes off me.

“Was that fun?” I asked him.

“Not really,” he said, “You know my grandpa Lionel.”

It was more of a statement than a question. Not like he was accusing me of it even though it felt that way but more like it was an observation. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first. He sighed heavily and started talking again.

“Is your brother ok? James?” he asked me.

“He had nightmares all holiday just about,” I answered him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “It could have been worse though. I mean it could have been a group thing.”

“It was,” I said feeling cold in my stomach all of the sudden. I didn’t want to talk about this. Especially with Teddy.

“Oh,” Teddy said quietly, “There are worse ways for it to happen. He’s kind of slow about it usually. So, it hurts less.”

I raised my eyebrows at him. Was he trying to get me to talk about it? Was he trying to get me to tell him that I was supposed to be with him Friday? That I had been with him before, that he had taken me into a room in the Villa and…? I didn’t want to talk about that. Especially not at school.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” I said, “Did you get any good presents?”

“My dad got me a new signed Michael Jordan basketball and then he got me another one for taking outside and playing,” he told me, “Honestly one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten. Did you get any good ones? I mean other than money?” he asked me.
“I got some books that I really wanted. He told you about that? The money?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” Teddy said nodding his head, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Do you know what he’s like?”

I nodded my head. I really didn’t feel like talking about this. Just as I was thinking that Finn showed up smiling brightly.

“Guys, my dad brought us a pool. I mean it’s being installed in the back yard but, it should be so awesome. Maybe when school lets out or at least when it gets hotter maybe you guys can come over and hang out,” Finn said before he frowned like he was thinking about something, “Most of you guys anyway.”

“Why only most of us? Your brother gunning for someone? Or your Dad?” Teddy asked straight out earning him several frowns.

“I didn’t say that,” Finn said, “My dad’s into older anyway. He brought each of us a horse and he’s talking about putting a stable in at the vacation property but for right now he’s paying someone to keep them. I think it’s cool. I mean I know how to ride so why not right?”

“That is cool. At boarding school we had horses. You could sign up to ride them on Friday afternoons during study hour. I did it a couple of times,” I said.

“Fun maybe you can come with me some time,” Finn said, “It’s not that far outside of the city. The stables I mean. I think he’s going to take us to see them Friday after school. Maybe if I ask my dad you could come with us.”

“He can’t he’s busy,” Teddy said.

There it was. So, he knew. He had just been trying to get me to admit to it. Awesome.

“Busy with what? Did you already invite him somewhere Teddy?” Finn asked him.

“No,” Teddy answered, “I just know he’s busy.”

Finn frowned at Teddy scratching his head before he looked at me, “What are you doing?”

“I have to go somewhere,” I said quietly. I didn’t want to talk about it.

“He’s going to the Miami zoo,” Teddy said.

I wanted to smack him. Why did he have to tell everyone? What was the point? As far as I knew he wasn’t even supposed to talk about it.

“That sounds fun. Why didn’t you say so Will? Who are you going with?” Finn asked me.

I hugged myself. I wanted to cry. I didn’t want to be reminded of it.

“What’s wrong?” Finn asked me, “Will, what’s wrong?”

“Hey, it’s ok. You’ll be fine I swear,” Teddy said, “All you have to do is what he tells you ok? No sweat. As long as you stay calm it will be fine.”

My face felt warm and I couldn’t look at anyone. So, Teddy had just told anyone that was bothering to listen, anyone that could want to know. It was humiliating. Why would he tell everyone? Just like that without thinking about it? Caring about what I might think or might want? What if I didn’t want anyone to know? Wasn’t it my right to not have everyone know?

“Teddy did you really have to tell everyone about it?” Finn asked.

“Tell everyone what?” Quinn asked from where he had been eating apparently totally not paying attention.

“Never mind,” Finn said, “Enjoy your lunch.”

“No, you have me curious now,” Quinn said.

“Why don’t you go over there and talk to Todd and Julian?” Finn told him.

“Fine party pooper. I like gossip,” Quinn muttered.

“Which is why I’m sending you away. Now just go,” Finn said.

“Whatever,” Quinn said before he saw the look on my face, “Will whatever it is you’ll be ok. I might not know you well but I know you’re strong. You can handle anything.”

“Thanks,” I said quietly giving him a small smile.

“I don’t see why it’s a big deal it’s not like…” Finn cut him off.

“We’ve all heard the rumors Ted and you know them. You’ve seen it. You’ve been a part of it supposedly so don’t try and lie your way out of being an asshole,” Finn warned him.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal. What rumors do you know about?” Teddy frowned at Finn.

“I know things ok? And you don’t talk about that here. At school in the middle of the lunch room,” Finn said, “Unless you want alone time with the headmaster. Which, is something I have no interest in doing.”

I snorted. He had no idea. He really didn’t want alone time with head master Watson, that was for sure.

“He’s my grandpa. I can talk about that anywhere I want. Most people he gets pissed at but not me. However, he would say it is family business and I should watch where I talk about it,” Teddy muttered.

“Then don’t,” Finn said, “How was your Christmas?”

“It was…,” I sighed shaking my head.

“That’s a bad topic too? Your break sucked that much?” Finn asked me.

“Look,” I sighed, “Things are hard right now ok? My older brother is barely holding it together and my little brother, I’m pretty sure is suffering some sort of separation anxiety because he spends almost every night sleeping in my bed with me. Not that I don’t love James I love him to death but I do like sleeping alone.”

“Luke gets like that sometimes,” Ted said actually seeming human for a second, “He just wants to be somewhere he feels safe. It’s normal trust me.”

“He told me he doesn’t want to smell like himself how is that normal to you?” I asked him.

“Look my family, Grandpa Lionel he’s weird. He says weird things when he’s…teaching ok?” Ted said fidgeting nervously.

“Guys, I really think we shouldn’t be talking this right now,” Finn said quietly.

“I know he does but they’re six. They’re six Teddy,” I said to him.

Teddy sighed heavily, “Can we go somewhere else for a minute or two? Somewhere we’re alone?”

“Sure,” I said standing up and clearing my mostly empty tray before getting up and following Teddy to the bathroom.

He made sure it was completely empty before he stood in front of the door looking at me, “Look he likes kids Will. Little kids usually. Usually younger then you. More like Luke and James.”

“You think I don’t know that? He’s been with me ok? I know. I know I’ve been told. It wasn’t just him Teddy who hurt James it was my Da too. Our Da he helped him. He helped him do that to James,” I told him.

“Which is probably why James is looking to change who he is because he feels like your Da didn’t think he was worth protecting. Did you ever think maybe that’s what’s going on? That he just doesn’t want to be him anymore? That he wants to be anyone else but who he is? I remember that feeling. Don’t you ever feel that way?” Ted asked me.

“All the time,” I answered, “Has he taken you to the zoo?”

“He’s taken me everywhere,” Teddy admitted, “For a while I was…it didn’t matter I was his grandson. He said that made it better even. You’re lucky you’re older. It’s scary when you’re little.”

I had never seen Teddy be so serious about anything in his life. Talk about something like this without being brass or cracking a joke of some kind. He looked like he was numb. Like he wasn’t feeling at all just thinking. Because maybe if he let himself feel it he would break down. I sighed understanding what he meant. That he was right. I was lucky I was older even if I didn’t feel lucky about it.

“Cole told me he won’t do anything on the way there or while we’re at the Zoo that it’s more like an after thing,” I told Ted.

Ted nodded his head and sighed heavily, “He’ll make odd comments about it but, not often and they’ll be subtle. No one else even if they over hear will think anything of it. He’ll want to hold your hand and stuff while you’re there. If you go on the train ride and it’s crowded he’ll want you to sit in his lap but, he won’t be super gross about it. You’ll just feel gross because you know why he’s doing it. It won’t get harder until later if he decides he really likes you. You’ve been with him before you said?” Teddy asked me.

“Yeah,” I admitted again, “I don’t want to…”

“You don’t have to tell me about it. I know what he’s like. He tries to hide things from people. That’s why he doesn’t like them talking about it to other people. Like how he likes to lick ass and stuff. He doesn’t want people to know that. Or that he likes other things. I think he gets off on the fear too. I try not to act scared anymore but it’s easier for me because I almost always know what he’s going to do. However, I think that’s why he likes little kids because they’re more scared of him, more shy,” he told me.

“Is that why he…?” I trailed off exhaling heavily.

“Because you’re shy? Probably,” Teddy admitted, “You’re almost shyer than Luke and Luke is six. But I’ve noticed you tend to be quiet. Especially when it comes to things you don’t want to talk about. You stop listening and just freeze and go silent. Why do you think Finn asked you if you were ok? You had this look on your face like you kind of checked out a little bit. Or like he caught you with your hand in your mom’s purse. When you’re really uncomfortable you fidget. I think that’s why he likes younger kids too though. He gets off on seeing them visibily afraid of him. If you don’t act afraid he’ll lose interest.”

“So I just have to not be scared?” I asked him.

“Pretty much. That’s probably why he doesn’t mess with me anymore. Because I’m not scared of anything. Kind of hard to be though when your mom goes on drinking binges every other weekend and throws shit at you every time you bother to stick your head out your bedroom door. Probably why we spend most weekends with our grandpas. If it’s not Papa I mean, Grandpa Lionel it’s Grandpa Greg,” he told me.

“That sounds hard. At least I have my mum,” I told him.

“Yeah. All Luke and I have is each other. I mean for the most part we do ok. It’s weird sometimes after…never mind it doesn’t matter but we do ok,” he told me.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked him.

“Papa, I over heard him talking to mom. He’s looking super forward to the zoo. To other stuff that he’s planning if the Zoo goes the way he wants it to. So, I’m telling you so that if you can try to not act afraid it might help you out. I know that’s not who you are. That you seem to just naturally do those things but, if you can try not do them. It might get him to leave you alone,” Ted told me, “Just an idea to throw at you ok?”

“Thank you,” I told him, “Really. I’ll try. To not act afraid, I mean.”

“You should. You don’t want him to like you. I know you’ve probably figured that out but, you really really don’t want him to like you,” Teddy said shaking his head a shiver passing down his spine as he looked at me.

So, he was still afraid of him. He just didn’t want to admit it to anyone. Cole was so afraid of Lionel he had barely talked about him and Teddy was afraid of him. It made me wonder what he was like when he really liked you. When he finally got to claim you as his. The very thought shook me to the core.

“Thanks. I’ll try,” I said.

The rest of the day I felt numb. When I got home I noticed John wasn’t there but, there was a padlock on the pantry door and I sighed. So, he had told mum about that. I wondered how badly we would be punished for that. For telling her about that so that Uncle Ben and Da could no longer get up there. I sat down and did my homework as the house started to get busy again, as mum got the older babies up and moving around playing in the living room not far off where her and I could keep an eye on them from the kitchen. By the time dinner was ready and everyone else was home but John mum looked like a nervous wreck.

“Mummy where is John?” Cat asked her after a while. Somewhere in the middle of our dinner of baked cod and peas.

“I don’t know but, he should be home by now,” Mum said before she got up, “I’ll go see if they are home yet. Da took him to his doctor’s appointment earlier.

“Da did?” I asked my fork stopping midway to my mouth as I heard another fork clatter into the plate somewhere in front of it. I looked over to see Mike staring at mum the same way I was fork still in hand and James frozen looking at mum closely. His hand looking like it should have a fork but little bits of fish scattered about the table where his fork had dropped.

“It wasn’t ideal. I realize.” She said looking at us, “I’ll be back. I’m sure he’s fine.”

He wasn’t fine. When he came upstairs from where ever he was his eyes were red and puffy, shiny. He had been crying. I figured Da had probably done something to him. For all we knew he had been home for hours and because mum was too busy and I was too busy we hadn’t noticed. Hadn’t protected him like we should have. Mum walked past us her arms around his shoulders and into his bedroom shutting the door behind her.

After that it seemed like mum didn’t stop moving, didn’t stop cleaning. I could tell she was struggling. That she wanted to lock herself away again and not come out but, that she knew she couldn’t. That she knew there wasn’t anyone there but me to take care of everyone else and doing that to me was something she was trying to avoid.

I helped her clean up the kitchen and put everyone to bed besides Mike and Matt who mum had told to leave the gaming console alone and let it “cool off for a night” and were watching TV quietly before I got up to see what was happening. If he was sleeping or if he was ok. When I went into his bedroom I could hear the shower running and I wondered how long he had been in there. I quietly shut the door but mum must have heard me because she called out to me from where she was in nursery and the door was ajar.

“Yeah mum?” I asked her thinking she needed help with something.

“We’re leaving,” she told me.

I remember feeling confused at the words. Almost like they weren’t processing. We were leaving? Where we were going? Were we leaving now? She must have seen the look on my face because she sighed.

“Not right now but, soon. I’m hoping no more than 3 days and we’ll be gone. That’s what I’m hoping though. I’m not sure it’s going to happen but your brother needs help. He can’t keep going like this. He was going to do something really bad earlier and I managed to talk him down but he deserves better. We all deserve better and I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that happens. Don’t tell anyone all right love?” she warned me.

I nodded my head numbly walking away going to sit down on the couch. I don’t think I moved for a while. We were leaving? It was over just like that? No Lionel, no zoo. I didn’t have to…I felt relieved but scared. Terrified remembering Vic’s warning. That meddling mum’s disappeared easily in the brotherhood. What if…what if he some how found out or knew and him and Da…?

No, no. I couldn’t think that. We were leaving. We were going to leave and never come back. I would be ok and James would be ok and everyone else. We would all be ok. It was almost over.

By the time I looked up mum had come back into living room ushering Mike and Matt to bed. By the time I saw John again mum was back in the nursery doing night feeding. He came out carrying a mug with him and popped it in the microwave sighing.

He looked beyond exhausted. Beyond broken and scared. Like maybe school and Da and everything else was too much for him. More than he could handle. I sighed not sure how much noise I should make. If he had even realized I was still up and moving around, making sure the living room was clean before I went to bed.

“John?” I asked him quietly making sure I stayed back on the other side of the island, making sure I gave him as much space as he needed.

“Hey,” he said before he turned around to look at me. He had dark circles under his eyes like he had probably spent the whole entire time he was in the shower crying. Like he had spent at least half the day crying.

“What happened?” I asked him quietly, “Mum’s kind of frantic and everyone else is fine so I’m assuming it’s something to do with you.”

“Why?” he asked an expression contorting his face like he had just sucked on a lemon. Like just asking it made him unsure of how to respond. Of whether he wanted to cry some more or shout at me and be angry.

“Because I’ve never seen her this scared. At least not scared like this besides that one time when…” I trailed off. He didn’t need to be reminded of that. I certainly didn’t want to think about it. The video that Da had shown mum of him. Of the things he made John do. I exhaled heavily.

He frowned deeply as the microwaved beeped, “I can’t do it anymore.” He said with no emotion in his voice. He slid down pressing his back against the counter as he sat on the floor.

I came over and sat next to him, doing the same allowing my back to rest up against the counter. Was he talking about killing himself? Or just the fact that he still wanted to die? Or was it just that he was tired?

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“I can’t,” he made a hiccupping sound like he was having trouble breathing, having trouble staying calm but struggling to do it anyway, “He took me out to lunch and some guy was there and he…,” he shrugged his shoulders closing his eyes, “I can’t do it anymore. When I got home I went downstairs to the guest suite with the balcony and I almost jumped.”

I felt horrified. He had almost jumped? He had almost left me here? Us here? With them and mum by ourselves for them to…but we needed him. We needed him. I needed him because when he told me it would ok I believed him. When he told me that someday everything would be ok I believed him and here he was saying it wasn’t ok. That it would never be ok. That I was fucked, that we were all fucked.

He had no idea how fucked I was either. He had no idea how much I needed him but it wasn’t about me. It was about him. I closed my eyes and sighed deeply telling myself to calm down. That it was ok, that he hadn’t done it. That he was still there.

“Oh,” I said, “So that’s why she’s so upset.”

“It doesn’t matter now I guess. I would have been better off jumping though because I’m dead anyway,” he said pointing his finger across my vision over to the locked pantry door beside me.

“He’s not going to know that was because of you. He’s come to me too remember? And Catty and James. Almost everyone really,” I mentioned.

“Will, do you ever hate yourself?” he asked me suddenly opening his eyes but only staring at the kitchen island ahead of us and not looking at me.

Of course I did. Of course I hated myself. I hated myself all the time. I knew saying that though wouldn’t help him any. That I should probably keep it to myself. So instead I gave him the logical answer. The one that wasn’t based on my personal emotions, the one that made sense.

“No,” I said softly, “I hate them. I don’t hate myself.”

“How?” he asked turning to look at me, “Because I really need to understand why I can’t be like that. Why I hate myself so much.”

Oh, so he was talking about it? That part of it. The part of it I was still new at. The way my body responded to it. How instead of everything building a little at once and releasing a tiny bursts of energy it seemed like it almost stalled and built to an unbearable level until it seemed almost like your body was out of your control. Until that energy was pushing it’s way from you almost like it was ripping free. How weird and bad it felt. How you couldn’t stand to be in your skin after it was done.

I knew what it was. Physiologically I knew what it was. That that’s just how it happened. That it was natural and sometimes I allowed that to make me not feel so bad about it. I tried to think of the best way to explain it and then decided to us physics.

“Well, from what I read literally every physical reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. If someone touches you a certain way your body is programmed to respond a certain way. It’s literally just physics. I can’t stop my body from feeling that way so, why try? And why feel guilty about it? It doesn’t mean I like it, or I want it. It just means I’m human with a normal body like anyone else. He’s the one doing it. Not me, I’m just along for the ride so to speak. So why be angry at myself for something I can’t control?” I said to him.

“It shouldn’t feel good though,” he said barely above a whisper wiping at his eyes with the back of his hands.

“No, see that’s where you’re wrong. It should,” I said turning my body so I was facing him, looking at him, “It’s normal for it to feel good even if we don’t want it to. For it to feel good means we’re human. He shouldn’t want to do that to us. That means he’s the wrong one. Not us. You can’t put that on yourself. None of us are doing anything to deserve what he does. He’s a bad, sick twisted person who found other bad, sick and twisted people that think the same way he does. I know what he says, I know what he tells you but, he tells you that so he can justify it to himself and make it ok when it’s not ok. His words don’t make what he does ok,” I told him.

“How are you so smart?” John asked me, “How do you know that’s right and what I feel is wrong?”

“Because I read and it’s what bad people do to kids. Bad people like Da and Uncle Ben. There have been bad people like them out there and for a long-time John. People like them are everywhere.”

“How do you know all of this?” I asked him.

“Back home at school they started teaching us how to use computers. There’s this thing called ask Jeeves where you can type in anything you want to know and it will bring up websites and stuff with information. I wrote it down and looked on the computer downstairs a while ago. Apparently it’s been a thing for a long time. They are in every country and a lot of them do really really bad things. Usually it’s not strangers snatching kids off the street but people like Da who already work with kids or have kids of their own. They’re really really bad people,” I said, “Don’t tell Da I know how to use the computer. I don’t think he’d be too happy.”

“I won’t,” he said, “He knows you know how to read his emails and shit though. I’m pretty sure. Stuff you let me know that sometimes…”

“Gets around like how we knew the leader was coming to dinner?” I asked him and he shrugged his shoulders, “He hasn’t punished me for it yet so it can’t be a huge deal or else he just suspects and doesn’t really know it’s me. There are people online you can talk to you know? They won’t be able to tell it’s you. You just make a screen name. Maybe you wouldn’t feel so alone?”

“I don’t think it matters,” he told me, “And if they can’t tell it’s me how do I know who they are?”

I thought about it. He did have a point. How did we know whether they were dangerous or not? Like Da or not if we didn’t know who they were?

“That’s true but, sometimes just feeling like you have someone doesn’t hurt. You could tell me you know but, you seem to not want to,” I told him.

There were a lot of things he didn’t tell me. So many things that he kept to himself that he needed to talk about. That I knew he was keeping from me to protect me. The same way I was protecting him. But, I felt that maybe if he opened up to me, showed me that I wasn’t alone it would be easier for me to do the same. To show him that he wasn’t the only one that was always struggling. That hated themselves. That wanted to hurt themselves.

“I won’t tell you because you’re my brother. I’m supposed to protect you from it,” he said turning his body so he was facing me too, his jaw set like he was determined. Determined to keep some part of me innocent that was no longer there.

It was frustrating. It was so frustrating that he didn’t get it. That I needed him to show me it was ok. That he didn’t have to hide it. That he could trust me. That way I knew I could trust him.

I sighed wanting to yell at him but somehow managed to stay calm, “Yeah and who came up with that idea? You, right? I’m in this with you. You don’t need to protect me John. I can take care of myself,” I reminded him.

“Yeah?” he muttered shaking his head, his eyes going cold, “ Tell me that when he’s above you every single night moaning in your ear how you like it and how you feel so good. How you taste so awesome. Tell me that when he’s letting guys video tape you doing things you don’t want to do. Or letting some guy do things to you while all you can do is watch it happen in a mirror above your head. When you deal with that then tell me you don’t need me to protect you ok? Until then just trust me,” he spat.

So that’s what Da had done to him? I remember thinking that. That Da had let some guy do that to him. Rape him while John had to watch it happen in a mirror and feel it happen. It sounded horrible. Scary. It was bad enough having to feel it let alone watch it happen. And he did do those things to me.

Not every night but sometimes. It was one of Lionel’s favorite things to do. Tell me how I felt good, felt like satin inside against his fingers, how he just wanted me to feel good. That I should just let it happen just like Ben and Da did. I thought about how I was dreading it. Dreading have to deal with that on Friday. How he was probably going to tell me those things whenever there weren’t other people close enough to hear it while I watched the animals. Talk about the things he wanted me to do, what he wanted to do until we got into his car or somewhere else where he could actually do them. The thought sent a shiver down my spine and caused that panic to rise up in my throat. I sighed closing my eyes trying to push it back down. Trying to remind myself that it hadn’t happened yet. That I was in the kitchen with my brother talking, that I was safe and things were ok. I was ok.

“I didn’t know it was that bad,” I told him, “Maybe that’s why you need to trust someone though. So you can tell someone that stuff. It might make you feel better.”

“Why does it matter how I feel?” he hissed at me, “He doesn’t care. You don’t trust me when I say you don’t want to have to live with it. Mum literally throws me at him. She might as well tie a bow around my junk and stick a fuck me sign on my back. So why does it matter?”

That’s what he thought? He thought I didn’t trust him? I trusted him as much as I could anyone. He thought mum was handing him over to Da? That wasn’t what she was doing at all. Not on purpose anyway.

She didn’t have anyone to watch them that day and Karen had just quit. Otherwise it would have been her taking John to the doctor and Da never would have gotten to take him away, to let that guy do those things to him. She didn’t want that for him. She couldn’t have. If she had wanted John to go through that she wouldn’t have been so upset earlier she could barely speak and couldn’t stop moving. Every second of her evening having her running up and down the hallway.

“Mum doesn’t know what to do ok?” I tried to explain to him, “She doesn’t do it on purpose but she doesn’t know what the hell to do to get it to stop John. I doubt she has any idea it’s that bad. Maybe if you talked to her about it she would know and she would be trying harder to find another way out or a faster way out.”

“That’s not true she does know. Pat told her because I couldn’t,” he insisted his expression going from angry to what looked like sad and confused.

“Really?” I asked, “When?”

“I don’t know like yesterday. The day before maybe?” he told me shrugging his shoulders.

“Well then she probably didn’t have time to process it. That’s a big thing to hear John. If I didn’t already have an idea that it was happening I wouldn’t know what to think. And she’s supposed to fix it. That takes time, planning and sadly time is not something she really has anymore. So, she’s scrambling,” I tried to explain to him, “She told me three days. So, give it three days. By then hopefully she’ll have something at least half way figured out because I think you really scared her this time.”

“Nothing is as scary as your Da taking you out somewhere and almost raping you in a park parking lot. Or making you sit next to some guy you don’t even know and before you know it he’s on top of you because someone who is supposed to protect you said it was ok because he paid them money,” he told me.

“No but imagine knowing that things like that are happening to the people you care about the most and you can’t stop it. Imagine how that probably feels,” I told him trying to have him imagine how mum probably felt. How badly she probably struggled knowing that people were hurting us and she couldn’t stop it.

“I don’t have to,” John said his face hard as he looked at me, “It happens to me every day. Who on earth do you think I care about more than anything? You! All of you! And it doesn’t matter what I let him do to me, he still keeps doing it. At first it worked but now it doesn’t matter what promises I make but, if he’s with me he’s not with one of you.”

He looked tired, spent. Like he was going to start crying again. John was right. He did try to protect us. He did everything he could to protect us and just like what mum did it was never enough to stop it. It was never enough to keep us safe. That didn’t mean it was right though.

“John that’s not your job. That’s mum’s job not yours,” I said shaking my head, “You can’t protect anyone. You need to leave that to mum ok?”

It wasn’t his job. It wasn’t his job to throw himself at Da and make sure he kept his hands off us. It wasn’t up to him to take of his clothes every time Da threatened one of us. It was his job to hold us while we cried. To tell us he understood that he loved us and to it was his job to lie to us. To tell us it was all going to be ok, that this wouldn’t be forever. That things could be safe one day, that we could be safe.

“But she can’t do it either. You just said so yourself,” he said shaking his head at me.

“Yeah but that doesn’t mean you need to try and help her because guess what? It’s obviously not working. If you are drinking just to function and sitting on ledges trying to work up the courage to jump something is not working and it’s mum’s job to figure out how to fix that because obviously it’s a very serious problem that you can’t fix on your own. So, quit trying please. We need you but we need you here with us. We don’t need you playing hero until you can’t take it anymore so just stop,” I said frowning at him.

I hate talking in circles with him about it. About the fact that we were only kids and there was only so much someone could expect him to do. That none of us expected him to step in and keep Da from hurting us, uncle Ben from hurting us. None of us had ever asked him to do that. None of us wanted to watch him fall apart because he expected himself to do that.

“Three days,” he said holding up his fingers inbetween us, “That’s what I’m giving her is three days. If we don’t have an answer by then I’m either letting him kill me or I’m killing myself because by then I’ll wish I was dead. Heck, I already do.

He stood up running his hand through his hair before he sighed heavily starting to walk down the hall as I got to my feet as well. I didn’t want him to feel that way, feel like he would rather be dead than be with us. I knew it was selfish to wish that but, we needed him. If we didn’t leave in three days I would really need him. I was still terrified of it. Of the idea of him. Of going to the zoo with him because I knew what would happen after. I wanted to tell John that, to let him know that he wasn’t the only one Da was pimping out, selling.

But, I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell him that. It would only get him hurt. Make him try and come up with a way to keep me safe and then it would probably be James and I both. James couldn’t deal with that. James hadn’t been able to speak for nearly 3 days last time it happened and was still very attached to me. I understood why. I did but, it was tiring.

“John,” I said after a minute or two as he was half way down the hallway causing him to turn and look at me, “Please don’t hurt yourself. You’re my brother and I love you.”

He sighed heavily as he looked at me his eyes sad, “I love you too,” he said before he turned going the rest of the way down the hall to his room.

My brain felt fried because of worry. Between knowing my brother had almost killed himself and my little brother who had crawled into bed with me the night before I felt like I couldn’t think. James had woken me up telling me that he was there in his room. The bad man and that he was going to hurt him. Even after I checked his room to assure him Lionel wasn’t there he refused to sleep in there so I carried him back to my room where he cried into my arms for nearly two hours until we both fell asleep.
I was woken up by mum speaking, “Will love have you seen…” she trailed off and sighed with relief when she saw his little form curled into mine him having not moved, still dead asleep.

“He had a bad dream. I would have come and got you but, you were sleeping I think. He said he came to get him,” I told mum.

Mum had known that something had happened to James but we still hadn’t told her who. She frowned at me lightly as she sat down on the edge of the bed sighing as she looked at his sleeping form. Him clinging to me in his sleep. I wasn’t sure she knew what to do or what had happened and I knew she had questions about it. But they were questions I couldn’t answer. She started whispering.

“The school called me yesterday to tell me he was crying. They had trouble getting him to calm down. I had to talk with him on the phone. He told me that something bad would happen if he wasn’t home with us. That he needed to be home. I told him he’d be home after school. He made me put your little brothers and sisters on the phone so he could make sure that the bad man hadn’t hurt them. Was it uncle Ben?” she asked me.

“Mum, I…”

“No, I want you tell me. If you can’t tell me who it is out of some loyality to your brother I understand that but, you can you tell me who it wasn’t?” she asked me.

“It wasn’t Da or Uncle Ben,” I admitted.

“So it was one of the other two,” she said nodding her head to herself.

She had counted him out automatically. The one person it was she had decided it wasn’t. It made me feel sick. It made me want to scream at her that she was wrong. That it was him. That he had hurt James and me and that he wanted to hurt me some more. That he was going to hurt me some more but I managed to keep quiet this sick feeling growing in my stomach as she looked at me.

“It’s scary mum,” I said to her.

“I know love,” she told me.

“No, you don’t know. You don’t,” I said feeling a lump in my throat, “He’s tiny mum. He doesn’t understand why Da…” I took a deep breath to keep myself from crying, “Da let that guy hurt him. And it hurts. It hurts bad. Especially the first time. It really hurts the first time.”

“I don’t imagine it feeling good,” she said her lips forming a thin line.

“It hurts a lot mum. Sometimes you bleed and it just…” I trailed off. I didn’t want to talk about it. Feeling my face flush bright red.

“It’s ok love,” Mum sighed, “You don’t need to explain.”

I nodded my head in relief. That wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with her. How it stung when they entered your body, when they moved around inside you. How it felt weird and it made you want to be anywhere else. How even when it stopped hurting it still hurt, felt weird.

“I think I’m going to keep him and Mike home from school today. Between the two of them I got three calls yesterday. So, it might just be easier to give them some time,” she told me.

“Mike’s not doing well still?” I asked her.

“When I came up to feed the babies I found him in the hallway curled into a ball shivering. He had been sleep walking and had wet himself. So no, he’s not doing well. There’s too much going on,” mum said as I felt James move.

“Mummy?” he asked quietly into my chest.

“I’m here love. I thought you were going to try and sleep in your own room,” she told him.

“The bad man was there and then I woke up but, I knew when Willy left he would come back. I didn’t want him to come back. He’ll hurt us. I didn’t want him to come back,” he said before he started crying.

“Oh little love, it’s all right,” mum said pulling him from me and into her arms, “It’s ok wee one you’re safe. He’s not here. He can’t hurt you. It’s ok.”

“I don’t want him to come back,” he cried.

Watching him cry made my heart hurt. Knowing that Mike was struggling and John too made me want to cry. Because I knew there wasn’t anything I could really do for them. I sighed and rubbed his shoulder as mum held him. He just wanted to feel safe. He just wanted to know no one was going to hurt us and that was something he couldn’t be sure of.

“I think it’d be a good idea too mum. To keep them home today,” I said getting up and moving around them to get out of bed and start getting ready for school.

The rest of the day is a blur. I don’t remember what happened at school my thoughts too caught up in where my brothers were and how they were doing mentally, emotionally. When I got home it seemed like stuff was missing just small things like Cat’s favorite Barbie and Hugh. At the time I just thought it was weird and didn’t put two and two together me busy helping mum make sure babies were taking care of and helping her with dinner by making a side of pastaroini from the box. I remember going to bed feeling exhausted having chased kids and changed diapers all day. Not looking forward to the next morning.

Chapter Text

The next morning everyone went to school as mum moved around grabbing things and putting them on the couch. They seemed like the most random things too, clothes and books a few toys and mostly diapers and baby wipes. I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t question it. I thought it was weird, like maybe mum had gone crazy but then around 10:30 she came to get me from school for an eye doctors appointment I didn’t realize I had and I found Mike, Matt and James with her.

“Come on now, let’s go to the upper school and get your brother,” she told us.

“Why do we all have eye doctor’s appointments on the same day?” Matt asked her.

“Well, Karen quit so it’s just me now and I figured it’d be easier to do it all at once than worry about having to do them one at a time. Will love?” Mum asked me before she pulled her eyes out of her purse, “I already got your sister from nursery school across the way can you go to the parking lot and check on everyone? I don’t want them in there by themselves too long and make sure she’s in her booster seat.”

“Ok mum,” I said and took off leaving her with my younger brothers. When I got to the van I noticed that the back was piled high with duffle bags and there were even more of them where feet would normally go in the back row the three rear facing car seats taking up the full back row beside the empty fold up seat that allowed access to the boot of the car without opening the back door. Sure, enough Cat had climbed in and buckled herself into her booster seat in the row in front of Andy and Laura who were secure in their own car seats.

“Mummy said we have an appointment at the eye doctor,” Cat told me.

“Yeah that’s what she told me too,” I told her before I climbed into the car sliding the door shut as best I could, “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” she told me, “The car is full of stuff though.”

“Yeah, I noticed that,” I told her.

“Do you think everything is ok?” she asked me.

I thought about it. Why would she bring all of this stuff for an eye doctor appointment we weren’t aware of that we had? And that’s when it hit me relief flooding me so hard that I nearly fell into the seat. We were leaving. She was taking us away from them. The brotherhood, away from Da and Ben and Lionel. Away from Hank and Barry and Arthur. Away from all of them.

“It’ll be ok Will. He’s not the other doctor we don’t have to get shots,” Cat said making me laugh.

“It’s not that. I’m good, I’m perfectly fine, better then fine.”

“You looked so worried though,” she said.

“It’s nothing,” I assured her, “Anyone poopy?”

I was answered with a funny look by cat and a small no from Andy as everyone else finally made it out to the van the door opening.

“All right loves, buckle in and fast,” Mum said as James Mike and Matt climbed into the car and she slammed the sliding door making sure it was shut tight and John climbed into the front seat turning on the radio.

We had driven for maybe an hour when someone finally asked something Mike turning to look at me, “Why is the doctors so far away?”

“It’s not we’re leaving,” I finally told him.

“Leaving?” Matt frowned asking me, “Leaving where?”

“We’re going to go find a new home. Away from Da so he can’t hurt you anymore. I’m sorry it took us so long but, we’ll be ok. I promise. We just need to go a bit further and then I have someone meeting us somewhere that’s going to help. Just settle in,” she told us.

It was five more hours of driving around 3pm when we finally stopped. It was the parking lot of a supermarket and John sighed undoing his seat belt before mum held her arm out in front of him telling him to stay put, “Hold on. We’re waiting for someone,” she said.

We settled back in figuring that meant we weren’t going anywhere for a bit until a van pulled up and man got out knocking on mum’s window.

I heard him asking if we were us. Mum confirming. He looked rough around the edges a long beard that was almost so long you he could have probably tucked into his belt if he had wanted to. His skin tan and leathery looking his eyes gray, sad and tired.

“We are,” she answered him, “How far are we going?”

“Can’t tell you,” he said his southern draw more evident, “Just know I’m supposed to take half of your load so which five am I taking?”

What? What did he mean load? Did he mean us? Mum was going to give half of us over to this stranger? This guy we didn’t know. How did she know he wasn’t like them? Like Da. He peered in the back and saw me watching him shooting me a sad smile as John stiffened in the passenger seat beside mum.

He didn’t want to go with this guy. Not that I could blame him. It seemed almost like every guy he ended up in a room alone with hit on him or worse. I didn’t see it going well for any of us but, his van wasn’t a big one like ours. His van looked more like a normal sized van that could fit maybe 8 people when there was 12 of us. That still didn’t make sense though when we could call stay with mum.

“Do you have any car seats? Because I have five in car seats,” she asked the guy.

“I have two car seats,” he told her.

“Ok John can you go with him and Catty and Will? I’ll move Andrew and Laura,” Mum said undoing her seat belt and opening the car door as the guy stepped away.

“Mum? I don’t know him,” John said barely above a whisper.
I could tell he was scared. I didn’t blame him for it. I understood it. The guy didn’t exactly look friendly but I would say he looked average. However, that didn’t mean anything. Lionel looked really friendly and he wasn’t. He was very far from it. I wasn’t sure I trusted anyone and I had good reason not to but John it was even more so.

She turned to look at him putting a hand on his shoulder before she bent close to him and whispered something in his ear. He shook his head vigorously his eyes going wide, “I can’t mum. I can’t.”

Mum sighed and looked at the guy who was still standing by her open door, “Could you give us a minute?” she asked him and he smiled sadly at her nodding his head and walking away back over to his own car.

“Honey he’s not going to hurt you. Catty and Will are going too. I need you to do a big favor please? For me? I swear he’s not going to do anything to you,” Mum tried to assure him.

I heard John’s voice catch as he answered her, “Last time you asked me to do something for you I ended up doing something I…,” he trailed off taking a deep breath and hiding his face in his hands like he was trying not to cry in front of us.

He did have a point. Last time he did something for mum it was allowing Da to take him to the doctors and he had told me about it. The guy who had raped him at lunch. Made him stare into a mirror as it happened. The whole thing sounded beyond horrible. I still couldn’t believe Da had let some stranger do that to him. Hurt him like that. Mum shouldn’t have been asking him to go with another person he didn’t know. People he didn’t know hurt him lately in his experience and I understood why that was so scary. Being asked to leave mum and go with this guy he didn’t know, probably sit in the passenger seat next to him because he was the oldest.

None of that seemed ok. Putting myself in John’s shoes I could feel his anxiety, his fear at what that guy would force him to do once the doors to that van shut and mum wasn’t there and it was just me and him and Cat along with Andy and Laura. I didn’t want him to have to go through that. That wasn’t fair. That anxiety wasn’t fair.

“You can tell me anything. You know that, right?” Mum asked him to rub his shoulder in a comforting manner.

“I don’t know who he is mum,” John answered barely audible from where I was sitting, “I don’t trust him.”

“Honey,” mum said pausing as she thought about what she was saying, “You aren’t going to trust anyone for a long time. You need to try and trust me though ok?” she pleaded with him.

“Last time I trusted you, you let Da take me to a doctor’s appointment and he took me out to lunch and there was this guy and it ended badly,” he told her.

She sighed closing her eyes. So, he hadn’t told mum about that at all? Hadn’t warned her that Da had let some strange guy do things to him? When she opened her eyes, she looked close to crying but just responded, “Oh goodness. Ok, all right. Ok Will can you go with Mike Andy and Laura?”

I wasn’t sure I trusted the guy either but I wasn’t about to let him take off with any of my siblings by themselves I was going to be there. I was going to do what I had to in order to make sure he didn’t hurt them. If that meant me putting myself in danger like John did a million times a day for all of us I would. I swallowed and nodded my head, “Yeah. I can do it.”

“Thank you,” John said turning to look at me before he looked at mum.

“It’s not a problem honey. I’m glad you told me, “she said hopping out of the car and calling the guy back over. They talked for a couple of minutes and then she directed me to help Mike out of the car as well as help move Andy and Laura.

They both moved leaving their car seats behind and mum moved a bunch of bags over to be in the guy’s boot while I made sure Mike buckled himself in. He was being a sport even though he looked nervous his mouth twitching like he couldn’t decide whether to smile or cry.

“What’s wrong Mike?” I asked him.

“I’m scared,” he admitted tears coming to his eyes.

“This guy isn’t going to hurt you. I swear to you he’s not going to touch you ok? You’re mine right now. I’ve got you I promise. Nothing bad will happen to you while I’m in charge ok?” I swore to him.

“I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t…”

“Trust me. I know that’s hard but you can trust me. Have I ever let you down before? Ever?” I asked him.

He shook his head vigorously. He knew I always tried my best to keep my promises. It didn’t matter what it was I always tried to make sure they were taken care of just like mum and just like John. I buckled him in hugging him.

“We’ll be ok. After they get us to where we’re going we’ll be back with mum ok? This guy is just helping us. He’s not going to hurt you. We’ll be fine,” I told him before I kissed the top of his head, “Is there anything I can…” I said as mum handed me Mike’s stuffed Lion that he always slept with.

“Here you go love,” Mum said, “You’re both my brave boys. All of my boys are so brave,” Mum said rubbing the top of his head, “He’s going to drive us to a place and when we get there you can come back with me. It’s just for right now though you guys need to ride with him. Everything will be all right though.”

“I know mum,” I said to her and Mike nodded his head rubbing his face in his stuffed Lion’s mane.

“I’ll see you later. I’m going to go grab some stuff from the store. Snacks and what not for both cars and then we’ll be leaving,” Mum said before she got up and went into the store.

I poked my head out of the van to look at the guy, “Where am I sitting?”

“Where ever you feel most comfortable,” he told me without missing beat to which I shut the sliding van door and buckled myself in next to Mike.

It didn’t take long for mum to come back out of the store with three packs of Capri suns and a bunch of other littler snacks like trail mix and beef jerky some of which she gave to me and set on the van floor under my feet as she made sure everyone was ready to leave.

“Ok loves be good for our friend here. I’ll see you in a couple of hours when the cars stop. I love you,” she told us as she gave both Mike and I a kiss on the cheek and shut the door.

Her and the guy talked for a few minutes outside the van before he walked away and opened the driver’s side door looking at all of us, “Ok my name is Pete. I’ll be driving you to where we’re going until we get there. When we do I'll give you back to your mom.”

“Why are you taking us?” Mike asked.

“Well, we have to cross the state line and if your mom or I is stopped for whatever reason this gives us leverage to get everyone back together. This way if something does happen your dad will only get a hold of some of you and not all of you. You understand?”

“What if that happens?” I asked him.

“IF that happens there is someplace I can take you guys while we work on getting your mom and siblings back where you’ll be safe. Hopefully that won’t happen. It rarely does happen but it might so we always prepare for it,” he told me.

“Where are we going?” I asked him.

“I believe we’re stopping close to my house. Alabama,” he said, “It’s pretty country you won’t be there long. I think they’re setting you guys up someplace else but it’ll be a nice break for a week or so.”

“Who are they?” I asked him.

“It’s a group of people that help get others out of horrible situations. Recused my mom and I when I was a kid from some bad stuff. They’re good people. They’re good at what they do. Make sure you never have to go back to that place,” he told me.

“Do you know much about them?” I asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.

“From what I understand it’s a cult of some type that is into hurting kids,” he said frowning at me in rear view mirror, “I don’t like people who hurt kids.”

“Do you know what they did?” Mike asked him quietly.

“To you guys personally?” He asked and Mike nodded his head, “No. It doesn’t take much to understand that they hurt you guys pretty bad though I’m sure. Just know that while you’re with me I’ll treat you the same way I treat my own. No one is going to get their hands on you. No one is touching you not even me and that’s the end of it. You understand?”

Mike and I both nodded our heads and he gave us a sad smile. So, this guy was saying he was going to protect us, keep us safe, not hurt us. He had kids of his own which didn’t always mean much if the brotherhood was any indication. But he said he wouldn’t touch us. I took that to mean he wasn’t going to put his hands on us for any reason. It made me think that he knew. He had an idea of what they had done to us, the things that they probably made us do and I grateful that he would respect that.
Respect our need to not be touched by someone we didn’t feel safe with, didn’t want to touch us.

We drove for a while, me almost falling asleep as the car stopped at McDonalds and we got some food. Mostly happy meals and French fries. I felt safe though when mum came to check on us and make sure we were ok. She pulled Andy and Laura out to change their diapers and then we took off again driving until we came to this motel.

He moved our bags into a room with mum’s help and John and I got everyone out of the cars and into the room. It was only a two-bed room with a small TV. It wasn’t very big and I remember looking around wondering where everyone was going to sleep as mum brought the last of the bags in and the guy wished us luck before he left.

“Mummy where is everyone going to sleep?” James asked.

“Well the babies are sleeping in their car seats which means that you boys and Cat are the only ones I have to worry about. I’m having them bring an extra cot in which will sleep two and I figured Will and James could share that if that’s all right?” Mum asked looking at me.

“Yeah that sounds ok,” I told her.

“So then Cat and Mike can share a bed with me and John can share with Matt,” mum said, “Ok here’s the deal everyone. No one is leaving this room for anything. In three days, a woman is going to come by and we’re going to go with her. After that we will be given a new place to live and new names. You won’t tell anyone your old names think of it like a game,” Mum said.

And that’s how it was. We watched cartoons late into the night and spend the next day in the room. Mum left at some point to go walk somewhere and get us food and at first it didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal but then an hour passed. And then 2. It seemed odd and I figured something had happened. Something bad had happened.

I didn’t know what and was about to call John into the bathroom to talk with him about what we should do when there was a knock on the door. Everyone stopped moving. We all knew mum wouldn’t have knocked. She would have had a key. There wouldn’t have been any reason for her to knock.

“John,” I said getting his attention as he muted the TV, “You need to look out. Mum has a key. She wouldn’t have knocked.”

He nodded his head and looked through the peep hole at the top of the door before he turned pale white his eyes going wide, “shit.”

“What’s up?” I asked him.

It had to be something bad. Something that scared him. Something that made him afraid. Something that he didn’t want to see was on the other side of that door, someone.

“It’s Hank,” he managed barely a whisper.

“Wait, Hank as in the cop?” I asked him.

Just then there was a bang on the door so forceful it shook it, “I’m supposed to come get you guys. It’s ok. Your mom told us you were here,” he said loudly.

“Where is our mum?” I asked him shouting it loudly as Mike and James clung to Cat and Matt stood in front of them who was holding Laura.

They were all huddled in a corner of the room. They all looked terrified. I didn’t know what to do. What to say but…where was mum? Did that mean we were going back with him? Back to Da?

So that was it. It was over. It was Thursday and tomorrow I was…tomorrow I was his. I felt shattered. Like I wanted to scream. Like I wanted to run. I felt numb as I listened to Hank’s voice on the other side of the door.

“With your Dad. I’m supposed to be bring you home. Mr. Gables is with me. He’s supposed to drive the van back with you kids in it.” He said.

“I…I’m not opening the door for you,” I said trying to keep my voice steady, even. Trying to be brave.

Hank chuckled lightly on the other side of the door, “I will call the cops here and break down this door. John your dad is on his way and he says he missed you. All of you guys. He wants you to come home your mom misses you too. She loves you guys.”

John stood there, pale white and shaky his eyes wide, chest heaving as he stood frozen to the spot where he was standing. I didn’t know what to do but looking at my little siblings that had huddled into the corner and then John who seemed frozen I decided there was only one thing I could do. Call. Call home and see if it was true what he said. That Mum was with Da again and we were going home.

I walked over to the phone flexing my fingers before it picked it up from the cradle to try and step my hands from shaking as I dialed our home number. The phone ringing twice before someone picked up.

“Hello?” Da said into the phone.

“Hi Da? Is mum there?” I asked him.

“Yes, she’s here. You are in a lot of trouble young man. You almost missed your big day at the zoo. Now why would you go and do a thing like that?” he asked me.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. I didn’t want to think about that. I couldn’t think about that right now, “Can I talk to mum?” I asked him.

“Yes, however you and I have something to discuss later. I’m sure you understand,” he warned me to which I nodded my head before I heard mum breathing into the phone.

“Mum are you ok?” I asked her.

“Nothing that can’t be fixed love, are you guys ok? Everyone doing all right?” she asked me.

“Yeah mum, we’re ok but Da’s friend Hank is here and he said he’s supposed to take us home,” I told her.

“Ok love what I need you to do is go with him. Make sure no one is alone with him though. I want you to get your brothers and sisters in the car and I want you to keep a close eye on Mac for me. Try to make sure he’s not alone with him and you need to watch John too if you can ok? I’m not sure there’s much you can do to help him but be good and listen to what John tells you ok?”

“I’m not sure that’s going to work mum,” I said.

“Listen to John. I know it’s scary and that you’re not sure what’s going on but, you do need to come home. I don’t want to cause too much trouble so you need to open the door ok? I love and I’ll be here when you get home. I’ll be right here and everything will be ok. I would come get you myself but Da doesn’t want me to leave him right now so you need to go with Hank. I’ll talk to you later when you get back. Be good,” she told me.

“Ok mum,” I said.

“You know I love you right?” she asked me.

“Yes, I know. We love you too,” I said before hanging up the phone.

“What did she say?” John asked his lips barley moving as he stared at the wall behind my head.

“She said Da won’t let her leave the house and we need to go with Hank and his friend,” I answered him.

“Ok,” John said nodding his head before he shook it slightly from side to side blinking as if trying to pull himself out of whatever place his head was going to, as if he was trying to make himself calm because he knew he had to be because everyone else was so scared and so much was happening all at once, “Will listen to me. You need to make sure Mac is sat in the back of the van if Hank is driving ok? I don’t want him anywhere near Hank. Don’t ask why just keep him away from Hank ok?”

“I know,” I said. I didn’t bother telling him Mum had said the same thing that she had caught on that Mac was in danger but, somehow, she had, “Are you going to be ok?”

“Not really,” John admitted his tongue touching his back molar his nervous tick showing. He knew he was in trouble just like I did. That Hank was going to try to get him alone and probably succeed because it was just us. Just me and him and the kids. That we were just kids ourselves and that there wasn’t much I could do to stop Hank from hurting him.

“I guess I have to be for now though. I mean, right?” he said looking at me as if I had the answer.

I nodded my head. I was scared too. Arthur was there and Hank. We were going home and tomorrow I was…I didn’t want to think about it but thinking about it made me cringe, made a shiver shoot up my back and caused me to shake like I was cold.

“Are you ok?” he asked me frowning.

“Yeah,” I lied, “I’ll be fine. We just have to make sure everyone is safe, right?”

“Right,” John agreed before turning to look at them, “Ok come here guys.”

John gestured them to come out of their corner Matt stepping forward first and I held my arms open. He looked a mixed between scared and angry. Like he didn’t understand what was going on but he knew that something bad could happen. He knew that mum wasn’t there and something seriously bad could happen at any second. He actually accepted my hug as I rubbed the top of his head.

“Matty, I know you love them. I know you do and I need you to help us ok? We’re the oldest three we need to keep everyone has safe as we can,” I muttered to him as he hugged me.

“Because mum’s not here?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah, we’re going home,” I said, just the words making me want to cry.

“I’ll help. What do I have to do?” he asked me.

“We’re going to do the buddy system ok? How about Mike and Andy and Laura are your buddies. You keep them as safe as you can and James, Catherine, and Mac are my buddies. And then John can have Mary and Seamus be his buddies ok?” I asked him.

“Ok,” John said from beside us before he both gave us a quick hug, “We keep them safe no matter what ok?”

I looked at John’s face. I understood what he meant. Whatever Arthur or Hank asked us to do we did it. If that meant they pulled over at a rest stop and made us do things that’s what it meant. I nodded my head accepting that. That I might have to let someone…let one of them touch me if it meant making sure they didn’t touch anyone else.

“John, I’m sorry,” I said to him quietly and he nodded his head.

We both knew what was probably going to happen. And we both knew he would do it. Because I would do it too if one of them told me I had to. If they gave me a choice of myself or someone else I would choose myself. I wouldn’t subject any of my brothers to that. Or god forbid my sisters. It was us and we knew it.

“Me too,” he said barely above a whisper.

“What’s going on?” Catty asked finally leaving the corner, “I’m scared. Where’s mummy?”

“Well Catty, Mummy’s at home and there’s guys outside. Mr. Kingly and Mr. Gables and they are going to take us home too,” I told her.

“But mum was taking us away because Da does things he’s not supposed to,” Cat pointed out, “So why did she go back?”

“I don’t think she did honey. I think Daddy made her go back,” I told her.

Hank pounded on the door both John and I jumping a little at the sound, “Come on guys, open the door.”

I looked at John to see if he was ok. If he was ready for me to open the door and he sighed and shrugged his shoulders shaking his head. Almost like he was asking me what other options we had. If there was anything else we could do. We both knew there wasn’t. That Hank was going to come in here and once the stuff was in the van, we were in the van he would probably…make John stay behind. That we didn’t have much of a choice. It was going to happen. We both knew it was going to happen. I didn’t want to open the door and I didn’t want John to do it but John just nodded his head at me and undid the lock pulling it open anyway.

“Hi Hank,” John said trying to sound casual, trying to be brave and act like nothing was wrong even though his eyes were still wide his chest still heaving like he had just ran a marathon. Like he was scared to death.

“Hey kid,” Hank said smiling at him before he looked around the room, “Help Arthur get everyone packed into the van,” he said before John grabbed Mac and took him out of the room and away from Hank fast.

If he hadn’t of grabbed Mac I would have. He was exactly Hank’s type if not a little too young. I grabbed Seamus’ carrier which was too heavy, “James bud can you help me? I need you to grab the other side so we can lift him.”

“Yeah,” James said quietly tucking Hugh under his armpit and using both his hands to pick up the other side of the baby carrier.

We were about half way to the van when an adult hand reached down and grabbed it trying to take him from me and James. Trying to take our little brother away.

“Thanks but I got it,” I said before I looked up.

It was Arthur. I knew it was him. That he was there I just hadn’t been ready to see him. Seeing him did something. It made the blood under my skin run cold. Made me feel frozen my face starting to heat up as he looked directly into my eyes.

“It’s not a big deal. I know it’s heavy,” he told me, “Let me help.”

I shook my head looking at my feet holding tighter to the handle. I wasn’t letting him take Seamus anywhere. I didn’t care how heavy his carrier was. He wasn’t taking him from my sight. I was 10 and that was my little brother and he had made me…I couldn’t imagine leaving him alone with someone even younger. Just then John turned around coming out of the van.

“I have Mac strapped back in. I can take Seamus,” John said looking at me and then giving Arthur a cold look but saying, “Thank you for helping but, I’ve got him.”

“Whatever you say,” Arthur said removing his hand from the carrier handle as John picked Seamus up easily in his carrier as Mike and Matt carried Mary each with one hand or more dragged her. John went over and grabbed Mary with his other hand before Arthur could try and help them John giving him a cold glare.

We made sure everyone was in the car and I told Matt and Mike to watch the kids and be good as I shut the door and we got ready to go get the bags. Hank came out of the hotel room and touched John’s shoulder John freezing his body hunching as Hank spoke to him.

“Come on kid, we’re going to get all of the stuff and put it in my car,” Hank said.

“Yeah,” he said looking at his feet.

This was it then. We were right. He was going to make him do things. Things he didn’t want to do and we had no way to stop him. This wasn’t fair.

“No. Come on, please?” I asked looking at Hank, hoping he would take pity on us. That he would be nice.

Hank sighed smiling at me his hand still on John’s shoulder, “He’ll be fine. I just need some help. You’ll see him when you get home,” Hank said, “Why don’t you get in the van Will?”

“Don’t you need more help than just him?” I asked him.

“No, he’s got it,” Arthur said, “Come on,” Arthur said reaching out to touch me causing me to recoil.

Hank’s smile grew as he looked at me, at Arthur. He seemed amused that I was so scared. He had no idea what Arthur had done to me. I was sure he had no idea, “Have fun Arthur. I’ll see you when we get home ok?”

“You too,” Arthur said, “Front seat Will.”

Front seat? Where he could…no. I shook my head.

“Don’t tell me no. I might not be allowed to touch you sexually or hurt you too much but, that doesn’t mean I can’t leave a bruise or two. So, watch it. And get in the fucking front seat,” Arthur hissed at me.

I sighed climbing into the front seat as he shut the door for me before coming around and getting into the driver’s seat. I didn’t want to be that close to him. Didn’t want to have to sit next to him as he drove me home. As he drove back to Lionel.

“You’re lucky you didn’t miss your date,” Arthur said loud enough for just me to hear, “He’d be really pissed if you had.”

“Date?”

“That’s what it is. It might not be dinner in a movie but when you’re trying to woo a 10-year-old I think most people take a slightly different approach. Cole liked go carts,” he told me causing me to look at him.

“What?” he asked me before he dared to glance at me before turning back to traffic.

I shook my head. Lionel used to take Cole to go riding go carts? Was that what he was telling me? Why would he tell me that?

“Relax,” he said, “God if you weren’t off limits…” he sighed.

“Don’t,” I said shaking my head, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Don’t you want any tips? He likes getting head. You’re good at it. If you don’t want him to get too handsy you should try it. It might help you out if you’re not interested in him that is,” Arthur said.

I gulped. I wasn’t ok with talking about this. Not with my brothers in the seat behind me. Not with…no. I wasn’t ok with this.

“If he likes you I’ll get to see you again at some point I’m sure. The way your older brother is you have any of that streak in you, you’ll be coming to see me at some point I’m sure. He uses me when his boys disobey because I make them feel grateful they don’t have to deal with someone like me. I make them feel grateful Lionel is such a caring man,” he told me, “I look forward to teaching you when you step out of line.”

“What makes you think I will?” I asked before I could stop myself feeling my face go red with shame that I hadn’t controlled my temper.

I heard him chuckle lightly, “That’s the boy I remember from a couple weeks ago.”

I felt my face get even hotter. I didn’t want to be sitting next to him anymore. Not anywhere near as close as I was. I turned and looked out the window. I didn’t want to talk to him anymore and he didn’t make me. He kept his hands to himself. Not bothering to touch me and by the time we had gotten home everyone was asleep behind me and we pulled up into the drive way. There was a car there that I didn’t recognize.

“Look who came to get you for your date early. Or late depending on how you look at it considering it’s 2am,” Arthur said as he parked the car.

It was his car. He was here to take me away. To do things to me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t ok with them. Him and Da both came out the kitchen door as Arthur parked the van. I didn’t want to see them. I wanted mum. I wanted to know mum was ok.

Da opened the van door and unbuckled James who stayed dead asleep even as he handed him over to Lionel, “God he’s precious,” Lionel said barely above a whisper as I finally managed to move getting out of the car.

“hi,” I said quietly Lionel looking up to see me his eyes lighting up.

“There you are,” he said quietly, “How was your adventure little one?”

I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t an adventure at least not a very good one. I was tired and he had my brother in his arms. My brother that he had raped James’ eyes snapping open and his head instantly supporting itself as he looked up at Lionel his little lip trembling.

“Let me have him,” I said holding out my arms.

“It’s all right,” Lionel said holding him trying to force James’ head back down onto his shoulder, “It’s all right. I won’t hurt you. You know I won’t hurt you.”

“Mummy?” James barely managed to mutter.

“He’s about to start screaming,” I warned him, “Give him to me. Please?”

He sighed and put James down who ran to me hugging me before he started frantically whisper so quietly I couldn’t hear what he was saying as he squeezed me before he bit the front of my shirt little sobs ripping through his body. I wanted to cry with him. He’d touched him, Da had handed him right to the guy. The guy that had…

I turned so I was faced away from them holding him tightly, “We’re ok. We’re going to be ok.”

“Da?” Matt asked climbing out of the car as Arthur pulled Seamus’ car seat out of the back seat of the van.

“Hey, it’s ok. Mum just needs some rest so I need to get you guys to bed,” he said as Uncle Ben came out of the house.

“He’s going to…” James’ barely managed to whisper.

“No bud it won’t be you,” I told him, “It won’t be you. I won’t let it happen to you ok? He’s not here to see you.”

“Why don’t you let your brothers take him up to bed he looks exhausted,” Lionel said putting his hands on each of my shoulders causing me to freeze up. Him just touching my shoulders making my face feel hot.

I gulped and nodded my head. He was right James didn’t need to be here. He should go upstairs, “Go on bud,” I encouraged him.

“Come on James,” Catty said coming up to him and grabbing his hand leading him away.

Even Catty could sense something was wrong. That something was very wrong as Da grabbed carriers and walked past me. I wanted to say something to Da, to beg him not to let Lionel touch me. To beg Da to tell him to stop but he just ignored me, not even looking at me as he walked past me.

“Do you want to come swimming with me?” Lionel asked me.

“I’m tired,” I barely whispered.

“Come on. I bet you’ve never swam at night before. It can be fun,” he told me.

I was really beyond tired though. I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to go swimming with him. I didn’t want to be near him. I didn’t want…I didn’t want any of it.

“It’ll be fun,” he said again guiding me through the house by my shoulders and into the formal living room where he opened up the sliding glass doors that lead to the indoor pool room. It looked nice in the darkness he was right. Like it might be fun if I was with someone I wanted to actually spend time with. He hit a button on the wall turning on the overhead lights and flipping the electronic blinds that shuddered the windows so no one could see in before he pulled his sweater over his head and put it on a longue chair.

So, he wanted to swim with me, like that? Naked. Because I knew he didn’t have swim suit. He couldn’t and sure enough he excitedly stepped out of his pants and underwear looking at me expectantly, “Come on little one. I won’t hurt you. We’ll just swim that’s all.”

I hugged myself. I wanted to keep my clothes on looking anywhere else but at him, at how naked he was, how wrinkly and old his skin looked. I felt my body shaking. I didn’t want this.

He sighed heavily before he got down gently onto his knees in front of me, “It’s ok really. I promise little one I won’t hurt you. We’re just going to swim.”

His hands went to the button on my Khakis. On my school uniform that I was still wearing pieces of my vest and tie and blazer packed away in one of the duffle bags Hank had with him and John in his car where ever they were. I felt my face go red as he got the button undone.

“God you’re so sweet,” he said barely above a whisper, “It’s ok though. I promise.”

I didn’t want him to undress me but my arms felt almost like they were stuck where they were until he moved them to pull my shirt and under shirt over my head at the same time just like he had pulled my pants and boxers off together until I was naked.
He kissed the spot below my belly button me feeling light headed before he got up slowly and grabbed me by the hand leading me into the pool.

I remember thinking about how warm the water was. How it was probably heated and I had never thought about it before. He looked at me.

“Are you ok little one?” he asked me.

I nodded my head. He wasn’t touching me, he was literally just looking at me but we were both in the water me up to my waist so I didn’t feel like I was standing there exposed. I didn’t exactly feel safe but, I no longer felt exposed.

“Can you tell me what happened? Why you left?” he asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“Do you think you have a guess? You are a rather intelligent young man. I’m sure you can come up with an idea,” he told me as he swam out farther away from me so that he was treading water.

“My mum wanted to get us away,” I told him.

“Why is that? Did you tell her about us? Because I thought this was…this was special to you. Like it is to me,” he told me.

“I didn’t say anything,” I told him feeling unsure of myself.

I knew I hadn’t said anything because Dr. Palmer had told me not to say anything because he would hurt my mum if I did. That I would be in trouble and he might kill her if I said anything about it.

“Ok,” he said swimming closer to me, “Come here.”

I took a step or two back. I didn’t want to come to him. I didn’t have any clothes on. He swam to me and grabbed me by the arms starting to pull me rather forcefully towards the deeper end of the pool.

I wanted to tell him to stop but he was like Da. You didn’t tell him what to do. I was smart enough to know that. To read it in his face and remember the warning he had given me at my branding. That no wasn’t a word I was allowed to use. He used to water to help him lift me, hold me. His hands going to my lower back before they slid lower cupping my butt cheeks making my eyes go wide making me want to push him away.

“It’s ok little one. We’re just swimming,” he insisted his hands starting to rub my butt in slow circles.

My brain wanted me to scream and I found I couldn’t. I found I couldn’t even speak. Him pressing me tighter against him his nose brushing against mine. I could smell his breath on my face, As I tried not to look at him.

“little one?” he asked me barely above a whisper pulling my gaze to him. He had been talking and I hadn’t heard a word, “There you are,” he smiled at me, “I asked you a question you remember what it was?”

I shook my head in response. No, I had no idea what he had asked me but he didn’t ask it again instead kissing my cheek making me cringe his light pecks moving closer and closer to my mouth as I tried to avoid his lips. To keep them from meeting mine before one of his hands left my bottom and went to the back of my neck forcing my head to be still as he finally managed to land a peck on my lips before he tried to force his tongue into my mouth. He squeezed the back of my neck forcefully when I wouldn’t open my mouth to let him in. When I refused to do what he wanted he squeezed. It hurt me enough I started trying to pull away.

“STOP!” he yelled loudly. The yell scaring me as it echoed around the room, “You do what I say when I say it. You understand that?”

I went to go nod my head the skin on the back of my neck being pinched even harder as he shook his head at me before he spoke again, “Use your words. I know you’re a shy boy and I love that about you little one, I really do but I want you to use your words. You understand, yes?”

“Y-y-yes,” I said not looking at him.

Just hearing my own voice, how weak and stupid and helpless it sounded made me blush, not able to look at him anymore. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I wanted his hands off me. I wanted it to be over. I didn’t want to be naked in the pool with him, his body pressed against mine as he told me it was ok because we were “just swimming”.

“Good,” he barely whispered, “now let’s try again ok?”

I looked at him. I wanted to cry but all I could do was stare at him silently as he tilted his head slightly to left, his lips meeting mine his tongue coaxing my mouth open. I was shivering. Not because I was cold, the water was warm but because I was afraid. I was afraid if I didn’t do it he would hurt me or worse go and make my Da get James. James that Da would gladly hand over to him and he’d make him do this stuff with him. Make James kiss him. He swam us over to the side of the pool and lifted me out over the edge as he swam to the ladder at the deep end and climbed out. He held out his hand giving me this look that told me he didn’t want to waste time. That I had better accept him helping me up or else.

I took it allowing him to help me to my feet and then he grabbed both of our clothes, “Come on little one,” he said hitting the button to open the blinds and turn off the light as he opened the door with his free hand.

Everyone else was gone. I had no idea where they were or what they were doing but they were probably upstairs in bed. I felt tired. I wanted to go to bed and he must have read my mind because he gestured for me to go upstairs and so I did. He got on the lift and I thought he was going to take me all the way upstairs but the lift stopped at the 3rd floor. This was…this wasn’t good.

“We’re just going to relax little one, that’s all,” he told me.

I knew that’s not what was happening. That we weren’t just relaxing as he walked me to one of the smaller guest suites and opened the door. The bed was covered in rose petals making me frown at him as he came into the room shutting the door behind him as he dropped our clothes on the ground in a pile by the door and locked it. Yeah this was bad.

“You have something to ask?” he questioned looking at me.

“I…,” my whole body was shaking I was so nervous. So, scared. I wanted to know what he was doing. It seemed like he lied about everything. Every move he made he lied about it. Almost like he was lying to keep me calm, to just make me do what he wanted me to even though I had to do it anyway. So why lie about it?

“Oh, are you cold?” he asked me his eyes going wide in realization that we were both wet. That it was probably cold and I probably wanted clothes or something. He moved quickly scooping the flower petals off the bed and into a little bowl and turning over the bed clothes, “Come on, get under the covers little one. I’m sorry. I forget sometimes that you guys can get cold easy. It’s ok, come on.”

I sighed climbing into the bed, doing as I was told. I didn’t want to see him really mad. He seemed like Uncle Ben that way. Slightly mad was a little abusive, a pinch or a slap but really mad was…was worse.

“There we go,” he said tucking me in, “Better?”

“I thought you were taking me to the zoo tomorrow?” I asked him.

“Oh, I am,” he said nodding his head as he stepped around the bed grabbing something from the night stand before I could see what it was and turning off the light, “We’ll still go. I just wanted to check on you. I’m sure you can understand that. I want to make sure you’re being taken care of. You’re very important to me little one. You understand that, don’t you?”

“Aye,” I said barely above a whisper as he settled into the bed next to me.

I was very aware we were both still naked even though I couldn’t really see yet, my eyes not adjusted to the dark. I felt his hand on my thigh and it took everything in me not to move away, not to get up and scramble out of bed.

“There’s my good boy,” he said his hand wrapping around my leg and pulling me closer to him forcing me to lay down flat next to him as my eyes started adjusting to the darkness.

I felt that coldness creep up from my feet into my legs making my whole body feel like stone. Making it hard to move, hard to think. This was where his mouth went on me. I knew that was next and I closed my eyes waiting to feel him. Instead his weight shifted some more and I felt the blanket lift.

He smiled at me, “I don’t want you to get cold,” he said scooting so that his body was below the covers throwing them over his head. He started kissing my chest his tongue gliding over my nipples.

I closed my eyes hoping he would just stop. That he would stop rubbing my hips and legs as he kissed and licked and sucked on my chest making my whole-body shiver and shudder. Making it hard to breathe as his lips started trailing lower. His tongue dipped into my belly button causing me to jolt and I heard him chuckle lightly, felt his laugh against my skin.

“A sensitive spot huh?” he asked me pulling the covers off his head for a minute, “Ticklish there?”

I didn’t know what to say. It had tickled. I would be lying if I said no but I didn’t want to admit it to him. I didn’t want him touching me like that. I didn’t want his mouth on me.

“Little one, come back to me,” he whispered quietly grabbing my attention, “I asked if it tickled.”

I felt my face heating up as I brought my shoulders up to my neck. He wanted me to use my words. He wanted me to speak and I couldn’t. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t lie so I couldn’t say anything.

“It’s ok little one,” he muttered, “Tell me how you feel. Let me know what I feel like,” he said his hand sliding down my brand to my crotch in-between my legs.

I wasn’t ready for that me letting out a tiny gasp as I felt him grab me, start touching me, “Does it feel good? It’s ok if it feels good. You have such a sweet ripe piece of fruit between your legs,” he told me playing with me, feeling me.

I inhaled through my nose and exhaled through my mouth trying to keep myself from panting. Trying to keep myself calm and finding it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to stop my body from trembling, to stop the tears from forming in my eyes as I stared up at the ceiling.

“It’s ok that it feels good little one. I want to make you feel good,” he muttered the words directly into my belly button his hand moving back down my legs as his head got close to that part of me again the covers no longer over top of him, no longer on me.

I wanted him to stop. I wanted to scream at him to stop and I knew that doing so would just get me hurt or worse someone else. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to respond.

“Why don’t you tell me how you feel little one?” he asked me, “I just want to know how you feel. That you feel good.”

He kissed my pelvis right above my shaft an involuntary squeak escaping.

“Do you want me to? Do you want me to suck that sweet succulent juice from you? I bet it tastes good,” he said before he put his mouth around me.

“Ah,” escaped before I slapped my hand over my mouth. I hadn’t been ready for it. For him to just do it like that.

He stopped, taking his mouth off me and then grabbing my hand moving it away from my mouth, “I like noises little one. You don’t have to hide them. I want to hear it. I want to know I’m making you feel good,” he said before his mouth went back around me.

I felt beyond frozen. Every time his tongue rolled or something my whole body jumping as it felt like I was getting a shock to some of my most sensitive parts. I tried to be quiet. Without being allowed to cover my mouth though and my teeth chattering every time I managed to shut it I kept squeaking and whimpering.

“Such a ripe little fruit,” he muttered after a while putting his hands under my legs and lifting them up him not even giving me warning before he stuck his tongue in me. He wouldn’t stop. His tongue going there and then sliding back up my crack his mouth going other places. Now that was somewhere no one had ever really been before. Him putting my whole sack in his mouth. Before he wrapped his lips back around me. He shoved his fingers in me. The pressure too much causing me to whimper and wiggle. I don’t know how he could tell but he started sucking harder if that was at all possible until I felt that weird need to push my whole body tensing before I ejaculated into his mouth. He moaned happily as he swallowed it.

“My good boy huh? My good little one. I bet you enjoyed that. That it made you tingle in all the right places,” he muttered as he started kissing up my chest climbing on top of me.

My body was too weak to move, too weak to fight as he climbed on top of me, lining up and pressing into me. Raping me as he moaned into my skin.

“You feel amazing. Such a sweet beautiful boy. Just like satin. You feel so good little one, so sweet. Everything about you just right and perfect. Such a sweet little one. My good boy, my good little boy,” he moaned into my neck over and over me only barely managing a gasp as he started hitting against my prostate. Him grunting loudly into my ear as he grabbed me holding me as closely as he could.

He did until he was done, his whole-body shuddering before he went slack pulling out and rolling off me. I felt sticky, gross. Dr. Palmer had been right. He had done it the same way Da did. Without a condom. The idea causing my body to shiver as I tried to roll out of bed him grabbing me by the hips.

“Please,” I begged him finally finding my voice for the first time since he had taken me into that bedroom.

I just wanted him to stop, to be finished. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to go upstairs. To shower and cry and scream. I wanted him away from me.

“It’s ok little one,” he said, “We’re going to go to sleep now.”

“Please,” I begged him again begging him to let me go, to just let me leave.

“Shhh…it’s all right. I’m right here,” he muttered into my back before he spooned up against me holding me there, falling asleep with his arms around me.

I don’t remember falling asleep, more staring at the wall trying to be as still as possible. Wishing he would just let me go so that I could get up and shower. Because I didn’t want to be there anymore. I didn’t have to have to feel him against my skin. I figured when he woke up he’d want something else and that wasn’t something I was ok with. I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Of knowing I was crying.

So, I laid there trying to stay calm even though my whole body felt like it was shaking. Every cell in my body fighting me. Me trying not to squirm and wiggle away from him. We were supposed to go to the zoo but, I couldn’t sleep. Not at all.
Around the time the sun started coming up I heard Da use the com, not being able to hear what he was saying into it through the door but hearing it before the lift turned on. When it stopped there was muffled thump against the wall. I could hear muffled voices, one of them higher pitched and I knew it was John, that he was home.

After a while it quieted down. At least for 10 minutes or so before I heard muffled moaning through the wall. I could tell that wasn’t Da but that it was Da doing something to him, raping him. I closed my eyes trying to block out the sound. Trying not to focus on it even though it was silent besides John’s moaning that started growing louder. Lionel shifted making me freeze. No, he wasn’t waking up. He couldn’t be waking up. Please god no.

He sighed rolling over in his sleep making me relax for the first time in hours even though I still wanted to cry, not just for me but for my brother. After some point the sounds changed and started to sound like muffled crying and protest. Like his body was done and Da was still going. Like he wanted to beg Da to stop and he wouldn’t.

“LET ME GO!” I heard screamed clearly through the wall Lionel sitting up rapidly blinking before he looked around the room his eyes finding me as he smiled.

“I almost forgot where I was,” he told me, “Are you ok little one?”

No, no I wasn’t ok. He was awake now. He was awake looking at me as my brother continued to scream Da’s voice getting louder too as he talked to him trying to calm him down.

“That’s my brother,” I said saying the first thing that came to mind.

“You want to go check on him?” Lionel asked me to which I nodded my head, “Ok, you can go. Just come back to be when you’re done ok? Then we’ll get a little more sleep before we head off to the zoo.”

“Thank you,” I said.

I don’t even know why I said it. Probably because I knew he was giving me permission. It felt like he was doing me a favor because if he had told me to stay put I knew I wouldn’t have any choice but to do what he said. It wasn’t like I could fight him. I knew he was in his late 50’s at the oldest and he was old and gray but he was still stronger than I was. He wasn’t weak or feeble by any means. He could have easily pinned me down and forced me to stay with him like he had been doing all night.

I turned and left the room quickly shutting the door behind me grabbing my pants and putting them on so that I wasn’t naked when I opened the door to the room. I tried knocking before I went in but, there was no answer John’s crying and screaming probably covering the sound.

“John?” I asked quietly when I opened the door.

Da was in bed with him holding him tightly John’s arms crossed over the front of his chest with Da’s arms wrapped around his own. Like he was trying to fight Da or had been. He looked beyond upset. The fact that Da was touching him making it worse. Making him want to struggle harder but him knowing better, knowing Da was already angry. Knowing he was pushing his luck as it was and lucky Da didn’t want to hurt him.

“Will, go back upstairs,” Da told me.

Like I had been upstairs at all. The look he gave me though told me that he had known I was down there. Him daring me with his eyes to say otherwise, a warning. A warning not to say anything to John. That if I did and something happened it would be my fault. That I would be responsible for it.

“Da, what are you doing? I heard him screaming upstairs,” I asked Da calmly doing what his eyes told me to do. To lie, to not let John know anything. To not let him know Lionel was there.

“I’m waiting to see if he still wants to kill himself when he’s finished throwing his fit,” Da said resting his head against the back of John’s and sighing deeply, breathing him in.

Just seeing it, seeing him touch him but not be sexual was weird. It was a romantic gesture. One that John should be sharing with Pat not, one Da should be doing to him. It made me feel sick seeing it, him holding John in bed like that while he cried and screamed. Da’s hands on him making it worse. Making everything worse for him.

I sighed thinking of my words carefully, hoping they wouldn’t make Da mad, “Well Da, he’s no longer screaming and sobbing so I’d say he’s done. By the blank look on his face I’d say you’ve broken him,” I said trying to keep my voice from sounding angry.
“You really think he won’t move once I let him go?” Da asked me raising a questioning eye brow at me.

“Try it,” I said nodding my head, “Go on. I promise you if he does move it won’t be a lot.”

I held my breath, hoping I was right. That John was smart enough he was paying attention even if he felt numb and far away. That he wouldn’t move. That way Da would let him go. He needed to be let go and we both knew it. Just like I had needed Lionel to let me go. The only thing worse then what they did was when they held you after they were done. Made you lay with them.

Da shifted a little bit letting him go before Da sighed, “I know what will get him back,” he said his hand moving under the blanket like he was going to touch John there, put his hand in-between John’s legs.

“Da I really think that’s something you should avoid unless you want the screaming to start again. Uncle Ben has done it to me enough times I know what’s going to happen here. What you need to do is leave him alone for a little bit,” I told Da trying very carefully not to use the words don’t, shouldn’t or anything that implied he should not do something that would make him angry.

Da sighed his hand resting at his side before he got up, “All right. I’ll come check on him later,” he said finally getting up and starting to grab his clothes, “Are you going to sit here and watch him to make sure he doesn’t jump off the balcony when he comes to?” he asked me.

“Does that mean you are going to leave him alone for a while?”

“If you aren’t going to watch him I’ll take him downstairs and chain him up. You want that for him? You think he can deal with that?” Da said his eyes going cold.

No. No he couldn’t deal with that. I knew he couldn’t. I was just worried about what that would mean for me. I cleared my throat before I walked close to Da John’s face still blank, his eyes staring at nothing like he had given up the fight, like he had checked out.

“What about…?” I stared to ask before I felt my face turning red.

I felt embarrassed to admit he was still there. Thinking about how he was waiting for me to come back. To go back in there to him. I didn’t want to think about how I was his. How John had to do those things with Da and I had to do those things with him.
“Don’t worry about it,” Da said quietly before he cleared his throat.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “You win this time.”

Really, I was thankful. I was beyond thankful that I didn’t have to go back into that room with him. Hopefully he would go to sleep and when he woke up he would just decide he didn’t want to be around anymore and leave. I knew I probably wouldn’t be that lucky but, I could hope.

“Son,” Da said smiling at my words because apparently they were funny, “I win every time. Ask your brother when he comes to. I’ll be back in a little bit.”

He left us there. I stood there for a minute waiting for John to move or say something and he didn’t. He stayed staring off at nothing. I was afraid he was really broken. He seemed broken. As broken as I felt. I sighed and sat at the end of the bed in front of him where he could see me, “Well, this is a shit show.”

His eyes shifted to me but otherwise he didn’t say anything, didn’t move. I didn’t know what else to say so I started thinking of things I would say if I had seen anyone else since I couldn’t tell him the truth saying something about Mike and James helping me out with the babies while Cat asked about him. Something else about how we could hear him screaming upstairs to try and explain away why I was down there to begin with.

“Don’t tell me I don’t know what it feels like. I know what it feels like every time Uncle Ben locks me in that fucking room so don’t even start,” I said before I went silent again.

He still didn’t say anything. For a minute, I thought maybe he might be mad at me “Sorry,” I said quietly trying to hold back tears. I couldn’t stand the thought of him being mad at me. Not after Lionel. Not when I needed him so badly to understand and I had just said something so mean, “That probably wasn’t the right thing to say. I know there’s a lot going on right now and that you have your own problems you’re dealing with. I’m just so tired John. All the time and I’m so angry that we’re back here. I think everyone is. This isn’t fair, especially to you. I’m sorry. I need you. Don’t shut down like mum does please,” I begged him before I scooted up the bed so that I was sitting where Da had been only above the covers.

I closed my eyes staring to cry. I needed my brother. I needed him to hug me and tell me it was ok. That even if I couldn’t tell him the truth. I needed him to tell me that I was ok. That things would be all right.

“I want it to be done,” he said barely whispering the words. His didn’t really move as he said it. Almost like he didn’t speak at all, his face still blank, his body still limp.

“I know,” I agreed quietly, “Me too.”

“I don’t think you guys could make it without me though,” he said before he turned his head to look at me the first real sign that he wasn’t completely broken. That he hadn’t completely given up.

“We couldn’t but not because of what you think,” I said to him. His hand slowly reached for me and I took it squeezing it lightly in my fingers. Feeling grateful that he cared enough to see I was in pain. To see that I needed him, someone who wasn’t going to do those things with me.

“What do you think I mean?” he asked me.

“Because Da usually goes after you instead of someone else. That’s not why we need you. We need you because of everything you do to take care of us, not that,” I told him, “You do everything you can to distract everyone else from what’s going on. I mean you play Barbie’s and trucks when there are so many other things you could do to keep yourself happy and occupied when they aren’t with you and yet you spend that time either sleeping or doing things for us.”

“I don’t think I have enough in me to do anything anymore,” he said his eyes looking lost, sad. He looked like he wanted to cry again but he wasn’t sure he could.

“The fact that you’re still here tells me you’re a lot stronger than you think you are,” I told him.

“You know it’s that bad?” he asked me.

Of course, I did. How could I not? He had no idea. He didn’t know and I wasn’t allowed to tell him any of it. I couldn’t keep him safe. I couldn’t keep me safe, or anyone else. Of course, I knew it was bad.

“Yeah,” I whispered, “I know it’s that bad and I feel so pissed I can’t do anything to get them to leave you alone.”

“That’s not your job though,” he said moving looking at our hands, the hands that were holding each other because he couldn’t do more than that. Because he couldn’t stand the thought of someone that close to him. Hugging him or touching him in any other way than just holding his hand gently.

“No. That makes it worse though because they aren’t supposed to be doing it in the first place and yet, here we are,” I muttered looking down at our hands too.

I remembered something looking at our hands. My hand being smaller, and him holding it as I cried as he told me it would be ok that mum would be home soon. That Da would quit yelling and Ben would go away. That we didn’t have to hide forever just long enough. Just long enough for mum to get home before he kissed my forehead and left me there in that darkness. Inside the closet. Before Da stopped yelling. Before…

“I’m just tired. That’s all.”

“You’re beyond tired John, don’t lie. I know that look. I see it on mum’s face every other day. I feel it stretched across my own face when I try to smile,” I admitted to him.

“He said I wouldn’t have to be with anyone else for a while. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse,” he told me after a couple of minutes.

Just him? Did that mean there were more people than just Hank and the guy he had told me about? The guy at the restaurant? How many other people were there?

“How many people has been passing you to?” I asked him.

He shrugged his shoulder sadly. He didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t blame him. I didn’t want to talk about it either. Not about Lionel or Barry. Not about anyone. Not even about how he had almost offered me to father Barney but, I knew he needed to know he wasn’t alone.

“There’s a teacher at school,” I said after thinking about it, how much of a truth I should tell him versus’ lies. Lies to keep things from him. So that he didn’t have to know about Lionel. So, he didn’t have to know about Barry. That it was the headmaster. That he was the one who …that he was the first one besides Da or uncle Ben, “He called Da and got permission to spend time with me. At least I have an A in math, right?”

He sighed heavily, “Hank mostly.”

“Ouch,” I said because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I didn’t know if there was anything else to say, “Why can’t our lives be normal?” I asked him.

“Because our Da is a nasty person who gets off on hurting people,” John muttered.

Did Da hit him? Da looked like he could hit me sometimes. Sometimes I even felt like he wanted to. When I did something to make him really mad. But had he ever really hit him? Was he like Uncle Ben?

“Does he really hurt you? Like, I know Uncle Ben throws punches, I know that really well trust me but, does Da?” I asked him.

“No,” he said quietly, “He hurts differently. You know what I mean.”

“So, it’s always like that?” I asked.

Him always muttering dirty things into your skin. Always making you feel gross. Telling you that you wanted it. Asking you if you wanted it. Telling you that you felt good. Calling you names.

“Like what?” he asked me frowning.

“You know,” I said not wanting to mention it.

Not wanting to mention the name calling and the swearing and the things he said that made you feel gross. That made you wonder if it was your fault, if you had done something to make him want to do it with you.

“Don’t play game right now Will. Just ask whatever it is you’re asking please. My brain is too tired to process any between the lines shit,” he muttered pinching the bridge of his nose, letting go of my hand.

“The stuff he says. The way he makes it…feel almost like you might…want it,” the last two words came out in barely a whisper.

I didn’t want to admit that. That Da made it feel that way. Made it feel good. Like John said it did. How his body responded to it. How I didn’t want to admit that mine felt the same way.

“Yes,” he answered after a minute or two of silence before we both fell silent again.

I didn’t want him to make me feel that way. I didn’t want anyone to make me feel that way. Not the way Da did or Lionel. Not the way any of them did.

“Oh,” I said quietly not sure what else to say, “You said he comes to you every night?”

I didn’t think it was every night. Every night would be too much for me. Every night would drive me crazy. I looked at him and he was crying. Tears streaming down his face as he nodded his head.

No. I remember thinking that. That it couldn’t true that Da would do that to him, make him do that. That wasn’t fair. It wasn’t ok.

“I’m sorry. That really sucks,” I said quietly because I wasn’t sure what else to say.

“I hate him so much but, I hate myself so much more,” he said his voice sounding thick with tears.

“You shouldn’t hate yourself because there are so many people who care about you. Because you are a great person and you care about so many people even though your life really sucks. You try so hard to make sure everyone else is ok all the time and that should be something that makes you proud of yourself, that makes you feel confident. You shouldn’t hate yourself,” I said taking his hand in mine again.

“I can’t even look at myself in the mirror you know? All I see is what they see. Something that’s not quiet human. Not a guy but not a girl, not really an adult but not quite as soft as a kid. Someone who isn’t tall enough or short enough, someone with just the right amount of hair to make them happy so I don’t have to shave. Everything about me and this body is wrong and yet they like it,” he said his voice sounding thick.

So, he wasn’t comfortable in his own skin because of them. I could relate to that. I had started wishing lately that I was older already. My body stronger, bigger, taller. Because then he wouldn’t want me anymore. Everyone said that. That he liked younger kids. Usually younger than even I was. So, if I just got bigger he wouldn’t want me anymore.

“You’ll grow. Your body will change and then maybe most of them will leave you alone. You don’t know,” I said to both myself and to him.

“I doubt it,” he answered, “Da said once he can’t wait to see what I look like when I harden up. Like I’m some type of fucking food that needs to age to get better. Like I said I’m not really human. Especially not to them. So, why on earth am I still here?”

“Because you know there are people who need you,” I told him, “You know I can’t do this without you. That they can’t do this without you and as much as it hurts you to be here, you know this is where you belong. Where you need to be. Where we need to be.”

Watching him cry made me start crying. I didn’t want him to cry. I knew it was hard for him, that he was hurting and he felt desperate but so did I. It wasn’t easy. None of it was easy.

“It’s not fair that he can’t leave me alone,” John said.

“I know. If I could get him to stop even for a little bit I would, I swear to you I would,” I told him, “I am so sorry he’s such an asshole to you even more than he is to anyone else.”

He hugged me. Probably seeing my own tears. It was the best hug I’d had in a while. Just having my brother hug me and have it not be anything sexual or gross. Just to have someone hold me because they loved me and they cared that I was sad and stressed. It felt good to know someone loved me for just being me. Because he was my brother and he cared. Because he wanted me to feel better and to comfort him too his hand stroking my back like mum often did when I cried into her arms. He held me until we both calmed down, both quit crying before he pulled away causing me to sit up too as he put his feet over the edge of the bed.

“You’re not going to do it, are you?” I asked him gesturing with my head towards the balcony.

I didn’t want him to jump. I needed him. I wanted him to feel better but, I didn’t want him to kill himself.

“No,” he sighed smiling sadly at me, “I don’t think I have the energy to anyway. Like you said I know deep down this is where I need to be. Even if it’s hell. I just need to shower.”

I nodded my head in response. I could understand that. I still felt like I needed a shower. I could still feel him all over me. Dry and crusty making my skin itch but I knew I had to wait a little longer. To make sure John was safe.

“Ok,” I told him, “I’ll be here when you get out and then we can go upstairs.”

“Why?” John asked me frowning, “He’ll get to me anyway might as well stay down here where there’s a bigger bed so I don’t have to feel him so close to my skin. Even when he’s not touching me later.” He told me shrugging his shoulders as he stood up walking towards the bathroom.

“Don’t you feel them?” I asked him suddenly remembering something he had told me before. That he always felt them for a while after they were done, after they had stopped touching him, “For like hours after? You know after one them…” I trailed off my chest feeling tight as my face burned with shame just talking about it.

“Sometimes all day until a couple of hours before it happens again. Probably another reason I can’t stand to look at myself,” he admitted to me.

“Does anything make it go away?” I asked him.

He smiled lightly thinking about it before he answered, “Pat. When he touches me it feels like he’s melting them away. Almost like he’s the sun melting ice.”

I almost snorted sorry I had asked. He had it bad. For Pat. Like he really liked him. Just like Pat had told me the same thing, that he really cared about John. I didn’t imagine it ending well for them but I was glad they were happy. But did that mean they were having sex without Da there. Outside of what Da was making them do? That was dangerous. That was super dangerous.

“Touches you?” I asked about to tell him what a bad idea that was. How that had gotten Cole in trouble, how that’s why he had lost Justin.

He blushed his eyes going wide as he understood what I was asking, “It’s not like that. We haven’t really done any of that. Just when he touches my skin was all I meant.”

I sat there for a minute thinking it over. John had never seemed interested in guys while we were at boarding school. There were plenty of guys that were 11 or older that fooled around with each other because of the simple fact there were no girls around and it could be fun. It could feel better and seem more exciting than masturbating alone so they would do it to each other instead. I thought it was weird and always wondered if they did other things.

If they kissed and held each other like someone would a girl. If it felt good. John didn’t seem the type to wonder that. Weekends at home he was always away at the neighbor’s house. They had a daughter his age and a son and he would hang out with them. Spend hours over there talking to the girl and hanging out with just her sometimes. So, did that mean my brother was…gay? I knew what gay was. Obviously, I really understood the concept but did that mean John was gay because he liked Pat like that. Did he think about boys the way I did?

“Are you gay?” I asked him feeling embarrassed that I was even questioning it, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay. Especially being stuck in what we’re stuck in. I won’t tell mum because mum is totally against it.” I added quickly trying to explain myself.

“I think it’s just him,” he told me running a hand through his hair as he sat back down on the bed next to me pulling the blanket back over his lap.

He had been naked standing there talking to me and I had basically been ignoring that fact. I mean he was my brother and I’d seen him naked about a million times in my life. I hadn’t been checking him out but I could understand why he didn’t want to stand there naked next to me. I mean I felt pretty naked too being only in my underwear but I wasn’t about to get under the covers with him because of obvious reasons. One being Da’s germs all over the sheets.

“It’s something about him. I don’t picture myself with any other guy willingly,” he told me, “Why are you gay?”

I felt my face glowing red as I thought about it. I had to be right? The fact that I wondered what it felt like to hold Cole’s hand. That sometimes I saw guys and I wondered what it might be like to talk to them, the thought making me nervous. That I wondered what they smelt like, what they’re lips would feel like against mine. What it would be like to be their friend and actually talk to them. However, whenever I had those thoughts I felt myself stopping them. Stopping myself from wondering about it because it would never happen. I was just a kid. I wasn’t old enough. They wouldn’t have any interest in me and if they did that might not be a good thing. They might be like Da and Lionel and want to do things I didn’t want to do. Or maybe I’d find I didn’t like them at all but they would make me kiss them anyway or worse.

It was confusing, scary. Knowing that they were all over the place. That anyone could be in the brotherhood and if I tried to make friends with the wrong person they would hurt me. They would probably really hurt me like Da hurt me and Lionel and all of them. I didn’t want that. If that’s what sex was like I didn’t want it.

“I don’t know,” I answered his question quietly, “Maybe. I haven’t really been with anyone to really tell but I know that kissing girls doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem like it would make me feel like the movies show it should.”

“You’re almost 11,” John said smiling at me like he was amused, “So, I don’t think any kiss is going to feel the way the movies make it seem. Are there any guys you think are super cute?” he asked me.

Cole. That was the first person I thought of. The way his hair shone like gold whenever the sunlight caught it the right way. Like on that first day I met him. The way when he found something amusing his eyes squinted a little bit. The way he laughed and could laugh so hard he sometimes fell over. That’s what John met by cute I thought. Not just physically attractive but, everything about them. The way they moved and acted. The way being with them or thinking of being with them made you want to smile.

“How do I know if I think someone is cute?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said sighing, “The first time I saw Pat my heart felt like it was kind of dancing and my stomach got all light and fluttery. You know, like butterflies or something. Ever felt that way when you saw someone?” he asked me.

Yes. Especially when he seemed happy. When he didn’t I remember wanting to hug him and tell him it was ok. That things weren’t as bad as they seemed even though we all knew they were. When he laughed it did feel like my heart was dancing like his joy was contagious even if things were only that funny because he was high.

“There’s been a couple yeah. Mostly guys but maybe a girl or two,” I lied trying to keep him from questioning it too hard. Trying to keep him from worrying about it because I was afraid that he would think that I…that I wanted Da to or Lionel to do those things to me. That because I liked guys I was ok with it. That didn’t make it ok to me. Me thinking someone was attractive didn’t make it ok to me that they wanted to do those things. I was 10 my brain wasn’t ready for that.

Sex. I understood what the difference was but, it seemed weird. Thinking of kissing someone with your clothes off because you wanted to. Because you wanted them to touch you like that. Because you trusted them. I couldn’t imagine ever trusting anyone like that. Because what did you do if suddenly they did something you didn’t like? What did you do if they did something that hurt? I had been taught you don’t say no. That when you’re like that you just do what you’re told and I couldn’t imagine being anything but scared in that situation. Scared that they were going to hurt you. That fear made it hard for me to picture it happening to me even though adults had sex like that all the time and I was aware that was a thing people did.

“I can’t imagine kissing the girls though but, sometimes I dream about one of the guys specifically,” I told him.

I had. I had dreams of us running through fields holding hands his laughter filling my head making me feel light. Like things were ok as he looked at me. Sometimes talking about nothing one time talking about swords and how he wished we could be on the open sea together before dream Cole had leaned in pressing his lips to mine in a small peck. It had been a nice dream the sexual feelings and action behind it only going that far because that was as far as my brain could picture it happening without it being scary or hurting. It was a good dream though.

It had made me happy and made me wish that life could really be like that. Hand holding and normal kisses instead of dark rooms and grunting, sweating. I didn’t like it when they pressed their bodies against me and said those things. It scared me beyond anything I can explain no matter how much I heard I wanted it or it was ok, that I should just let it happen. That I should just let them make me feel good.

“Maybe you are then or maybe he’s what Pat is to me and he’s just like that one guy you can see yourself with. I guess you just need to chill and watch. Most kids your age aren’t super into the opposite sex to begin with so maybe you’re just not there yet?” he asked me.

He could be right. Girls could just be confusing to me because I didn’t get to be around a lot of them my own age. They seemed so strange though. I felt like I didn’t know the first thing about them other than they talked about each other a lot when someone wasn’t there. There were plenty of guys at school that had older sisters and they constantly shared gossip they heard about the girls from St. Bernie’s through their sisters. It just all seemed so weird to me though. Dance classes and gymnastics and getting their nails done. Some of them still played with Barbie’s and did they’re make up only to be forced by the sisters at the school to wipe it off their faces when they got there. The whole thing seemed strange.

“Maybe,” I agreed, “If I was gay do you think that’s a bad thing?” I asked him.

Did he think it meant I was ok with them? With them touching me like that? Would he stop worrying about me because of it. Stop telling me I was ok when I needed to hear it and instead do what Matt did. Imply that I wanted it. That I wanted them to touch me and make me feel like that, sticky and gross and have their mouths on me. I held my breath waiting for his answer. I didn’t think I could stand it if that’s what John thought. If that’s what anyone thought.

“No,” he answered with no hesitation, “I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as you aren’t into guys a lot younger then you are I think you’re ok.”

I looked closely at his face trying to fine the lie there or the disgust at the thought that I might want other boys to kiss me, to hold my hand and I didn’t see any. Not even a hint. He looked at me the same way he always looked at me when we had serious conversations like he was thinking about what I was saying and being as honest as he possibly could. Like he was paying attention and like what I said mattered to him. Like someone who wanted me to feel safe telling them things. Anything I wanted. Like the older brother who used to tell me he would be right back before he shut the closet door in my face leaving me covered in darkness in order to protect me. He was looking at me like the only thing that mattered was that I was me and that was enough for him. That nothing else mattered as long as I was safe and ok.

I took a deep breath thinking about if I should say anything. If I should let him know about how I felt about Cole. Cole had already guessed and said that it was ok but, would John think it was weird that I had a crush on one of his friends? Would he tell me it was wrong once it wasn’t hypothetical but real? I tested the waters before I took the plunge testing his reaction, choosing my words carefully.

“Well, the guy I might be into is older so…” I shrugged my shoulders.

John gave a half smile like he was amused. Like he didn’t know what to think but that he thought it was sweet. That he was almost proud of me for some reason, “Do I know this older guy?” he asked me.

I could feel how warm my face was. Just thinking about admitting to it. Admitting it out loud to myself really for the first time. That maybe I was gay and maybe I wanted to know what Cole’s hand felt like to someone else that wasn’t me or Cole. But to someone that mattered. Someone that loved me and cared about me and might change their mind about those things once they found out but, I decided if anyone understood it would be him. He did have Pat after all and he had admitted that they had at least held hands and maybe even hugged so I decided to be honest. His smile lighting up his eyes like he was amused and excited for me.

“Do I have to tell you who?” I asked him.

“No,” he shook his head vigorously, “I won’t make you tell me but, I am very curious now,” he said his smile growing bigger like he was being let in on the best secret in the world. His smile solidifying my resolve to admit it.

I sighed breathing into my hands before I pulled them back feeling the heat still in my face, the nervousness still there even though I trusted that he wouldn’t be mad at me or hate me for it but more because it felt weird to admit it. To admit I liked a boy and I hoped he liked me back, “It’s Cole.”

He let out a laugh looking at me. I wasn’t sure if he laughed because he was relieved or because he thought it was cute or what but it was a short laugh, a happy one, “Well, if you were going to see if you were gay he’d be the guy to find out with because he’s very gay. I’m not going to tell anyone though, I swear.” He vowed to me clapping me on the shoulder lightly and smiling while he nodded his head.

He seemed genuinely excited for me. Excited that I had found someone I liked that I could imagine spending my time with. Excited that I felt like I wanted to be something more than friends with someone. It made me feel better. Less scared about what other people might think of it. At least other people that weren’t mum. Because I knew mum wouldn’t be happy about it. That being gay was a sin and that I was probably already committing enough sins in her eyes and I didn’t need any more big ones under my belt. After all incest was a sin, sex before marriage was a sin. I knew I had those two checked and those were pretty big ones so I didn’t imagine her being happy with me maybe being gay let alone actually liking a boy and thinking about doing those things with another boy, kissing and holding hands, cuddling with one.

“You swear for real?” I asked him to make sure he wouldn’t. Because I felt like if he told mum I would lose her love. That she would blame me for some things that were happening to me.

“Yes!” he insisted, “I swear for real. If I tell anyone god can strike me dead,” he told me offering me a pinky swear which I accepted with a muttered thanks.

“No problem,” he smiled at me, “He’ll have no idea ever unless you tell him.”

He got up and walked to the bathroom shutting the door behind him and I heard the water turn on. So, John didn’t hate me. He didn’t blame me for what was happening to me but then again, he didn’t have any idea what was happening to me. There was a slight knock on the door after a minute making me jump before it opened.

My stomach fell me hugging myself wishing the bed wasn’t dirty so I could hide under the covers so I didn’t have to be naked in front of him. He looked at me smiling lightly as he started walking closer.

“Did you have a good time with your brother little one?” he asked me to which I didn’t know how to respond so I nodded my head, “That’s good. It’s important to spend time with those closest to you. I talked to your Dad and he wants you to take your brother upstairs where he’s safe from…wandering thoughts and then you can get dressed and we’ll leave shortly. Is that ok with you?”

He walked until he was standing in front of me. I instinctively pulled my knees to my chest trying to cover as much of my body was possible from his eyes as he laid a hand on the top of my head. I didn’t want him to touch me but at least this way he wasn’t really touching me. At least not like that. I could tell he wanted to without having to look at him. Tell what his eyes were seeing without having to find confirmation there. He was thinking about last night and the other things he wanted to do to me. More stuff like what had happened the night before.

“We’ll have fun,” he assured me, “Maybe we’ll stop for a late breakfast on the way there? I really enjoyed spending the night with you. What did you think of it?”

He sighed heavily as I stared at my knees my whole body feeling like it was on fire because I was that nervous, that scared. Would he get mean if I said the wrong thing? If I did something he didn’t like. I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything, didn’t look at him letting him rest his hand on the top of my head before he removed it sitting down next to me.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me little one. You’re special. I would never hurt you on purpose. I want you to be honest with me. Tell me what you’re thinking. There is no harm in being honest,” he coaxed me.

I took a deep breath thinking about how to word it. How I would tell my Da the same thing. That I didn’t want to go to the zoo. That I was really tired and just wanted to shower and then sleep on my own. How I hadn’t liked last night and it had been hard to sleep, how I hadn’t really slept at all.

“I’m not sure that going to the zoo is a good idea. I feel really tired,” I told him.

“Well, you can nap in the car on the way there. I’ll turn on the TV and you can just relax. How does that sound little one?” he asked me.

“That sounds ok I guess,” I told him.

“Good. I’ll tell Sergei to make sure he keeps it down so that you can get some more rest on the ride there. It is after all a long ride,” he informed me putting his arm around my shoulders making me tense.

“Who is Sergei?” I asked him quietly trying to distract myself, trying to keep myself calm and make sure I didn’t push him away.

“He works for me. We’re taking the limo. It’s more comfortable for a long drive. It has a VCR and TV system. I’ve already had him grab some videos from the collection I have. Most of them are old classics but it should make it so it’s relaxing but not so interesting you don’t get some extra rest. Did you have trouble sleeping because you were sharing a bed with me?”

I nodded my head being honest. Of course, it was because of that, because he had held me most of the time while he slept pressing his bare body against mine making it feel weird as his fluids dried on my back and other parts of my body that were still making me itch, reminding me I needed a shower.

He leaned in closer to me, his face by my ear before he kissed my cheek and jaw bone making me tense, making me wish he would stop. That he wouldn’t do that. Not with John in the shower in the next room. I didn’t want him to rape me. One of his hands reaching under my legs that I was still hugging to my chest touching the back of my inner thigh starting to rub the skin there slowly making its way in-between my legs I was squeezing closed toward my crotch.

“It’s ok little one,” he muttered into my ear, “Just relax.”

“Please?” I said in barely a whisper my breath getting caught in my throat.

Why did he had to do that? Why did he have to touch me like that? I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand any of it. Why he wanted to touch me there. Why he liked doing it.

He sighed as he stopped kissing the side of my face and neck looking at me closely before he pulled away his hands leaving my body, “You’re right. We’ll have time later. Right now, isn’t the time. Take your brother upstairs where he is safe. If you could wear a pair of shorts. It would be…appreciated.”

I nodded my head before he kissed my forehead walking away and shutting the door behind him. I tried to relax to tell myself that John wouldn’t be out of the shower for a while. That maybe if John took long enough he would just go away, get tired of waiting for me and change his mind. The thought that he might be gone by the time John got out relaxing me, helping me drift off to sleep on the bed as I grabbed the comforter folding it over me like a blanket as I laid across the foot of the bed. Hoping that when I woke up everything would be ok.

Chapter Text

I was woken up by John gently touching my shoulder making me almost jump. Before I sat up, “Are we going upstairs?”

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head, “It seems like it’d be worth it even if he can get to me. Up there at least I know everyone else is around so I don’t feel so alone.

“After he’s done you can come talk with me,” I told him, “Like seriously wake me up and we’ll chill for a while if he lets you go. It’s the least you can let me do since…”

Since he wouldn’t let me help him with Da. Not that I wanted to. Of course, I didn’t want to. No one wanted to deal with Da.

“Ok,” he told me, “I’ll think about it.”

He adjusted his towel making sure it was on tight. We took the lift and got upstairs. Him walking into his room and shutting the door before I turned and walked into mine. I oddly enough didn’t find anyone else in my bed but noticed a note on my bed from Da.

Remember he’s downstairs waiting for you. You’re going to the zoo. Take a shower and get dressed.
Da.

I wanted to scream. So, he was still there. Still expecting me to go with him. It was 7 in the morning and everyone else would be up soon. No one had gone to school because mum was where ever she was and we had all just gotten home really late the night before or early that morning. I didn’t want to go with him. I didn’t want to go to the zoo with him feeling half dead and waiting for him to touch me. To put his hands on me. I climbed into the shower scrubbing myself before I got out, getting dressed and heading back downstairs.

I didn’t see mum or John but Da and Lionel where sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee along with Uncle Ben. They all turned to look at me as I entered the kitchen.

“There he is,” Da said looking at me.

I felt like a deer surrounded by a pack of wolves. The way they were looking at me.

“he looks tired,” Ben muttered into his coffee cup.

“Well we did have a nice time getting reacquainted,” Lionel said, “It kept him up a bit late. He’ll get a chance to nap on the way there.”

“He’s always been good at that. He’s very accommodating in that department,” Uncle Ben said winking at me.

I felt like my face was glowing. They really thought I was whore, didn’t they? That’s all that I was to them. Someone to climb on top of, some hole to stick it in. I wasn’t even a person to them.

“You’re upsetting him Benjamin,” Lionel said, “And since he seems to be ready we’re going to be going now. I do believe Sergei is outside. When we’re done I can come pick up my car right?”

“Of course, Lionel. You know that,” Da said, “I hope you two have a very good time. Don’t be too rough on him.”

“You know I won’t be,” Lionel said, “Come on let’s go.” He said holding out his hand for me to take.

I didn’t want to take his hand but I knew if I didn’t Da would be mad so I did, him lacing his fingers through mine as Da held the door open for us and we walked through. When I heard the door shut behind me it felt like someone shutting the lid to my coffin. This wasn’t something I wanted. I noticed some guy standing in front of a black limo holding the door open for us.

“I’m glad to you see you took my request into account,” he said as we slid into the seat.

“What?” I asked numbly as he kissed the back of my hand. The hand he was holding.

“I asked you to wear shorts,” he explained to which I nodded my head, “You seem tired little one. How about you settle in and take a nap?”

“Are you going to…?” I trailed off not sure I could ask him that. Not sure I wanted to know the answer.

“Am I going to what my little one?” he asked me before his eyes lit up in understanding my face starting to burn again, “Do you want me to? I figured you want some sleep. After all we were up late. I can if you want to though.”

He put his arm around my shoulders his other hand going to my thigh. That was not what I meant. I had meant I didn’t want to. Not that I did. I felt frustrated and disgusted with myself. That he had thought I meant that. That I meant I wanted him to touch me like that.

“You look so adorable in those shorts,” he said his hand starting to slide up the side of them brushing against the bottom of my briefs.

I couldn’t help it. I started crying. I didn’t want him to touch me again. To do that to me again. I tried to make sure I didn’t whimper and then he looked at me gasping loudly.

“Oh, little one what’s wrong?” he asked me, “You don’t have to cry. You can tell me anything. Be honest. What’s going on?”

“I…” I tried to start speaking but found it hard, my voice coming out unsteady.

“It’s ok little one. I know he was rough on you. Your uncle. I told him he shouldn’t treat someone like you like that. That you need a gentle hand not an aggressive one,” he said before he kissed my cheek.

My eyes went wide and body started shaking before he rubbed his nose against my cheek, telling me he wanted to kiss me. To kiss me on the lips. I knew I didn’t have a choice. That he would hurt me if I didn’t turn to give him access so I did, his tongue sliding into my mouth as he moved. His body shifting so that he was forcing his way on top of me, his hands going up under my shirt against my body. I wanted to scream. To tell him to stop, that I didn’t want to anymore. That I wasn’t ok with this. That I didn’t want it anymore. That I never wanted it, his tongue moving from my mouth to my chin, down my neck.

“You taste so good little one,” he muttered quietly into my skin, “I love the way you taste. Everything about you is amazing.”

His hand went to the waist band of my shorts them only being elastic instead of having a button and fly his hand easily finding its way down the front of my pants making me freeze. Making me feel as if I had turned to marble.

Cole said he wouldn’t do this. Not like this. Not like…

“Your whole body is shaking little one,” he said sitting up, giving me space, “Can you tell me what’s wrong? Be honest. I cherish honesty.”

“I don’t…I don’t want to…,” I trailed off my voice failing me as he looked at me.

“Why not?” he said his brow furrowing in either confusion or anger, at the time I wasn’t sure which, “Are you really that afraid that I’ll hurt you? Because I don’t like hurting my boys. I told you that remember?”

I nodded my head. That didn’t mean I wanted to do that with him just because he wouldn’t hurt me. And that was a lie. He had pinched the back of my neck hard for not letting him kiss me, he had grabbed my neck and warned me that no wasn’t a word that I was allowed to use. He would hurt me. I knew he would hurt me if I didn’t do what he wanted and that he was just trying to charm me. Trying to get me to talk to him and be honest with him. I didn’t know why but, I knew it was important to be careful what I said to him.

“I’m really tired,” I mumbled.

“AH!” he smiled happily, trying to seem understanding, “Well how about you sleep here and if you feel like you’ll sleep easier I’ll go sit over there ok?” he told me pointing to the bench on the other side of the limo.

“Really?” I asked not sure I could believe him.

“Really. I can understand why you had a hard time sleeping after we were done last night. All that excitement of knowing that we’re finally able to be together. Us and not really anyone else. It was probably too much. That and I don’t think you’re used to sleeping beside someone. Your Da told me that sometimes you and he have time together, which I’m ok with that continuing because it’s important for a father and son to be close and he has a lot to teach you but, he said that he has never shared a bed with you over night. Is that true?”

I nodded my head. It was true. Even the first time he did it, it wasn’t overnight. We had stayed in a hotel but it was a two bed one and he had slept in the other bed and not in the bed beside me as I cried myself to sleep. Him telling me it was ok, that it would hurt less next time. That it was special. Uncle Ben had spent the night with me, made me share his bed but he was the only one at that point.

“Then that would make it hard to sleep,” he said rubbing my shoulders through my shirt as I sat next to him criss cross apple sauce, “I’ll let you rest. That way we can enjoy our day together. No matter how much I want to show you how special you are, I promise.”

I nodded my head and he reached into a compartment I didn’t realize was there pulling out a pillow and blanket fluffing the pillow before he placed it behind my back signaling for me to lay down which I did so. I laid down because he had promised he wouldn’t touch me and I knew I was supposed to do what I was told. He tucked me in kissing my forehead as he got up and turned on the TV. I don’t even remember what he put on but it was boring enough I actually did manage to fall asleep even with him in the limo with me. Me curled into a ball, my back to him trying to keep myself calm, remind myself that there were going to be people there. That they would be all over the place. That when I woke up he wouldn’t be able to touch me like that because we’d probably be somewhere where people would notice.

He woke me up as we pulled up to a Denny’s. Him holding my hand as we walked inside and having me sit across the table from him, “So how was your first day back at school?” he asked me.

“Schools been ok. I don’t know,” I said.

He frowned cutting into whatever he had ordered I think it was a stake of some kind, “What don’t you know? Having trouble with your friends?”

“No,” I said shaking my head, “Just Teddy said some stuff on Monday.”

“Oh?” he asked me, “Teddy overhears things sometimes that he probably shouldn’t talk about. Did it make you anxious about our hanging out together?”

“No,” I lied, “Finn invited me to go horseback riding, Huber I mean,” I said giving him a last name remembering what he had told me before that he recalled family names surnames and not first names better, “Then Teddy told him I couldn’t go because I was busy. That I was going to the zoo.”

“With me?” he asked to which I nodded my head.

“I really wish he hadn’t told everyone that. I only take special boys to the zoo. Teddy knows that,” Lionel informed me, “Are you afraid the other boys are going to tease you? You are a very special boy William.”

“I just know Da told me I shouldn’t talk about it. I didn’t want them to know because I’m not supposed to…,” I trailed off biting into a bit of my food.

“Well, lessons from me are very exclusive. I don’t teach just anyone. However, I want all of the boys to know that they are loved and wanted and that we care about them all very much,” he told me, “That’s why I try to not broadcast who I’m spending my time with because it’s very important that you all feel like equals.”

“We’re going to be spending time together?” I asked him quietly staring into my plate.

I didn’t want to think about what he meant by “time” but I did automatically feeling my face turning red. I didn’t like thinking of him doing that. The things that he had made me do last night. The things that he had almost made me do in the limo. Thinking about it made me want to cry but, I hated crying in front of people.

He chuckled lightly, “Of course. You’re very important to me William. Were you embarrassed that Teddy mentioned you were busy? Or more upset you couldn’t go horseback riding with Finn Huber?”

“I wanted to go,” I said.

“Well, I’m glad that you came with me instead considering that even when I’m with you it won’t be often. I’ll try to come down every other week. However, I spend most of my time in New York. I’d love to have you come stay with me but, considering circumstances that isn’t really possible most of the time for me. To have my companions with me. So, I usually come to spend time with them,” he told me.

He meant because all of his “special boys” were so young. So, when he said I might go with him and Da to New York he meant because I was older. Older than his usual boys. Had he taken Cole to New York? Arthur didn’t seem like he was the type to care either way. I wanted to ask and he must have seen it on my face because he smiled at me tapping the toe of my shoe with his.

“You have a question?” he asked me.

“I’m friends with Cole Gables,” I said his eyes lighting up as his smile grew him nodding his head, “Da and you said I might go to New York. Did you take Cole to New York?”

“On a vacation yes,” he admitted, “It was during the summer. I believe he was your age at the time. It was two weeks and it was very wonderful. He loved seeing all of the sites. I took him to the ballet and Opera. We had a very nice time. Is that something you’re interested in doing?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

It felt weird. How he made it all sound so normal. Like it was something people did all the time. Take young boys they weren’t related to on vacation alone and then… I closed my eyes sighing my face turning red again as I thought about what those nights were probably like for Cole. The way his skin probably tingled as his stomach had made him sick. As Lionel had…

“Don’t think about it too hard little one,” he said, “It really makes you that nervous?”

“Huh,” I didn’t know what to say that being the only thing I managed as the waitress came up to the table making my face go even redder.

“And how is your meal?” she asked him.

“It’s lovely, thank you for asking,” he replied.

“Would you like desert?” she asked him.

“William?” he asked me to which I shook my head, “I think we’re all right for right now. Just the check please.”

“Of course,” she said walking away.

“It’s ok to be nervous,” he assured me, “However there isn’t any need to be.”

The waitress reappeared with the check. He laid a bunch of bills on the table and got up offering me his hand which I took. How did he not understand that I didn’t want him to do that to me? That I didn’t want anyone to do that to me. That even the thought of kissing someone made me blush let alone…that. We got to the car Sergei hopping out of the front to hold the door open for us and drink from McDonalds in his hand.

“Did I introduce you to Sergei?” he asked me suddenly as I walked up to the car.

“No,” I answered shaking my head.

“Sergei is a very good friend of mine. He knows your Uncle Benjamin,” he informed me.

“Hello,” Sergei said smiling at me, his words heavily accented.

His teeth were really crooked and yellow. One of them even seemed to be coming from over the top of his other teeth. It looked weird to me. You have to remember however I was upper class and while I maybe have lived in Britain even there when someone had crooked teeth they weren’t that crooked and they were usually more of a normal color. So, I thought it was weird but I waved at him. He had a big nose but he was by no means ugly. His nose complimenting the rest of his face. He struck me as someone that didn’t smile often.

“Hi,” I said quietly feeling myself shrink away from him a little bit.

Something about him seemed off. I still can’t even explain it reflexing back on it but something seemed off about him like it did about Arthur, merely knowing he was there now making me nervous. I sighed climbing in past him and Lionel climbing in after me.

“What does he do for you?” I asked before stopping to think of whether I should ask or not. Lionel laughed heartily at that.

“Well,” he said, “He runs errands for me. Just different things. He helps drive me around and other stuff. Like your Uncle. I just felt like your uncle shouldn’t come with us this time. That it should be more special than that. We’re almost there. Where do you think you want to go first? The elephants?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, how about we just walk around for a while and relax? If it stays nice out maybe we can play in the park area,” he told me, “Your hair shines such a bright gold with tiny droplets in it I bet. Not the same deep honey as when it’s completely soaked but I’m sure it’s stunning.”

So that’s what Teddy had meant by subtle. It was something that you could take as a compliment that didn’t seem to be harmful or inappropriate when overheard but could make you squirm. Which I did feel myself fidget as he smiled at me at that. I don’t remember most of our stay at the zoo only that went as Teddy said it would. Him holding my hand or putting his arms around my shoulders every chance he got. Trying to make sure he had physical contact with me at all times. I remember him buying me cotton candy when he saw me watching a girl and a boy sharing one as we walked through the reptile area looking at different snakes and other things.

When we got back to the car it didn’t take long after we pulled out of the zoo parking lot for him to wrap his arm around my shoulder and turn on a movie, Sergei never lowering the privacy window that kept the cab separated from the passenger area.
“Do you like this movie?” he asked me after a while.

“What?’ I asked before I felt my face flush as he smiled at me.

“What are you thinking about? You’re not even paying attention to the movie little one. Tell me what’s going on.”

“I huh…,” I trailed off.

Did I tell him I was waiting for him to rape me? To force me to take my clothes off and climb on top of me? Put his hands against my skin instead of my shirt? Did I tell him that the very idea of it terrified me let alone the way my body reacted to it. The way my body almost wanted it, seemed to like it up until that burn when someone connected their body to mine until the moment they hit that spot. That spot that made cold shivers run up and down my spine and made me feel like I needed to pee. Made that feeling build until I couldn’t stand it anymore and lost control.

“I know what you’re thinking about,” he said his other hand brushing up against my right outer thigh right below the end of my pant leg making me shiver, “It’s ok. I won’t hurt you. I really care about you William.”

I closed my eyes as he traced small circles on my leg using his fingertips. Slowly working their way up bottom of my pant leg. I started squirming as he looked at me, his eyes trained on me as he moved his fingers.

“Does it tickle?” he asked me before he started moving his fingers faster, “I bet it does. I bet it tickles.” He started tickling my neck. I laughed quietly on impulse before he got on his knees in front of me letting me stay in the seat tickling me until I was breathless and laying down across the bench his hands under my shirt. Him only stopping when he had climbed on top of me looking at me.

It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t…I gulped his hands sliding the hem of my shirt up so that it was only covering my collar bones and shoulders and nothing below it. Him kissing my sternum lightly making me gulp.

“I won’t hurt you,” he said, “Never…” he said before his tiny kiss turned into sucking, sucking on the middle of my chest.

I gasped sharply. The feeling of the energy buzzing under my skin. Prickling the hair on the back of my neck. It was a new sensation. I had experienced someone sucking on my nipples before, my neck but not my chest, not the way he was doing it. His tongue gently lapping at the skin before he bit it just enough to make it sting. Not just using suction but teeth too. He kept his hands at the waist band of my pants.

I wanted to push him away but I knew I couldn’t. That if I did it he probably would hurt me even if he had said he wouldn’t. I wasn’t stupid. Me trying to make my whole body go limp my muscles only getting tighter and tighter the lower his kisses and nibbles went, the closer to his hands they got. When the kissing got to just above my belly button he stopped looking at me closely.

I knew my eyes were wide. Open in shock. My body shaking with the sensation of him doing it like that. Using his teeth to scrape my skin. He bit his lower lip smiling at me thoughtfully as he watched me before he moved back grabbing one of my feet and starting to untie my right shoe.

“What are you doing?” I asked him slapping my hand over my mouth in embarrassment over the fact I had spoken without thinking first.

That made his smile grow, “It’s ok little one. You’re allowed to ask me things. I like knowing what you’re thinking. I’m taking off your shoes and socks. Would you like to know why?”

I nodded my head.

“I want to play with you. You seemed to like what I was doing there so I figured I’d try it other places. See if you like it just as much everywhere else. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s ok if you like rough play. We’ll figure it out together ok?”

Rough play? What did that mean, rough play? I had never heard that term before. Did he mean like wrestling or… was it something else?

“Huh…” I started to ask but then stopped myself. Afraid it would sound stupid. Afraid that he might get mad if I didn’t know what he meant.

“Yes?” he asked me pulling my sock off before grabbing my other foot and untying that shoe too.

“What does…,” I felt my face growing even redder.

“Oh,” he chuckled, “It means that you like biting and scratching when you’re being taught. Or playing with someone. Some people find it enjoyable. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. I’ve had a special boy or two in the past who found that made the experience better. It can be quiet fun.” He explained.

Now Uncle Ben had spanked me until I was bloody but I hadn’t realized that was a thing. That there were people who actually enjoyed that type of stuff and I certainly didn’t enjoy it. Not when he was doing that. Not that toy, none of it. The idea that he wanted to do those things to me making me close my eyes so that I wasn’t openly crying. I wasn’t ok with that. With the idea of him doing that stuff.

“What?” he asked me pulling my sock off, “Why are you closing your eyes little one? Tell me what’s going on. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Talk to me.”

“I…,” I tried my voice cracking, “I…d..don..don’t.”

“Ok,” he said stopping and helping me up into a sitting position using my arms before he pulled me into his chest, “It’s ok. It’s new. It’s ok to be scared.”

He rubbed my back through my shirt as it fell back down my torso. It felt weird. Da and Uncle Ben had never hugged me and told me it was ok to be scared of something, unsure about something. They always told me to shut up and do what I was told no matter what. Even at the Villa Lionel himself at told me no wasn’t a word I was allowed to use and yet here he was hugging me telling me it was ok to be scared. To be unsure of what he was saying he was going to do to me. It felt confusing. So, confusing that I stopped feeling like I was on the verge my tears my brain not sure what to make of what was happening. Not completely sure what was going on. Did that mean he was going to stop? That he wasn’t going to make me do that? What exactly did that mean?

“We’ll go nice and slow ok?” he said my stomach dropping as he said the words into my neck as he held me.

Slow. No slow was worse. I didn’t want to go slow. If he was going to do It he should just do it not go slow. He sighed into my neck, “When you’re nervous you fidget, move your shoulders a lot.”

“Sorry,” I said quietly.

“Oh no, it was just an observation, nothing to be sorry about little one I promise,” he said, “How about you just try to sit and watch the movie ok? I’ll try a few things with your legs and we’ll see how it goes.”

I nodded my head numbly not sure what he meant when he said try a few things, him getting back on the floor of the limo on his knees facing me before he started tickling the bottom of my feet. Lightly at first, making me squirm until he was tickling them with a little more pressure causing me to laugh involuntarily again before he started kissing my left ankle. Just lightly at first, tiny pecks before he bit into it softly the feeling of his teeth connecting with my skin making me still.

It felt weird. He was biting me with enough pressure there was tiny pinch or sting but only for a second before he licked the indents his teeth had left in my skin. I didn’t understand what the point was but, it didn’t feel like play and it didn’t feel good really, just different. Different from what I was used to. Him biting and then running his tongue in a slow circle over the indents his teeth had left until they disappeared before doing the same in a different spot moving slowly up my leg. He moved to the outside of my legs me trying not to pay attention to it, to the sensation of the sting and then the feeling as his tongue glided over my skin making my skin feel wet with his saliva.

After he was done doing it to the outside of my right leg he switched back to my left. Shifting his weight so that he was biting the inside of my left leg. I was finally get used to the sensation when he looked at me his chest heaving in excitement before he touched my inner thigh right below the bottom of my pant leg looking up at me for the first time in a while.

“Are you ok?” he asked me like he actually cared.

Was I ok with him biting me? Not really but I knew there wasn’t anything I could do about it or say to get him to change his mind. His pervious response to me telling him that I didn’t want to being “It’s ok I’ll go slow.” I didn’t respond just looking at him.

“Stand up,” he ordered me.

I didn’t move him saying the words again this time in a more commanding voice, “Stand up William.”

I stood up looking out the window for the first time since we had left the zoo. We were on the highway, cars all around us. Traffic almost at a standstill. It was probably around 5:30.

The middle of rush hour. People heading home after a day of working in offices and schools and stores. People heading home to be with their families. Da’s that didn’t hurt their kids heading home to spend time with them around the dinner table laughing and smiling and I was here. Stuck in traffic with those happy people, those normal people with a guy who wanted to… I shivered slightly as he pulled my pants and underwear down my ankles him forcing me to sit back down on the bench in front of him as he pulled them off all the way before folding them neatly on the floor beside him. He looked at me sighing deeply his whole body seeming to shake with excitement before he bit lightly into the soft skin of my upper right thigh making me hiss in pain.

“Too hard?” he asked me nearly jumping at my sound.

I nodded my head numbly. Not sure what else to do my body exposed from the waist down to him, his hands on the outside of my thighs as he kneeled in-between them. He looked up at me before he leaned in running his tongue over the marks his teeth had left on the inside of my right leg. It sent a shudder through my body. That spot was really sensitive. Almost as sensitive as the area above it. His tongue rolled over the spot, once, twice three times until I was panting heavily.

I didn’t want it to feel like that. I wanted to hate it. I wanted him to stop. I hated that it felt good. That it felt like…that. Maybe Matt was right and Karen. Maybe I was just a big whore my whole body trembling every time I felt his tongue flicking over the skin of my inner thigh. His licking continuing before he nipped me again higher only more lightly this time.

“ah,” I whimpered causing him to look up at me as I slammed my hand over my mouth surprised by myself.

He smiled widely, “It’s ok little one you can make sounds here. I enjoy sounds and Sergei won’t mind. I promise. Your little fruit looks so ripe and sweet. Can I…?” he didn’t even finish his question wrapping his lips around my everything.

My whole body seized. I started moaning and whimpering my face turning a deeper shade of red every time a sound left my mouth that I couldn’t control. The pressure kept building, feeling hot. Running from the tips of my toes all the way to the roots of my hair.

He was raping me and my body was liking it. And not just a little like with Da or uncle Ben but a lot. His mouth being there too much before he moved his mouth exposing my hardness to the cold sensitive air as he grabbed the back of my thighs lifting them up so he was supporting them with his arms before he stuck his tongue inside me moaning happily as I continued mewl and whimper.

I was panting on the very edge of having an orgasm as he stopped for a second shifting his weight and letting me go. I curled into a ball pulling my knees into my chest the moment his hands were off me. Me hoping he would be done. That he would just stop but he didn’t.

“Little one you were so close. Why did you move? Don’t you want me to finish you? Drink all that special juice your little fruit is making for me?” he asked me before he grabbed my calf pulling one of my legs out of my grip before he shoved one of his fingers hard up inside of me.

I whimpered in pain. It hurt. He hadn’t even tried to be gentle. I was lucky I was slick because of his tongue and that he had lubricant on his finger otherwise it would have really hurt. Him starting to slowly move his finger in and out of me as he smiled at me. I turned my face away closing my eyes trying to pretend I was anywhere else as he wrapped his lips back around me.

He moaned happily the vibration of the hum sending a zap up my spine, causing my eyes to open wide as I gasped when I hit my climax. He sucked it down greedily him stopping to pet my thighs as he finished swallowing smiling up at me his finger still inside.

“You feel like velvet,” he murmured to me, “Want me to make you cum again?”

I wanted to tell him no but it felt like it was hard to blink let alone speak. I didn’t understand why my body…Why my body liked it. Why it had been so easy for him to make me…to force me to orgasm. He inserted another finger into me.

It burned. My lip starting to tremble. I didn’t like the way that felt at all him pushing hard, pushing his fingers as far into me as he could. His fingers burning. His face falling as he watched my reaction.

“Does that hurt little one? Just give me one second and I’ll find it. I’ll find it ok? I promise,” he said pulling his fingers out before he shoved them back in twisting one of his fingers.

“OUCH!” I whined.

“Hold on little one, just one second,” he said twisting one finger but leaving the other one still him suddenly brushing that spot making me freeze. Making me stop fidgeting him smiling at me watching my reaction, “That’s it, isn’t it? Yeah that’s it little one. That’s the spot. You like that spot? I like that spot,” he said twisting his fingers and sending a moan tumbling out of my mouth before I could stop it.

“That’s it little one, that’s it. Ride my fingers. Let me make you feel good,” he muttered his fingers hitting that spot on every movement inside my body me not able to stop my moaning.

He muttered praises as he kept going. His finger hitting that spot until his movement changed feeling like he was pulling me open, scissoring me open before he climbed on top of me fumbling to undo his pants. Not giving me any warning before he started pushing something a lot bigger than his fingers into me, my body still riding the high and the feeling of his fingers brushing against that part of me.

“Just move your hips little one,” he muttered grabbing my outer thighs and forcing me to wrap my legs around his waist, “There we go that’s it my special boy. That’s my good boy,” he muttered as he started moving in and out his penis hitting even harder against that spot to the point where everything felt like it was throbbing, pulsing like it never had before.

“AH AH AH,” I said my whole body shaking so badly I felt like the muscles in my thighs were having spasm my whole body hitting orgasm causing me to go silent and still as he thrusts into me one last time. The feeling of him shooting into me really gross and almost like someone using a hose to shoot an insane amount of water up my butt with one high pressured blast. The whole thing hurting slightly.

“That’s my good boy,” he said caressing my face as I started to catch my breath, “That’s such a special little one. I bet that felt so good huh? You came so hard your whole body squeezing me. It felt so good.”

He was right. It had. But I just felt dirty and guilty. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I closed my eyes so he wouldn’t see me crying trying so hard to fight it. Telling myself that I didn’t deserve to cry. That it wasn’t my right. Because my body had liked it. Had…harder than it ever had before.

“You did great little one. I’m so glad I could make you feel so good. You’re probably just tired huh? That was a lot of activity. Now how about you just relax, ok?” he told me kissing my temple before he grabbed the blanket I had slept under earlier on our way to the zoo and wrapped it around my waist so I was no longer exposed as he stood up putting his own pants back on.

I curled up so I was facing the bench again. I cried. If I had been alone I would have bawled. But I knew he was right there. That he would try to hug me and tell me it was ok. That it was ok I was some big whore. That I had…I didn’t even want to think about it.

The very thought that Matt was right about me and I hadn’t realized it making me physically sick. I stayed like that trying to stay as still as possible the rest of the ride home. I didn’t get any rest but, he didn’t touch me, didn’t hold me. He only forced me to kiss him as I put my shorts and underwear back on. Before he pulled away leaving me standing the drive way my knees feeling shaky and weak.

I was a whore. I was a fucking whore. I remember that thought repeating over and over in my head like a broken record as I walked up the stairs and got into the lift. Even as I made it to my room and turned on the shower stripping my clothes off.

Chapter Text

I climbed into the shower because I realized that it was me. That that’s why they liked me. Matt was right. I flirted and I acted like I wanted it and apparently somewhere deep down I must because if I didn’t my body wouldn’t…I wouldn’t have done that. My body wouldn’t have done that.

I wanted it out of me. I wanted my whorishness out of me. I felt dirty like I would never be clean so I climbed out of the shower soaking wet looking for something sharp. Something that would get it out of me. Get the badness out of me that I was sure was there. The only thing I found being a needle from the sowing kit under the sink. I didn’t think about it but just jabbed it into my thigh. It hurt but something about the pain felt satisfying. Almost like it was taking all of the thoughts of what he had done, how I had responded away.

I knew it wasn’t logical. I remembered what I had told John that it was normal for a body to do that. But, I didn’t think it was normal for it to respond THAT intensely to it. I didn’t feel normal anymore or smart. I didn’t feel anything but dirty and guilty and stupid. I climbed back into the tub letting the water run over me, letting my body feel something else besides him touching my skin. My brain wandering try to figure out…every time it wandered too far me stabbing myself lightly in the leg again until I heard my bathroom door quietly open.

“Willy?” I heard James ask me.

I sat the needle down on the edge of the bathtub up against the wall hoping he wouldn’t notice it because it was small in size.

“Yeah?” I asked him quietly.

“Are you ok? Mummy’s belly is blue and she’s sad. And John’s sad. You were supposed to be here but you weren’t and you didn’t say hi. So, I was wondering if you were ok. Because I asked Daddy where you were and he said you had to go somewhere and that you’d be back later but then you came back and you didn’t say hi. So maybe I thought you were kind of mad at us. Because you know, we didn’t do good. We didn’t get away from Da and now he’s going to…he’s going to keep hurting John and you and mummy.”

I pulled back the curtain frowning at him. How was any of that his fault? Why would I be mad at him for that? All things that a 6-year-old had no control over. None of this was his fault. Not any of it. It was Da’s and it was only Da’s.

“I’m not mad at you,” I told him, “I’m just tired ok? I just…Da told me I had to go somewhere and it…”

I didn’t want to talk about it. The zoo. He would say it sounded like fun and I couldn’t tell him about the rest of it. It would scare him or he would get grossed out telling me I liked it. That I must have wanted it. I didn’t want him to see me differently.

He frowned at me. I was huddled in on myself my knees pulled up to my chest so that he couldn’t see me and all of my…body. But yet he was looking at me like he could or like I had something weird on my face.

“What?” I asked him.

“Your leg is bleeding. Did you get bit?” he asked me before I looked at my outer thigh where I had been repeatedly stabbing myself.

I must have stabbed myself harder than I thought because there were several tiny holes in my skin that were freely bleeding into the shower water that was being tinged pink as it washed away towards the drain. I felt my face turning red.

“Yeah,” I said, “It’ll be fine. It’s not a big deal.”

“What was it?” he asked me.

“Skeeter. I probably scratched at it,” I told him which was an answer he seemed to accept.

“So, you’re not mad at me?” he asked me quietly, “At us?”

“No bud, not even a little,” I assured him, “Am I sad we’re back here? Yeah but that’s because I’m scared ok? I’m scared just like everyone else.”

“You promise?” he asked me.

“Yeah,” I said almost crying just looking at his face.

“I’m scared too. He’s going to get me. I know he’s going to get me and Daddy’s going to let him. And he’s going to hurt me again,” he said before he started sobbing.

I wanted to tell him it was ok. But I knew it wasn’t. He had done it to me and I was older than he usually liked his boys. I knew that James looked the most like me, acted the most like me. That he felt safest with me. James was right. Lionel was going to hurt him. If it wasn’t soon it would be one day. One day not too far off. A year or two. I could buy him a year or two if I was good and maybe if we were really lucky we’d be able to try and leave again and we’d get away for good.

I sighed before I shut the curtain washing myself off for a fourth time and rinsing up before I climbed out and grabbed a towel wrapping it around myself before I hugged him, “It’s ok. We’ll be ok. I promise we’ll be ok. And you know why? Because that bad man isn’t going touch you again ok?”

“He will! Daddy will let him and he’ll hurt! It hurt so bad Willy,” he screamed before he started sobbing again.

“No, he won’t. I promise he won’t,” I told him. Hugging him before I picked him up and put him on my bed.

“No, he will!” he screamed.

“James, he won’t! He’s doing it to me!” I hissed his tears stopping out of shock because I had kind of yelled at him and because that was…it was big news, “But you can’t tell mum ok? He’ll hurt her. And I don’t mean like Da hurts her I mean he’ll hurt her so bad she’ll go in her room and she’ll never ever come out. And we need her ok? So, you can’t tell anyone. You can’t tell John, or mum, you can’t tell anyone ok?”

“What?” he barely whispered.

“It’s me ok? He wants me but if he’s hurting me he’s not hurting you,” I told him, “John does it for all of us all the time. With Da. So…you know. It doesn’t have to be big deal. Just don’t tell anyone please?”

“He’ll hurt mummy?” he asked me.

I nodded my head. Vic had told me that. That Lionel had a way of making meddling moms disappear. I didn’t want my mum to disappear. Not ever. It was bad enough when she locked herself in her room. When Da did things to her or to us that made her not want to be around us. I couldn’t live if I didn’t have her. And I needed her and I knew everyone else needed her. I needed my mum.

“That’s why you can’t say anything ok?” I begged him.

“Ok,” he told me as I grabbed a clean pair of underwear and slid them on under my towel so I wasn’t exposing myself to him.

“Good,” I said nodding my head, “You can’t tell mum though or John.”

“You said that,” he sighed sadly, “Are you ok?”

“Yeah,” I lied, “I’m ok. I’ll be fine. I mean Da and Ben do that stuff to me all the time so it doesn’t hurt as bad for me. I’ll be ok.”

“But Da does it to John all the time and all John does is sleep. And he smells funny,” he told me his nose wrinkling at the thought.

The expression on his face making me smile sadly at him. I knew what he meant. He meant the smell of alcohol that seemed to follow John like a cloud of stink. I didn’t know how to explain that to him. That it was hard for John because of Da. Because Lionel wasn’t the only person he had let in the house. That Hank wasn’t the only one he had let hurt John. I sighed thinking about it, how to best explain it without scaring him.

“Well you know what happened that night when you were down there with Patrick and Cole and John?” I asked him.

He nodded his head sadly. I knew he loved us. That he didn’t like thinking about the things that Da had probably made John do. That he didn’t understand the extent of it. He was only six. He was a little boy. He knew it hurt and that it hurt a lot but he didn’t know or understand that Da let a lot of people do it to John all the time. I don’t think mum even knew how many people Da had let hurt John. At that point, I didn’t even know but I knew it was more than just Hank. He had told me about Leo. About Da taking him to that restaurant and meeting Leo.

“Da…he lets Hank and uncle Ben and his friends do that to John a lot. So, John is really tired all the time. Because you know it doesn’t just hurt down there it hurts your heart too. So, John’s heart hurts a lot so he drinks a special drink that’s smelly that makes it not hurt so much sometimes. That’s why he smells funny and he’s so sleepy. You understand?” I asked him.

“Instead of crying and stuff when his heart hurts like mummy does when she says she’s sad he drinks his special drink and it makes it so he’s not so sad?” he asked me.

“More like it helps him forget how sad he is,” I told him.

“Oh,” he said.

I grabbed some pants and new shirt pulling it over my head before I walked out of my bedroom. The first thing I noticed was how eerily quiet it was. How Matt and Mike weren’t around the TV off and the whole house seeming almost silent. It was 6 in the evening. They wouldn’t have gone to bed yet. It was too early. There should have been some food as well but there wasn’t any of that either.

“Where are Mike and Matt?” I asked James.

“I don’t know Daddy and Arthur made me come upstairs with Cat and the babies and then they left. Matty and Mikey didn’t come upstairs. I haven’t seen them all day. I asked mummy where they were and she said she doesn’t know,” he told me.

“Where is mummy?” I asked him.

“Nursery sleeping with the babies. She’s been really tired. She had me and Catty watch Laura and Andy earlier until they got tired and cranky. Then we woke her up and she changed them and she let me and Catty feed them because her tummy hurts,” he told me.

He said this all like it was normal even though it was very far from normal. My mum usually made sure John or I was around. I thought, trying to figure out what might be wrong when I remembered something James had said to me while I was in the shower, “Earlier you said mummy’s belly was blue. What did you mean?”

“She has a boo boo. She said she fell down the stairs but I don’t think that’s what happened,” he told me.

“What do you think happened?” I asked him.

“Daddy hit her when we weren’t here and he hurt her belly,” he told me.

“I think that you are probably right,” I said, “How about you stay here and I’ll go check on mummy. Where’s Catty?”

“With mummy,” he told me to which I nodded my head.

“Where is John?” I asked him.

“Sleeping,” he notified me.

“Lovely,” I muttered.

I mean I understood why John was sleeping. It wasn’t like I didn’t know what had happened to him. I had been right there. I heard him and Da and what…I understood his need to sleep but what about my need to sleep? I was beyond tired my body felt sore still, used. My brain was beyond exhausted as I tried to come to terms with the fact that Matt was right and now mum was hurt as well. Where was my time to sleep? I had gotten a full four hours of sleep and he had probably been sleeping since I had taken him upstairs earlier.

“Well, he’s sad and his special drink helps him forget he’s sad but I think it makes him sleepy,” James tried explaining to me.

“You know what? You are absolutely right,” I told him, “I’m going to go see mummy.”

“Ok, I’m hungry though. Mummy says her tummy hurts too much to cook and she tried to wake up John and have him make food but I think he’s too tired so he forgot,” he told me.

“Ok well, I will make us all some food once I talk to mummy ok?” I told him.

“Ok,” he said walking down the hall to the living room.

I knocked softly on the nursery door before I opened it. I found mum laying on the day bed her shirt pulled up. She was laying on her side an ice pack against her skin. Her belly wasn’t blue it was her ribs such a deep blue and purple they were almost black Catty curled up with her mum hugging Cat against her chest. Both of them sleeping.

“Mum?” I said quietly her nearly jumping out bed and wincing in pain, “Mum what happened?”

“Da and I…it doesn’t matter. What’s wrong love?” she asked before her eyes widened, “OH thank goodness where were you? I was so worried about you. Everyone came home but you boys you didn’t…” she winced again.

“Mum calm down,” I asked her, “Everything is ok.”

“No, love you don’t understand. John didn’t show up until late and he said you were with him but when I went to your room to ask you for help today because I’m sore you weren’t there. Where were you? Your Da told me that Mike and Matt are safe but he won’t tell me anything else and I didn’t know where you were and…” she winced in pain again. Just speaking seemed to make her feel winded.

Da had probably at the very least bruised her ribs if not broken them. And she was up here on her own trying to take care of everyone. Her face didn’t look like it’d been hit but the fact that her torso was black and blue told a different story.

“Mum I’m fine,” I assured her, “I’m ok really. Are you ok?”

“Love I’m fine,” she said, “shite. Did John cook? I don’t think he did. The babies are going to be hungry.”

“I’m going to start some hotdogs. I’ll make sure everyone gets fed mum don’t worry about it,” I told her, “have you called the doctor.”

“No love, there’s nothing they can do anyway. I just have to wait for it to hurt less,” she told me.

“Mum are you sure?” I asked her.

“Yeah love it’s my fault. I should have listened to Vic. He said it was too short of a notice for them. That I should wait until the time we were supposed to go. I should have listened. It’s my own fault we’re back here,” she said.

“Don’t say that mummy. You were just trying to keep us safe,” I said.

“Oh, my love,” she said, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I…,” she trailed off.

“Mum it’s ok,” I told her, “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure Mike and Matt are ok. I’ll go make us some food.”

I made food. I made sure Andy and Laura and Mac were all fed along with Catty and James and made sure diapers were changed before I had everyone lay down. Then I myself went back to my room and took another shower. Mum was hurt so I knew she needed me more and I couldn’t tell her anyway but all I wanted to do was cry and have her hold me and tell me it would be ok. That Da wasn’t letting uncle Ben hurt Mike and Matt even though he was. I knew he was and so did James and so did John. We all knew it.

Mum spent most of the rest of the weekend sleeping while I took care of everyone. Matt and Mike not being allowed back upstairs until late that afternoon. John didn’t come out of his room that weekend me not seeing him until Monday morning when we were both getting ready for school me doing a last minute check on the babies before waking everyone else up telling Matt and Mike that they needed to make sure both them and James got on the school bus and them telling me not to worry about it. That they had done it on their own for three months before mum came home and that they could do again for another if they had to.

I still felt tired and alone. I knew I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Not that I wanted to. I mean who would want to admit that? That they were whore? That some old guy, literally old enough to be their grandfather was…or had. For some reason, it felt like everyone knew anyway. Finn trying to talk to me during math class and me not able to hold up the conversation. Not able to explain anything or barely even talk.

I sat down at a different lunch table trying to ignore all of them sitting with my book instead because at least my book wasn’t real. Even if bad things were happening in it at least those bad things I could get away from by closing the book and …coming back to my own little nightmare of an existence. Someone sat down across from me and I looked up to see Teddy sitting there.

“Teddy, I don’t want to…”

“I know,” Teddy said.

“You…?” I trailed off Teddy nodding his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said to which I just nodded my head again.

He thought he knew but he didn’t. I was sure he didn’t. That he didn’t understand what it had felt like, how bad it had been.

“Thanks,” I said barely a whisper after a minute.

“If anyone knows what he’s like it…” Teddy gave me a thin lipped sad smile, “If you need to talk about it I’m here.”

“Teddy no offense but you…,” lowered my voice, “remember when you kissed me?”

His face went bright red, “You remember that?”

“Did you think I’d forget?” I asked him.

“Can we talk in the bathroom?” he asked me sheepishly.

I thought about it. He hadn’t tried to kiss me since that one time but, it had still been weird. Last time we had talked alone in a bathroom together he did try to help me. I mean his advice probably was helpful I just apparently wasn’t able to follow it since just being in the same room with Lionel made me nervous. I nodded my head and we both got up from the table going into the bathroom him and me both checking the stalls to make sure they were empty.

“Look my house is weird. I like you. I care about you and at my house when you care about someone you…”

“Randomly kiss them?” I asked him.

“More than that usually?” he said.

“Do I even want to know?” I asked him.

“Look,” Teddy said after a minute of silence, “You don’t understand ok? No one understands. No one will I realize that but, I didn’t know any of it wasn’t normal until I was 7. When Papa and mom decided that I needed to go to school with other people like kids my age. I didn’t know ok? At least you knew it wasn’t normal. My mom encouraged me to kiss my older brother and my younger brother with tongue from like as long as I can remember. It’s weird. I know it’s weird. And I’m sorry but, like I really think of you as a good friend and I…” his face was glowing a deep shade of red at this point, “I like you kind of a lot. When you froze after I did it I knew it was wrong and I know we haven’t really ever talked about it but I’m sorry if I scared you.”

“I don’t think I like kissing just because it’s you know, it’s hard,” I said to which he nodded his head.

“I get it. When some people get nervous they shake someone’s hand when I get nervous I kind of …kiss them. Because it’s what I know and you really opened up to me and I’m sorry. Can I tell you something?” He asked me suddenly his brow furrowing like he was nervous or upset.

“Sure,” I said quietly not sure what he was getting at.

“You swear you won’t tell anyone? Not ever?” he said to which I nodded my head, “My grandpa didn’t…he made Louis.”

It took me a minute to fill in the blanks me frowning at him before it hit me. He was saying that his brother had been the first one to rape him. Not either of his grandpas but his older brother. The one who had kissed me.

“He kissed me too,” I said blurting out the first thing that came to mind.

“What? When did you meet Louis?” Ted asked me frowning before he nodded his head like he was remembering something I had to said to him or he had heard, “He has a hands problem. Papa likes to send him in to spy on people sometimes. To make sure they really are like they appear to be. Like I said before he likes shy boys. So, he’ll send Louis in to make some moves and if they respond he’ll drop them.”

“What?” I asked my jaw hanging open for a moment of awkward silence, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Well, honestly when we talked about it, it was already too late. How do you think I found out about the whole thing? Him and Louis were talking about it with my mom at the dinner table,” Teddy shrugged his shoulders.

I felt my stomach drop. So, it wasn’t just Teddy that knew but Louis and probably Luke and his mom? So, his whole family knew? Did they know about Friday? Did he talk about it in detail? At the dinner table in front of a six-year-old? The idea made my stomach even more queasy.

“Your mom talked about it?” I asked him.

“Apparently he was wondering if you were too shy. My mom said that if you were brave enough to push Louis away or try to you couldn’t be that shy. She thinks Karen is half retarded but she doesn’t care. She says half retarded is better than meddling,” he told me.

“What else did she say about me?” I asked him.

“She thinks that from what she’s gathered because she hasn’t talked to you, your confused about your sexuality and that that’s why male attention makes you nervous,” Teddy said as a matter a factly, “He likes gay boys though so…”

Now that made my face light up like a Christmas tree. Ted’s mom knew I was gay. She knew I was…? How did she know? Did everyone know? Was I just a giant gay whore?

“Oh shit,” Teddy swore seeing the expression on his face, “I mean it’s…I’m sorry. I’m not saying you are gay please tell me you’re not…oh my god. Oh my god.”

I couldn’t see him clearly and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. So, everyone just knew. They all just knew and that’s why they wanted me. Because they knew and they liked it?

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong it…”

“DON’T SAY THAT!” I said louder than I had meant to.

“I’m serious Will. There’s nothing wrong it ok? They just see it as…it makes us easy. It gives them an excuse,” Ted said, “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry.”

“Do you even know what he did? Do you even…?” I trailed off putting my hand over my mouth hoping I could myself from sobbing.

“Why do you think for a while he didn’t have anyone else?” Teddy said his eyes starting to shine, “By the time he was finished with his last one I was…old enough. I outgrew him last year ok? He’s hell. He’s walking talking hell ok? I know he is. And I wish…”
Teddy turned away. It made me wonder how much worse it could get. That Cole wouldn’t talk about it and Teddy wouldn’t talk about it. That no one could talk about whatever it was that he had done only that he had done it. I stood there barely able to see him but able to tell his shoulders were moving as he sniffled as he tried to cry silently.

“I’m sorry,” I said coming up to Teddy and doing the only thing I could think to do. That I had wanted someone to do for me since I had gotten home Friday evening. I hugged him wrapping my arms around the back of his shoulders before he turned around.

“I’m sorry too,” he said hugging me back, “It’s not fair. It’s not.”

“I’ll be ok,” I said trying assure not just him but myself, “It’ll be ok. It’s only for a little while right? I mean I’m older. It won’t be that long.”

Teddy took a minute before he let go of me looking at me, “Yeah but he has an eye on your little brother. He’s bad news Will. He’s really bad news. My papa. He’s not a good guy. He’ll do really really bad things.”

“You’ve said that and Cole’s said that but, I don’t know what it means,” I said Ted going still and taking a deep breath when I mentioned Cole.

“Well you know that in the brotherhood they make like brothers and friends do stuff, right?” he asked me to which I nodded my head.

“Papa…he…makes it worse. It’s not just like sometimes it’s all the time. Not at first. At first it will just be you until he feels like you’re getting too old and then he’ll tell you you have to train your replacement. He’ll make you help him. You understand?” Ted asked me quietly.

“No,” I said, “Everyone says that but, no one’s done it. They all say that they make brothers sleep with each other. My Da hasn’t made us do anything. So that’s true? That they make brothers and friends do that?”

“Yeah,” he said, “Usually they point a camera in your face and make you have sex. But papa, he does it different. He’ll call you into the room and if you don’t do what he says to who he’s telling you to he won’t just hurt you. He’ll hurt them. And it will be bad. It will be really bad. So, you either do it or he’ll get someone that will do things to them and make you watch and you’ll never forgive yourself. Ok? So, you just have to do it. You have to. And he’ll be…he’ll touch both you. Or other stuff. So, you just have to do it ok?”

The bile rose in my throat causing me to turn into the nearest stall and lose my lunch, mostly in the toilet but a little bit on the floor. So, he would make me…? With my brother while he raped us both. That’s what Teddy was telling me. But if Teddy had been his boy for a while then…

“The last boy trains the new one does that mean you and Cole…?” I trailed off as Teddy’s face turned bright red again.

Is that why Cole didn’t talk about it? Because he had made Cole rape Teddy? Because he had made Cole do things he didn’t want to do? I stopped trying to do the math in my head. Cole had told me that he been 10 and he was now 14. So that was four years ago and Ted was now 12. Ted had been seven. Ted was the same age that James was when he…when he had made him, made Cole do things to him.

Yeah, that was beyond vile. No wonder Cole and Ted didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the idea. The idea of having to rape my six-year-old brother. That was beyond sick. No wonder Ted was fucked up. It was bad enough when it was your dad. Let alone some older kid who knew exactly what it felt like. I couldn’t imagine being forced to do that to someone so little and helpless without my stomach feeling sick again. I turned back around throwing up into the toilet again.

“I’m sorry I just thought it was better to warn you before he started doing that. You can’t let him know you know though. Not ever. I’ll get in a huge trouble. I’m not supposed to talk about him at all. To anyone. Mum says that type of stuff is private and that I shouldn’t talk about it at all. Sometimes though it feels like…it’s hard knowing that I did that. That I have to do that when I don’t want to hurt anyone. However not doing it is a lot worse,” he told me.

“Do I even want to know what you mean by that?” I asked.

“Considering you just threw up twice I’d like to say that no. No, you would not,” he said.

The look on his face coupled with the absurdity of the situation and the fact that I felt like I was going insane caused me to start laughing first chuckling a little bit and then out right laughing. Teddy raising an eyebrow at me and then curled his upper lip. Making me laugh that much harder.

“Are you ok? I’m going to get Finn.” He said before he quickly walked away leaving me there laughing on the bathroom floor hugging a toilet to hold myself up.

It was maybe 2 minutes before some kid came into the bathroom our eyes making contact before he backed out slowly me still laughing hysterically. I felt like I had lost it. I didn’t want to know what he meant by a lot worse. I had stabbed myself 11 times with a sowing needle in the thigh the night before after…after I had orgasmed so hard it felt like it might as well be the first time I had ever climaxed while in a limo with him for four fucking hours. I had come home to find my mum beaten to shit, my older brother drunk and my little siblings starving. My life was fucking great and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Maybe two minutes after that Finn and Quinn walked in followed by Todd and Julian, Teddy returning with them and surprisingly enough Cole.

“Ok,” Cole sighed, “Come on.”

“The look on his face…the…” I barely managed while I continued to laugh so hard my stomach hurt.

“Has he lost it?” Todd asked his eyes wide and fearful.

“I don’t think so,” Cole said, “Come on Will. It’s ok.”

“It’s not ok,” I said finally managing to catch my breath, shaking my head the laughter finally subsiding, “it’s not ok.”

“It is right now,” Cole told me as Finn helped me to my feet, “You want to talk alone?”

I nodded my head. What I really wanted to do now that I had stopped laughing was cry. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I didn’t want to be his. I didn’t want to belong to Lionel. I didn’t want him to do that to me again. I didn’t want anyone to ever do that to me again. Everyone sighed looking at us Teddy hovering near the door as everyone else left.

“Should I…?”

“Go? Yeah Ted I think you should go. You didn’t need to tell him any of that. None of it ok?” Cole said frowning at him.

“He deserves to know. You know he deserves to know,” Teddy insisted.

“Not the way you told him,” Cole said shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“How do you tell someone that. Oh, and by the way he’s going to make you mess around with six-year old’s? I mean is there any good way to tell someone that Cole? Is there some way I’m not aware of?” Ted said.

“Maybe just tell him to be aware that he would make him do things he really didn’t want to do? Start with that and see how he responded?” Cole shot back, “God damn it Ted I know he’s your grandfather but good god.”

“I’m right here,” I said quietly causing them both to turn and look at me, “So he really did make you two you know?”

“Yes,” Cole said folding his arms across his chest and sighing heavily, “If I wouldn’t have it would have been a lot worse.”

“Yeah and I know that now,” Ted said, “Yet I feel like you still hate me.”

“I don’t hate you,” Cole said, “It’s just…it’s awkward ok? I remember you crying. Because I was hurting you. Because it hurts and I know it hurts and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. I remember him making me do horrible things to you, ok? And I don’t like thinking about it. That’s why I don’t talk to you. Because I don’t like remembering what he made me do with you ok?”

“What did he make you do?” I asked voicing a question I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer to.

“Doubles,” Cole said, “With him and other stuff. That time every time I stopped moving he’d hit the back of my head and tell me if I didn’t he’d let Sergei do it and Sergei hurts. He enjoys hurting. So, I…”

Cole was quiet his eyes going anywhere but Teddy. Teddy who he was probably imagining as a little boy no older than our little brothers Luke and James. His olive skin and curly dark hair covered in sweat. A body that was way too small for that shaking in fear and pain. I couldn’t imagine ever doing that to someone. Finding the idea hard to process that I might have to. That Lionel would bring some little kid into the room while he was…doing things to me and make me do things to that kid while they cried. While they begged me to stop or shivered in silent fear like I so often did their body betraying them. My head spinning as it was hard to breathe.

“I always thought it was weird,” Ted said, “I didn’t really feel like it hurt until doubles but it always felt weird having papa’s tongue there and then…” he trailed off.

“You know I’m sorry. For all of it. I’ll never forgive myself. I’ll never not…I can’t even look at a younger kid without something like that flashing through my brain. It makes me feel disgusting. I can’t blame you for it. I just feel so guilty about it. You know?” Cole said.

“I miss you sometimes. Not when we were doing that but, the talking and stuff. Hanging out with someone almost normal. Because you know throw a way’s all they talk about is how badly their lives suck now compared to before they were brought or kidnapped or whatever. And Luke, I love Luke but he’s not into baseball. He’s almost as weird as the rest of us. So…,” Teddy shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re not weird because you want to be,” Cole said, “Neither am I. None of us are. We’re just weird because we have to be. I am sorry.”

“You said he did worse,” I said looking at Ted, “what’s worse?”

“You mean than having to sleep with someone who is six? If you say no he’ll pull out a throwaway. I once watched Sergei with one of them. I think you were there,” Ted said and Cole nodded his head.

“Until I saw what happened to Justin it was the most horrifying experience ever. He took this kid that had to be maybe 8 and he pulled all of us into the morgue. More or less like this little area of rooms down in the basement. Sergei likes blood play. He cut the kid with a scalpel in several different places before he took this…thing. And he shoved it inside the kid. Hard. He started coughing up blood. Dr. Huntz pulled it out and reached inside him, his ass and he pulled out his insides. By then the poor kid couldn’t even scream. Lionel looked at me and he said it was my fault. That if I would have just played with him and Teddy it wouldn’t have happened that way. That the only reason it wasn’t both of them was because Teddy is family to him. That I killed him. Dr. Huntz gave him a shot and then he made me feel for a pulse. Kid was dead. Don’t tell anyone this. Pat doesn’t know, your brother doesn’t know. My own Dad doesn’t know. Three out of the six people that do know are standing in this room. Ok?”

I was so shocked I couldn’t throw up. I couldn’t even speak. So, Vic hadn’t been lying. They killed people, kids. Not that I thought he had been or Cole but the way Cole described it his voice monotone like he was reading from a boring book told me that it had traumatized him and it was something he avoided thinking about as often as possible. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to live with myself after seeing something like that. Watching someone do something like that to a little kid. I nodded my head numbly my brain trying to wrap itself around the fact that he had exposed a six and a 10-year-old to that. To the violent murder of another human being.

“It achieved what he wanted. Neither one of us ever said no again,” Teddy said barely above a whisper.

“And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I wasn’t brave enough to say no again Ted. I really am,” Cole said his eyes shining with tears that he was refusing to cry.

“It’s not like you were big either. I mean you were 10,” Ted said, “I’ve never blamed you Cole. Not ever. I just miss you talking to me.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of that considering Teddy really liked me. Did he mean as friends or something else? Was his brain that screwed up that sex was friendship to him? That he had never had a real friendship where he hadn’t been forced to do those things.

“I’ll try,” Cole said, “It just makes me think of him ok? I mean you don’t look anything like him but knowing that you’re related to him it just…”

“What do you think I would tell him anything? No. I don’t tell him anything. Listening to him talk about anyone makes me sick. Him and Louis and mom sit there at dinner and talk about it. It’s gross. They talk about lowering the age and getting more girls to make more matches so there can be more of us. Who they want to be the next leader, and who looks promising to be future leaders. Who they are going to track and …I don’t want to listen to that stuff.” He said.

“Didn’t they just lower the age?” I asked him.

“Of branding and induction? Yeah, they just lowered it to 8 and contracting to 10. They’re talking about taking it down two maybe four more years,” he said.

“THE FUCK!?” Cole exclaimed loudly, “That means 4 and 6. Four would…branding a four-year-old could kill them.”

“It could kill us and we’re 12 and 14. You know how high the risk of infection is?” Ted said shaking his head.

“No,” Cole said, “I mean I figured it was dangerous but that makes it more so for someone even younger don’t you think?”

“He’s having trouble getting the OG’s to agree anyway. The GL OG’s won’t budge they say that’s too young to share. That if someone wants to start training their own kid that young it’s different than sharing them with the rest of the brotherhood. That they are refusing and it has to be a unanimous yes for it to become code,” Ted said.

“Thank god someone has some type of morality,” Cole said.

“GL OG?” I asked.

“Girl Lover Original Gangster. The Counsel. The broad of leaders whatever…there’s three different parts to the brotherhood. There’s inclusive which is both genders and then Girl lovers and then Boy lovers. All you’ll probably ever see is boy lovers because well, that’s what your Dad wants and he’s going to be paying a lot of money to keep other people from touching your sisters. Papa is a Boy lover. He’s the leader of the East coast charter. You have him, west coast, Midwest, A couple different countries have their own representatives and then a European leader, one from Asia and one from South America. There’s like six or 10 of them that vote on everything. If they don’t all say yes it doesn’t pass. I mean he can make rules for here but ages is one that requires a 100% unanimous yes to change. Like he could change the number of 1’s in our charter, he could try and change the ethnicity of the ones, he could change dress code at the Villa and the whatever the girls call their house, he can do a lot of things on his own just because he says so but, he can’t change the ages of branding, trackers, induction, contracts. All of those things need a vote,” Ted explained.

“You mean they could do this to my sisters?” I asked the feeling making me think I was going to be sick again.

“They could when Catherine or anyone else turns 8,” Ted confirmed, “My grandpa keeps saying he can’t talk your Da into it for whatever reason though. So, be thankful that at least they only have to deal with your Dad probably and no one else. I mean you’re allowed to touch your own kids as young as you like. I was so young I don’t remember it.” Ted said his cheeks turning red.

Did he mean the first time someone touched him? He was that little that he didn’t remember? Not at all? Not even a little bit.

“How do you know?” I asked him.

“Mom told me. And other things I don’t care to get into,” Ted said to which Cole and I nodded our heads.

“So, you know even more about it than I do?” I asked him.

“He is my grandpa so yeah,” he said, “I try to tune it out because it’s beyond sick but, when the three adults in your house discuss it around the dinner table and you have to ask permission to leave it kind of…it’s hard not to hear it.”

“how much do you know?” he asked me.

“I read my Da’s emails. A lot of it is about us. My brothers and stuff. My dad and how much money he’s giving them. What’s been brought or taken care of. Different correspondence with different people. Stuff about John, about me. Uncle Ben, everyone. None of it is like the stuff you just told me though. Not that I’ve seen.”

“Well, your dad is new he’s still earning his place. I mean his money helps him with that and you and…yeah all of that but, it takes time to build a reputation for good business and membership standing. Give it a year and those emails will start coming in. Your Dad will get invites to hosting parties. Inclusive parties sometimes. Your Uncle will for sure. He already does. Hosting parties is when the representatives from other countries come in and …,” he trailed off.

“You’ll go to a lot of those. He’ll make you be there but he won’t let anyone touch you unless it’s one of the top of the top council members and they ask to see you. The guy from Japan he’s also the Asian main guy he likes fair skinned, thin and …,” Cole sighed, “He’s not dangerous like Lionel though. He’s just kind of weird.”

“What?” I asked him.

“Dude, don’t even. Let him figure that out on his own because I’m not about to explain that one,” Ted said.

“It’s not bad he’s not dangerous,” Cole assured me.

“So, Lionel when he says he won’t hurt you, he’s lying?” I asked them.

They both nodded their heads. I had caught that. How violent he got when he thought I was going to resist or say no. The way his eyes flashed when I did something like not move fast enough. How he’d ask for my opinions or thoughts and then ignore what I had said. He was seriously dangerous.

“So, I’m…?” I trailed off taking a deep breath before I tried again, “I’m his for real? There’s nothing anyone can do?”

“Your Dad signed the contract so no,” Ted said, “We’ve warned you about the worst of it. You should be able to at least prepare yourself for it. Huh, just be aware. He won’t be around too much. It'll be about every other week. I’ll usually be there at his house if you spend the night so that might be fun if he’s not…you know. Because I spend weekends at his house when he’s in town.”

“You mean the Villa?” I asked him to which he nodded his head.

“Well, he does live there when he’s here so yeah,” Cole said which caused us all to smile lightly before he added, “Like we’d like to think he lives in a gingerbread shack in the woods behind the Villa but…he doesn’t eat children in that way.”

Ted’s smile broadened and he shook his head, “Dude, you’re sick.”

“We’d be better off if he did. Maybe then someone would throw him in an oven,” I said joining in.

“That would be awesome,” Ted said smiling happily at the thought.

“Well welcome to our sick little club,” Cole said, “I would love to stay and chat but I’m already late for class. Are you two ok?”

“As ok as I can be,” I said, “I feel less alone anyway.”

“Good,” Cole said, “If you need to talk I’m here and Teddy’s here obviously. I’ll try to be nicer to you Ted ok? It’s just…”

“Yeah, I know,” Ted said nodding his head, “Thank you for not getting mad at me.”

“I’m never mad at you Ted it’s just weird. I’ll see you later ok?” Cole said to which both Ted and I nodded our heads before the first bell rang releasing us from lunch telling us it was time to go to our next class.

I felt numb the rest of the day. Too tired and too confused to cry or even think about crying. Everyone said that Hank was dangerous, that Ben was and Arthur but it seemed like the one that was really the most dangerous of them all was Lionel. Because he wasn’t just violent he played mind games. He manipulated people and then when you didn’t do what he said he tortured you. No wonder he kept his boys close. He probably didn’t want anyone else getting into their heads. Messing with their minds the way he did.

When I got home I ended up doing homework all night. After mine was finished I helped Mike and Matt with theirs and James and Cat with theirs and then I sat down to make dinner. I didn’t see John like at all. Since he got home before I did every day and seemed to just hide out in his room and drink. I stepped away to fix dinner and asked Mike and James to keep an eye on everyone as mum slept in the nursery staying in there with the babies because she was still so sore and beaten up.

After dinner was cooked and everyone else was gathered around the table I went and knocked on John’s bedroom door to tell him dinner was ready. I didn’t really wait for him to answer opening the door to find the lights off him curled up in his bed his Khaki’s and under shirt from his uniform still on an empty bottle on the night stand next to him, “I made Mac and cheese for dinner.”

“I’m not hungry. Thanks though,” John mumbled rolling over so he was looking at me in the darkness instead of facing the wall.

“Are you ok?” I asked him quietly.

I knew being home wasn’t any easier for him than I was finding it. That Da never left him alone. That he was tired and suicidal and that mum was beat to shit. That he was having just as hard a time as I was.

“Not really,” he told me sitting up.

“You want to talk about it?” I asked him shutting the door and turning on the light him blinking at me as I sat down in the chair at his desk across from him.

“Just keep Matt away from me for a while ok?” he said sitting up a little bit.

He looked like he was drunk and his room smelled like booze. He looked like he had been crying. Or like he wanted to cry but didn’t have the energy. It made me wonder what Matt had said to him. If he had told John that he had let Da get a hold of him that one time because he had been mad at us.

Matt and Mike had spent the weekend locked in the basement with Uncle Ben. Matt was probably just being a shit because he was upset because he blamed us for being back here. Believed we were whores. That we made a big stink about nothing and that it had cost not just us but him and Mike as well.

“Matt’s been through a lot so if he’s being weird just try to brush it off ok?” I told him.

Matt acted like it didn’t bother him but it did. That’s why he was always angry all the time. Always asking weird questions and saying things to make people upset or piss them off. Because it did hurt him in some way even if he didn’t want to admit it. He blamed us for it though. Blamed us whenever he got hurt or Mike. I couldn’t blame him for doing it though. It was only 8. He was still little and he still didn’t understand even if he was shit about it.

“Da showed him the same video he showed mum,” John told me, “And now Matt is asking me really really personal questions and right now I just can’t deal with it.”

“Like what type of questions?” I asked even though I knew the answer I was pretty sure. Questions that would be hard or John to answer, questions that would make him upset because he wanted to see john hurt. And the only way he knew he could hurt John was to remind John of things he didn’t want to think about. Things that upset him, that would upset anyone.

“If I like it. He thinks I like it Will. Because he saw one video of me black out drunk where I was…,” he sighed grabbing a pillow and putting if over his face.

I leaned forward taking the pillow away hugging it to my chest as he sighed heavily looking at me his face slightly flushed across his cheeks. He was embarrassed by that video. Not that I blamed him. I mean I would be too knowing that people had seen me like that. In a mental state where I couldn’t control myself or my reactions. In a mental state where I didn’t even realize the video was happening or remember being filmed.

“Matt’s too little. He doesn’t understand,” I reminded him, “It’s different for them because it’s all they’ve ever really known.”

That was true. Da had been touching us and abusing us since we could remember so that meant it had been going on since before they could remember. Even if it hadn’t been happening to them it had been happening their whole lives to someone that was around them so they had been exposed to it from birth. That would screw anyone up. That would confuse anyone.

“I was four the first time Uncle Ben ever did anything to me and even I still know it’s not right. Regardless of what Da tells me because I’m not stupid,” John muttered crossing his arms over his chest in frustration.

He wasn’t stupid. He was confused. He didn’t know anything else. At the rate we were going he probably never would. He would probably end up like them. Thinking it was ok to abuse kids. That it was ok to show your kids that you loved them like that. John and I both knew that wasn’t real love. That Da hadn’t always been like that but, that didn’t mean it was something Matt understood. Or Mike or any of them. As far as we knew he had been abusing them the same way he had done us and we just weren’t aware of it.

“Matt’s not stupid he’s confused,” I told him, “They had him locked down there since we got home Friday and they only let him back up here to bathe and eat and go to school. Da is going to come and take him back downstairs tonight I’m pretty sure. The lock on the pantry is gone John. I don’t know if you noticed that or not but things are seriously fucked up right now. You can’t blame him for being a confused kid.”

John rolled his eyes before he sat up straight turning his body to face me full on, “He asked me if I like oral Will. He asked me if I like it when Da…” his face started to flush red again where the red had finally left his cheeks just minutes before.

“He outright just asked?” I looked at him.

Why would Matt ask that? Why would he want to know that? He knew what it felt like. It wasn’t like he didn’t know. Him and Da had been very explicit about the relationship they had in front of me and in front of Mike and James. It wasn’t any secret that Da did that type of stuff to him to.

“He just out right asked?” I asked him to confirm.

“YES!” John said forcefully.

“That’s not right,” I said shaking my head, “I’ll talk to him when I get the chance ok?”

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head, “Just keep him away from me for a while ok?” he said to which I nodded my head.

“Can you help me out in a little while though?” I asked him, “I’m drowning here. I need to get everyone in bed starting around 7:30 so if you could help me with that I’d be really grateful.”

“Of course,” John said, “For now though can you just let me nap?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “I’ll come wake you up when it’s time.”

“Thanks,” John said as I shut the door behind me.

I went and sat down at the table where James and Cat were finishing eating, “So Jennifer is pregnant? I thought she was a Barbie doll?” he asked her.

“She is but she my Barbie and Barbie can be anything so she’s going to be a mummy again,” she informed him, “I just have to get mummy to buy me a baby for her. Another baby.”

“Could Ken get pregnant?” James asked her.

“Well,” Cat said thoughtfully, “He could but I think it would be weird. And his name is Calvin not Ken.”

“Oh,” James said, “can boys get pregnant in real life?” he asked looking at me.

“No,” I told him, “We kind of talked about this remember guys?”

“Yeah,” Cat said, “Boys can’t have babies because they don’t have a place for the baby to grow.”

“That’s right,” I said, “Very good.”

“Wait so if two boys get married they can’t have a baby, right?” James asked me.

“Well, first of all boys can’t get married to each other it’s against the law and second they could have kids they just would need a woman in order to do it. Like someone to grow the baby in their tummy or they would adopt,” I told him.

“You mean take a baby that isn’t really their baby and raise it like it’s their baby?” Cat asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “How do you know about that?”

“Because my friend Marsha is adopted because her mummy’s growing place didn’t work so her birth mummy gave her to her real mummy to take care of because she couldn’t do it. So, her birth mummy had her like mummy had us and then her real mummy takes care of her. We talked about it at school. When I told her, I had so many brothers and sisters she asked me if any of you were adopted. I told her that Matt was special but I was pretty sure he wasn’t adopted and that I know everyone younger then me came out of mummy’s tummy.” Cat explained to me.

“Well, it’s a vagina but yes,” I said.

“Oh right,” Cat said nodding her head.

“Matt’s not adopted,” James said.

“How do you know?” Cat asked him.

“He looks just like Mike and Mike’s not adopted that’s how I know,” he said.

“Their identical twins,” I told them.

“I almost had twins,” James said setting his fork in his empty bowl.

“No bud three babies at once is triplets. They would have been your triplet siblings not twins,” I told him.

“I miss them sometimes. I think,” James told me.

“How do you mean?” Cat asked him, “I don’t remember them being here.”

“Well,” I said, “They both got very sick while they were in mummy’s tummy with James and so God took them back to heaven when they were born. That’s why you don’t remember them but I do. You remember them?”

“Sometimes I think I do,” James told me, “But then sometimes I think I don’t. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, it makes sense to me,” I told him.

“Did I have a twin?” Cat asked me.

“No. You’re like John and me. You were an only baby,” I told her.

“And two babies at once is twins and three at once is triplets and four at once is…” she trailed off.

“Quadruplets and five at once is quintuplets,” I told her.

Her eyes went really wide “five at once?”

“It’s happened. It’s rare but it happens,” I told her.

“My friend Freddy has siblings that are three like I was,” James told me.

“My friend Sally her cat just had five kitties at once. Is it like that?” Cat asked me.

“Kind of. It’s very rare,” I told her.

“What do you think they were like?” I asked him.

I wasn’t sure how much mum had told him about them. About his brothers that he had lost. One of them had been an identical. His identical twin. He was too little to understand the logistics of that though. How one baby could not be identical to the other two. How two eggs had been fertilized and then one had spilt creating two fetuses’ instead of continuing to develop as one while the other egg developed as one fetus.

“I dream about them sometimes,” he told me.

“What’s it like?” Cat asked him.

“Well one time I thought it was a mirror but it was a boy and then the other one was like me only not. He had red hair. Which I thought was weird because it looked like me only with red hair. All of our sisters have red hair,” James said.

“Well, actually it’s weird that they don’t have blonde hair you want to know why?” I asked him.

“Why?” him and Cat asked me in unison.

“Red hair is what’s considered a dormant trait. That means that a lot of people have the genes that make red hair but they don’t have red hair. It’s actually really rare that so many people in one family have red hair,” I told them James’ eyes going wide as he looked at Catty and smiled.

“Catty you know what this means right? You’re special too! I thought I was special because I had twins but, it means your special too. And that means Laura and Mary are extra special because they have red hair and twins.” He said.

Every time he said it my smile grew because he kept saying it wrong. It was cute though. His brothers that we had lost were his multiple siblings or his triplet brothers but he kept calling them his twins. And Andy and Seamus weren’t Laura and Mary’s twin brothers but their twins which was correct English but still sounded super cute. And they were extra special because they had red hair and also had twins too.

It was good to see him being a kid. A normal kid not bent over his homework or crying hysterically because he was afraid that some old pervert was going to hurt him. Because he’d had nightmares about him where Da held him down and let that old pervert rape him. Go into his body and…take a piece of him away. The idea of him being normal and watching them have a normal conversation making me happy. Making me feel like maybe they could be ok.

“Will did you hear me?” he asked me suddenly.

“Sorry bud,” I said, “What did you say?”

“I said I know mummy is sleeping because she has a blue belly but I was wondering if I could play on my piano. I know it’s late but I really want to play and I didn’t get to all last week and I really want to.” He told me.

“How about we try to make sure there’s time tomorrow ok? It is kind of late and I’m about to put the babies to bed and then you two need to go to bed ok?” I told him.

“Ok,” he agreed, “Do you want me to rinse my bowl?”

“Yes, please that would be very helpful,” I said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he told me, “Are you done too Cat? I’ll rinse your bowl too.”

“Ok, I have to go brush my teeth,” she told him handing him her bowl, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said again going over to the sink and reaching over and grabbing the stool before he stepped onto it. He had trouble reaching the faucet without the stool because he was still so little. Both of them were just so little. I couldn’t imagine myself ever hurting either one of them. Especially not like that. I don’t know what got into me but I went up behind him and hugged him.

“Thank you for being such a big help bud,” I said kissing the crown of his head before I walked away getting Andy out of his booster seat and then Laura and walking them to the nursery stopping and tapping on John’s bedroom door on the way there.

“Hey John? Can I get your help? I’m going to help Andy and Laura brush their teeth can you please…,” I said as he opened up his bedroom door.

“Yeah, I’m here. What do you need me to do?” he asked me.

“Can you help James finish washing the dishes and then make sure Cat and he brush their teeth? Maybe read them a bedtime story?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m on it,” he said walking down the hall towards the kitchen.

It took a while to get both of them brushed me having to do the brushing because they were little and all they really did was chew on the brush instead of actually brushing it. Once they were done I made sure they were in fresh diapers and changed them into their PJ’s mum waking up again as we came out of the bathroom.

“All right wee loves, time for bed,” Mum said going to stand up before she winced in pain.

“Mum,” I said going over to her and helping her lay back down, “I’ve got it. Do you need to feed Mary or Seamus?” I asked her.

“Yes, love I do,” she said, “I need the rocking chair could you…”

“Yeah,” I said putting my arm around her gently making sure I stayed aware of her bad side as I helped her limp over to the rocking chair before I grabbed Mary and handed her to mum before I realized mum couldn’t move that well.

“Mum do you need me to…?” I felt my face turning red just thinking about it.

She needed help. She probably hadn’t bathed in three days because it was hard for her to move. She was probably in an insane amount of pain. She could barely move her arms because he chest and torso were so sore.

“I know it’s a lot to ask love and I know you’re shy about it so if you leave I think I can manage,” she told me.

“What do I do exactly?” I asked her finding my resolve. Figuring that if I didn’t do it she might not be able to do at all and she needed to feed them. They needed their food and imagining how much sorer she must have been since she had been struggling to do it herself. To move her arms and hold them and change them herself.

“I just need you to help me pull my left sleeve off and pull my bra strap down, that’s all love the rest I can get myself,” she told me.

“You shouldn’t even be wearing one mum,” I said shaking my head.

“Nonsense. You know how unc…” she laughed a little causing herself to wince in pain.

“Mum don’t wear one tomorrow. I’m calling Dr. Palmer. You need to do something mum,” I told her.

“No, this is my fault I will deal with the consequences,” she said.

“Mum…” tried again.

“No William I am not like my mother. I am not a woman who lets her husband beat her and her children. That is not who I am. This will go away. I will be fine. This is my fault let me deal with it my way. Now help me get my shirt off if you could please,” she told me to which I nodded my head helping her get her shirt off using one arm as I held Mary up against my shoulder. I handed Mary to her and then put Laura and Andy into their cribs as before I reached in and grabbed Mac changing his diaper before I laid him back down with a sippy cup.

“Mum?” I asked her.

“Yes love?” she asked me.

“Do we have any formula? I know you don’t like using it but maybe…maybe we should have Da buy some. Just until you’re better,” I said quietly.

“I don’t think he would even if I asked,” she sighed.

She needed help. And he was letting her struggle. He had beaten her up so badly she could barely move and he wasn’t offering her any help what so ever. I sighed sticking around to help her feed Seamus before I decided I was going to do something about it. That she needed the formula. I knew she needed it. There was no way she would ever get better if she didn’t get some type of break. I made sure Seamus and Mary were both changed and handed Mac a bottle of Milk.

I didn’t care to be quiet. She needed help. I knew she needed help and that Da was still awake that it was only nine. My regular bed time. So, I went downstairs to his office. Not worried about who heard the lift kick on. I sighed heavily before I knocked on his office door his voice answering sharply.

“What is it?”

“Da, it’s me,” I said quietly.

“You can come in,” he told me, “Did you have fun this weekend?”

So, he wasn’t even going to ask me how my day was but how my time with the leader had been? Was that all that mattered? Was that all he cared about?

“Mum needs help,” I told him.

“She should have thought about that before Thursday afternoon, shouldn’t she?” he said, “What do you think you can do to help her?”

“She needs to see a doctor and she can’t feed the babies like this Da. She needs pain meds and we need Formula,” I told him.

“What for?” he asked me.

“She’s having trouble even moving. I think you broke her ribs. She’s in so much pain Da and she won’t get better if she doesn’t have help. Or get some type of break,” I told him.

“What do I get in return?” he asked me flat out swiveling around in his chair to face me.

I knew what he was asking. And he knew I would do it. I would do whatever he wanted me to in order to make sure she got the medical care that she needed but didn’t want. In order to make sure my little brothers and sisters were fed and taken care of. I felt my throat tighten.

“Do you want me to…?” I trailed off my hands going to my belt starting to undo it.

I was still in my school uniform. I hadn’t gotten the chance to change yet. Not between doing my own homework and helping everyone else and making sure everyone was taken care of and fed and ready for bed. Me undoing my belt before he stood up causing me to step back a couple paces.

“I’d love that,” he said, “How about we go next door? Into the bedroom.”

I nodded my head gulping. I couldn’t say no. If I said no it wouldn’t be just me who suffered but everyone. He would probably hurt someone else or not give me the stuff we needed. Or he would refuse call Dr. Palmer to come see mum. He grabbed my hand as he walked past me practically dragging me along behind him. When we got to the door he picked me up. Almost like I was little. He sat me down on the bed lowering his body on top of mine, his nose brushing against mine as I closed my eyes.

“No come honey, look at me,” he said quietly.

“Why?” I asked barely a whisper.

“I want to see your eyes. I want to love you,” he muttered before his lips met mine, his tongue pushing into my mouth.

My skin started crawling. I wanted to cry but knew it would make him mad. That he wouldn’t do what I needed him to do if I cried him finally breaking the kiss starting to undo my button up.

“Will you let me make love to you Honey? Like you let Lionel? He said you were good. That you were such a good boy for him. Can you be a good boy for me?” he asked me.

Lionel hadn’t made love to me. He had raped me. I knew he had raped me. It didn’t matter what Da wanted to call it or him. I hadn’t wanted it to happen. No matter what my body had told the leader. I hadn’t wanted to do that and I didn’t want to do this. But I didn’t have choice. There weren’t any options.

I nodded my head before I managed to find my words him undoing the last button on my button up and moving to help me get my arms untangled from my shirt, “I’ll be good. I promise daddy.”

“I love it when you call me daddy,” he said quietly pulling my under shirt up over my head before he started kissing the center of my chest before his mouth immediately moved to my nipple that cold fire stealing my breath.

I started to try and relax. Try and tell myself over and over that I was ok even though I knew I wasn’t. I wasn’t ok. Him kissing and licking my chest until it felt wet and sticky. He didn’t speak as he pulled my pants off. Only speaking when he stood up to take off his pants smiling at me.

“You want to do me a favor?” he asked me quietly from where I laid frozen on the bed.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by a favor. I thought I was already doing one. Not sure what was going on.

“Will honey? Are you there?”

“Yeah,” I said quietly, “Sorry.”

“You want to try something new?” he asked me quietly.

New? How was anything about this new? He’d done everything to me. At least I had thought so. Him taking off his shirt and throwing it on the ground on top of his pants and underwear. Me highly aware that we were both naked.

“I…,” I said trying to think of what would be new about anything we could do, “I don’t know.”

He grabbed me by the arms pulling me up the bed a little bit so my legs were no longer hanging off the foot of the bed before he sighed stepping back and looking at me nodding his head in satisfaction. He swung one of his legs over my head his penis in my face. I had no idea what he was doing. As he climbed on top of me putting his mouth around me down there, his penis in my face one knee on each side of my head.

He stopped for a minute, “Just lick. I know it’ll be kind of hard to concentrate but it will be fun.” He said before going back to it.

I had no idea what he was doing. It was new and I didn’t think I liked it. His penis poking me in the chin as his mouth moved up and down on me. Making me squirm.

He stopped again, “All you have to do is lick and suck while I do the same to you. It’s fun. I bet you didn’t do this with Lionel, did you?” he asked me.

No. No I had not. Is that why he was doing it because he didn’t want Lionel to do it first? Whatever it was. I shook my head before I realized that he would be mad if I didn’t answer and he couldn’t see my face because I was staring at his junk.

“No,” I said quietly.

“Ok honey just use your mouth. It’ll feel so good and I’ll make you feel good. I want you to feel so good honey,” he said before he licked my tip causing me to moan like Lionel had caused me to on Friday. My face burning red with shame as I closed my eyes so I didn’t have to see that curly mess of hair anymore. See his…everything wrapping my fist around it before I started trying to lap at it because I knew if I didn’t he would mad.

He moaned happily with me in his mouth his hips starting to thrust forward like he was trying to make me do more than I was. The more he sucked the harder he seemed to go. Making it hard for me to do anything but pant. The pressure kept building making it harder and harder to think or focus on anything else. My body was on fire as I tried my best to do what I knew he wanted me to. To put my mouth on him and do it back. At some point, me not able to move anymore at least not voluntarily. My whole-body twitching and shaking before I felt something wet and warm sliding into me making me tense.

“No honey just relax. I know it’s new but it’s ok,” he told me, “Why don’t you let me know what it feels like?”

He moved his finger around still kissing and licking making my body squirm. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to get away or if my body was trying to make him do more, touch me more, lick me more. I wanted him to stop. My brain screaming at me to make him stop but knowing I couldn’t. I couldn’t control my whimpering. Especially when his finger started to move finding that spot.

He was trying. He was trying to get me off. And it was working. My body was responding and I was hating it. I was hating how he kept hitting the right spot sending chills and tingles up down my spine almost as badly as Lionel had in the limo. I would have screamed at him if I could have made any noise besides the sound a dog makes when you kick it. My lip trembling and my face burning with shame every time he hit that spot a certain way. I was crying. He couldn’t see my face. I knew he couldn’t see my face. And I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to. I was doing for them. He did it until I climaxed. Him only stopping when he had swallowed all of my seed. Everything that I had to give him before he rolled off of me. Sitting up.

“Honey don’t cry,” he said flipping around kissing my forehead, “There’s nothing to be upset about. I just wanted you to feel good. You feel good, don’t you? You came for me so I know it had to feel good. And now you want my cock, don’t you? Because you’re my beautiful little cock slut. Let Daddy’s cock fill you nice and full huh?” he said as he pushed inside me taking my arms and wrapping them around his neck as I stopped crying.

I was beyond done. The hard part was over with. That’s what I told myself closing my eyes or trying to because he made a sound, clicking his tongue.

“Don’t be ashamed. I love that you want my cock. I want you to have my cock,” he said as he started thrusting. He didn’t even have to try to find that spot. That spot that felt like it was pushing static up my spine and through my nervous system. That same spot Lionel had hurt me trying to find before he managed to hit it. My whole body feeling tighter each time he rubbed against it.

“That’s it honey, that’s it. You know you want it. You know want my cock, take my cock. Oh, fuck yes good boy, that’s it good boy, take my cock. My hungry little cock slut. So, hungry for it.”

I stared through him not at him. If I had focused my eyes I could see him and I couldn’t ignore what he was saying but he was staring right at me riding me until I climaxed again my body pushing him to the edge within a couple of thrust before he finally stilled. I could feel my muscle rippling. From my shoulders, down into my calves. I felt numb. My body feeling like jelly but my brain just feeling numb. Knowing what I had just done. That my Da had just…

“I’ll go to the store in the morning and get them some Formula. I think I can ask Karen for a favor and have her come watch the babies for the day, maybe two if she’s not busy,” he told me as he pulled out standing up, “That was amazing. Not as good as John but, still amazing. Lionel’s right you’re a good boy. You’re special.” He said as he put his clothes on. “You can go upstairs when you’re ready.”

I kept waiting for my legs to regain feeling. After what felt like forever I could finally move my toes my brain feeling weird, fuzzy. Like I didn’t understand what…I didn’t know what that was. Him climbing on top of me like that and doing that to me while I was supposed to be doing it to him. What was that? I had never…he had been right it was new.

When I managed to get back upstairs and climb into the shower everyone was in bed. In their own beds. I felt gross and confused and scared and I climbed into the shower making the water as hot as I could. I tried to focus on anything else. On the fact that things would be easier for mum tomorrow hopefully. That things would be easier for John tonight maybe. That night I fell asleep in my own bed by myself too confused and ashamed to cry. Just closing my eyes and trying to sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning John woke up before I did knocking hard on my door, “How are you still sleeping? It’s like almost 6:30 we have to get ready. I made sure everyone was changed and I helped mum take a bath and feed everyone. Cat and James are ready Mike and Matt are getting ready. Why did you sleep so late? Your alarm has gone off like three times.”

“John?” I asked quietly something about my tone making him freeze as he put his hand on the door knob to leave.

“Yeah?” he turned to look at me.

I felt my face starting to glow. He sighed sitting down on the edge of my bed, “You can tell me. It’s ok.”

“Has Da ever…?” I swallowed trying again, “Has Da ever put his…”

“Calm,” John said grabbing my hand which I squeezed back nodding my head, “Just take your time ok?”

“Has Da ever climbed on top of you and make you suck his you know while he sucked yours?” I finally managed to get out.

His eyes went wide before he took a deep breath, “Yeah. Has he ever done that to you?”

“He did last night,” I admitted it.

“Ok,” John said squeezing my hand in his before he placed his other hand over the back of mine rubbing it gently, “Do you know what that’s called? Is that why you’re asking? Because you don’t know what that is?”

I felt the tears breaking the surface as I started crying. He had never done that before. He really hadn’t. I was 10 I didn’t know what that was called. When someone did that. I didn’t understand why someone would want to do that. I mean I understood most people thought that getting a blow job felt good but, I didn’t understand why they would do it to each other or try to.

“It’s called 69. It went two people use their mouths on each other at the same time. He’s never done that before?” he asked me.

I shook my head. I didn’t know what else to say. What I should admit to. Had he made John do that? He must of otherwise how would John know what it was called?

“I bet that was scary,” he said a deep frown across his face, “You’re ok though. I know you’re ok. I know it’s scary and that you’re unsure but, you’re here with me ok? Do you want me to talk to mum? Ask her if you can stay home?”

“No, I don’t want to be home. Karen might be coming,” I said.

“I thought she quit,” he said.

“Da’s asking her for a favor so he can take mum to the doctor,” I said him giving me a knowing look.

“You didn’t,” he said shaking his head, “Will you can’t do that type of stuff. You can’t. Once you get into doing that for favors he will never let you stop. You understand? First, it’s getting him to take mum to the doctor, then it’s to keep him from touching James which he’ll do anyway and then it’s to keep him from touching Cat and then it’s him passing you to people so that he doesn’t pass Mike out to them or someone else. Don’t start doing this. Ok? Next time you think he’s going to ask what you’re going to do for him you come to me ok? You don’t do that. Not ever.”

“Why not? You’re tired John you need a break,” I said, “Mum needs help. She’s going to get help now. He’s going to make sure the babies have formula so she can take pain meds and help her get better. He hurt her really bad John. For taking us away.”
“I know he did,” he told me, “I’ve seen her and I know it’s bad. I just helped her take a bath because she so sore she can’t get into the tub by herself. Trust me, I know it’s bad. We’ll be ok though. You and me we’ll take care of it until she’s better but you don’t do that ok? Not with Da, not with anyone. That’s my job. I’m the older brother, you don’t do that.”

He sounded sad and worried, tired even but not angry with me. I thought he might be angry with me but he wasn’t. He seemed scared for me. Like he was worried about me. In that moment I wanted to tell him everything. I wanted to tell him about Lionel, about what he had made me do.

About the things I was told he would make me do. I wanted to tell him how scared I was. That I knew it was my fault we didn’t get away because Lionel had probably been looking for me the moment Da and him realized I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. That this whole thing was probably all my fault because I was a whore. A whore that had caught the eye of the wrong guy somehow.

“Promise me you won’t do that again ok? It’s bad enough that he makes you feel like you can’t say no. Now he’s trying to make you feel like if you say no he’s going to punish someone that’s not you. So, don’t do that again. You don’t deserve to feel that way about yourself ok?” he told me almost crying.

I sighed nodding my head. He was wrong though. I did deserve to feel that way and I knew I did. I didn’t want to be around the house today though. I wanted to go to school try and find something normal to talk about that wouldn’t make me feel gross. Do something that could almost pass as normal. I got dressed quickly.

When I sat down in English Finn was there and he waved at me as I sat down.

“Hi,” I said.

“Are you doing better today?” he asked me.

“A little,” I said.

“I went horseback riding,” he told me suddenly.

“On your new horse?” I asked him.

“Yeah. It was actually kind of fun. After a while my dad got annoyed and rode ahead so I got to ride by myself. It was nice. Not having him around to bother me and shit. How did…,” his face fell as he sighed, “Sorry. Never mind. Huh, Well, did you do your homework for math?”

“Yeah, I did,” I said.

“Can I like borrow it?” he asked me.

“No,” I said laughing slightly.

“Quinn convinced me to start reading comic books for some reason. Again, I mean I used to read them when I was kid sometimes but for some reason right now I’m really into them. I really like batman,” he told me.

“I should read them probably. My two little brothers love them. They constantly fight over who makes a better Robin and what not,” I told him smiling at the thought of it, “It might be nice to read something with someone for once.”

“You could read harry Potter,” he told me.

“I have. I like it it’s just…I don’t know. I have trouble relating to it a little bit,” I told him.

“Why?” he asked me.

“I don’t know just like he has these two like super close friends and no family and everyone looks up to him. I don’t. I don’t see that happening. I mean I understand his feelings of isolation and what not but, it just I don’t see me ever not feeling isolated,” I told him.

“You have me,” he said.

“Yeah but…I mean,” I trailed off.

“What you don’t want me to be your friend?” he asked me frowning, “I thought we were kind of good friends.”

“No, I do. I just…it’s hard and sometimes. I feel like you just see me as a kid,” I said.

“No,” Finn shook his head, “You might be younger but, you’re not just a kid. You’re super smart Will otherwise I probably wouldn’t even know you because we wouldn’t be in the same grade. I think you’re awesome. A little tense maybe but I mean I hang out with Teddy and he’s a major spaz.”

I laughed lightly at that. That was true he did hang out with Ted a lot and Ted really was a spaz. Ted was only a spaz though in my personal opinion because his brain didn’t know how act around normal people. His mom and grandpas had him so screwed up he probably didn’t know his left from his right half the time. He had basically admitted that to me himself.

“He’s ok. He just needs to get used to people I think. Once you get used to him he’s not so bad. He’s kind of funny sometimes actually,” I told Finn.

“Really? I’ve never heard anyone call him funny in a good way before,” Finn said.

“That’s not very nice to say about someone you would consider a friend,” I said.

“I don’t say that about him,” Finn said, “Other people do. He doesn’t get to hang out with a lot of people outside…,” Finn waved his hands, “all of that. I think it messes with his brain sometimes and outsiders just don’t get it. Like Teddy makes a lot of off color jokes.”

“Off Color?” I asked him.

“Well, there’s this show Friends. I’ve watched it with him and sometimes it has like really adult jokes. Like this one Character Ross saw this pizza girl that he thought was cute and apparently, he was trying to flirt with her and had heard her mention she didn’t like her new haircut and that it reminded her of an 8-year-old boy and Ross said, “I like 8-year-old boys.”

“What? They put that on TV? Do they know how wrong that sounds?” I asked him.

“Well yeah,” he said, “That’s the point. Teddy makes jokes like that sometimes.”

“So, does Cole,” I said, “Sometimes it’s funny though. I mean it shouldn’t be but it is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well I talked to Cole yesterday and he said something about how …,” I lowered my voice, “You know the leader he lives in the Villa. I don’t know why but I asked if that was true and Cole goes “yeah I mean we’d like to think he lives in a gingerbread shack in the woods behind it but he doesn’t eat children. At least not in that way.”

Finn smiled clamping his hand over his mouth nodding his head, “Yeah no, you’re right. That’s totally a Teddy thing too.”

“Right? Probably so depressed they just don’t know how else to deal with it so they joke about it,” I said.

“I’m not sure I could do that,” Finn said, “Joke about it like that I mean. I mean sometimes maybe but not usually. I do however find it depressing that there isn’t a lot to talk about with anyone outside of all of that.”

“Me too,” I agreed, “However I think it’s something we all talk about so often because it’s such a big part of our lives. I mean our weekends seem to revolve around it, our lives for the most part. If it’s not about going to the Villa it seems to be about who has a contract with whom, who is being watched by which tracker or recruit. Who is being picked on the most often. Who might be getting into trouble. All of that type of stuff.”

“Pretty soon it will be more like who has been matched, what matches have been dissolved. Who is going to what college and what are they majoring in because that translates to which department head at which school do they have to fuck and how far away from home are they actually getting so they can maybe be normal instead of having to blow a tier 2 tracker in the bathroom to get some coke so they can stay up after a very long night and actually past their test tomorrow,” Finn told me.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “Wal doesn’t do coke but he crushes my Ritalin if I don’t keep an eye on it. Everyone is doing something. If they’re not snorting something they are shooting something, if they aren’t shooting something they are drinking something or popping something or some guys cut, some guys starve. Everyone deals differently. I haven’t talked to a single guy older than me who isn’t taking something or hasn’t at least tried it in the past. There’s this one teacher Father Gunther if you do stuff for him he’ll keep your marks high and slip you whatever you want. They moved him to ninth grade last year. I had him in 5th. Older boys used to come by his class all the time.”

“That’s gross they let him teach 5th graders?” I asked.

“Well, if you hadn’t of skipped wouldn’t you be 5th grade right now?” he asked me.

“I don’t know, would I?” I asked him.

“Well you’re how old again?” he asked me.

“I’ll be 11 in March,” I answered.

“Yeah, you’d be in the 5th grade. I turned 12 in October shortly after you got here. I wasn’t allowed to have a party this year though so don’t get upset about not being invited because literally no one was invited. It kind of sucked really. But yeah, you’d be in 5th grade if you hadn’t skipped,” he told me.

“How old is Teddy?” I asked him realizing I had no idea how old Teddy was even though we did share a class.

“Ted? He turned 11 right before school started,” he told me.

“Oh,” I said quietly.

I started thinking, doing the math in my head. That meant that Lionel had just stopped doing to Teddy whatever he had been doing. The beginning of August had been when my Da had told us we were moving and 2 weeks later we were here. It made me wonder Why. Why Lionel had suddenly hired him and just like that we were here. What had made that change happen.

“You ok?” Finn asked, “You just did that thing you do.”

“What thing?” I asked him.

“You go really still and like blank out for a minute or two sometimes,” Finn told me, “It’s actually really weird.”

“Sorry,” I said, “I was just thinking about something. It doesn’t matter what.”

“It’s ok. I’ve seen Teddy do it sometimes too just, it’s strange. Almost like you go somewhere else for second. Teddy’s eyes actually twitch when he does it. You just go still and stare at nothing. What are you thinking about when that happens?”

“Different things,” I said shrugging my shoulders. Sometimes I’m doing math sometimes it’s other stuff. Usually it’s questions I’m trying to answer myself. Sometimes it’s stupid stuff really.”

“Like what?” he asked me.

“Like…,” I sighed trying to find an example I cared to share, “If someone says an expression that I think I might know but I’m not sure about. I’ll stop and it’s almost like I’m digging through my head trying to find what it means or see if I can guess what it means just by hearing it.”

“Like the word hypergraphia or something?” he asked.

“I know what that means that’s easy. Like usually it’s slang terms. Like earlier my brother used the term 69. Don’t ask me why I don’t care to get into it. And I was trying to figure out why it’s call that. And then I realized it’s like head to tail. A 6 is just an upside down 9 and they are facing each other so…,” I trailed off feeling my cheeks flush a little bit.

“Right,” he said nodding his head, “You didn’t know what that was?”

I felt my face flushing an even deeper shade of red. That was a really bad example. Really bad. Why did he have to question me about it and then he smiled slightly, “It’s ok. Sometimes I forget you’re 10. When I was 10 I don’t think I knew what it was either.”

“Really?” I asked him feeling a little relieved.

“Yeah, like I knew what it was but I didn’t know it was called 69,” he told me, “What brought up that topic?”

“I don’t care to get into it,” I repeated.

“Ah,” Finn said nodding his head in understanding, “That happens to everyone. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Just so you know.”

“Finn? Please?” I asked him meaning I wanted him to drop the subject.

“Ok,” he said nodding his head, “Have you listened to any of that new rapper’s stuff?”

“I don’t listen to rap,” I told him honestly.

“You should. It can be pretty cool. Do you listen to any music?” he asked me.

“Not really,” I said, “Usually I have other things going on. Anytime I try to listen to anything someone is wet and crying so…music and TV aren’t high on the list of things I do.”

“Ah. Yeah, I think you’ve told me that before,” he responded, “Isn’t that hard though?”

“What?” I asked him.

“Taking care of so many little kids,” he said, “I mean I have my cousin Emily her and my Uncle live with us in the guest house and I’ve helped take care of her for as long as I can remember but, I’m not expected to like spoon feed her or anything.”

“How old is she?” I asked him.

“She’s six,” he told me.

“My brother James is six,” I said, “I have a sister that is four and then 2 siblings that are 2 one that is 1 and then 2 that are only a couple months old. I’m not expected to spoon feed them I mean the two of them can’t even eat solid food yet but I do cut their food for them and stuff. Mostly they eat with their hands still. It’s a work in progress but I’m not expected to stand there and feed them.”

“Don’t you have an older brother too?” Finn asked me.

“John?” I asked him frowning, “Yeah he’s just…it’s hard right now is all.”

“What’s he on?” Finn asked me knowingly.

“He drinks. He sleeps and then he wakes up and drinks some more until he’s asleep again,” I answered shrugging my shoulders.

I didn’t care to get into John’s problems with Finn even if he was my friend. He didn’t know how bad Da could be, or Uncle Ben. Everyone claimed they did but, they didn’t have to live with them. Not like we did. They didn’t have to help their mother pull her shirt off so she could breast feed their younger siblings so they didn’t starve to death. Or let their Da fuck them so he would take their mum to the doctor because he had beaten her until she could barely move. Those were personal problems and I planned to keep them that way.

“That sounds hard. What about your mom?” he asked me.

“I don’t know? What about her?” I asked.

“Isn’t she around? Like she’s one of the only mum’s I’ve heard of that’s still around,” Finn said.

“She tries. She’s really good with my little siblings but there is only so much she can do to help me and John,” I confessed, “That doesn’t mean she doesn’t love us though.”

“Oh, I’m sure she does. If she didn’t she would be gone already. I know you guys haven’t been around that long but by this point most moms have taken off. Even the women that were born into old families have taken off at this point. So, she has to love you. Otherwise she wouldn’t still be around. My mom left shortly after I was born Wal was 4. Emily, my cousin her mom wasn’t even around for 2 days after she was born before she just like disappeared.”

“You have an uncle too?” I asked him.

“Yeah and yeah he lives in our guest house. He’s not like your uncle. Not really. He’s more into other things. And he’s kind of weird honestly,” Finn told me.

“Weird how?” I asked him.

“Well,” he sighed, “he’s a scientist. He spends a lot of time doing experiments with genetic coding and stuff. Like he turned the basement of the guest house into a lab and we’re not allowed down there. Apparently, he gets his materials from well… I’m sure you can guess where he gets it from. He’s trying to bring back this idea of a science that has been like debunked or something. But it has to do with creating the perfect human. Like the smartest, most attractive human possible and he runs stats and stuff through his computer almost all day long every day,” Finn told me.

“You mean like Nazi stuff?” I asked him quietly.

“Nazi stuff?” he asked me frowning.

“The Nazi’s, the people who caused world war 2. They believed in creating a perfect genetically modified human. That there was a way to create a master race of people with blue eyes and blond hair that were physically fit with good immune systems and perfectly organized and functioning brains. That this master race would be smarter, faster, stronger and better looking than other people that could be born naturally. They had a breeding program to make sure that these kids were born. Like that?” I asked him.

“Yeah, that sounds about right,” Finn said.

I thought about it for a minute. Finn’s last name was Huber. Huber was a German name. A German surname. I looked at him and he smiled as I blinked.

“You just did it again,” he said.

“My weird freeze thing?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head.

“I was thinking your last name is Huber. How old is your Dad?” I asked him.

“40,” Finn said shrugging his shoulders.

“Is your dad first generation American?” I asked him.

“No,” Finn said, “My dad was born in Germany.”

“Really?” I asked shocked.

“Ja,” he said, “My uncle was born here though and he’s only two years younger.”

“Was your grandpa…?” I trailed off.

“If he was they haven’t told me. And I don’t think they ever would. I mean is that something you would broadcast “yo my dad worked for Hitler?” I mean seriously?” Finn asked me.

“I see your point,” I said, “But if he was…?”

“I see what you are saying. It would make sense. I mean my grandpa had them kind of late in life though. I know the neighbors didn’t like my grandpa growing up and that my Dad claims he didn’t have any friends hardly but that doesn’t mean anything. I mean my dad’s a freak,” Finn said.

“How old was your grandpa when your Dad was born?” I asked him.

“I don’t know like his 40’s. They had an older brother but he died during the war or after the war. However, they were living in Germany at the time the war happened so if my grandpa did fight in the war I can only assume it was for the wrong side,” he said.

“We’re his pool of material, aren’t we?” I asked, “Your Uncles I mean.”

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head, “I mean he doesn’t do anything crazy it’s mostly running numbers and stuff through machines and what not but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think about it. I once heard him talking about blending something and how it wasn’t a viable option on the phone. To me that sounds…”

“Inky,” I said nodding my head, “So you think they’re experimenting on us?”

“I think they’re playing with our codes. Our genetic codes. The leader talks to him all the time and they discuss viable matches. Whatever that means,” he said.

Matches? Like as in people who were getting married. They were using genetic testing to match people so that they would produce children. Ideal children. Yeah, that was some Nazi shit right there. Maybe they weren’t cutting twins open and sowing them together but that was still some pretty diabolical stuff in my opinion.

For some reason I only recall bits and pieces of school. Probably because it was mostly uneventful at that point. My only friends being Teddy and Finn while I considered Quinn, Julian and Todd more acquaintances. I didn’t really talk to anyone at lunch choosing instead to read that way I didn’t have to think about things.

When I got home, John wasn’t there. I was surprised. I wanted to tell him what I had learned but, I wasn’t sure I was supposed to. I checked on the babies before going out in order to make hamburger for dinner only to find that we had no meat upstairs. I sighed making sure everyone was ok and that mum was resting before I headed downstairs to that fridge to see if we have any hamburger down there.

When I got to fridge and opened it I heard the basement door open grabbing the hamburger and turning around just in time to see Uncle Ben appear. He smiled at me. Did he have John down there? Is that where he was?

“Uncle Ben,” I said quietly.

“What’s going on?” he asked me taking a few steps towards me.

“Is John downstairs?” I asked him.

My heart was racing. He was looking at me like that. But, I thought he wasn’t allowed to touch me. I convinced myself that he wasn’t allowed to touch me. Looking at him.

He smiled, “Why don’t you check?”

Was that a trick? But he wasn’t allowed to touch me. I was Lionel’s. I knew he wasn’t allowed to touch me. I sighed deciding I couldn’t leave John down there alone. That I couldn’t let John stay down there walking past him down the stairs to the second door with the beds opening the door.

Only to find it empty. John wasn’t here. No one was here. It was actually really clean. Spotless not even a bottle of lube out in the open, a vacuum cleaner in the corner. So, he had been down here cleaning. That’s all he had been doing down here. No, John. No one else.

I heard the lock click shut behind me as he closed the door causing me to turn around, “But, you’re not supposed to.” I blurted out before I could stop myself.

“Well, I can’t hurt you,” he told me, “I’m not allowed to touch you while he’s here but, he’s not here anymore.”

I felt my stomach drop. What? So, because Lionel was in New York it was ok for him to touch me? But Da had touched me last night. I didn’t want to do it again. Not with anyone else.

“Oh,” I said quietly.

“I’ve miss you so much baby,” he said pulling his shirt off and letting his pants drop.

I wanted to scream. But he wasn’t allowed to. He wasn’t. He wasn’t allowed to.

He walked towards me pulling me into his arms before I could protest forcing his tongue into my mouth. He wasn’t allowed to. He wasn’t. He wasn’t allowed to.

I started pushing as his chest, trying to push him off me, away from me. He wasn’t allowed to. I was tired and used and I had kids I had to take care of. This wasn’t ok. He broke the kiss trying to pick me up at the back of knees making them buckle.

“God, I’ve missed you,” he said his hand going to undo my tie.

“Please stop,” I barely managed to whimper as I closed my eyes his hands starting on my oxford.

“Why? I just want to make you feel good,” he said, “Don’t you want to feel good?”

“No,” I said shaking my head as I wiggled trying to get out from underneath him finding that he only allowed more of his body weight to press me down into the bed once he got the neck of my shirt open biting into my skin there only lightly. Lightly like…
I froze. Trying to blank out. Telling myself that it didn’t matter. That I was a whore anyway. That it didn’t matter who used me anymore. That if Lionel and Da said it was ok, it was ok. I closed my eyes trying to focus on my breathing and ignore everything else that was going on. It working until he started licking at my belly button causing me gasp in surprise.

“There you are,” he told me, “I thought you had died maybe.”

“I wish,” I remember thinking that him gently lifting my knees and pushing them into my chest.

“Can I make love to you?” he asked me.

Da had said that. The night before. Said he wanted to make love to me. I didn’t have an answer that he wanted to hear. I didn’t even understand the difference. Didn’t feel like there was one. Maybe there was but I didn’t understand what it was.

He didn’t wait for me to answer pulling the rest of my clothes off and then him rubbing lube all over his hands before he poured some on my directly onto my hole making me flinch. It was cold. The lube was very cold.

“Why don’t you roll over? I’ll give you a back rub?” he told me, “We can go nice and slow ok?”

“I don’t want to,” I said shaking my head.

“You think that was me asking?” he said his face going cold, “I might not be able to hurt you but I can restrain you without hurting you. So, if I were you I’d think very carefully about what you say next.”

I sighed rolling over onto my stomach. He didn’t waste any time his hands going to my shoulders before his mouth did kissing down my back as he rubbed my shoulders and down my sides. At least I didn’t have to look at him. His tongue quickly sliding down my back to my tail bone. I didn’t want him doing that. Not that. Anything but that. Anything but there.

“Relax you’re clenching,” he muttered before he pulled my butt cheeks apart. His finger circling before he started trying to force it in, “You want me to just shove myself in there or do you want me to warm you up first?”

He was right. He kept saying he couldn’t hurt me but I didn’t see him backing down. It wasn’t worth trying to stop anyway and I knew it. I took a deep breath relaxing my body to the best of my ability as he slid his finger in him groaning happily almost like it was a different part of his body.

“You feel so amazing in there even to my fingers,” he told me making my face turn red.

I didn’t want to hear about how I felt “in there” I didn’t want him touching me. I didn’t want anyone touching me. I had other things I had to do. Things that weren’t this. That weren’t him on top of me or Da, or Lionel. I had to go help mum take care of everyone. Him pressing another finger into me working to open me up, to make it so he could penetrate me. I just wanted him to get it done and over with. I wanted it to stop. I just wanted him to do what it was he wanted to do so I could get on with my life.
It was easier. Easier because I wasn’t staring at him. Him just using his fingers until I was open before he put on a condom climbing on my back. He didn’t even let me bend my knees just spreading my legs and plunging into me. He moaned and grunted being fast about it for once in his life. Not licking my body all over and not kissing me while he told me how good I felt. How much he wanted me or loved me. When he was done he climbed off, doing up his pants and throwing mine at me.

“Get dressed,” he said rather abrasively.

For a minute I almost wondered what I had done wrong. What had changed before I realized what it probably was. That even though he had permission to sleep with me he probably had been told he couldn’t do certain things, other things that he wanted to do. That this was his way of getting most of what he wanted even if he couldn’t have all of it. I wasn’t going to stand there and debate it with him me pulling my pants on and unlocking the door myself running up the stairs and grabbing the frozen hunk of hamburger I had left on the counter before I realized how badly I wanted a shower.

I decided to shower in the pool bathroom. Knowing no one would bother me if I showered there. That I could be quick about it. Me showering and going upstairs putting some real clothes on before I sat down helping with homework and making food mum coming out and sitting with Mike and Matt helping them and Cat and James with their homework as I cooked because standing for any length of time caused her to become winded. It was good to have her up and moving through. She told me later that night that Da had taken her to see the doctor and gotten her some pain medication. That it was helping and she had been ordered to continue to take it easy but that the pain meds had made it easier to move even if the babies had to be on formula for a while because she was taking them.

As I finished up dinner the lift clicked on John finally appearing around nearly 5pm. Mum muttering that he was just in time and asking where he had been as she spooned food into Mac’s mouth.

“I was at the park,” he answered sitting down at a plate of food that I set on the table before I sat down next to him eating my own.

“With whom and doing what?” She asked John.

“Pat and Cole,” he said taking a bite of food and a sip of drink, “and some girls.”

I wasn’t straight but was pretty sure John mostly was even though he had that thing going with Pat so I smiled. Happy that he had done something hopefully normal with “some girls” since he didn’t get to hang out with any girls besides our four-year-old sister which was not nearly as exciting as hanging with 13-year-old girls for him I’m sure. So, I was sure he had enjoyed his time even if nothing sexual had happened. Mum cleared her throat.

“You didn’t have permission. You also have homework you have to do, don’t you?” Mum asked him.

“Father Finick made me stay after school for a couple of minutes,” John sighed setting is fork down, “I missed the bus and the park was kind of an in-between stop between here and home some we decided to hang out. It wasn’t a big deal. We just sat on the swings and talked. I met these girls. They were twins named Celia and Delia and they go to St. Bernie’s. One of them seemed to like me.”

“Girls?” Mum said her mood becoming less serious and more relaxed, “Girls are good. Homework after dinner though, all right?”

So, mum thought the same thing about girls that I did but only because she had caught Pat and John kissing. She probably figured girls would send him in the other direction because she was a very strong Catholic. In her mind you didn’t do certain things like kissing with your shirt off with someone of the same gender. Which was slightly delusional considering but, if it helped her cope. Even though I knew that meant she secretly hated me and just didn’t know it yet even though everyone else seemed to know it.

We sat there all eating in silence for a minute or two because mum spoke again, “So, what did Father Finick want?”

“I don’t know,” John said shrugging his shoulders taking an intense interest in his green beans, “I mean there wasn’t a lot going on today. It was something about the upcoming lab.”

“Another one of your teachers called and talked to your Da,” Mum said before she reached over taking a bite of her food because turning back to Mac, “Who is mummy’s good hungry boy huh?”

“You’re not going to make him go talk to Da are you mum?” I asked.

I didn’t think she would considering everything that happened between John and Da and mum being injured but, you never knew. I didn’t want John to have to deal with Da. It was bad enough I had to deal with Da and then Uncle Ben. John didn’t need to deal with Da too. Not with everything that had been going on since we got home.

“No love, you guys are staying away from Da for a bit, ok? Don’t worry about it,” she smiled at me nodding her head in understanding.

Understanding that I was worried about it, that I didn’t want John to get hurt. That I didn’t want anyone getting hurt. We all knew Da was still mad at us for leaving. That beating up mum hadn’t been enough to help his anger abate. That he blamed John and me slightly as well because we were the oldest and we were supposed to be his. He didn’t think of us as belonging to mum but, to him. We were supposed to be on his side and do what he told us to. We weren’t ever supposed to side with mum or want to be with mum more. The fact that we had gone with her without questioning her or fighting her on it once we realized what was going on probably was still making his blood boil.

“Which teacher?” John asked picking up his fork, his nervous tick kicking in where he touched his tongue to his back molar.

He knew something. I could tell he knew something and he just wasn’t saying it. Wanting to know what mum knew about the whole thing. Wanting to see if there was anything she knew. Whatever teacher this was, they were one of the bad ones. Probably brotherhood.

Since the brotherhood ran the school pretty much it was a given that some of them were aware of the brotherhood and either a part of it or worked with them to keep things the way they were. To make sure the right students, brotherhood bottoms passed. Sometimes with benefit to themselves. Giving different bottoms favors in returns for their…attention. The idea making my stomach churn. It seemed to be only teachers that worked with older students even though listening to James mention his teacher on the playground that one time had made me nervous.

Knowing that he was teaching year one school. To me that was scary. Asking students to sit in your lap during story time. Especially some students that you knew were being abused if not at home by other teachers possibly. Only someone that was in the brotherhood would do that without thought, would probably be encouraged to do that. I didn’t like thinking about it sighing heavily and shaking my head, trying to shake the thought away. Telling myself that after I talked with Matty about how he had treated John yesterday I needed to talk to James and see how he was doing. See if that teacher was still asking him about that.

“Father Barren I think it was,” Mum said, “Your Da said he’s offering you extra help with school work on Monday evenings. That he’ll drive you home after school. I didn’t realize you were so far behind.”

I wanted to point out that while she was still overseas heavily pregnant we had been here and Da had stopped John from going to school for those three months she wasn’t here with us. I wasn’t sure how much of that she knew though. And it wasn’t my place to say anything. That was John’s business what he told her, not mine. I would be a hypocrite to tell her that about John and not tell her what was going on with me. Even if I was sure her knowing John hadn’t been in school those three months wouldn’t get her killed. I was sure that was the case but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t confront Da about it. That didn’t mean Da wouldn’t beat her again for it and she was still hurting, still had a long way to go to heal before she was completely better.

“Are you ok John?” Catty asked breaking the silence that was there as I watched Mum and John look at each other from across the table.

He nodded his head taking another sip of water and making a face at like. Almost like he was hoping it was something stronger or forgetting that it wasn’t. That it was just water and not something else that would help him forget, “Yeah, I’m ok.” He answered before turning and looking back at mum.

“I’m not that far behind anymore. I’m mostly caught up. It’s just little things here and there but, I’m not doing too badly anymore,” he told mum.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” James asked John wrinkling his nose at him.

“Yeah bud, I’m fine. Why?” John asked him.

“I don’t know you seem different,” James said before shoving a huge forkful of noodles into his mouth.

“Different how?” he asked, his expression and mix between a frown and a smile.

“It’s your eyes,” Mike answered.

I looked at John examing, looking for what they were talking about. His eyes were a little shiny and seemed like they were a little scared, like he was going to cry. Like he was trying to hold it back. Like he wanted to cry but not cry in front of them. So, Father Barren was bad news. It was what I thought it was and he was trying to hide it.

“His eyes,” Mum asked looking at the two of them.

“His eyes got really big like he was scared,” Matt answered without looking up from his plate.

Sometimes Matt made me wonder. If he just knew things or if he actually looked just, not when I was looking at him. If maybe in his own way he did care. That maybe he just wasn’t good at showing that he cared. That he could be normal. But, every time he appeared normal to me it almost felt like he was faking it. Like that wasn’t really who he was. That he wasn’t Bruce, but Batman. Mike still telling him every once in a while, when they played video games to “be Bruce” or calling him Bruce as if to remind him to be calm and charming. To be polite and act normal.

John shrugged his shoulders looking into his hamburger helper, “I’m fine.” He said simply before he got up taking his plate with him, “I’m going to do my homework now.”

He didn’t say anything else getting up from the table quickly. He looked hurt still. Like he had been reminded of things he didn’t want to think about, be aware of. I didn’t want him to drink. I didn’t want him to go to sleep when he got to his room or drink himself to sleep anyway. I needed his help and mum, mum needed his help.

“Can I come with?” I asked him standing up from the table deciding that maybe if I was there he wouldn’t drink. That he would actually do whatever homework he needed to and that if he wanted to talk about anything or not talk about anything I could be there for him. That maybe he could be there for me too him looking at me questioningly as I cleared my throat trying to make up and excuse for asking, “I need some help with Math.”

I didn’t need help with Math. It was one of my best subjects and I rarely needed help with it. Pat had proven to be better at Math then John was anyway so if I really needed help I probably would have asked John when Pat was going to come over and then waited to ask him. I think he knew that I didn’t really need the help but he smiled lightly at me.

“Yeah, sure.” He answered as we both got up and rinsed our plates before heading down the hall.

I grabbed a couple of my school books. I did have some light reading I had to finish up but, otherwise I didn’t really have that much to do. I pulled out a sheet of math problems that wasn’t due for another two days figuring that maybe since I needed help with my math homework I should actually attempt to make it look like I needed help going into his room and sitting on the floor next to his bed. Him leaning over and helping me with a couple different problems. When the worksheet was finished I put it away John holding up a small book that was black and yellow. A cliff notes book before he started reading it as I started reading from my own history book. Waiting a couple of minutes before I gathered the courage to ask him, to see if my assumption was right.

“I heard Barren is in the brotherhood,” I asked him turning the page of my history book.

“Yep,” John said without looking up from the page he was on, looking at me out of the corner of his eye as I did the same to him.

I thought about it. So that meant homework help wasn’t really homework help. It was an excuse. An excuse to get John alone so he could hurt him. The idea making me so mad I had to flex my hands to keep them from shaking.

“So that means…,” I started to ask and he cut me off looking up from what he was doing.

“Yes. That’s what that means. I don’t want to talk about it,” he said briskly.

So, that was it for sure. He didn’t want to think about it. That’s why he had left so quickly.

“Does mum know that’s what’s going on though?” I asked him, thinking about what Pat had said that him and John and mum had talked, that John had told her some things, “I mean, I thought you told her.”

“Will please, just don’t ok?” He said shutting his book, “I don’t want to talk about it. Mum knows there are some teachers involved but she doesn’t know which ones and what exactly is she supposed to do about it?”

So just thinking about it was making him angry. And he did have a point. There wasn’t anything she could really do even if he did say that Barren was a part of those teachers. That group of teachers that were bad. He was right the only thing it would do was make her confront Da about it. Which would like I said before probably end up getting her beat up again.

“Sorry,” I said quietly, “How are things going otherwise?” I asked him hoping that he would be in a better mood if I changed the subject.

“Fine,” he answered me coldly.

Just fine? Was fine good or bad? I thought about Pat, what Pat had told me that they had realized they had feelings for each other. That they seemed to agree they really liked each other.

“What about with Pat?” I asked wondering what his answer would be. If things were “fine” there was well.

“Hey!” he said his tone more shocked than angry, “I’m not talking about that either, all right?”

“Why not?” I asked him, “It’s kind of awesome that you might have someone. I mean isn’t that like supposed to be normal at your age?”

He was 13. 13 was when people started thinking about romantic feelings. Started dating people. I mean sure, Pat was a guy but so what? I wanted to hold Cole’s hand and maybe kiss him. Maybe one day I would want to date him or do other things that …I felt my face flushing just thinking about it. Thinking about maybe wanting to do those things with someone.

“I guess,” John answered, “I mean I haven’t really thought about it. It’s going well though I guess. Why?”

Because I wanted to know. Because maybe if it was ok for him like that. That it didn’t make him feel weird or hate himself or blush every time the idea of even wanting to touch someone like that crossed his mind it would mean I would be ok. That I would be normal in that aspect. That Da and Uncle Ben and other people wouldn’t ruin it for me forever.

“Because if there’s hope for you there’s hope for me,” I told him, “I mean none of us are exactly normal.”

“We’re as normal as we’re allowed to be,” he told me before sighing and grabbing his math book, opening it up.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

His answer had confused me. I thought I knew what he meant. That he didn’t feel normal because of them. Because we knew that wasn’t normal. Anyone that knew about it knew it wasn’t normal. Did that mean he thought we would never be normal?
“We’re not allowed to be normal because of them and you know it,” he said looking up at me, “I know, anyone who is in the brotherhood knows it. That’s our lives. That’s the way it is,” he said closing his math book and going back to his cliff notes.

I figured I was probably distracting him. Hopefully making him think of Patrick and not other things. I wanted to believe that mum could do something about it. I wanted to hope that maybe mum would try and get us out again. Get us somewhere we could be normal. That we could find a place where it wouldn’t be so hard, where we didn’t have to worry about Da or any of that. Where we only had to worry about getting over the things he had made us do instead of worrying about when it was going to happen again. Waiting for it to happen again like waiting for a hurricane to reach shore.

“You should tell mum about Barren,” I told him.

“Why!?” he snapped, “What’s she going to do Will?”

“Make sure it doesn’t happen,” I said shrugging my shoulders looking back at my history book knowing at this point it was worthless. Not worth it to hope he would tell her, that she might be able to do something.

“Yeah, then I fail my math class,” he told me his face falling as he sat there staring straight ahead of him.

Would that guy really fail him for not sleeping with him? Would a teacher really do that to him? He was 13. He was being raped all the time, he was an alcoholic and now he had to worry about not putting out so that he wasn’t held back a grade. That wasn’t fair. That wasn’t fair at all. There was already too much going on for him to handle. I don’t know why that upset me so much to think that Da would let someone be that cruel to him but, it did.

John did everything for us. Everything. He tried so hard to make sure Da didn’t hurt us. He put his life on the line all the time for us, his mental health. He wanted to kill himself because it was so tiring taking care of us, taking on that stuff so we didn’t have to. What Da was asking of him was downright torture. It wasn’t fair. Why would Da let someone do that to him? Cause him even more anxiety and worry.

“Really?” I asked him barely above a whisper.

He cleared his throat, “Yeah really. At least I have four days though, right? To, I don’t know, whatever. . . hopefully people will leave me alone for a bit. Da said he’d give me a break and he has for the most part. Maybe I’ll get lucky and everyone else will me alone for a while too.”

Da was giving him time? For once in his life Da was promising to give him a break and yet…I didn’t get one? I had to see Lionel and deal with Da and Ben. Uncle Ben who I knew was beyond pissed at me. Who didn’t even really care about me anymore but to who I had become just some hole to fuck. Who it would be better if Lionel didn’t care about me at all as far as both of us were concerned because at least Uncle Ben usually smacked me around a little bit. Reminded me that it wasn’t something that I wanted. That it wasn’t something I was doing because I wanted it and not just because I was being told I had to.

“I wish Uncle Ben would leave me alone,” I said quietly just picking a name because I didn’t want John to know how many people I’d been with. Everyone already thought I was a whore. He would know I was major whore if he knew it was three people and not just the one.

“For real?” he asked his head snapping up a look of horror on his face and anger.

“Since we got home,” I answered.

It had been just about every night since we got back. We had only been back for five days and three of those days I had spent under someone for at least an hour. Someone telling me I felt good, that I tasted good. That I …that I wanted it. Thinking about it made me want to cry.

“Is it bad?” he asked me barely a whisper.

I felt like he was trying to comfort me. That even though he didn’t want to know he knew me talking about it might help so he was letting me. That he was going to listen because it was the only thing he could do for me.

“He makes me feel like I can’t breathe,” I answered honestly.

They did. They made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. Like hearing what they had to say about me and what they thought about me was all true. Like that’s all I’d ever be. Was someone who wanted it but couldn’t admit it to themselves. Like there was something about me that made me that way. That made them want me. That they would always just want me and there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing I could do to stop them from doing those things to me.

“Ok,” John said.

I could see it in his face. He was thinking about what he could do to make it stop. To make them stop. The truth was there wasn’t anything because it wasn’t just Ben. It would never just be Ben again. So even if he managed to get Uncle Ben to leave me alone there would always be Lionel, or Da or someone else. That there was no possible way for him to get them all to stop. That he would probably wear himself down and drink even more trying to protect me and it would all be for nothing.

“John, you can’t. You know you can’t.” I told him.

“Can’t what?” he asked me, “Be your big brother? God damn it how are we going to keep going?”

“I don’t know sometimes,” I admitted to him, “What time is it?”

“Almost time to get everyone packed off to bed,” John said looking at his clock before he got up.

I looked double checking. He was right it was 7:00 and Mac Laura and Andy should already be in bed. I looked at my books spread out in front of me on the floor starting to get up myself, “Ok, I’m going to put my homework away. Will you start them off?”
I asked because while he helped with bedtime some nights it wasn’t every night because most of the time by 7pm he was too drunk to move. He was getting better about it though and mum and I did really need his help because she wasn’t supposed to really be lifting anyone at all. Not until her ribs were better and she was less winded while moving around. Him nodding his head as he stood up walking around my books that I was picking up and working on taking towards my room.

“Ok, CATTY, JAMES IT’S TIME FOR BED GUYS!” he crowed as he left the bedroom me hurrying to my own and setting my books on my desk.

He told them to get ready for bed and I went out into the living room, telling Mike and Matt that it was just about time for bed as well their bedtime being about an hour away both of them giving me this “do we really have to” look.

“Hey, Matt. Can I talk to you for a minute alone?” I asked him.

I figured now was as good of a time as any to talk to him about why he had made John uncomfortable. Why he shouldn’t ask those things. Ask John if he liked it, if he liked what Da made him do.

“Ok, whatever,” he snorted handing the controller over to Mike as Mike gave him a look and he nodded his head at him. Making me frown and confusion but heading down the hall towards Matt’s room.

When we entered the room, I shut the door behind us. I didn’t want to have to explain to anyone what was going on. That he was being weird. That he had upset John enough John didn’t want to talk to him for a while.

“What did I do now?” he asked me as I sat down in his desk chair.

“You know what you did,” I said sighing running a hand through my hair.

“Asked John if he likes getting it?” he questioned raising an eyebrow at me.

“Getting it? Really? Is that how you talk now?” I asked him.

“I could say likes getting his dick sucked if it makes you feel better,” Matt said.

My mouth was probably hanging wide open. This was my 8-year-old brother. He had no right to talk like that and it sounded vulgar looking at his sweet 8-year-old face while he said it. The whole picture just not fitting in my head.

“So that’s not better than?” he asked me smiling.

“No, you don’t ask people that. Just don’t do it,” I said.

“Why not?” he asked me shrugging his shoulders, “I know I like it. I was just curious if he did.”

I felt my face turning red. Did he just tell me he…? Eww. I mean I knew Da did that. He probably did it to everyone to be honest but I didn’t need to hear about it. I didn’t need to know that Matt enjoyed it.

Matt giggled, “Your face. You would think it wouldn’t be a problem for you to talk about it considering you’re such a…”

“STOP!” I hissed causing him to go silent even though the smile didn’t leave his face.

“When someone is doing it and you don’t want them to. It doesn’t feel good at all ok? It feels horrible. So, knock it off. Just because it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother everyone else. It really bothers most people in that situation,” I said trying to calm down.

“If you just relax it doesn’t have to bother you,” Matt said his face dead serious, “I like doing it too. It tastes kind of nice sometimes. All of it.”

“That’s only because you think it means you’re special,” I told him trying to be nice, calm but honest, “It doesn’t. They do it to everyone. Uncle Ben…”

“SHUT UP!” he yelled at me loudly, “I don’t want to talk about him. Do you know what he did? What he did to Mike?”

“I have a slight idea,” I answered.

“I don’t think you do,” Matt told me.

“You can tell me if you want,” I said.

“He let Mike …,” he smiled like he was enjoying the thought and the cleared his throat, “Never mind that part. He did that with his mouth to his butt. It was so gross.”

So that was something new for him. I remembered it being new for me. It wasn’t even Uncle Ben or Da who did that to me the first time but the headmaster. The headmaster I had yet to tell anyone about and wasn’t about to tell Matt.

“Was Mike ok?” I asked him.

“No, he kept pulling his hair until he was screaming at him to stop. Mike, I mean, was yelling at Uncle Ben to stop and then he tied his arms to the headboard downstairs. Then he …” Matt smiled again, “Never mind.”

“Will you please quit saying that with that look on your face,” I asked him.

He shrugged his shoulders shaking his head, “Sorry. I didn’t mind those parts though.”

There was something wrong with my brother. Something seriously wrong with my brother my brain filling in some of the blanks there pretty well considering I had walked in on them kissing. And not just a peck on the cheek but Matt violently grabbing Mike’s head and twisting it around to meet him before shoving his tongue in Mike’s mouth.

“That’s gross,” I said.

“He’s my brother,” Matt said as if I wasn’t related to the two of them.

“He’s my brother too and I don’t do those things to him,” I scoffed.

“So, he’s not your twin,” he said to me.

“No but even if he was I still wouldn’t do those things. Especially because I knew he didn’t want to,” I said.

“That’s what you think,” Matt said.

“MATTHEW!” I hissed, “Do I have to tell mum? Does she need to separate you from them? From all of them? Because what’s to keep you from doing that to someone else.”

“Someone else isn’t my twin,” he told me.

“Just because you’re his twin doesn’t give you the right to help uncle Ben do that to him. You know he doesn’t like it. You can see it written all over his face I bet. So why on earth would you help Uncle Ben do that to him?” I asked.

“Uncle Ben wouldn’t be doing it to him at all if someone wasn’t so easy,” he spat back.

He must have seen my face fall because he smiled at me, “Yeah that’s right. It’s your fault. If Uncle Ben was allowed to do things to you still you think he’d be bothering Mike? You think he would have taken us downstairs if you didn’t have someone else that wanted to teach you things? My friend Tommy says that’s what sluts do. They flirt with boys and the let them do whatever they want. Flashing them smiles all the time and then pretending they don’t want to kiss and stuff when they do. You’re a slut Will and it’s because you’re a slut that Mike has to deal with Uncle Ben.”

“He’s allowed to do things to me still,” I snapped.

Hating that I had to admit that to someone else. To him just to get him to shut up. Just to get him to stop calling me names. Why did he think I wanted that? I was terrified of that. I hated that. I knew he was right though. That it was my fault. That if I had never gone to that stupid party, that if I had never met him he would have never…and then he wouldn’t be telling Uncle Ben he couldn’t hurt me. That he wasn’t allowed to hurt me. Because if Uncle Ben could hurt me then he wouldn’t have just fucked me and left me there. He would have spanked me and called me names like he normally did. He would have done all of it and then let them alone.

“He is?” Matt asked me.

“He did when I got home from school,” I told him, “You think he’s doing it to him because he can’t do it to me? You’re wrong he’s doing it because he wants to. It has nothing to do with me.”

“Yes, it does,” he told me, “He was nicer before. Now he’s so mean Will. You don’t know what he does. He sticks things in him until he cries. Sometimes he ties him up and puts this thing against his parts until he’s screaming Will. He didn’t used to be that mean. Not when he didn’t touch him. Not when it was just me and him.”

“You and uncle Ben?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” Matt said, “Now it’s always the three of us and he’s mean to him. He’s really mean to him Will.”

Matt looked like he was about to start crying. So, he treated us differently? He didn’t torture Matt with toys, or other stuff. Not like he did me. He didn’t spank him until he was black and blue. What did that mean?

“You know he wouldn’t do it if he still had you,” he told me.

“How long as he been doing stuff with you?” I asked Matt.

“Who?” he asked me confused.

“Uncle Ben, who else?” I asked him.

“I don’t know. Da’s here too,” he told me shrugging his shoulders.

“Just uncle Ben,” I said.

“I don’t know. I remember …I was little. I think,” he muttered.

“What’s the first thing you remember him ever doing?” I asked him.

“Kissing my belly,” Matt said shrugging his shoulders his eyes getting this distant look in them, “Tickling me and then kissing lower until…”

He trailed off. I didn’t need him to finish. I knew what he was talking about. Uncle Ben hadn’t touched me until we moved back home but, it must have been when we were living here if he was only little. He had been 4 when we had left here. That was how old I had been when Da started touching me. John had been that old when Uncle Ben had started touching him and probably Da too. So, it only made sense.

“But he didn’t touch Mike?” I asked him.

“No, he did at first but …Mike always cried,” he told me, “I don’t remember it ever being scary. Just feeling weird at first until I decided it didn’t have to be weird. That it kind of feels nice.”

“How can you just decide that you …?” I trailed off.

“I don’t know. I try not to think about who it is I guess. For the most part. I like to pretend it’s Mike sometimes. I love Mike.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that. I mean I loved Mike too and I knew he loved me but I didn’t take that as a free invitation to force myself on him. Not that I would want to because it was gross and Da’s excuse for doing that to me. So, I would never do that to anyone I cared about and I even at 10 I already knew it.

“Matt can I ask you a question?” I asked him.

“That was a question,” he pointed out.

“Do you think Da makes us do those things with him because he loves us?” I asked him.

“That’s what he says. Is he lying?” Matt asked me.

His facial expression looked like it should. Like the facial expression of an 8-year-old who was questioning everything they thought they knew. Like an 8-year-old who was hurt and confused.

“I think that Da is confused about what love is,” I said quietly, “Da’s Da, our grandpa he used to do that to him and Uncle Ben. And I think that made Da confused and made him think it was ok to…to do that to us too.”

“But he does it with me a lot and he says it’s because he loves me so much,” he told me.

What was I supposed to say to that? No, that it was because he didn’t fight him, because he probably welcomed the attention. I wasn’t going to tell him that. That was no better than him calling me a whore. Matt might have been confused and fucked up but, I refused to think of him as a whore.

“He says that to John too I’m pretty sure,” I told him.

“Does he say it to you?” he asked me.

“That he loves me?” I asked him.

“Yeah you know when he’s …apart of you and stuff?” he asked me.

That sounded like something Da would say. That he wanted to be a part of me, inside me. Matt meant when Da was penetrating me, did he tell me he loved me. Yeah, he did. He told me that all the time when he did that. I didn’t think it was true though. Especially not after he was done and he let me go telling me I wasn’t as good as John even though I was still nice. Even though I still felt good.

I nodded my head not able to speak over the lump in my throat. The very idea of him doing that to Matt hurting. That he had done it to Matt so many times it had messed with his head and probably made him so sick he would never be normal. That he would never be that kid again that… The four-year-old who would wake me up at the crack of dawn to go play outside and catch Lizards. The four-year-old who used to laugh when the count came on sesame street.

It made me realize maybe for the first time that that kid was gone. He was really gone and Da had taken him from us, Da and Uncle Ben had taken him from us and replaced him with this kid. This kid that terrified me that hurt others or at the very least wanted to. This kid that thought it was ok to force himself on people because he loved them.

“You can’t make Mike do that with you. You understand that don’t you?” I told him.

“I’m trying but then sometimes he’ll look at me and just…it feels weird,” he told me.

I was pretty sure I understood what he meant by that but didn’t want to think about it too much. That he was sexually attracted to him. If that was the case shouldn’t he just close his eyes and pretend it was Mike? I mean they were identical twins.

“Well, try asking him before you do that,” I said.

Since I couldn’t stop him from doing it. But I was pretty sure his method was similar to Da and Uncle Ben’s. They didn’t really ask you if they could do something most of the time they just did it. I mean sometimes they would ask you if you wanted to try something new but, that was always a trick question.

“Does that work?” he asked me.

“Well, traditionally it’s frowned upon to do that with your brother but, I’ve heard people like it,” I told him.

“I’ll think about it,” he told me.

“You’ve been sleeping in your own room, right?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said, “By myself before you ask that too. Right now, you’re being annoying and your face is really red.”

“It’s a weird conversation for me,” I told him.

“Has Uncle Ben ever made you do anything with anyone?” he asked me.

“What? No. No,” I shook my head.

“It’s fun sometimes,” he said.

“Ok,” I said standing up, “Just ask next time before you touch him. Like at all. Like people like it when you ask before you…come into physical contact with their person. All the time. Every time.”

Matt frowned at me a bit of smile playing on his face, “God, you’re such a spaz.”

“Ok,” I said looking at the clock on his desk, “It’s almost 8 so go brush your teeth.”

“You’re going to make sure I sleep alone in here, aren’t you?” he asked me.

“You betcha,” I answered him nodding my head.

I made sure he was in bed without Mike before I walked into Mike’s room to make sure he had brushed his teeth, “Mike are you ready for bed?”

“Yeah? Why?” he asked me coming out of the bathroom and turning off the light.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” I asked him.

“About what?” he asked me.

“Matt said that he and you…,” I trailed off feeling my face flush again, “Is he still doing that?”

“Not really? I mean when Uncle Ben makes him and sometimes he’ll say things about it but no. Not since … he hurt me,” he told me.

“You promise?” I asked him.

“I promise,” he said quietly.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “Otherwise how are you doing?”

“I don’t know. Ok. I’m kind of mad,” he told me.

“Come here,” I said sitting down on his bottom bunk to which he shrugged his shoulders, “You want to cuddle for a second?”

“Yeah, ok,” he said as I moved the pillows around and sat on the bed properly.

“You sure, you don’t have to. I won’t ever make you ok?” I told him.

“I want to I just want mum. I’m mad at her but I want her. And she’s not really around lately.” He told me climbing onto the bed and snuggling up against me pulling my arm around his shoulders.

“Well, Da got really mad at mum and he hurt her really bad. So, she needs a lot of help right now and you and Matt and James have been a really huge help. Cleaning up after yourselves and what not so John and I can help mum with other things. Can you tell me why you’re mad at her?”

“Because she’s not here,” he told me, “Not really. And she took us away knowing that he would find us and hurt her. And that…he’d be mad.”

“She didn’t know that,” I tried to explain to him, “She wanted to take us away forever. She didn’t expect him to find us and bring us back. Not at all. Remember? She told us we were supposed to change our names and stuff?”

“Yeah,” he told me quietly.

“Why would she make us think about changing our names if we were just going to come back?” I asked him, “Why would she tells us we were going to have a new life in a better place a safe place if she wanted us to come back here? Does that make any sense?”

“No,” he said, “It doesn’t. It doesn’t make sense that she would take us and then bring us back here. So, you’re saying Da made us come back?”

“Yeah pal, he did,” I confirmed.

“Willy?” he asked me.

“Yeah?” I asked him.

“Uncle Ben did weird things,” he told me.

I didn’t want to tell him I knew. That Matt had told me. I rubbed his shoulder leaning my cheek against his head. I didn’t want to cry for him or show him that I was scared for him so I sighed heavily saying the only thing I could think of.

“I’m sorry Pal. Do you want to talk about it?”

“I don’t know,” he said quietly.

“Well, if you do you can tell me anything. I’ll listen ok?” I told him.

“He made Matty touch me. Put his mouth down there while he put this buzzing thing in me. It didn’t hurt but it felt really strange. I didn’t like it,” he told me.

Ben had used a toy on him. A vibrator. He was 8. He was just a little boy. You didn’t do that to little kids. You just didn’t. I was even more angry than I had been when he had done that to me. Shoved that thing inside of me and left me strapped to the bed screaming. He had no right to do that him. None.

“It’s ok that you didn’t like it,” I said nodding my pinching the bridge of my nose to stop myself from crying, “Has Da let anyone else touch you?”

“No, just him and Uncle Ben and Matty,” he confided in me.

Thank god it was only them. I didn’t think I could take it knowing if he had let someone else do it. If Da had let someone else touch him like that. It was bad enough that he did it to me and John. That he had done it James. He didn’t need to do it to everyone else too. He didn’t need to do anything to anyone else.

“Are you going to be ok tonight by yourself Pal?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I like sleeping in my room by myself. I sleep better than when Matty’s here,” he told me.

“I’m sure you do,” I told him kissing his forehead, “I love you.”

“I love you too Willy, goodnight,” he told me before he got up climbing into bed and rolling himself up under the covers.

I was tired. I was tired and I knew everyone else was in bed so I decided I would go to bed early that night. Me actually falling asleep and sleeping soundly through the night.

Chapter Text

When I got up and started getting ready for school I stopped by the nursery after I made sure Mike, Matt, James and Cat were all getting dressed walking into find mum awake and moving around.

“Are you feeling better mum?” I asked her.

“Yes love,” she said smiling happily at me, “I talked to your Da. I told John yesterday but, your Da is going to New York for three months.”

“What?” I asked not sure I could let myself get excited about it but knowing it hopefully meant I wouldn’t have to deal with another night like the one I had with him for a while. Hoping that this was good news.

“Yes, we’re going to try leaving again,” she told me.

She couldn’t be serious. He had just beaten the snot of her for trying to leave not even five days ago. This was not a good idea.

“Mum,” I said and she must have seen it in my face.

“I know what you’re thinking but, some of that money is still saved up. And we’re not doing it right now. Not right away. We’re going to keep pretending everything is normal. We’re going to all keep…” she sighed heavily, “I know. But hopefully with your Da gone things will be easier and we’ll be able to get out soon. Ok?’

“Yeah,” I said quietly, “I have to go to school now.”

“I know love,” she told me, “I’ve got it today. Everything will be fine. You’ll see. I’m going to make a nice big meal before Da leaves for New York this evening. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

“Ok Mum,” I said smiling, trying to seem happy, like I believed her, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she told me.

I turned around knocking on John’s bedroom door to remind him his bus left before mine. Me only having half an hour to eat and get myself out to the bus stop. He didn’t answer so I opened the door. I could hear the shower running. Usually he showered at night if he woke up late so…then it hit me.

Uncle and Da hadn’t bother me last night. Not even a little. I did tell John the night before that Uncle Ben wouldn’t leave me alone. That I had been the center of a lot of attention since we had gotten back. He hadn’t. Please god tell me he hadn’t.

I knocked on his bathroom door and waited. Waiting for him to call out to me, to tell me to go away or come in, just anything but he didn’t answer. I braved it hoping he wouldn’t come out of the shower when I opened the door because I honestly had no desire to see him naked. Closing my eyes as I came in opening them up after a second when I didn’t hear him scream in surprise. He was still in the shower.

“What did you do?” I asked him. Or what I was seriously hoping was him because if not Da or Uncle Ben was taking a shower in his bathroom. Probably with him.

“What dooumean,” he muttered.

“What?” I asked him confused.

“What do you mean?” he asked me again.

“Don’t play dumb John. He didn’t wake me up last night. What did you do?” I asked him again.

“What I had to,” he answered simply before he made a hissing sound like he was in pain.

Something bad had happened, he was hurt or something, I pulled the shower curtain open, “What’s wrong?” I asked looking at his hip and leg that were all scratched to shit from his hip down to his thigh.

God damn it. That’s why you didn’t tell Uncle Ben no. Not ever about anything. Because he’d beat you. I also noticed what looked like discoloration on his side right below his ribs. He had beat him. Just like Da had beat mum. Life was going great for me.
That just meant that I had to take care of everyone by myself still because mum needed at least another week of not two before she was supposed to be up and moving around on her own.

“You said no, didn’t you?” I asked him rather aggressively.

He looked at me before he sighed heavily, “Yeah I did something stupid ok? At least it wasn’t you though.”

“You’re going to need concealer,” I sighed looking at his neck. His neck covered in black and purple blotches.

It looked like Uncle Ben had tried to take a chunk out of his neck. He had seriously said no. As dangerous as Da was and I was sure he was dangerous no one ever said no to Uncle Ben. Because where Da usually just threatened you or someone else Uncle Ben would hurt you. John turned his back to me bending over to pick something up off the shower floor. It looked like he had gotten scratched by a fucking cat each of his shoulder blades ripped to shreds. What on earth had he been thinking? How did any of that at all seem like a good idea?

“Did he choke you out?” I asked him quietly.

“I didn’t pass out. No, even though right now I feel like I’m going to,” he said switching off the shower and opening the curtain the rest of the way causing me to awkwardly turn around so I didn’t have to stare at his…nakedness.

“Did he drug you?” I asked him staring at the toilet.

“No. He made me take a sleeping pill after he was done so I would “relax” because. Yeah, you know it’s normal to relax while your rapist is spooning you.”

“What time was that?” I asked him.

If he had taken a sleeping pill and hadn’t gotten enough sleep he shouldn’t be going to school. He shouldn’t be going to school anyway. He was beat to hell. He looked horrible.

“I don’t know. Late, like threeish,” he sighed before he yawned.

“That’s not good. That means you’ve had like three hours of sleep. It’s amazing you’re awake because usually they say eight hours. You need to have at least eight hours of sleep available in order to take a sleeping pill. You should tell mum you don’t feel good and stay home,” I told him.

“No.” John said probably grabbing his towel off the hook.

He really must have been tired. Usually he didn’t just let it all hang out but apparently, he was so tired he just didn’t care. Me staring at the toilet as he answered me.

“I’m not staying home. Not with him and Da here. Not happening. I’d rather go to school and deal with almost getting blown after hours by one of my teachers then have to deal with being trapped in a room with one of them all fucking day. That and at least Pat’s at school.” He added the last part sounding optimistic.

“You really like him? Don’t you?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he answered me simply.

I don’t know why but I turned around getting another look at his back the back of his thighs and knees covered in bruises and scratches too.

“Oh my god, John,” I gasped.

How was he not acting like he was in an insane amount of pain? How was he dealing with this? He looked not as bad as mum but still like he should be in an insane amount of pain.

“What?” he asked me yawning again.

“He beat the crap out of you,” I said as he turned around giving me a view of the parts of him that weren’t covered.

Even his hips were scratched and bruised up. It was insane. It made me wonder if that’s what Mike had to deal with, Matt. All because of me. Because he couldn’t hurt me. Because he’d been told he wasn’t allowed to do certain things to me.

He looked down at his hips adjusting his towel as he did so, “It’s not a big deal,” he said shrugging his shoulders before he walked past me into his bedroom.

“Not a big deal?!” I scoffed, “It looks like he took razorblades to your hips.”

“Will, please just go so I can get dressed in peace,” he told me.

“You should have mum look at those though. They look really really bad. Do they hurt?” I asked him quietly.

“WILL!” he snapped at me, “Please. I just want to get dressed without you.”

I sighed. There he was. That was the charming young man I was used to dealing with in the morning. I knew he was only 13 but all I could think was he needed to stop drinking booze in the morning and start drinking coffee because it would probably make him behave more like an actual person.

“Ok, fine,” I said, “Don’t fall asleep.”

I shut the door behind me. I couldn’t believe he was actually going to go to school like that. He looked horrible. Everyone was going to make fun of him. I couldn’t believe he had done that for me. I hadn’t asked him to. As far as I had known uncle Ben wasn’t going to bother me anyway. Apparently, all he was allowed to do was fuck me after all. He couldn’t beat me up, I had a feeling there were other things he was told he couldn’t do.

He didn’t show up 10 minutes later but I figured that maybe if he missed the bus or nearly missed it he wouldn’t go at all but I was wrong. Him getting the bus with me. My bus was considered late for him but an upper school student could ride it I guessed. They would just be there 10 minutes before the bell rang instead of the 20 they actually needed. I didn’t watch him, him getting off quickly and walking past me. I didn’t pay attention to where he was going. I was too pissed. Too mad at him to really care. I mean it was his choice, his body but that didn’t mean he had to subject himself to that. It wasn’t something he wanted and I knew it. I knew he had done it for me.

I don’t remember what happened for the rest of the day. I was too worried because of what had happened to John. Too worried about everything to really try and pay attention. The whole day is a blur. Me going through the motions until later that evening when we started moving everyone downstairs to the kitchen where mum had prepared a steak dinner for Da’s last meal with us for the next three months.

After everyone was sat at the table for a few minutes Da sighed heavily, “Where is your brother?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“He’s supposed to be here by now,” Mum said, “He probably went to the park again. Connor? Can you go grab the butter please that way we have butter for the potatoes?”

“Sure, I’ll be right back,” Da said.

“So, it’s really going to be three months?” I asked quietly once he was out in the hallway.

“Yes,” Mum said nodding her head giving me a warning smile.

A warning not to talk about it with him so close by. A warning that I shouldn’t say that much about it. That it wasn’t something we were supposed to talk about or probably more sound excited about. But if Da wasn’t around that meant that maybe…things would be easier. Less like they had been the last five days.

When Da came back into the dining room John strolled in behind him. His shirt was untucked from his pants and he looked tired, staring mostly at his feet. Everyone going quiet. We all had an idea of what had probably happened because he usually didn’t walk around with his shirt untucked.

Mum gave him a sad smile, “John come here love,” mum said as he walked over to her, hugging her. He seemed like he needed it holding her for a moment as she stood there rubbing his head slightly, “Are you ok?” she asked him.

It was supposed to private but her whispering skills were not on point Da shooting her an annoyed look before he gruffly responded, “He’s fine.”

“Connor…” Mum started to say something before he interrupted her.

“Danielle can we please have a pleasant dinner? I’m leaving early tomorrow morning. I just want to spend some time with my family before I leave all right? Before all of my children have to go to bed,” he said before cutting into his stake and spearing it with his fork.

His children? Did he mean his fuck toys? His property? I didn’t ever feel like his child anymore, not really. Not since we’d been here. In this hell hole that was considered a house. The door to the dining room swung open almost crashing again the wall Uncle Ben walking in smiling happily.

Mike stiffened in the chair beside me and I reached for his hand squeezing it under the table letting him know it was ok. That Uncle Ben wouldn’t hurt him with all of us there. That we would be ok because Da was here and mum and mum would make sure nothing bad happened to us. I myself felt nervous him walking into the room smiling happily at us.

“Hi Johnny,” Uncle Ben said as he walked into the room and sat down at an empty seat.

John was still standing back from the table. Not having sat down yet probably not wanting to sit because he didn’t want to have to sit next to Da or uncle Ben which he figured was one place he would be sitting because it was now the only empty chair, the spot between Uncle Ben and Da. John shot him a look somewhere between pissed and terrified as Uncle Ben winked at him. Was he serious. Did he have to broadcast it?

“Ben,” Mum said coldly a thin and dangerous smile on her lips. Did she know? Did she know what Uncle Ben had done to John?

James stood up, using the edge of his chair to climb out of his booster seat. He went up to John and tugged on his sleeve, John not questioning it or giving him a weird look but leaning down so James could whisper in his ear rather loudly, “You can sit between me and mummy if you want to.” He told John.

He said that because if John sat between James and Mum instead of on the opposite side of James he wouldn’t have to sit by uncle Ben. James trying to make John more comfortable and protect him as much as a six-year-old could protect anyone I suppose. He really cared about us. He did.

When he wasn’t crying because of his own fear he was crying because someone else was sad or upset. Him and Mike were really sweet boys and the way Andy acted sometimes especially with Laura and Cat you could tell he was probably going to be a sweetheart too. The way he paid close attention to them and played with them even though he did rip the heads off of dolls sometimes but, he was 2. At 2 your social skills aren’t the best but he did constantly kiss them and would tell everyone he loved them. Especially when he felt like he had done something bad.

“That’s very sweet of you James but John is sitting by uncle Ben,” Da said just as John opened his mouth to speak.

“I would like to choose my own seat please,” John said surprising me.

He never stood up to Da. Not ever. None of us did besides mum sometimes and last time she had stood up to him well…she still had the bruised body to prove it had happened. I was honestly surprised he had even dared to say anything me looking up and down the table nervously between them. He couldn’t be serious about what he had just said.

“My choice is your choice now go sit,” Da said pointing at the empty chair down the table with the tip of his knife.

I saw John’s shoulders tense for a second as he gulped his Adam’s apple bobbing silently as he walked slowly towards the chair and then sat down on the very edge of the chair that was the farthest away from uncle Ben. Uncle Ben liked grabbing legs under the table and I’m sure it was something that John was not really looking forward to however, he did look slightly retarded perched on the left corner of his chair before he looked at his plate cutting into his food.

Da frowned at him shaking his head, “Sit in the chair like a normal person,” Da barked at him.

John sighed the saddest look on his face as he exhaled before he moved sitting at the table like a normal person. A person who wasn’t scared about having their legs grabbed at the dinner table him jumping slightly before he tensed up his whole body going still as he stared straight ahead of him at Mike before he looked at Da who gave him a small smile before Da cleared his throat.

“So how was school today everyone?” Da asked us.

“Good,” I said quietly.

I didn’t really remember school to be honest even by that point. There wasn’t anything to really talk about that had happened. I had done my school work, eaten my lunch with my book and had come home done my homework helped everyone else with their homework, helped mum make sure Mary and Shay were fed, fed Malachay and then helped move everyone downstairs and entertained them while mum had cooked dinner. So, school was fine. I was fine, I hadn’t gotten raped so that was always a bonus.
Mike smiled at mum before he answered him squeezing my hand as if he was trying to draw strength from me, as if just talking in front of them was hard. However at least he was speaking which was more than James had been able to do for about a week after everything had happened. In fact, James still had a hard time speaking in front of Da.

“I’m actually doing really well in art class. They had us draw Jesus coming back from the dead and the teacher said she really liked mine. She hung it up in the classroom.”

“That’s great,” Da said his eyes more focused on his plate than his child that was speaking, “I would love to see that after the holidays are over,” he told him.

What did he mean after the holidays were over? They were already over. I mean we still had Ash Wednesday, good Friday and Easter but, dude, we usually stayed in school for those for the most part getting maybe a 2-week break around Easter. I mean it wasn’t exactly exciting for any of us. Mum loved those holidays but to me it just seemed like an excuse for Da to do things to us usually.

“It’s going ok,” Matt said looking at Da, “I answered all the question on my math test right with no help.”

“Good job!” I said to him.

He seemed to really struggle with his math most of the time. He was smart just not in math and I felt really excited that he had done that great. I mean I had been helping him for the most part. Mum always busy with the babies and John always drunk and asleep. I honestly had begun wondering if John actually ever did any homework at all because he was passed out drunk that often.

“we colored pictures today,” Cat told us smiling at mum, “And then they read us stories. Sister Martha said I was very well behaved.”

“I’m glad to hear it angel,” Da said to her actually looking up from his stake, “You’re a really good girl so I would hope she would tell you when you’re doing what you’re supposed to. Keep up the good work. John, what about you?”

“Fine,” John said barely audible.

“Really?” Da asked John, “Because I got a phone call. Two actually. You’re failing math and you didn’t show up to some of your classes today. So, I suppose that’s not helping your grade.”

“He wasn’t at school?” Mum asked Da shooting him a worried look.

“That’s what the office told me. They asked me why we didn’t call him in sick and I told them because he wasn’t. I then got a call from father Barren who said he believes it would be a good idea to move your study time with him from Monday to tomorrow,” Da said looking at John as he said that, “And that you should probably do it for the next four or weeks or so until your grades start to improve.”

I saw John’s face pale a little as he exhaled deeply. He was in trouble. He knew he was in trouble and that it wasn’t the type of trouble he wanted to be in. That not only was Da mad at him but also probably mum, “May I be excused?” he mumbled barely moving his lips as he asked.

“No, you may not,” Da told him, “You need to go to school. I don’t care what problems you are having with bullying or whether this was just because you decided to be lazy but, you are not skipping school again, you got me?”

John nodded his head in understanding, “I understand. May I be excused?” he asked again his voice louder this time.

“No, you may not. Maybe if you want to spend less time at school you should be trying to get your grades up instead of hanging out with your friends in the park,” Da said simply as he took another bite of stake.

John had been at the park again? Mum told him next time he needed to ask. Mum leaned forward putting her elbows on the table and sighing with her eyes closed. So, she was angry with him. Didn’t she understand why he hadn’t gone to school? That the teacher offering to tutor him wasn’t really offering to tutor him at all. That he was planning to make him do other things? How could she not understand that? That if people would just leave him alone then maybe he would actually go to school. Maybe he wouldn’t drink as much.

I wanted to say something but, I knew I would just get him into more trouble. That standing up to Da would be a bad idea. That he was probably the only one besides Lionel that was allowed to…my face getting warm just thinking about it. About how angry and upset I was, how scared for John I was. How mad I was at Da and mum for not understanding how hard things were for him.

“I’m sorry ok,” John said staring at the plate in front of him, “I needed a break. I’m sorry.”

“John love, what’s going on?” Mum asked him to which he shook his head still staring at his plate.

He didn’t want to talk about it. I wouldn’t either. She hadn’t seen his back or his hips or any other part of him. She hadn’t seen what he had looked like that morning. How beat up his was under his clothes. Speaking of…when had he found concealer? It did really help with the neck situation covering the bruises and claw marks around his neck.

“I could always hire a tutor to help you out I guess,” Da said looking at John, “I’m sure Dylan is looking for extra money.”

Who was Dylan? I remember thinking that figuring it was probably no one important. That it didn’t really matter. However, it made me think of the brotherhood. Of what was going to happen there. Da was in charge of us. He was our handler as the emails always called them. What if we didn’t have a handler? What happened then? It wasn’t like they would just disappear and leave us alone for the next three months while he was away. It wouldn’t be that easy, not ever.

“No, Da,” John said looking up from his plate shaking his head, “You said I could have a break.”

“That’s before you misbehaved now deal with it,” Da said harshly as mum’s head swiveled around glancing at John and then back at Da like she was trying to figure out what was going on, what they were talking about.

“Connor…,” she said in a warning tone.

“Danielle this is between him and me not anyone else,” Da hissed at her.

“He’s my son,” she said taking her napkin from her lap and throwing it on her plate like she was done eating. Like she was going to stand up and confront Da. Mike’s hand tightening in mine.

“I’d say he’s more mine then yours,” Da said looking at John, his eyes doing that thing where they scanned the parts of him he could see making John wiggle.

That was sick. He was talking about that not just in front of mum but in front of everyone. We all knew that’s what he meant. That John was more his because of the things he made John do. Was planning on continuing to make him do. Mum’s frown deepening as her face started to turn red before Catty spoke loudly distracting them both.

“Daddy why do you hate John?” she asked him.

“Oh Angel, I don’t hate your brother. I love your brother more than any of you will ever understand,” he said before he sipped some wine from the glass next to him.

“May I be excused?” John asked quietly.

He didn’t want to have to hear this. Hear them talk about him like he wasn’t there. Like he was a thing. He was my brother. He was a person, his own person. He didn’t belong to either of them. Especially not in the way Da was implying. He might have been their son but he was his own person. I understood why that would hurt. Having to sit there and listen to Da talk about him like he wasn’t there or he was an object to fight over.

Mum looked at him. Her face sad like she understood. Like she understood how he felt. Especially after seeing Da give him that look, talk about him like that, “Yes you may,” Mum said quickly before Da could cut her off. Before Da could keep her from granting John room to breathe, to think. To feel like his own person.

He shot up from the table and opened the dining room door leaving as fast as he could. Like someone had lite a fire under his ass. He really didn’t want to be there for this. To listen to them fight about him. Fight about us.

“Why on earth did you tell him he could go? He’s been skipping school Danielle. He’s been smoking and drinking. You think now is a good time to leave him to go be alone?” he asked her.

Mum sneered at him, “You know why I told him he could leave don’t pretend you don’t.”

“That? That was nothing. You’ve seen worse,” Da told her shrugging his shoulders.

“I know I have and that’s exactly why I sent him away. He doesn’t need to deal with that. He’s 13 Connor. He’s your son!” she hissed at him.

“So, it’s his son? Who cares. We were sons once,” Ben said.

“I don’t even want you here you little shite,” Mum said to which Ben smiled at her, “You keep your mouth shut.”

“Why? Don’t like me Danielle? Why does that not feel new?”

“Ben, please,” Da said, “Do we have to do this right now?”

“Sorry,” Ben said, “I’ll stay silent.”

“Good,” Da said, “Now I want a pleasant meal. Can someone go check on John? I want him to come back to the table so we can sit down and have a last meal as a family tonight.”

“I’ll go,” James said before he climbed out of his seat and left walking down the hall.

We sat there in silence for a few minutes there being nothing to say. I didn’t have anything to talk about and neither did anyone else really. That and the air with thick with tension. Mum was mad that Ben was there. I wasn’t happy that Ben was there. Mike was trying his hardest to stay calm his little hand still squeezing mine.

I turned and smiled at him trying to reassure him. Trying to convince him that we were ok. It was hard sitting at table with him even if Ben was on the other side of the table nowhere near us. I knew that. I understood it.

John came back into the dinning sighing as he sat back down in his seat James climbing back into his.

“Feeling better?” Uncle Ben asked him smiling like he was amused.

John grimaced looking at him for a second before he picked his fork back up, “Yeah sure.”

“Teenagers huh?” Ben said mum shooting him a dirty look because he was speaking, “Did we have this much attitude?”

“Sometimes I think so. I don’t know, Da usually smacked it right out of us I’m pretty sure,” Da answered him.

Mum sighed sadly before she spoke, “I can’t believe you grew up that way still. It explains a lot of your ideas about child rearing though.”

“You know I’m working on that,” Da said coldly.

“I know that’s what you say. I was just saying,” Mum said.

“Speaking of children. When are you two going to have another?” Ben asked mum.

John was moving his fork around his plate or trying to. His hand seemed to be shaking for some reason. I figured it was Ben or maybe just the fact that he had to sit there with Da and him at the table thinking about how bad things would be if mum wasn’t there.

“We’re working on it,” Da said taking another bite of stake.

Mum glanced down the table at Ben her eyes cold, giving him a smile but one that more said, “I want to beat the shit out of you shut up.” And less “I’m enjoying your company”. She really didn’t want him here. I didn’t think any of us wanted him there. Me looking at Matt who was glaring daggers at him.

“Good to hear. I mean I can’t find a woman of my own to have kids with so I should enjoy spending time with yours while I can before they grow, right?” Ben said more to Da than mum when he saw mum flinch out of the corner of his eye him turning to her, “What’d I say?”

Mum whipped her lips with her napkin before she turned giving him a tight-lipped smile, her eyes full of venom, “I know how you enjoy time with my children Ben and while Connor is gone it won’t be tolerated. You will be staying in your apartment far from here. Do you understand me?” Mum said to him.

“Actually, he will be staying here because there are things that need to be watched,” Da said mum’s head snapping in his direction.

“No, he won’t be,” she said to him.

“He will. Or John and Will and the twins will be spending a lot of time with him at his apartment. Which do you prefer? At least here you can watch and monitor what’s going on. You know, make sure he keeps his hands to himself,” Da said.

John gasped his whole body jumping causing the glasses closest to him to rattle. Mum’s attention turned to him her frowning with worry, “You ok?” she asked him quietly.

He nodded his head in response before he looked at her, “Maybe I be excused? I mean for real this time. I have homework I have to do.”

“You’ve barely eaten a thing,” Mum said in response.

It was true. There were maybe two bites of stake missing from his plate and the only thing that really looked like it had been eaten at all seemed to be his green beans the potatoes looking like a mess that had been moved around his plate and not touched at all.

“He’s fine,” Da said looking up from his food and smiling at John, “He should be more worried about his school work.”

“All right then. Yes, you maybe go but could you take Seamus upstairs? I’ll be up in a few moments with the others,” Mum said to him as John stood up going over to Seamus’s highchair and unbuckling him before getting ready to leave the room Da clearing his throat loudly.

“Let me say good bye,” Da said getting up from the table leaning over John to look at the baby in his arms, “Bye Seamus.” Da said kissing him on the forehead before John started walking away taking him from the room talking to him quietly on his way down the hall.

“He’s going to be a handsome boy as he grows,” Uncle Ben mumbled mum shooting him a look.

“You don’t talk about my kids. You keep your mouth shut. I’m tired of hearing you speak. I’m tired of being reminded of this,” she hissed.

“Danielle, please,” Da said, “He’s here to help you.”

“I don’t want him anywhere near my kids,” Mum said.

“They’re my kids. You might have birthed them but they belong to me. What is wrong with you?” Da spat at her.

“I’m tired and our kids are tired. You don’t look at them like that. You and he need to keep your dirty thoughts to yourselves. You don’t do that. You don’t…and I know he’s drinking I’m very aware he drinks himself into a stupor every day. You think I haven’t noticed? Did I know he was smoking? No, I wasn’t aware of that but for all you know he’s not. For all you know it's his friends, that Patrick and Cole smoke and not him.”

“I know it’s him. I could taste it on his breath,” Da said shrugging his shoulders.

Mum’s mouth nearly hit the ground as the whole table went silent Uncle Ben putting his hand over his mouth to keep himself from laughing as Mike looked at me before he quietly asked.

“How do you taste someone breath?”

Da looked at him, “Well, you know when I give you re…”

“CONNOR! HIM TOO? EVERYONE? WHO ELSE ARE YOU HURTING?! Jesus fucking Christ you’re sick.” Mum muttered her eyes flashing in anger.

My mum had just taken the lords name in vain. That was a que. That was a que that we needed to leave. That it was time for us to leave the room before they kept swearing at each other Mac, Mary, Andy and Laura’s little faces scrunched up like they were about to start screaming and crying because mum and Da were yelling at each other.

“Mike, can you grab one of the babies, go grab Mary,” I whispered to him.

“But she’s strapped in her highchair,” he told me barely above a whisper as mum and Da stared daggers at each other.

“Well we need to get them out of here ok? They don’t need to be here right now. We don’t need to be here right now,” I said to him to which he stood up going over and starting to fumble around with the buckle on Mary’s highchair as mum sighed looking at him before she undid the buckle in one move taking Mary and handing her to Mike.

“Such a good brother,” she said smiling at Mike before she glared at Da, “So Connor are you going to tell me who else or am I going to have to ask every single one of our kids what you’ve done to them?”

Da smiled like he was proud of himself pouring more wine into his glass as I moved slowly around the table getting Mac out of his highchair and Handing him to Matt who stood up to take him.

“Upstairs?” he asked me.

I nodded my head silently before I went and I helped Andy and Laura out of their booster seats, “Follow Matty guys,” I said and they both turned to look at Matt who held a hand out for them as Catty got up and followed them before I felt a hand on the back of my shoulder.

By that point Mum and Da were screaming at each other mum crying angry tears and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying as his arms wrapped around my waist my face getting hot. He wasn’t. Not in front of mum. He couldn’t be. He wasn’t going to. He wasn’t.

“You’re not supposed to touch me,” I reminded him.

“Who do you think is going to take care of you while Daddy’s away?” he whispered up against the back of my neck, “Surely you didn’t think Lionel would leave his special boy all alone?”

I shook my head grabbing his hands which squeezed me around my stomach hurting. This wasn’t good. They were both shouting at each other too busy to notice what was going on and what he was doing to me.

“Want them to stop fighting? Think they’d noticed if I fucked you right here on this table?” he asked me, “Or do you think they wouldn’t realize what was going on until you started screaming?”

“They’re our children! You don’t do that to your kids. You know this! You went to therapy for this! You did all of that work and you’re telling me…” Mum trailed off suddenly, “Let him go before I call the cops,” she said to Ben’s back his front pressed again my back.

“Good luck calling the cops. Please Danielle we’ve been over this,” Da said.

“I’m serious. He needs to get his hands off my son,” Mum warned him before I heard a scuffle occurring.

“Drop the knife Danielle,” Da warned her, “Drop the knife before this wrist becomes your throat.”

“That’s my son,” she said to him her voice sounding unsteady, “That’s your son. How could you let him…”?

“He won’t hurt him. He’s supposed to help you take care of them while I’m gone,” Da said.

My whole body felt warm. They weren’t really going to do this were they? Not in front of mum. Please god not in front of mum. I remember thinking that but my whole body feeling like it was made of stone me not able to move.

“Connor, he’s your son. Make Ben stop. Don’t let him do this, make him stop,” Mum begged for me as I felt Ben starting to kiss the back of my neck.

I heard whining before someone started sobbing. My heart breaking. I thought everyone had left but James was still there probably frozen to his chair.

“Daddy please don’t let him,” he barely managed to whimper, “Don’t let Ben hurt him. Please Daddy.”

I couldn’t stand it. That Da would let him do this in front of one of them. Me doing the best I could to stay silent. To not sob outright. James didn’t need to see this.

“Ben not right now. He’s only little please,” I begged to which Ben exhaled loudly on the back of my neck.

“It’s not like he can see what I’m doing. I could just…” he ground up against my back, “Just a little bit.”

“It’s ok love,” Mum said to James, “it’s ok.”

“He’s not hurting him James I swear to you. Ask Will, he’s not being hurt,” I heard Da said, “Will is he hurting you?”

I felt like he was. He was pressed too hard again me his erection poking me in the back. I felt like he was hurting me. I knew if he was allowed to he would and Da didn’t seem to be stopping him. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t lie to James and say he wasn’t hurting me but I couldn’t say he was and make Da mad because then he would hurt mum. Or James.

“I’m fine,” I whispered.

“William we’re waiting. Tell your brother you’re fine,” Da said my response maybe a moment before not loud enough for anyone to hear but maybe Ben.

“I-I-I’m fine,” I managed.

“See bud? He’s fine, there you go. Uncle Ben’s not hurting him,” Da said.

“You’re sick,” Mum hissed at Da.

“I’m nothing. It’s perfectly fine. If he was hurting Will I’m sure Will would tell us. He’s not even doing anything to him really. He’s hugging him, look. It’s fine. He’s fine,” Da insisted, “Now take James and go upstairs.”

“NO!” Mum said loudly, “He comes or we don’t leave. I’m not leaving him down here with the two of you. Who knows what the hell you’d do to him if I did.”

“You can go upstairs or you won’t be getting up tomorrow morning because I’ll be putting you in a body cast. And don’t tell me I can’t do it. You know I will and then where will he be? Where will they be? Maybe I’ll hire a couple of my friends to help me take care of them. Maybe I’ll invite Hank over. You know he’s fond of Mac. Yeah, that’s right I said it. And you know I’ll do it. Don’t pretend you think I won’t. You know I always follow through Danielle so make a choice. You leave him here with us or you give all of them to us tomorrow and I skip New York,” Da told her sounding amused.

He would. We both knew he would. So, this was what it was like to be John. The type of things Da said to get John to do what he wanted. Mum knew it was better it was just me. That sacrificing one was better than all of us suffering. I knew it too. I wasn’t stupid. They needed her more then they needed me.

“Connor please,” Mum said he voice going soft before she said something I couldn’t understand.

“I’ll think about it. Right now, I feel like it’s important that he’s with me anyway. I have to make a couple of conference calls and Lionel thinks he’d be good at the business after all he does want him to come to New York with me over spring break. It’d be good for him to have a little bit of an idea how things go,” Da told her.

“You won’t hurt him?” she asked Da, “Or let him touch him?”

“If it makes you happy Ben can stay down here. You take James upstairs. Ben let him go,” Da said to which Ben quit squeezing me letting me finally walk forward so I was away from him, so I wasn’t pressed against his body anymore me spinning around to look at him shaking my head.

“Love come here,” Mum said to me as I looked at her. Her eyes were sad and she was holding James who was sniffling into her shoulder. My James, my baby and he was so scared for me he was literally shaking. They should have waited until he was gone. Until he wasn’t in the room to start screaming like that for Uncle Ben to grab me like that.

I walked up to her and she put her other arm around my shoulder not putting James down. I honestly didn’t blame her for that. I wouldn’t have put him down for anything. I didn’t want Da and Uncle Ben anywhere near him. I didn’t want them in the same room with him. I sighed heavily, “Mum take him and go. Just go,” I told her quietly.

“I don’t want to leave you with them,” she told me.

“You heard him. It’s just a phone call he wants me to listen to,” I lied to her knowing that’s not all it was. That the promise of Uncle Ben not touching me, Da not touching me was just Da’s way of getting mum to leave me alone with them so they could hurt me. We both knew it but I wasn’t going to let her fight for me. Not when he had threatened to put her in a body cast and then have Hank babysit. That was a nightmare waiting to happen.

“Will are you...?” I cut her off giving her all of my 10-year-old wisdom.

“Mum they need you. You know Hank would hurt him. Just like he hurts John and he’s too little. You know something bad would happen. Just go. I’ll be fine. Who knows maybe nothing will happen? Maybe I’ll get lucky because it’s his last night at home for a while,” I told her, “I’ll be fine. I promise.”

She stared at me for a minute and I could see she wanted to say something. To argue with me and tell me it was wrong that I was wrong but, she knew I had a point. That I was right. That they needed her and Hank was the last person that needed to be in our house. She sighed heavily after a minute of silence, “I love you,” she said quietly.

“I love you too mum,” I told her before she started walking away James’ face still buried her shoulder as he whimpered saying something I couldn’t hear or understand as she walked down the hall.

Ben smiled at me starting to walk towards me again the moment she was down the hallway Da clearing his throat, “You know better Ben. I really do have to make a phone call. So why don’t we go upstairs. I’ll see what he has to say.”

“What who has to say?” I asked Da.

“Lionel. I think it’d be interesting for you to know some specifics. Even though you are contracted to Lionel Ben is going to be your sub handler and I want you to hear what exactly is going on. How things are going to work out,” Da told me.

“With me you mean?” I asked him quietly folding my arms in front of my chest.

“Yes,” Da said, “He comes here every other week because he takes care of his grandsons on the weekend. Every other weekend and he runs things so, we’re going to go talk to him ok?”

“You do know I’ll take good care of him though, right?” Uncle Ben asked putting his hands on my shoulders.

I froze up reminding myself that it was better me than mum getting beat up. Better me than John. That I could do it even if I didn’t want to. Or hoping maybe I would get lucky and Lionel would tell them they weren’t allowed to. I felt numb as he pushed me forward out of the dining room and down the hall than up the stairs to the 3rd floor. Instead of going into Da’s office him and Uncle Ben forced me into one of the guest rooms before he picked up the phone dialing the number and then hitting the speaker.

“Hello?” I heard a familiar voice answer, his voice.

“Hi Lionel. I have Ben and Will here,” Da told him, “As I’m sure you know I’m leaving early tomorrow morning with you and I’m not sure how clear Ben is about the rules here so if you could…”

“Why isn’t William speaking if he’s there?” Lionel asked Da interrupting him before Da nodded at me, telling me I should say something.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want anything to do with him. Uncle Ben grabbing my arm and forcing it behind my back making me yelp in pain.

“There he is, I heard that. Benjamin, you better be nice otherwise I won’t let you help me with this,” Lionel told him.

Ben huffed before he let go of my arm. Me rubbing it shooting him a dirty look. If he would have yanked any harder he would have seriously hurt my shoulder. He could have broken my arm.

“Are you all right little one?” Lionel asked me through the speaker.

Yeah, I was fine no thanks to that asshole. If he didn’t want me being hurt he needed to keep Ben away from me. Which apparently wasn’t going to happen.

“Will quit being rude,” Da snapped.

“No, it’s all right Connor he’s shy. Not rude. Sometimes I think he just forgets to speak when I can’t see him. I can’t see you nod your head little one. Tell me if you’re all right. That sound you made sounded like he might have hurt you. I just want to make sure you’re ok,” Lionel said through the speaker.

“I’m ok,” I said quietly.

“Good,” Lionel said, “So we’re discussing terms again and I see it’s warranted. You do not batter him, you restrain him and do so gently. You are not allowed to have that sweet piece of fruit that belongs to me and you will not over use him. You can keep him prepared for me three times a week.”

“A week?” Uncle Ben questioned excitedly, “I thought you meant three times while you were gone until your next visit.”

“A week. I don’t want him to be too difficult. If you don’t keep them open they tend to tighten up and things get rather painful. I don’t like causing pain unless they do something to deserve pain. So, if you can be gentle and respectful you are allowed to teach him.”

“I can be gentle and respectful don’t you think Will?” Ben asked his eyes giving me that look making me shiver.

“Ok and about the me…” Da started to say something.

“Now, now Connor why don’t you say goodbye to your son first? You know an intimate goodbye,” Lionel said and I felt myself go cold.

“Can I help sir?” Ben asked.

“Certainly, just be safe,” Lionel said.

“Does Connor have to be…”

“Benjamin, he is his father. I trust him with my special boy,” Lionel said, “You on the other hand I’m not so sure about so if you can wrap it.”

“Come here honey,” Da said holding his arms out to me like he wanted me to hug him.

“William listen to your father,” Lionel told me.

So, he was going to make me do it. I didn’t see the point of this at all. I thought I was supposed to…I sighed. I thought things were supposed to get easier if I was Lionel’s not harder. That it would just be him and not everyone else. I thought that’s what the point of a contract was.

“Make sure he makes those delicious little sounds,” Lionel told my Da.

“Come here,” Da said to me as Ben pushed me forward almost causing me to fall over as Da caught me.

When I dared to look up at him he was shaking his head at Ben as he looked at me. I didn’t want to do this. This was going to hurt. It was going to be embarrassing and it was going to hurt and I knew it.

“Sir,” Ben said, “That might be a little hard to do if we aren’t allowed to…”

“Fine this one time but after that it’s off limits. Don’t spill my juice. If you’re going to take it you’re going to cherish it. You understand?” Lionel told him.

It took me a minute to understand what he was talking about. Juice? I didn’t have any juice. And then I realized what they were talking about. Me ejaculating. That they were going to do that.

“Make sure you give every bit of him attention. We actually had a lot of fun Friday evening. I kissed every inch of him until he was begging for it. His little fruit red and throbbing before I finally extracted that sweet creaminess from him,” Lionel said.

“That sounds very erotic,” Ben said behind me wrapping his arms around my waist and untucking the bottom of my shirt from my Khaki’s.

He didn’t have to do that. I didn’t want him to do that. I wanted to keep my clothes on. I didn’t want anyone undressing me. I didn’t want this to happen.

“It’s ok honey,” Da said standing up and picking me up and setting me on the bed before he laid down beside me starting to undo my shirt.

I usually took my vest and tie off as soon as I got home because I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a sweater vest and a tie but they tend to be uncomfortable. However, this made me wish desperately I had left them on because it was another layer of clothing between his skin and mine as I looked to see Ben taking his clothes off quickly as Da kissed my cheek.

“You’re ok. All you have to do it be you ok?” he told me.

“Let me have him,” Ben said.

“Please?” I said to Da trying to keep my voice steady because no one liked it when I cried.

“Please what honey?” Da asked me as he started pulling my arms out of my shirt.

“I …” I said before remembering it was Da that I couldn’t say the words I didn’t want to.

“What was that little one?” Lionel asked over the phone, “You can tell us anything you won’t be punished. Tell us what’s on your mind.”

“Don’t let him Da. Please, please,” I begged Da. Uncle Ben making a sound of frustration drawing my attention.

He was naked and aroused watching Da undress me, kissing my neck and my cheeks. Which felt hot with shame. He wasn’t going to let him, was he? He wasn’t going to let Uncle Ben do it if Lionel had said I could tell them no. That they were supposed to be respectful.

“Ben how about you just use your oral talents and let Connor have a private good bye shortly?” Lionel suggested.

“That works. I however have a feeling that if he was serviced while we did other things he would make the most pleasant sounds sir,” Ben said.

“What’s your suggestion?” Lionel asked his tone of voice changing slightly.

“Well, I was hoping to suck his cock while someone gave him a pony ride,” Ben said and Da’s eyes lit up before Lionel laughed lightly.

“I’d love to see that. I guess I’ll have to settle for hearing it this time around?” Lionel asked.

I knew what a pony ride was. It was when an adult put you on their knee and you bounced up and down when you were little. I wasn’t sure why he would want to try and put his mouth there as Da bounced me on his knee. My brain for some reasons not understanding what they meant.

“That does sound nice, doesn’t it?” Da asked me whispering the question in my ear, “You on top for once, bouncing on that cock you want so much. Huh my little cock slut?”

I shook my head. I wouldn’t do that. I wasn’t ok with that. I wouldn’t let him do that.

“Oh, come on honey. Don’t be shy. It’ll be fun. It’s something we haven’t done before,” Da said more loudly this time so everyone could hear what he was saying. Uncle Ben coming up and leaning over top of me forcing me to lay down on my back on the bed.

“How about I get him started? He always relaxes a little bit after some attention,” Uncle Ben said before his hands went to my belt undoing my pants before I could protest. Him forcing my hips up so he could yank my pants off and underwear in one move like he usually did.

Da started kissing my cheek and then my neck Uncle Ben not trying to make out with me his kisses starting below my rib cage as I started to squirm. I didn’t like the way it tickled. I never did. The weight of his body on my legs making it hard for me to move. Causing me to whine a little bit before Da started talking.

“Just relax. He’s going to make you feel good. Make sure you’re nice and ready for me ok Honey? So, you can take all of me. So, I can love you right. Give you all the cock you need. Ok?”

I felt my face heat up even more. He had said that loud enough for Lionel to hear. For everyone to hear, him flicking my nipple. Causing me to whimper loudly as I went to grab his arm to push him away.

“Now, don’t do that. I don’t want to have to restrain you,” Da warned me as Uncle Ben cleared his throat his tongue reaching my belly button.

“Don’t forget to pay close attention that delicious little boy pussy,” Lionel said.

What? I remember thinking that. It being an expression I don’t think I had ever heard before. As Da handed Uncle Ben a bottle of lube. He squirted some onto his fingers. I wanted to scream, to tell Da not to let him do that to me. Uncle Ben moving his weight and lifting my legs up shoving a finger inside of me making me hiss.

“It’s ok Honey, it’s ok. Uncle Ben is just going to get you warmed up is all ok?” Da warned me.

“Is he doing ok Connor?” Lionel asked over the speaker phone, “He’s being awfully quiet.”

“I know sir. Like you said he tends to be shy and really, we’re just getting him warmed up. We haven’t even really done anything but kiss him a little bit. If you heard that grunt Ben just slid his finger in,” Da told Lionel.

“Tell him he needs two and to keep one still while he moves the other in a slow clockwise motion,” Lionel said.

“I’ll give it a shot,” Uncle Ben said putting another finger in slowly up the first knuckle before pulling it back out working his finger in a little farther each time before he finally got it all the way inside.

I let out a sharp gasp as he started moving his finger him hitting against something just enough to send a small tingle through my body but not enough to cause the same sensations that Lionel had Friday evening on the way home.

“You like that?” Da asked me, “It’s so hot seeing him tease you open. Knowing that I get to a part of you soon. That you’re going to bouncing on me, making me feel good. Letting me fill you. You want me to do that. To give you my cock, don’t you? Don’t you my little cock slut?”

I wanted them to stop. I went to push Uncle Ben away before Da grabbed my arms pinning them above my head.

“Don’t make me restrain you,” Da warned me again holding my arms there.

“Daddy please, please it doesn’t…” I begged him.

“It’s ok little one. Let your Daddy love you. Let your Uncle make you feel good. All they want to do is make you feel good. Just relax,” Lionel cooed at me over the phone.

I went silent again. Hearing the excited tone in his voice as he told me to relax, I knew he was getting off on it. That it was probably better if I didn’t protest, if I tried to stay as silent as I possibly could. My arms pinned above my head as Da started kissing and licking on my chest as Uncle Ben hit against that spot once more before wrapping his lips around me moaning happily.

“AH!” I let out a surprised whimper my eyes going wide at the sound I had made. My face starting to feel hot again as I wiggled trying to get their mouths to break contact with my skin. Trying to get them to stop holding me down and licking me, licking my chest, my pelvis. Uncle Ben wrapping his arms around my thighs as my knees rested on his shoulders, as he took his fingers out. As he started vigorously using his mouth and tongue.

The way he was holding my legs I couldn’t even really kick. Him squeezing my thighs and knees a little tighter each time I moved them like he was afraid I was going to kick him. Which is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to kick him so fucking badly even if it meant getting smacked because it meant he’d be too busy smacking me to do other things.

“He’s squirmy this way,” Uncle Ben said stopping for a second to make the comment.

“He can be sometimes,” Da said, “Especially when he’s playing the quite game.”

“I think he’s playing it of his own accord right now,” Lionel said, “He’s awfully quiet right now. He does that to me too though. Is there any way you can make him louder?”

“You mean without hurting him a little bit?” Ben asked, “Honestly only thing I can think of is for us to get to business or me to pay special attention to certain areas. However, if I let go of his legs I’m pretty sure he’s going to kick me because it takes a minute or two for the feeling to really build. Once I usually get him there though he goes stiff and stops moving so much.”

I hated listening to them talk about me. Talk about me like I was an animal that couldn’t understand what they were saying. That he was talking about blowing me talking about sticking his tongue inside me and finding that right spot on the tip of my penis that was really sensitive. That while it sometimes took him a while to find it, he was right. It made me freeze instead of squirm, try to go outside of my body instead of fight what was happening to it because I always figured when he found that spot, when anyone found that spot I was going to climax whether I liked it or not. That at that point I might as well give up and let them do what they wanted to me because I wasn’t getting away and my body was going to give it to them regardless of how I felt about the whole thing.

“I like his squirming it’s really cute,” Lionel said over the phone, “Even if it makes it a little more challenging. It’s fun.”

“I’m ok with his squirming too just I keep feeling like he’s about to kick me and usually I’m not doing this for this long,” Ben said before his lips wrapped back around me.

“AH!” Escaped from me again.

“That’s it baby. Let me know how good your Daddy and Uncle are making you feel. Let me know you’re being a good boy,” Lionel said making my throat feel tight.

I didn’t want him listening. I didn’t want any of it happening at all. I wanted Da to let me go and Ben. I wanted them to stop. Ben moving a certain way so that he was only sucking on my tip rolling his tongue over it and teasing it lightly with his teeth. My whole body moving out of my control no matter what I did as it got harder to breathe, harder to stay calm and quiet.

“That’s it huh?” Da asked me kissing my cheek and petting my face, “You think I can let go of your arms now or are you going to try and push him away? He just wants to make you feel good that’s all. I promise.”

I don’t know what it was but it felt like bugs on my skin running up and down my spine and into my limbs making it hard to control the twitching and spams that were moving through my body. Da loosened his grip on my arms me grabbing a fist full of sheet because I felt like I needed something to hold onto in order to keep myself from screaming, from begging them to just stop because it was making me feel sick. I knew that Lionel was patient and it might be ok to say stop to him but that wasn’t something you told my Da. Not ever and I knew that. I didn’t think Lionel being on the phone listening would save me from his wrath if I made him angry by saying the wrong thing.

“Come on honey, you can let me know how it feels. Let us all know how it feels. We want you to feel good. Just make a sound. It’s ok,” Da muttered his hands still playing with my nipples.

I started whimpering. I couldn’t help it. It was too strong, too hard to fight it. I couldn’t keep the sounds from spilling out of my mouth as Uncle Ben’s mouth kept sucking before he pulled away rolling his tongue over my tip making me squirm before he took the whole thing in his mouth sucking hard for a couple of minutes before he licked down the back of my shaft making his way to other parts of me sucking there for a moment before moaning happily.

“That’s actually really fun. No wonder some guys are into it,” he said, “The tastes is unique.”

“You mean that plump little pucker? It is a rather interesting taste, yes. I quiet enjoy it myself,” Lionel said over the phone.

“I can see why,” he said moving as he grabbed me hard by the hips shoving his tongue in me.

“GOD!” I shouted out in surprise before I heard a chuckle over the phone slamming a hand over my mouth.

“It’s ok,” Da said, “Let me know when you think he’s ready we’ll switch things around.”

“That sounds divine,” Lionel said, “And I can’t even see it.”

“He certainly seems to be enjoying his uncle’s attention,” Da told Lionel, “He has his hand over his mouth like he’s trying to keep himself quiet.”

“Remove his hand. I want to hear him. I want to know he’s enjoying your company,” Lionel said as Da took my hand.

My chest was heaving as I panted and sweated. It was too much. It felt too strong. My whole body feeling warm. My body was already on edge. If Uncle Ben would have kept going I would have shot all over my stomach everything felt that tight and tingly down there he must have sensed it because he stopped looking up at me smiling.

“Connor, I think he’s ready. Are you ready?” Ben asked him.

“I’ve Been ready,” Da said Ben grabbing my arms and using them to pull me into a sitting position before he made me stand handing Da the lube.

I just felt like it was going to hurt. I mean it always did a little bit but, again this was something new. My whole body shaking because I was already so tired. My body so charged with energy.

“Come on honey just sit down,” Da said, “Come on, it’s ok.”

Ben pushed me down into Da’s lap. Da’s hands on my ass before I felt it, him sliding into me in one swift motion. Usually he pushed in a little bit at a time but this time he left gravity to do the work impaling me on him the burn too much causing me to let out a sob.

“I know, I know that was fast. Just give it a second and it’ll stop burning,” Da said caressing me as my knees started shaking harder him wrapping his arms around my chest to hold me there. He started rolling his hips moving me back and forth on his lap his body never breaking contact with mine.

Whatever he was doing he found that spot and then kept rolling his hips, “That’s it honey, take my cock. Let me fill with you with my cock my little cock slut. God, yes that’s it, that’s it honey. God yeah,” Da moaned loudly the movement of his hips keeping me rocking.

I was panting every inhale causing me to gasp before Uncle Ben put his hands on my hips helping Da rock me wrapping his lips around me. It was too much I didn’t want to, I didn’t want it. I wanted them to stop me not able to stop their bodies from making mine move.

“Da…Da…,” I remember hearing me say in a breathy moan. I was trying to tell them to stop that they needed to stop. Da started kissing the back of my neck rocking faster.

“Me too honey I’m so close. Daddy’s so so close, come for me honey. Come for me. Be my little cock slut. Take all of it. Take all of me. I know you want it. I know you want it my good boy,” he moaned.

Ben rolled his tongue over my tip as I felt that energy rip itself away from my body my body exploding him grabbing my hips as I felt that molten lava feeling flood my insides. My whole-body shivering and shaking with contractions as they stopped moving, stopped making my body move. Da’s moans and grunts ceasing before he laid back taking me with him.

He waited for the rippling of my muscles to stop for my body to slow down before he rolled over so I was under him laying on my stomach him placing a kiss between my shoulder blades before he pulled out and let me go. At first, I couldn’t even move.
“Did all of you finish? I know I certainly did,” Lionel said over the phone.

“Yes, I think we all finished just about besides Ben,” Da said.

“I bet you he’s nice and open for me too,” Ben said, “You want to give me a…thank you brother.” Ben said.

I was too tired to move. To beg him not to. Him climbing on my back kissing me before I felt him slide in a little bit rolling his hips and pulling back out before sliding in a little further it taking him three different thrusts to seat himself in me as he used my body to reach his end. To get himself off.

I was beyond tired at that point. My head feeling beyond dizzy me seeing lights every time he brushed up against my prostate. I wanted to cry, to scream and sob but I couldn’t. I couldn’t find my voice my whole face feeling hot, my whole-body tingling and feeling warm as Da sat by my head running his hands through my hair as my uncle raped me. My cum exploding from me one last time my body probably helping him reach his climax as it contracted around him.

Only then did I find it possible to cry. First a quiet whimper and then sobs ripping free from what felt like my chest. Da pulling me into his lap.

“It’s ok honey you did so good. You made us all feel so good,” he told me, “It’s ok. I know that was a lot work but you did so good. You took such good care of us. It’s ok.”

I don’t remember hearing uncle Ben leave but by the time I was done crying the room was silent. Da probably had hung up the phone while I was screaming and sobbing my body still feeling like jelly as he rubbed my back lying next to me.

“Are you ok?” he asked me.

I nodded my head numbly feeling sick to my stomach. It wasn’t that I was ok. I was very far from ok but, I wanted him to tell me I could leave. That I could go upstairs and shower. That I could wash them off me. He was right. I was a slut. I was something beyond a slut. I was the type of slut that let someone use them, let their bodies give into everything that was happening, let themselves reach climax and then sobbed about it. I was pathetic. I was pathetic and I never wanted anyone to know but, Da knew. And Uncle Ben and probably Lionel.

“I’m going to go shower,” he whispered in my ear before nipping my ear lobe, “You want to join me?”

Of course, I didn’t. Why would I want to? Why would I want him to keep touching my skin? To keep reminding me that he owned it, owned me. That it wasn’t just him either but the three of them. That I wasn’t a person. That I was just…a slut.

“I’m just tired,” I barely managed.

“How about you go up to bed then ok Honey?” he told me.

I nodded my head the words tumbling out of my mouth automatically because I knew he’d want me to say it. Figuring it didn’t matter who said it first because it didn’t mean anything, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said kissing my cheek, “Head upstairs to bed ok? I don’t want you staying up too late. You have school in the morning.”

“Ok,” I said numbly nodding my head as I managed to get to my feet. My legs feeling like wet noodles every step feeling unsteady. Feeling like I would fall over at any second. I managed to make it to the lift just fine, without falling over the feeling of it kicking to life and taking off from its spot causing my bladder to feel like I had to piss me making it into my room and shutting the door quickly before I ran to the bathroom.

I had been in such a hurry I didn’t even notice him until he tapped me on the shoulder when I was done peeing causing me to nearly pee again in fear as I turned to look at him.

“Sorry,” James said quietly, “Are you ok?”

I nodded my head, “I just need a shower.”

“Where are your clothes?” he asked me.

I shrugged my shoulders feeling the tears causing my nose to burn and prickling my eyeballs. I was covered in cum and sweat and…grossness. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to be near him. I didn’t deserve to be near him.

“What’s wrong?” James asked his voice growing more concerned by the second even though he was whispering, making sure he stayed quiet.

I shrugged my shoulders again turning on the water and adjusting it, climbing in. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t think he needed to deal with it. He didn’t need to hear about what had happened. It wouldn’t do anything but give him nightmares and let him know what a horrible dirty slut I was, “Go to bed. I’ll be there in a little bit.”

“Willy?” he said barely above a whisper.

“Yeah?” I asked him before I pulled the curtain closed.

“I love you,” he told me.

“I love you too bud,” I told him, “Go to bed. I’ll be there in a little while.”

I closed the curtain and heard the door shut quietly.

Chapter Text

I spent a while in shower. I didn’t cry even though I wanted to but, I knew James could hear me. That if I cried he’d probably come back. Probably try to comfort me. It knew it was getting later but I remembered mum’s plan she had slipped under our doors. That we were supposed to sleep in groups. James was supposed to be sleeping with Mike and Matt in their room keeping they’re door barricaded in order to keep Da out. In order to keep them safe but they had probably done that shortly after I had come upstairs. So, I figured James was mine and Catty was probably in the nursery with mum and the babies.

It was probably around 11 by the time I hopped out of the shower the water cold. But, I felt calmer. I felt like I would be ok until I came out of my bathroom. I could hear the whining and the moans through the wall. A muffled voice. I felt my face turning red because I knew what it was. I had heard that before. It was Da. Da and John. My heart ached for him.

I understood how hard it was to be silent when they did that. How hard it was to fight your body, to stay silent while they made you do those things. I looked and could see the small lump under my covers. When I went to go climb in bed he had his hands over his ears his eyes closed. He was pale and shaking. He was probably crying. I climbed in bed and pulled him to my chest.

“He’s hurting him,” he whimpered wrapping his arms around me once he realized it was just me, that he was safe.

“I know,” I said, “It’ll be ok though. I promise it’ll be ok.”

“But he’s hurting him,” James said again.

“We’ll check on him when it’s safe ok?” I promised him to which he nodded his head before he let a pitiful little sob out against my shirt me having no choice nothing else I could do at the moment besides lay down, “How about I tell you a story ok?”

“Ok,” James managed as he continued to cry into my chest.

“Once there was a prince and princess and they lived in a big rainbow castle in a land where the grass was gold and all the food was candy. A place where it never rained and rainbows were always in the sky. One day they heard thunder in the distance. Just past the mountains that surrounded their home. However, it seemed ok because the rain was so far away, the storm was so far away they could only hear it, they couldn’t even see the storm clouds in the sky, only hear the thunder.

They thought everything would be ok because it had never rained but the idea still scared them. So, the people asked to meet with the prince and princess. Princess Catherine and Prince James. The people told them that they were scared and prince James and Princess Catherine told their people that it would ok. That they would protect them.

There was an old man at the meeting and the old man laughed. He looked at them and laughed. It was mean dark, scary laugh. The old man told them they had no idea what a storm was like for it had never rained. Not in their whole lives and he told them they had no idea what the storm would bring. They watched the storm for days. Listening to the thunder in the distance. The prince and Princess ready to face it. Not leaving because they had to be brave for their people. When the storm came they weren’t ready.

The clouds were big and black and cracked with lightening. The wind blew so hard it blew doors from their hinges. It blew so hard it broke the glass on the windows in the castle. It blew away cows and pigs, all the farm animals. The prince and princess didn’t know what to do but they were scared.

So, they prayed to the angles in the sky. Asked them for help. Asked them for advice on how to help their people. And then the Prince thought about it. How his people were good people and how they needed better shelter from the storm that was destroying houses and blowing away animals. And he thought. But I have a big house.

A big strong house that can withstand the storm. So, he invited his people inside his home. He gave them food and water. He kept them safe. And once the storm was over, it was time to rebuild. He thought about how these people were his family, how they depended on him and so he decided to take the stones from his highest tower and let the people use the stones to rebuild stronger and better homes in case another storm came. The people were so happy that their prince loved them so much that after they were done rebuilding the houses they had a big feast full of candy. All types of candy. Starbursts and skittles and chocolate. And in the end, they realized that they were stronger because they were together. Because they had taken care of each other. Because they loved each other.”

It was a short story but it calmed him down. Made him stop crying as he clung to me. As he kept his eyes closed and tried not to listen to what was happening in the other room. To what John was dealing with. It felt like it lasted forever, John screaming, “Please.” Over and over in-between moans and whimpers. His body giving Da exactly what he wanted. Da screaming the word “fuck” loudly at some point before everything went silent.

I figured that meant he was finished but I didn’t open the door right away waiting maybe 10 minutes after I had heard the door open and shut before I got up. When I let go of James he stood up and grabbed my hand, “What if he’s still out there?” he asked me his eyes wide and fearful as he looked up at me.

“I’m pretty sure he’s gone,” I told him, “Why don’t you stay here?”

“I don’t want to. He’ll come get me,” he told me.

“I don’t think he will bud,” I told him, “I think you’re ok.”

“I don’t want to stay here,” he told me, “Don’t leave me.”

“I need to go make sure John is ok,” I explained to him.

“Can I come too?” he asked me quietly.

“Yeah but, if you hear anything. You need to come back in here ok? Promise me?” I said making it clear I didn’t want Da to catch him or Uncle Ben even though I was pretty sure it was Da.

“I promise,” he told me nodding his head.

When I got to John’s room his bathroom door was cracked the light on and the water running. I didn’t mean to scare him. Sneak up behind him so quietly. Especially not after that but, I guess he didn’t hear me walking in over the water running him jumping when I laid my hand on his shoulder before he turned around.

“What?” he asked me rather sharply looking over at James who was standing quietly by the door way, his eyes wide with worry as he looked at John.

I don’t know why but I started crying. Listening to that happening to him. Him begging Da to stop, stop making his body feel like that. Begging Da to just go away. I was angry and upset. How could Da manage to do that after doing it to me? After him and Ben doing it to me.

“John,” I said quietly. He looked like he was in pain. Like he wanted to scream.

“Don’t Will,” he said shaking his head at me his eyes red like he had been crying. His whole body finally relaxing a little as he looked at me.

“I can’t ignore that. I’m surprised no one else is out here checking to see if you’re ok,” I told him quietly.

I understood he wanted to be alone, that he needed to be alone. However, I needed to know he was ok. That he was as ok as he could be. His body sticky and covered in sweat and other things. That he would be able to sleep that night because we did have school in the morning.

“Are you kidding me?!” he hissed at me quietly, “I just…had sex with my Da. Our Da so I am going to take a shower now. After that I am going to try to get some sleep so I can have sex with my math teacher tomorrow after school and probably get groped by another teacher at some point so if you don’t mind…” he gestured angrily at the bathtub before turning and pulling the stopper making the water come out of the shower head instead of the faucet.

“You said stop,” I told him, “That’s called rape. You didn’t consent to that so call it what it is.”

I hated hearing him refer to it as sex. It wasn’t sex we both knew that it wasn’t sex even if it felt that way, what we thought sex felt like. And James was right there. He needed to know there was a difference. That what Da did wasn’t the same as sex. That sex was something two people who wanted to be together did. Not something someone made you do and then told you, you wanted. There was a huge difference.

“I’m lucky he didn’t choke me out or hurt me for that,” John said looking at the bathtub balancing himself on the edge of it and wincing in pain, “Just leave me alone Will ok? Take James to bed.”

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Leaving you alone,” I told him.

He had been talking about killing himself. Had almost thrown himself off the balcony. What would he do if I left him alone? Would he cut himself, try to cut his wrists? Would he try to drown himself? I didn’t want him to do those things. I was scared to leave him alone.

“JUST GO!” John told me loudly before clearing his throat his voice coming out unsteady, full of pain, “Please, just go.”

“You’re not going to hurt yourself?” I asked him.

“No. I’m not going to kill myself ok? I’m going to shower,” he said his voice sounding tired, worn out.

“Ok. I’ll take him back to bed but after I have him back in bed I’m coming back here all right?” I told him.

This whole time James had been watching us closely hugging the door frame his child eyes wide in fear and sadness. He didn’t want to see John like this. He didn’t want to see him hurt and knowing what had happened to him. I didn’t neither but, there was no way to ignore it. To pretend I hadn’t heard it. That I didn’t know it had happened.

“Fine whatever,” John said, “Take him. Go, now,” he said waving his hand at us, at the door before he stood up using the wall to support himself and shutting the shower curtain.

I grabbed James picking him up and shutting the bathroom door behind us, “Why is he mad at us?” James asked me quietly.

“He’s not,” I assured him, “He’s not mad at us he’s mad at Da.”

“Because Da hurt him?” James asked.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Sometimes after Da hurts you like that you just kind of want to be alone and I think John just wanted to be alone right now. That he’s not really mad at us but more at Da.”

“So, he yelled at you because he wants to be alone?” James asked me.

“Yeah, and if you notice I know he’s not really upset with me and that I didn’t do anything so I’m not mad at him. You know how sometimes I seem like I’m really mad or sad about something when you come into my room?” I asked him.

“Yeah like earlier when I was in your room and you came upstairs?” he asked me.

“Yeah, it’s because sometimes you just want to be alone,” I told him.

“Da hurt you earlier?” he asked me.

“Don’t worry about it ok?” I told him taking him back into my room and setting him down on my bed before I climbed in myself.

“He did, didn’t he?” he asked me.

“I don’t want you to worry about that. That’s for me to worry about. Not you ok?” I told him.

“Will? Is Da going to do that to me, when I’m your age I mean,” he asked me.

“I don’t know bud,” I answered as honestly as I could, “I really hope not.”

“I don’t want him to,” he said his voice quiet and sad. I was surprised he didn’t start crying and sobbing but it was an admission of his fear. An admission that he didn’t want to go through that.

“I don’t want him to either,” I admitted, “We should try to sleep ok?”

“Ok,” he said rolling over so his back was facing me, “Goodnight Willy, I love you.”

“I love you too bud,” I said quietly, “Goodnight.”

I remember laying there for a while. There were so many things I wanted to tell John but, I figured that maybe him being so hostile meant it was better to leave him alone for now. That he didn’t want to talk about it. That he would rather forget it had ever happened. I wanted to tell him I knew how that feel. That Da had made me do the same thing earlier. With him and Uncle Ben. How badly it had hurt that by the time Da was finished I felt like I couldn’t move and all I could do was whimper and moan as Ben finished. As he used me like I was some type of toy. I wanted to tell him he wasn’t alone. That no matter how he felt I knew what it felt like too. That he wasn’t alone.

He didn’t really talk to me the next morning as he got dressed and onto the bus me helping mum make sure everything was set up and ready to go for that morning before I myself got on the bus. I walked around by the upper school wing figuring he would be hiding somewhere. That he would be trying to avoid people and then I heard his voice coming from a bush him sighing loudly.

“I’m tired of everything. Maybe just one too many people pressing my buttons,” he muttered.

It was behind some brushes what almost seemed like a ring of them. Me pushing my way through to find a group of older boys that made me feel really short and really self-conscious standing there smoking. So, Da was right. John did smoke. I was staying back trying to stay in the bushes and not make much noise my pant leg getting caught on something, probably a branch and me moving to untangle myself trying to do it quietly before I ended up tripping over something and falling forward catching myself on my knees with an annoyed squeak.

“Want to talk about it?” Pat asked John putting a hand on his shoulder.

“Not really. I just want to forget about it, all of it,” John said before his eyes went wide in surprise looking at me from the ground.

“Shit,” Cole muttered before everyone scrambled moving around hiding cigarettes behind their backs as the all gave me sheepish smiles.

I might have been 10 but I wasn’t retarded and I had been watching them for two minutes pretty well hidden. They were all smoking.

“Will? What the fuck?” John asked me shaking his head.

“I know you guys smoke back here I’m not an idiot,” I told him, “Can we talk about what happened?”

Again, I just wanted to make sure he was ok. Remind me that he wasn’t alone. That they did things to me too last night. That I understood how hard it was to not be…to stay quiet sometimes. How I felt like it was getting harder for me to stay quiet because my body…my body was changing and everything felt so weird when they did it. That I didn’t want it but that it…that my body always did what they wanted it to.

“What happened?” Some older guy asked cocking an eyebrow at John as he puffed on his cigarette.

He had dark hair. It was almost black but kind of brown at the same time falling in gentle waves that curled around his ears so it wasn’t hanging in his face. His eyes were a golden brown and he had a light dusting of freckles across the bridge of his nose even though he seemed to have a slight tan. I felt my face growing red as I looked at him. How tall he was compared to me. How cute he was. Who was he? I felt my brain going stupid as I looked at him before realizing that my face was turning red and taking an intense interest in my feet.

“Nothing,” John sighed, “Hunter, this is my little brother Will.”

“Hey Will,” he said to me as I stared at my shoes trying to stop my face from turning beat red as he said my name, “So, what happened last night?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” John said as I looked up at him, him giving me a look that said he didn’t want anyone to know about it. That he didn’t want to talk about it.

Some other guy I didn’t know looked at John and then at me, “Will, come here. Let me tell you something,” he said wrapping his arm around my shoulder making me flinch as he lead me out of the circle and forward closer to the building deeper in to the bushes.

“Sorry,” the guy said taking his hand off my shoulder.

“Who are you?” I asked him finally starting to calm down a little. My face still felt warm and this guy had just wrapped his arm around me like he knew he I was.

I was not ok with him touching me and he must have sensed it because the moment we were out of site he jumped away from me like I was one fire his dark red hair striking me as weird. I mean I knew other people had red hair but, his hair was like a brownish red instead of the deep copper I was used to seeing on my brother and sisters. His eyes Hazel almost brown as he looked up at me.

“My name is Dom. I’m friends with your brother. I don’t know what happened last night but you really shouldn’t try to talk to him about it right now,” Dom told me as I opened my mouth to protest, “Look it’s hard ok? I’m sure you understand. He knows you know what it’s like and that it’s upsetting he doesn’t need to be reminded of it. Do you know what’s going on with him? At school I mean.”

“He told me last night,” I said quietly, “I told him he should tell mum. About all of that.”

“Telling your mom isn’t going to help him. It’s not…it’s just going to make things harder. So just don’t say anything about it. Let him pretend it’s not happening. I’m sure you feel that sometimes dah?” he asked me causing me to frown.

He did have a tiny bit of an accent more an inflection but I didn’t know what type it was. I just thought maybe it was speech issue of some kind before he sighed, “It means yes. Sorry.”

“Yes, in what language?” I asked him.

“Russian,” he answered, “I’m Russian.”

“You’re Russian? You mean like a one?” I asked him.

“Huh,” he said holding his hand out in front of him palm down before he swayed it side to side shrugging his shoulders, “I’ve had American parents since I was small. So, kind of? A little bit.”

“Did they kidnap you?” I asked him before I felt my face burn with guilt. I shouldn’t have asked that. That was a rude question. It was rude to ask him about things he probably didn’t know the answer to, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. Forget it.” I mumbled.

“Nyet, it’s ok to ask. It’s ok to be curious. I don’t know. I don’t remember,” he said shrugging his shoulders, “Just don’t talk about that here. He probably feels horrible about it you know? So, whatever happened keep it to yourself. Keep it between him and you ok?”

“He’s tried to hurt himself you know? I just … I want him to be ok,” I admitted quietly.

“Talk to him later. He’ll need you later. But for right now, just act like everything is fine,” he said.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “You’re right. He wouldn’t want everyone…”

I trailed off. Dom must have read something in my face because he sighed looking at me, “It’s ok to care just. He’s quiet about it. It’s ok for someone to be quiet about it. Just be there for him. Making him talk about it won’t help.”

I nodded my head in agreement. It would probably only embarrass John. For everyone to know even if they were brotherhood. John was private it wasn’t something that he wanted everyone to know I was pretty sure. I followed him back to the circle hearing everyone talking.

“So, are we going to that movie?” Some guy asked. He had dark hair almost the same color as Hunter only he was paler. His eyes a deep gray and no freckles to speak of. He looked almost like he could be part vampire.

“I’m still up for it,” Hunter answered, “John, is this the brother that’s coming with us?” he asked him.

“Yeah, that’s the one. One of them,” John said.

“So, Will want a smoke?” Hunter asked me smiling.

Was he really offering me one? I had never tried it before. I was 10. Did he know I was 10? I felt my face warming up wondering what he thought about me. If he thought I looked more mature than I was. If he thought I was super smart of even a year or two older. Wondering whether he thought I was actually cool enough to smoke not sure what to say before John looked at us.

“He doesn’t smoke,” John answered for me causing me to frown.

How did he know I didn’t smoke? He wasn’t really around that much and when he was he was sleeping.

“How old is he?” Hunter asked John.

“I’m almost 11,” I told him.

“What grade are you in?” Hunter asked me frowning before he took one last drag crushing the butt of the cigarette under his foot.

“Sixth,” I answered shrugging my shoulders.

“Crap. You’re 10 and in 6th grade. Are you like super smart?” Hunter asked his eyes lighting up gold as he smiled at me.

Did that mean he liked me? Had I impressed him somehow? By just being smart? Why was he making me feel so nervous? He probably wasn’t even…like that. So why was I letting myself get so nervous? I shrugged my shoulders trying to calm down so I didn’t look like a muttering idiot, “I read a lot, and I guess that means I know a lot of stuff so they skipped me. They keep trying to convince my mum that I should skip another grade but, people already hate me so, I don’t imagine skipping again is going to help.”

I felt my face get warmer thinking about what a fail that was. That instead of a stuttering idiot I was now a rambling one instead. This guy probably thought I was a major spaz. A 10-year-old spaz. I didn’t think his opinion of me could be any worse at this point.

“Why aren’t you in the super smart school?” Some guy asked me. He looked like a backstreet boy. A bowl cut of golden brown hair with blue eyes.

Why didn’t I go to the super smart school? Who was my Da? Who was I related to. Come on he had to know all of this stuff. I sighed feeling calmer all of the sudden and lot more confident in my socializing abilities before I answered, “this is the brotherhood school so this is the school I go to.”

The guys face turned a little green his cigarette falling out of his mouth as his mouth gaped open, “that’s sick.”

What? I was sick? What did I do? Did he know? Did he know that I was…?

“What?” I asked afraid to know what he was going to say next. Afraid he was going to tell me knew all about him. All about all the stuff going on. Afraid he was going to say Teddy had talked to him or Cole and that he knew.

“They already branded you, right?” he asked me.

So that’s all it was? I sighed with relief nodded my head, “Is that like really young or something?” I asked curious about it.

“Kind of,” Hunter said, “The youngest I’ve heard of is eight but the oldest was like 14. So, I suppose it’s normal for your age.”

“So, do you want to tell us what happened last night?” the backstreet boy guy asked me, “Because honestly I’m still curious.”

“I don’t think it matters now,” I said thinking about it. About how Dom was right and I knew John didn’t want to talk about it. That now probably wasn’t the time to talk about it. That if I really loved John I would wait if I had anything to say about it or just not bring it up.

“Whatever man,” Hunter said shrugging his shoulders, “So otherwise how are things? Are you doing ok?”

He was asking me if I was ok? Why? He had just met me. Did that mean he wanted to be my friend?

John nodded his head at Pat and then walked back from where Dom and I had come. What was that? I thought they were supposed to keep that secret. I frowned a little as I watched them leave.

“He’s ok,” Hunter said, “Pat won’t hurt him.”

“Yeah, I’m very sure about that,” Cole said smiling at me.

Oh god. I felt my heart stop why did he have to be so…him? My face getting warm as I looked at him as I remembered hugging him. He probably smelt a lot better today than he had Christmas morning. God damn it, Will get it together. I remember thinking to myself as my face flushed red.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about man. We’re cool. We’re nice,” Hunter said looking at me, probably noticing the change in my complexion.

“You’re ok,” Cole said, “Just breathe, it’s fine.”

“Guy you’re making him more nervous quit talking about it,” Dom muttered.

“How? Kid looks like Rudolph,” the backstreet boy looking one said.

Now that really embarrassed me. I’m not sure if I muttered it or what but I remember thinking it as I looked at my toes. Wishing that they would just go away that they didn’t look so nice and weren’t being so friendly.

“That was rude Chris,” One of them muttered.

“Sorry. Hey, look Will, right? Can you look at me for a second?” he said.

I looked up. His eyes soft as he looked at me, “I’m sorry. That was rude. You’re just shy?”

I nodded my head my focus going back to my feet.

“There’s nothing wrong with being shy. You don’t have to be nervous though ok? We’re not going to hurt you or bother you we just want to get to know you. If you’re ok with that?” he told me giving me a small smile.

What did he mean get to know me? I backed up slighting bumping into someone’s chest. Were they blocking me in? Would John really hang out with people like this.

“Hey, it’s ok. He didn’t mean it like that,” Cole said from behind me.

“Shit. Fuck,” Chris swore, “I didn’t mean to freak you out. Guys, I’m going to leave now because I feel like a total ass.”

“You mean instead of the normal half ass you tend to be?” Hunter asked him, “It’s ok I’m sure he knows you didn’t mean anything by it. But you are a new person and he is a bottom and a young one. Do you not remember what that’s like?”

“No, I do which is why I feel like a total shithead right now,” Chris said, “Listen Will, I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you going to be ok?”

I nodded my head as I stayed staring at my feet waiting for my heart to stop pounding against my chest. Trying to calm down reminding myself that Cole was right behind me. That he wouldn’t hurt me. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. I still didn’t want to look at him though. He probably thought I was a total freak. Flipping out over nothing. All because some guy said he wanted to get to know me. He hadn’t even meant it in that way but that was where my mind had jumped to, probably because of stupid fucking Lionel. And I knew it.

“Ok, well it was nice to meet you. You can call me Chris or Christian. I guess I’ll see you Sunday and maybe you’ll be a little less nervous and I’ll be a little less of an ass. Should we try to make that our goal?” he asked me.

I looked up finally the heat in my face starting to abate. So, he wanted to start over. Pretend none of this had happened? I could do that. I could pretend I hadn’t made a fool of myself in front of all of these guys, “That sounds ok.” I answered him.

“Good, I feel like that would be good,” Chris agreed nodding his head, “Well I’ll see you Sunday. Have a good day.” He said before turning and walking away.

The other guy frowned at me or at least I thought he was frowning at me before Cole said something where he was still standing behind me.

“What?” Cole asked him.

“You know what,” the guy said.

“Not exactly?” Cole said, “I’m not a mind reader. Is it what I think it is or is it something different?”

“What do you think it is?” the guy asked Cole.

“Something you and I both know about that we’re not supposed to talk about,” Cole said.

“Yeah,” the guy said nodding his head.

“What?” Dom asked from beside us, “If you’re not supposed to talk about something why are you talking about?”

“We’re not,” Cole said as a matter of factly, “Anything else?”

“Maybe,” the guy said, “I feel like it’s kind of weird to bring up though. You know what that is too though don’t you?”

“He’s 10,” Cole said, “It’s nothing. It’s not like that at all.”

“You say that about all the guys,” the guy said shaking his head.

“Dude, he’s seriously 10,” Cole insisted, “I’m just standing here because he was about to start flipping out. And you know why too.”

“You swear? You swear you’re not…”

“Fuck no!” Cole said behind me, “Never.”

“Ok,” the guy said nodding his head.

I turned around facing Cole. Were they talking about me? Was that what they were talking about?

“Who is this guy?” I asked him quietly.

“Sorry,” Cole said, “This is Kristoff.”

“You can call me Kris,” the guy said Cole having answered me loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Two Chris’?” I asked.

“Our parents didn’t conference each other when it came to naming their children it just happens,” Kris told me, “I’m sure you understand that.”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Do you guys not like me?”

“No,” Kris shook his head, “You seem like a nice kid. You do. Don’t worry about it ok? It’s nothing to concern yourself with.”

“What are you guys talking about?” Dom asked, “You’re being weird.”

Just then John and Pat came back through the brushes. John’s eyes were red and blood shot like he had been crying again. I figured he had told Pat what had happened. That he had gotten it out. I wished he would have talked to me about it but, I was glad he felt comfortable enough to talk to someone about it, Pat smiling at everyone nervously and handing out another cigarette to everyone that was still there.

“Where did Chris go?” Pat asked.

“He said something that made him feel stupid so he left,” Cole answered.

“He has trouble reading ques,” Pat said shrugging his shoulders.

“No, this time it was he read some ques very well and then he felt bad,” Cole told him to which Pat nodded his head knowingly.

I looked at Dom he seemed like he knew something and he just wasn’t saying it. I didn’t know if it was because of John or me but he looked like he wanted to cry. Maybe it was something going on with him for all I knew. He seemed like a nice guy though. Like he really cared about John even if it wasn’t romantic. Him nodding at John as John nodded at him.

“Just hand in there,” Hunter said before walking away out of the circle.

“Look luck,” Kris said looking the last of us that were standing there. “Cole, I’ll talk to you later. You guys better be there Sunday. If you aren’t I’m going looking for you,” he said before he turned and left as well.

Cole grabbed my hand threading his fingers through mine surprising me. Making my heart jump as I felt the sensation. Was he really? I was so shocked I just followed him. His hand felt kind of cold but not in an unpleasant way the skin soft and full instead of old and wrinkly. It was different. Weird.

“You ok?” he asked me.

I felt my face getting hot again just because I was thinking about his hand, feeling his hand in mine but I nodded my head quietly letting out a sigh trying to calm myself down. I felt nervous sure but, I wasn’t like scared or anything. I was all right.

“What were you talking about?” I asked him expecting him to let go of my hand now that we were away from them a little bit but he just kept holding it.

“Him,” Cole said avoiding my gaze, “He…he likes shy boys. That’s why I’m not shy anymore.”

“Oh,” I said barely a whisper.

So, Kris knew. Kris knew I was his. That made me feel sick to my stomach.

“He doesn’t know. If he did he wouldn’t have brought it up. But there are certain things that the leader says and does that…other people don’t. Like he “wants to know what you’re thinking” and he “wants to get to know you” those type of things,” Cole explained.

“So, when I got super nervous when Chris said they wanted to get to know me…” I trailed off.

“Yeah. Kris caught it. He saw the look on your face and the way you stepped back and it…it was tip off that maybe. And you’re shy. All of those things are very. Told Kris you were all the leaders type if he didn’t have an eye on you already. He was warning me without out right saying it,” Cole said.

“Why did you tell him I’m 10?” I asked him.

“Well once you backed up you were standing awfully close to me and I wasn’t backing away,” Cole said, “I don’t know if you know this about me but, I tend to…get around a little bit. I think he was afraid I was making a move on you.”

“Get around?” I asked him.

“I sleep with a lot of guys for fun,” he clarified.

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s hard to explain. You’ll understand when you’re older but it makes it easier to not think about them. To not feel them or worry about them. It takes what they do and makes it into something different. Gives you the control instead of them. I don’t know. Some people don’t …some people don’t like doing it and some people do it all the time so they don’t have think about being forced to do it. I just happen to be one of the people that does it for fun because it’s my way of deciding that…”

“Of taking back control?” I asked him and he nodded his head.

“I wasn’t though. You’re 10. I won’t do that to you. Not ever. We talked about that remember?”

“I remember,” I said nodding my head.

He told me that at Christmas. That he thought I was cute but that I was too young. That if I was older he thought maybe there could be something there but, that I was young enough even thinking about it made him uncomfortable. Yet here he was holding my hand, not letting go. I couldn’t figure out if it was he was trying to comfort me or if it was something else. That he liked me enough to want to make me feel better but that he was afraid of hurting me, of pressuring me into doing things I didn’t want to do and that’s why he wouldn’t ask.

“Good, you’re ok though?” he asked me finally letting go of my hand to scratch his nose.

“Yeah. I just get nervous. I don’t know why but I feel like everyone is…judging me,” I said trying to explain why my face kept flushing.

“Well Hunter and Kris being so hot probably didn’t help,” he said smiling at me raising his eyebrows.

“Right?” I asked him to which he laughed.

“I only knew because your face turned the same shade of red the first time you met me,” he told me, “It’s ok. I won’t say anything. We should get off to class. I’ll see you later. If not today than probably Sunday.”

“Yeah,” I said, “Cole?”

“Yeah?” he said turning around to look at me.

“Thanks,” I said, “For not telling him about the leader I mean.”

“Well,” Cole sighed walking back over to me, “John was right there and it’s a lot to deal with. He does bad things and him knowing and John knowing won’t do them or you any good. Kris gets protective. He doesn’t like seeing kids get hurt. I don’t know any decent person that does but he has a huge temper especially when it comes to hearing about that so it’s best to just not say anything about it. You understand?”

“Yeah, I get it,” I said, “He doesn’t know me though.”

“No but he knows me. And he knows I care about you and John. You two are like so fucking awesome. Like you won’t ever see it but you really are. So, because he cares about me and I care about you that means…”

“By default, he cares about us too?” I asked and Cole nodded his head.

“It’s just how he is. He’s a nice guy though. The fact that he looks like Nick Carter doesn’t hurt either.”

That made me laugh. He did though. He really looked like Nick Carter only with darker hair.

The bell rang and Cole sighed looking at me. It was happy sigh. A content one that made me smile widen.

“What?” I asked.

“You look good when you smile. I wish you would smile more. You have a cute laugh too,” he said.

I felt my face get warm again and he laughed, a loud hardy laugh almost like when he had fallen off the bed after telling us that Pat was shaving down there.

“Don’t think about it too much,” he said, “Now I really have to get to class. Have a good day Will.”

“You too,” I said walking off to my own classes.

Chapter Text

I remember being deep in thought for the most part. Wondering if that meant Cole really liked me. Had feelings for me or if he was just being nice when he said that. Said that he liked my laugh and that I looked good when I smiled. No one had ever said those things to me before. I felt cool for once in my life instead of like a kid that two sizes too small for the clothes he was wearing. That was too young and immature to understand what was going on around him.

When I got to lunch I actually felt like talking to people sitting down next to Julian and Todd. Both of them stopped eating and gave me this weird look as I sat down.

“Hi,” I said doing my best to hide the fact that them staring at me made me nervous. They were looking at me like I had grown a second head or something.

“What’s up?” Julian asked me.

“Not much what’s up with you guys?” I asked.

“Well tomorrow we’re going to the skate park,” Julian said, “Todd, Ted and me.”

“Ted skates?” I asked.

“Skateboards,” Todd said, “It’s actually kind of fun. Have you ever tried it?”

“No,” I said shaking my head, “Isn’t it dangerous?”

“Not if you wear a helmet and know what you’re doing,” Julian said, “We can teach you if you want.”

“Really?” I asked, “You mean I can go?”

“Huh, yeah. I just invited you. Do you want to come?” he asked me.

“Yeah. That sounds cool. What skate Park?” I asked him.

“The one off of Havlin,” he said, “Where do you live?”

“Boston,” I said.

“That’s like two streets away. You could probably walk there,” he told me.

“Totally. I’ll ask my mum,” I told him.

“Cool. Well if you do decide to go we’re meeting there around 11 and probably going to stay there until like 2 or so and then walk to the Coney for some food. So, if you bring money you can join us,” he said.

“That would be awesome, thanks,” I said.

“No problem man. You’re cool you’re just quiet,” Julian said.

“Sorry,” I said feeling myself starting to blush, “I just don’t have a lot to talk about usually.”

“Why not?” he asked me.

“I don’t watch a lot of TV. I spend most of my time helping my mum take care of my little brothers and sisters,” I admitted, “And no one wants to hear about how a two-year-old spends their day.”

“It has to be more interesting than how a four-month-old spends their days. I have a 4-month-old sister and she does nothing but sleep usually. And gurgle and poop her pants. And eat. So, 2 has to be more interesting than four,” Julian told me.

“I have two siblings that are 3 months old almost 4,” I told him.

“Really? I mean I knew you had a lot of siblings but those are the youngest?” he asked me.

“Yeah and just so you know they do about the same as your sister. What’s her name?” I asked him.

“Lydia,” he said, “I didn’t get to name her not that I would know what to name a baby to begin with. What are those two named?”

“Mary and Seamus,” I said.

“Do they look like you or your older brother?” he asked me.

“I’m not honestly sure. Like Seamus his hair is actually kind of dark almost browner and Mary has red hair like John. All of my sisters have red hair,” I answered.

“How many sisters do you have?” he asked me.

“Three,” I answered, “The other two are four and 2. They are named Laura and Catherine.”

“Do they have the temper to match their hair? My mom says redheads are always angry. She said she dated one in college and he was horrible,” Julian asked me.

“Well sometimes Laura screams until her face is the same color her hair is. So probably. Catherine used to do that too but now she uses her words a lot more. She gets upset when we don’t play tea party with her but she doesn’t run away crying anymore when we say no.”

“You play tea party with your sister?”

Was that not ok? I felt my face flushing again me trying to tell myself I was fine. That mum was right and it made me a good big brother to do that with her. Because she enjoyed it and it made her happy. I was however super thankful I didn’t mention that we played princess tea party and I ended up wearing dresses.

“Yeah,” I answered uncertainly.

“It sounds weird but I have to say your sister must love you,” Julian said giving me a smile.

“I think she does yeah,” I agreed, “I try to be nice. I play house with them and stuff too. It’s actually really boring usually I end up holding a teddy bear and pretending it’s a baby while they make me fake plastic food and I watch TV. It’s not that hard really.”
“You know what would be better? If they made you real food. Can you imagine?” Julian said, “Be like hey Catherine bring me that cake. And she brings you a real cake.”

“I would probably fall out of chair if it was worth a damn. If not, she’d give me food poisoning I’m sure,” I said smiling at the idea of what that would be like.

“Well, you did say she was four,” Julian said.

“Yeah she’s four. She’s a sweet girl though. I love her,” I said, “I love all of them.”

“Oh yeah. I love my sister. I can’t imagine life without her and she’s only been around for four months. Looking at her though makes the world not seem so bad,” Julian agreed with me.

“They do cause trouble though sometimes and I worry about them,” I said.

“The older ones?” he asked me and I nodded my heads.

“Todd has a brother and sister. Anabel and Rick,” he said.

“I didn’t know that,” I said.

“Yeah, Teddy has Luke and Louis and I have Lydia. Quinn has Calvin and Noah and Finn has Wal. We all have brothers or sisters,” Julian told me.

“Are they all little or like…?” I trailed off.

“No. I’m sure some of them wish they were though. Still like four or younger. It’s the only way they seem to be safe,” Julian said shrugging his shoulders just a Quinn and Teddy came over.

“Hey, felt like talking today?” Teddy asked me.

“A little yeah,” I answered.

“I feel honored,” Teddy said to which Quinn smacked him lightly.

“Don’t mock his silence. I think it’s stoic,” Quinn said.

“Stoic?” Teddy asked.

“I person who endures hardships without complaining,” I said.

“Then yes, that would be you,” Teddy agreed.

“How are you doing?” Quinn asked me.

“Actually good, I just got invited to go to the skate park with everyone. I’m sure my mom will say yes,” I said.

“Man, you have to go the one weekend I can’t? That bums me out a little bit. I’d love to see you fall on your face a couple of times,” Quinn said.

“You’re really going to love missing me going to the movies on Sunday then. Like a bunch of older guys are going with John and he invited me to come along I guess. I mean I didn’t know until the morning but, every time they spoke I didn’t know what to say,” I said smiling sheepishly.

“It’s because they’re new,” Teddy said, “Your face was beet red for the first hour I knew you.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah, I mean I just thought you were weird but you’re just like super shy,” Ted said nodding his head, “Don’t worry they’ll think your spaz for like an hour or two and then you’ll be fine.”

“Well thanks,” I said not sure what to make of what he was telling me.

“It wasn’t the whole hour,” Quinn insisted, “Maybe 20 minutes. It looked like you swallowed a hot pepper and every time you spoke it got a little worse. However, I thought you sounded super smart. You always sound smart. And there goes the face again.”

“Dude, we should use it like a super power one day. Like he’s his own lie detector, “Teddy said looking at Julian and Quinn.

“I don’t think it works that way. I honestly think you could ask him anything that’s even slightly embarrassing and him just thinking about it would make his face go red. An example, “Have you ever seen a dog naked?”

“What?” I said feeling the frown on my face.

Dogs were usually naked. What kind of question was that? That didn’t make any sense.

“Have you ever kissed a girl?” Quinn tried again.

No. No I hadn’t kissed a girl. Did I want to know what it felt like? Maybe but for some reason they just didn’t…I thought they would feel weird. Their lips and they always had sticky stuff on them. Like chap stick or lip gloss. I wasn’t sure I was cool with that. And I didn’t know any girls.

“See! See! Told you. It just has to be something that embarrasses him,” Quinn said.

“I haven’t,” I said quietly.

“It’s ok neither have I,” Teddy said.

“You haven’t ever kissed anyone?” Julian asked him frowning.

“I didn’t say anyone I said a girl. There is a difference and if I did kiss a girl I hope she’d be more important than just anyone,” Teddy said which caused everyone to look at him. He shrugged his shoulders, “I can be romantic. I think.”

Julian laughed, “You Romantic? You kiss your friends.”

“Maybe I’m trying too hard?” Ted asked quietly.

“Don’t dis him for being weird dude. His family is strange,” Quinn said shaking his head, “It’s ok man. Just keep telling people they do that in Europe.”

“They do,” Ted said.

“Not with their tongues,” Julian said, “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to make fun of you, really, I’m not. But…you know it’s…off.”

“Can we not talk about this anymore?” Teddy asked, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for anyone that I might have kissed.”

“We’re sorry too,” Julian muttered into his soda can.

Now that was funny. I took it to mean they didn’t want to be kissed by him. I knew it was confusing for me. However, he hadn’t given me tongue for which I was very grateful. Even though I felt this weird vibe coming off of him every time he went in the bathroom with me and I started to get upset because of the discussions we seemed to have there. Like he wanted to kiss me but he was…not doing it because you know, it’s weird.

“Sit and spin Julian,” Teddy said flipping Julian off, “Sit and spin.”

“Sit and…?” I started to question and then realized what that meant.

“Oh, dear lord,” Julian said laughing pointing at my face.

“See, told you,” Quinn said again, “Don’t think about it too hard Will. It’s ok.”

“I think he’s our perv detector instead. You know like every time we’re being perverted his face is going to tell everyone else in the room what we’re saying.” Julian said.

“It took me a minute,” I said shrugging my shoulders feeling the heat leaving my face.

“It’s ok, you’re young,” Quinn said, “I feel like you probably don’t know a lot of slang.”

“I don’t,” I admitted, “I’m 10.”

“That’s what I’m saying,” Quinn said, “Don’t be ashamed that you’re chronologically challenged. Embrace it.”

“I think he doesn’t want to embrace anything and that’s half the reason his face gets so red,” Teddy said.

“No, he’s too shy to embrace anything,” Julian pointed out, “But you’ll come if your mom says it’s ok. To the skatepark with us, right?”

“Yeah. I’ll come,” I said, “Just don’t make fun of me.”

“Are we hurting your feelings?” Quinn asked frowning, “If we are we didn’t mean it. We’re not trying to be mean we’re just…”

“No, it’s ok. I know,” I said, “I guess I just have to find a way to be less shy.”

“A lot less shy,” Teddy said.

I shook my head. I wasn’t going to address that in front of everyone. He was the one who told me the leader had a thing for shy guys. I sighed burying my head in my hands for a second wondering if that was what he had seen. Me muttering and stumbling over my words and if that’s why he wanted me now. My face going beat red when he looked at me making my throat feel dry and thick. Making it hard to speak.

“It’s ok,” Teddy said, “It will make life interesting though. Just means we can’t talk about dirty things in class with you in ear shot otherwise you’re going to let the fathers know. And either way that’s not a good idea.”

“I agree with that,” Quinn said.

“Where is Finn?” I asked realizing he wasn’t around.

“Honestly? He’s probably at home.”

“Is he ok?” I asked.

“He got into some trouble, he’s all right though,” Ted told me.

“What?” my chest felt tight.

What had happened that he wouldn’t be in school. That they would make him stay home instead of making him come to school? What had they done to him? Was he ok? Was he…

“Look, he’s all right. He called me. Just some things got out of hand last night between him and his brother and so he’s at home. He’s really ok though. I can give you his number to call him if you want,” Ted told me.

“Please?” I asked him as Ted grabbed a piece of paper out of his pocket and wrote on it.

“When you get home after school you can call. He’ll be happy to hear from you. He likes you, you know?”

At that I felt the heat rush to my face again. God damn it. I sighed.

“I meant as a friend. Even though Quinn thinks you’re cute,” Ted said.

“HEY!” Quinn said loudly causing us to both look over. Now someone else was blushing.

“It’s ok,” I said, “Apparently I’m attractive.”

“Yes,” Quinn said clearing his throat, “Yes, you are.”

“huh…thanks?” I asked quietly.

“Don’t worry. No one I hang out with is like that,” Ted told me smacking my shoulder as the bell rang before we all got up throwing away our trash and heading off to class.

I felt like me finding people cute made me nervous too. I might as well hide up in the mountains and become a hermit. I sighed deciding that was my fate, hermit life in the mountains. it sounded peaceful if not slightly dirty. I wasn’t sure I could deal with dirt. It was something to think about though because the way I blushed they were right I was never going to be able to be around anyone especially when I started thinking about real sex with people actual sex.

“Something has you mortified?” Father Barney asked me as I sat down in my seat.

“No, Father I’m ok,” I answered.

“Good and now we are going to be talking about the life cycle of the beetle,” Father Barney said as I felt myself calm down starting to tune him out like I usually did.

When I got home the first thing I did was get to the phone and call Finn. I wanted to know if he was ok. Because he was my friend and he like never missed school. Me prepared to hear just about anyone’s voice on the phone.

“Hello?” I heard a thickly accented voice say into the phone.

“Hello, is Finn there?” I asked him.

“Ja, hold on,” the voice on the other end said before I heard muffled speaking in what sounded like another language before someone picked up the phone.

“Hello,” Finn said, “Who is it?”

“Will,” I said, “I was calling to see if you were ok. Teddy and Quinn said you were sick or something.”

“Yeah, or something,” Finn muttered, “I’m ok. I’m glad to hear from you though. The last couple of days you’ve seem really stressed.”

“I’m ok,” I told him, “Just a lot going on is all. I’ll be fine though. I got invited to the skate park tomorrow. I have to ask my mum if I can go still but, Julian and Quinn invited me and Teddy.”

“That’s awesome man. I wish I could come but I have cast on my arm right now,” he said, “So no skate boarding for me. I mean I could probably go as long as I don’t get on. Maybe you could borrow my wheels.”

“That would be awesome,” I said, “I don’t know anything about skateboarding.”

“We’ll teach you. It’s not hard. Just ask your mom.”

“What happened to your arm?” I asked him.

“I …was being incorrigible,” he said, “It’s not a big deal.”

“Are you saying that your Dad broke your arm?” I asked him.

“No, it was Wallace. I told him I wouldn’t do something and so he grabbed my arm and twisted until I agreed to it and by then my arm was broken. Of course, him and dad didn’t realize that until it started to swell and then they had to take me to the ER. I was there until like midnight which is why I didn’t go to school today. So yeah that was a fun night. Thrilling. Best night of my life.”

I laughed slightly. His sarcasm felt fitting for the situation. I had never spent a night in the A&E myself but it didn’t seem like it would be fun at all.

“I’ll be fine though. School on Monday. I’ll ask my dad if I can go. I know where it’s at. I’m sure he’ll say yes as long as I promise not to get on my board,” Finn told me.

“That would be awesome. I’m glad you’re ok,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said, “I’ll talk to later all right?”

“Yeah, see you tomorrow hopefully. Bye,” I said before I hung up the phone.

“Mum?” I said going into the living room where she was sitting with Cat and the babies.

“Yes?” she asked me.

“Can I go to the skate park tomorrow with my friends? It’s the park that’s two streets over,” I told her hoping she would say yes.

“Which friends?” she asked me.

“Ted Larkin and Finn Huber,” I told her.

“Larkin? You mean Mr. Lord’s grandson?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I said trying to hide how nervous hearing her say that made me. How upset it made me that she reminded me of their relation, “Can I go?”

“Three hours. I don’t want you walking home alone. So, have someone walk with you,” She told me.

“Awesome thanks mum!” I said, “Do you need any help.”

“The only help I need right now is knowing where your older brother is,” she muttered.

“John? Mum he had that tutoring session with his teacher remember?” I asked her.

“Yeah but the boys are almost home. He should be on his way home by now if he’s not here already,” she said before someone spoke into the com their face so close to it you couldn’t hear what they were saying mum standing up and going over to the one on the wall, “John love is that you?”

“Mrs. McGregor it’s Patrick something’s wrong. Something is really really wrong. You need to come here,” he mumbled barely understandable as mum handed Mary to me her eyes going wide in fear.

“Stay here,” she told me sternly before she got into the lift and headed downstairs.

So, something bad had happened. Like John said it would. He had told us that last night before he climbed into the shower. That he just wanted to shower so his teacher could rape him later. Apparently, he had. Poor John. I whole idea making me shiver. It didn’t take long for James and Mike and Matt to come home from school at that point. I didn’t see mum until around 6pm which was after she usually started making dinner. We usually had dinner at 5:30. Her arm wrapped around John’s shoulders as Pat waved at me from the lift.

“Who beat the snot out of you?” I asked afraid that something else happened that I wasn’t aware of.

“Doesn’t matter,” John sighed shaking his head at me giving me his best “I don’t want to talk about it” look he could muster.

“Hi Pat,” I said waving at him and smiling.

“Hey,” Pat said.

“Ok I’m starting dinner,” Mum shouted from the kitchen which we all but ignored John using the wall and Pat to support himself and keep himself standing.

“Hey, how are you doing?” I asked looking at both of them, “Was it Father Barren because you have bruises all over and what is that?” I asked looking at a big patch of white gauze on his chest.

“I got bit,” John mumbled shrugging his shoulders before he grimaced in pain.

“Ouch,” I said quietly, “Do they all bite? I don’t think I’ve ever been bit.”

“Yeah? Well, this is a bite,” John said and then pointed at another scar below his nipple, “This is a bite. I have like two or three more so just hope you don’t end up with someone that bites.”

Bites hard I thought glumly. Because Lionel had bitten me just not hard enough to leave marks. I didn’t have bruises from him biting me it had been so gentle just enough to cause a slight pinching feeling before he let my skin go from in-between his teeth when he had been doing it. I didn’t want to think about it. Shaking my head trying to clear it from my mind.

I wondered how they treated Pat. He didn’t talk about it a lot. Not hardly at all. At least not with me. I don’t what compelled me to ask but I did, “Have you been bit?”

“Huh…,” Pat drew out the noise for a minute or two it sounding like a low-pitched gurgle as he thought about it, “Yeah, a couple times.”

“Do a lot of them bite?” Mike asked us from the couch causing us all the turn and look at him.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to be having this conversation anymore. Realizing he was listening that he was paying attention to our conversation.

“I don’t know,” John said looking at him, “I’ve only been bitten by two people.”

Well, that was a relief. Maybe that meant they didn’t all bite, I thought to myself as John shrugged his shoulders Mike’s face falling slightly as he thought about it.

“I don’t want to get bitten,” Mike said sounding like he was pouting.

“Neither do we,” John said as Pat gave his hand a gentle squeeze.

“Why don’t we go chill in your room?” Pat asked John to which John smiled at him.

“Yeah, sure,” he said quietly before they turned walking down the hallway.

“Why did they just leave?” Mike asked me.

I wanted to tell him they probably left to go make out without an audience but decided that it would be too mean looking at him and sighing, “Thinking about being bitten probably upsets them. So, they went to go do something else.”

“Have you been bitten?” Mike asked me.

“Well from what I understand there’s different types of biting,” I said.

“Different types?” Matt asked whipping around the controller still in his hand.

“Yes, there’s like biting and sucking kind of. And it leaves a mark like…”

“OH! Like they do to John’s neck? He showed me that. How you do that. It seems like it would be fun,” Matt told me shocking me and throwing me off a little bit.

“Right…,” I said trying to figure out where I was going with this whole conversation, “Ok. Then there’s biting like…like hard like you know last year when Mike tried to take Cat’s doll away from her because she was hitting him with it and she bit him?”

“That hurt,” Mike said.

“That’s a type of biting too,” I said trying to figure out what else to compare it to, “But yeah. So different types of biting and some hurt worse than others.”

“You look nervous,” Matt said.

“I’m not…I’m…why does that sound fun to you?” I asked Matt.

“I don’t know,” Matt said, “It just does.”

“Well please don’t do that to anyone. It’s not comfortable,” I told him feeling my face heat up.

“I…,” Mike shot him a look to which he shrugged his shoulders, “Ok. I won’t do that to anyone.”

“Good,” I said.

I got up and walked away not sure what else there was to say about it. However, Matt, the way he had said that it sounded fun to give someone a hickey. Being in the receiving end of plenty of Hickeys I did not find it fun. It worried me though me going into the kitchen.

“Mum,” I said.

“Yes, love I’m making hamburger helper,” She said from the stove, “What’s going on?”

“Matt wants to give someone a hickey,” I said just blurting it out.

“Love, he’s 8.” She told me.

“I know he’s 8 but John said he got bit and so Matt asked if a lot of men in the brotherhood bite. And I tried to explain there are different kinds of biting and that happened to be one of the kinds and I told him and he said that John showed him how to do that and that it seemed like it might be fun,” I rambled.

“I will talk to him,” Mum said, “He’s having a hard time lately. I don’t know what’s going on with him recently.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

“Just he’s been saying off things. Andy fell down yesterday. I’m not sure where you were but he fell and landed on his butt and didn’t make a sound. Matt said that was a good thing that it meant he could take it like a champ. Naturally I told him that was not an appropriate comment and James asked what he meant and I told him it didn’t matter but I know it was…”

“Sexual? Yeah, I’ll say,” I said shaking my head, “Aren’t you worried he’s going to hurt them one day?”

“I’m working on some things so that we can properly be in a better environment. I’m hoping with some counseling he’ll stop whatever this is. I’m keeping an eye on him though I promise. I don’t need you to worry about that,” Mum said.

“He’s tried to hurt Andy before,” I said quietly.

It was something I had been meaning to tell her about for a while but I really hadn’t had a chance to her turning around to look at me the spatula still in her hand, “What do you mean?” she asked me.

“I’m not sure if he was really trying to hurt him or if it was something else but you were tired and hurt and downstairs. I went downstairs to talk to you and when I came up here he was on top of him. Holding him down,” I said quietly.

“You mean holding him down so he didn’t get into something?” She asked me.

“No mum,” I said shaking my head, “Everyone was screaming. Catherine and Laura were screaming and I came into the living room and he was on top of him. Pinning Andy’s wrists to the floor. Like he was going to hurt him.”

“When did this happen?” she asked me quietly.

“Early December,” I told her, “shortly after you came home.”

“Ok,” Mum said nodding her head, “I’ll take care of it. Since John’s not out in the living room with them could you please…”

“Yeah, I’ll watch them,” I said just as we heard a yelp from the living room both of us taking off towards the sound.

“Really?” I asked as Seamus started howling Mac pulling on his leg.

“Mac, you can’t pull on the babies,” Mike said getting up and grabbing him.

“He’s right Mac, they’re little tiny like you,” I told him taking him from Mike, “you have to be gentle with the babies.”

“Babies,” he said smiling at me.

“That’s right, babies. Have to be gentle with the babies,” I told him.

“Woo a boo-boo,” he told me looking at me.

“Ok,” I said.

“He just told you he loves you,” Cat said.

“Really?” I asked.

“Woo is Will and a boo-boo is I love you,” Cat explained to me.

“I love you too Mac,” I said kissing his forehead which made him giggle and clap his hands while I held him.

I’m not sure if that’s actually what he said or if he was saying something different but he seemed very happy with my response. Smiling at me.

“A boo-boo baby,” he said quietly.

“Aww, see?” Catty told me, “he said he loves them.”

“Well, I would hope he loves them,” I said, “Baby loves you too but you have to be gentle with baby ok?”

“Ok,” he said nodding his head at me before he kissed my cheek, “Woo a boo-boo.”

“I love you too,” I said again sitting down with him on the sofa sighing as I looked at Matt and Mike who were playing video games.

So, I had told mum. That he probably wanted to hurt Andy or that he had at the very least thought about it. That he was making remarks that seemed to be sexual in nature, adult. That he talked about kissing people, giving them hickeys. Apparently, Andy took landing on his butt like a champ which was associated with anal sex or pain in Matt’s brain. All of these things were bad. All of these things were very bad.

“Will? Dinner is ready can you help me get everyone into the nursery?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I said standing up, “Mike, Matt can you grab Mary and Seamus?” I said.

“Yeah,” Matt said picking up Seamus making me slightly nervous as Mike picked up Mary and they followed me down the hallway, Andy and Laura trailing behind.

They didn’t have to follow us they just naturally did. It was like having ducklings almost them following whoever the tallest person in the room was which at that point happened to be me. Me putting Mac down in his crib before I turned and helped Mike and Matt do the same with Mary and Seamus before I turned around Mum coming into the room.

“I’m going to feed them; can someone tell John that dinner is ready?” Mum asked.

“I’ll do it,” James said running down the hall towards John’s room.

We were on the way back into the kitchen to eat when I heard James ask loudly, “What are you doing?”

I rolled my eyes opening they weren’t doing anything inappropriate but was pretty sure they were, “Guys why don’t you and Catty go sit down and eat, I’ll be there in a second,” I said to them.

I felt like the practically ignored me not stopping to even turn around and just kept walking towards the kitchen. My other thought was at least it wouldn’t a family affair imagining mum’s face if she saw whatever James had just walked in on.

“Uhhh…we were playing tickle monster,” I heard John say Pat letting out a small laugh.

“That’s weird,” James said and I saw his nose wrinkle from the door way, “Aren’t you too old for tickle monster?”

“Never,” John said coming over and grabbing James tickling him excited until he was laying on the door in the doorway laughing.

“Stop it tickles, it tickles,” James laughed John letting him go as he laid there on the floor laughing for a minute or two more before he caught his breath, “Were you really playing tickle monster?”

“Yes,” I heard Pat say from inside the room.

Tickle monster my ass, I thought. As I finally got to the door.

“You’re supposed to knock,” John told him.

“Sorry,” James said, “Mum said you’re not supposed to have the door closed earlier though and dinner is ready.”

“Where is mum?” John asked as I stuck my head around the door frame peering into the room.

Pat was sitting on the bed his shirt off him smiling and waving at me. So, I was right whatever they were doing was something the shouldn’t have been doing. I could only imagine how pissed mum would be if it had been her who had walked in and not James.

“In the nursery with the babies,” James told him.

“Ah well, these goes tickle monster,” John sighed.

“Why is Pat’s shirt off?” I asked them looking between the two of them knowingly.

“Oh, they were just playing tickle monster,” James told me.

“Yeah ok. Well, we’re going to leave them to play that by themselves and go eat. Why don’t you go and I’ll be there in a second,” I told James making sure he was walking away before I looked at them shaking my head. They had to be kidding me.

They were seriously in here making out with our little brothers and sisters running around and mum up here? Where they crazy? Were they looking to piss mum off and get her even more stressed out?

“Tickle monster? Are you kidding me?” I asked them.

“It was an on the fly answer,” John told me as I turned around shutting the door so that mum wouldn’t over hear.

“Ok well, let’s play tickle monster with our shirts on from now on,” I told him turning back around, “Don’t give him ideas. The poor kid is confused enough about the whole…life thing. So, let’s not make out with our boyfriends at home on this floor where tiny people who don’t understand things can walk in on us.”

“He’s not my…,” John tailed off turning to look at Pat, “Wait, are you my boyfriend?”

“If you want me to be,” Pat said his smile growing as he winked at John.

Yeah, they still had that eye thing going. Where you could tell what they were thinking Pat looking at him like that making my cheeks feel warm. It was weird. Seeing someone look at my brother like that and knowing he liked it. That he was probably looking at Pat the same way even though I couldn’t see his face.

“Ok, I got it,” John said turning back around smiling widely at me before running his hand through his hair.

“This is weird for me,” I said.

“What is?” John asked.

“I don’t know maybe you and…,” I said moving my hands in their direction.

“Why?” John asked frowning at me.

“Because you’re…I don’t know John, ok? I don’t think you’re gay,” I told him.

He had never seemed gay before. I had a hard time picturing him kissing guys in my head. Picturing him with anyone in my head really but for some reason I had a hard time still believing that it was true. That my brother was sneaking around kissing another guy. Kissing Pat of all the other guys in the world. It just seemed weird.

“He’s not and neither am I. We’re just into each other,” John said quietly, looking at me while his tongue touched his back molar.

So, he was nervous? I was nervous. I was nervous that they were going to get caught and then none of us would be allowed to ever leave the house again because she’d be too afraid we were making out with other boys all over the place. Like my life wasn’t hard enough? Like I didn’t have a hard time making friends to begin with. Surely this would get out. That our mum was so afraid we were gay we weren’t allowed to have friends. And I was maybe slightly gay so she had every reason to worry about it. And then what if she told someone she thought I was gay and it got out and then the whole school knew? Then no one would talk to me. I mean Teddy and Cole seemed cool with it and Finn didn’t seem to have a problem but, that didn’t mean everyone else would be ok with it.

I sighed thinking about, “Well, whatever you are if it’s not with a girl keep it away from mum. I don’t want her to hate me because she thinks your gay and then she finds out I might be.”

“Mum doesn’t hate me, I don’t think. And I know she doesn’t hate you,” John said looking at me before walking over to the bed and sitting down next to Pat who had at some point put his shirt back on, “She’s just into the whole catholic thing. Probably because it brings a sense of control to her life.”

“Probably,” Pat said in agreement, “I think she’ll get over it at some point. I mean when you grow up screwing your dad and uncle someone is bound to turn out liking dick.”

Did he really think me wanting to hold hands with Cole had to do with me wanting someone to…do that with? I wasn’t there yet. I mean my brain knew there was a possibility that I might decide I wanted to try that someday but, I kind of just wanted to hold his hand a little bit. And I had totally gotten to earlier and it was nice and exciting and exactly what I thought it would be. It felt so nice to just know he cared enough about me to hold my hand. Why did there have to be anything else to it?

“It has nothing to do with that. I don’t think,” I said, trying to think about it. Think about what Pat was implying.

That maybe I only wanted to hold hands with Cole because of the things Da made me do. The things Uncle Ben made me do. For some reason I didn’t think that was it. But that maybe it was just me. Sure, it was a little wrong and confusing but, I didn’t remember ever liking girls. Not even in nursery school or first year when I had girls in my classes at school. I never remembered wanting to play with them, or spend time with them. They just didn’t…they weren’t interesting.

“But you don’t know for sure,” Pat said looking at me closely.

“Well, the way that certain guys make me feel has nothing to do with my Da. I’m sure of that. It’s not like I imagine jumping into bed with them, just like other stuff. Like what you two do type of stuff,” I said feeling my face turn warm thinking about it. Thinking about how even though his hand had been cold it was nice and soft and not rough like the leader’s hand. How it felt kind of nice when he gave my fingers a light squeeze to let me know he was there, that he cared about my feelings. How he didn’t let go even when we had walked away a bit. Like he wanted to keep me with him, to make sure I was ok.

Pat learned forward wrapping an arm around John’s shoulder smiling at him before he glanced back at me, “What type of stuff do you think we do?” Pat asked me.

“Like cuddle and kiss and hang out,” I answered shrugging my shoulders feeling my face get even warmer.

They didn’t do more than that. They couldn’t. Just the idea that my brother might be doing that with someone making me feel a little weird. How could he even want to after everything? After Da and all of them. Was it like Cole said. Sometimes being with someone else just made you forget for a little while. Made you feel better? Was it really worth trying. Did it actually work? Did it feel any different from them? I mean people said it did but, it was hard to imagine. Hard to try and understand what it might feel like. How it might feel different.

“Ouch!” Pat said looking over at John and then back at me, “Well, you huh…. I feel awkward explaining this to your brother John,” Pat said looking at John and resting his head on his shoulder for a second.

“Will,” John asked me looking at me as he looped his arm around Pat’s back, “What do you think dating entails?”

What did I think dating entailed? Kissing, watching movies together. Doing fun things together. Cuddling, holding hands. I knew that’s what dating entailed. At least normal dating. Normal dating for someone their age. For someone my age if people my age even dated which at my school they didn’t because we were all boys but I knew 11-year olds dated. Older boys in my grade bragged about dating. How they went to the movies and spend dinner at their girlfriend’s house while they watched TV with her parents or played board games with siblings. That’s all dating was, was spending time together. Spending time together with someone you weren’t afraid to touch, someone who didn’t make you feel gross or remind you that you were a loser. Or that you were worse, dirty.

“What you do,” I answered him simply.

“Well, yes but as you get older when people care about each other they…”

Was he seriously trying to give me the sex talk? He was probably about 2 years too late.

“I’m not five. I’m very aware of what sex is. I have it just about every night John, I’m not stupid. I realize that yes, when people care about each other they might, oh I don’t know? Have sex together but you do realize I’m not even 11, right?” I asked him.

“Yes, but our lives aren’t normal. We’re not normal. Our life is sex. There is a good chance when you find someone if you decide you’re into guys he’s going to be in the brotherhood too and his touch will erase all of the ones you don’t want so you might feel like you want him too…touch you in certain ways that you can’t imagine yourself enjoying now,” John said to me, his eyes soft like he was trying to be understanding, like he wanted me to listen and he was telling me some big secret.

He thought I didn’t know that? How would he know anything about…they hadn’t? There was no way they had done that, “Wait. Are you saying you two have done that?” I asked.

“Not exactly,” Pat muttered quietly.

“There are certain things that I’m not comfortable with and I’m not going to discuss it with my brother,” John said to me simply.

“So, what? You’ve had sex with him?” I asked. I felt so shocked. When would he even have had time to do that? When would…why? How? “What was it like?”

“Oh, geeze we haven’t had sex, sex, no,” John sighed, “There was a camera point at us…we were making a movie and not because we wanted to.”

“Right,” Pat said softly, “It’s something they do. If I do recall correctly though we had a little bit of fun that night after the camera was off.”

“Yes,” John said turning to look at Pat and kissing him on the cheek, “We did but, it wasn’t sex.”

Pat smiled at him before he leaned in close whispering something and grabbing John around the shoulder with both arms biting into his ear lobe causing John to laugh as he fell backwards onto his bed so they were laying down. Were they kidding me? Were they…My brain had a million questions. Including what did it feel like to make out with someone and not have them holding you hostage so you couldn’t breathe until they let you go? Until they stopped pushing their tongue into your mouth. Did it still feel that hard to breathe? Was it still scary? Did it make your heart race?

“Shhh,” John said giggling as he looked at Pat, Pat leaning over top of him slightly John’s hand rubbing Pat’s back under his shirt.

I almost felt like I should leave but, did that mean they had sex or they didn’t? And they hadn’t told me what it felt like. Why it was different, “So,” I said pausing to see if they were paying attention both of them sitting up, “You guys did have sex?”

“Will…” John started to say before Pat cleared his throat.

“No, you know what? You can tell him. I’m going to go eat and get a drink and you two; chat. Be brothers. Like just tell him since he seems so interested to know. But, I feel like it would be less awkward if I wasn’t in here so I’ll go eat,” Pat said before getting up and walking past me, shutting the door behind him.

John sighed putting his forehead in his hands for a second, “Will really? You had to scare him away?”

“Sorry,” I said quietly, “I just want to know what it was like.”

I don’t know what he saw in my face but he sighed heavily at me. Looking at me closely. Maybe he saw how worried I was about all of it. About what he said about us not being normal. About how one day I might meet a boy that I wanted to do those things with. If he saw my questions there about whether I would ever be able to bring myself to do them without being afraid. Afraid that it would be like all of them. That it would never feel how it was supposed to however it was supposed to feel for normal people. For people that weren’t like us.

“What part? The part where we had sex on camera or the part where the camera was off?” he asked me quietly his eyes soft as he pat the empty spot on the bed side him.

I walked over and sat down looking at him, “Both? Like what did it involve? Was it like Uncle Ben or was it different?”

“Well,” John said like he was really thinking about his answer, “Each person is different so each time is a little different because I’m sure it’s no secret to you that Da makes me do stuff with different people. I’ve told you that. However, it was different another way like I was the one…” he paused taking a deep breath his face turning the same color as his hair, “on top.” He finished quietly.

“You stuck your penis in him?” I asked.

I probably looked half retarded. I could feel the expression my face, my mouth and eyes wide open in shock as I stared at him. They let people do that? To like…each other. Then I thought about it. That did make sense when Cole said sex with each other someone had to be on top. I mean you couldn’t have sex without having someone be on top, be the one penetrating the other person.

“Yeah. It felt different,” he said his face still red.

“What did it feel like?” I asked.

He sat there silent for a moment staring at the wall behind me, this goofy smile growing wider on his face by the second before he shrugged his shoulders still staring at the wall like he was in trance of some kind, “Well…like I said…it was…different.”

“The goofy look on your face is telling me it was a good different,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head.

He looked like he was thinking about it. Thinking about what it had felt like maybe to do that with someone. To be with someone like that. Like he had enjoyed it in a way that he couldn’t explain. Couldn’t even begin to describe.

“What about when the camera was off?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said looking at me, “You know that thing that we really really can’t stand?” he asked me.

“You mean when Ben sucks us off or Da yeah?” I questioned, “What about…” he had another goofy look on his face. He had let Pat go down on him or he had done that to Pat? “Really? Who did it to whom?”

“Well, it didn’t really happen but almost. We made out a lot though,” he told me.

“Oh,” I said. So, they had almost had oral sex. But only almost? What had stopped him. Had it been too weird? Too scary? Had it felt like Ben? I wanted to ask so many questions. I wanted to know if he could be normal because if he could then maybe one day I could. Maybe I would ok. Maybe I would find someone who loved me and how I wasn’t afraid of. Someone who wouldn’t force me to do those types of things anymore but who would do them with me because I wanted to and not because they were making me.
“But did it feel weird?” I managed to voice, “Was it really different from what Uncle Ben and Da do?”

“Yes and no,” he said my heart jumping a little bit. If it was the same I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t ever want to do it. But, he kept talking, “Like all of the sensations were the same but different. I like it but it was weird. Just like really weird. I think I got too scared and that’s why it didn’t go farther but, it was scary in a different way. I like the way he feels on my skin. But, that makes me nervous. I don’t know why.”

“Because it reminds you of bad things probably,” I said giving him my honest opinion.

“Yeah,” he answered nodding his head, “I mean I want to be able to but, it makes me feel like I can’t breathe. I always feel like I can’t breathe.”

He said that quietly almost a whisper, frowning at nothing again. I understood how that felt. How your chest felt so tight the air almost hurt pulling it in and out of your lungs. How you wanted to scream but knew you couldn’t. Because screaming would only make it worse. That it was better if you just laid there and let them do what they wanted. Let them hurt you because if you didn’t fight it, it would be easier. It would be over faster. Because while being in your skin might be barely bearable without them touching you when they were touching you, you couldn’t stand it. You didn’t want to be alive at all let alone stuck in your body feeling it. Feeling all of those things, they made you feel.

“Me too,” I said quietly after a minute, “How have you been since…you know and then Father Barren?”

I asked him since we were kind of on the topic. Since Dom had kept me from checking in on him earlier. I know he didn’t like talking about it but, I needed to know he was normal, at least normal for him. That he wasn’t thinking about hurting himself. That he wasn’t thinking about drinking or doing other things like that. I didn’t want him to hurt even though I knew he was. I wanted him to find comfort and that was something Pat, seemed to help him with, seemed to be able to give him.

“Well,” he sighed before turning around and showing him his back and pulling up the back of his shirt.

He had what looked like knife marks going down both his shoulder blades. Covering the marks from only days before where Uncle Ben had dug into him. Had Barren really taken knife to his back to carve on him? What kind of sick twisted person did that? Why would he want to hurt him like that?

“Ouch,” I muttered, “What did he do?”

“Dug his nails into my back while he nearly suffocated me,” he barely whispered.

Had he told anyone this? Did anyone know that this guy had tried to kill him earlier? Why would he do that? What was the point of that? Of trying to kill my brother. John would never hurt anyone so why would he try to kill him? It didn’t make any sense to me.

“I’m sorry,” I barely managed to say.

“He almost drowned me,” John said his back still to me as he let his shirt fall back down.

Yeah, he had been seriously trying to kill him. At least that’s what my 10-year-old mind kept telling me. That he had been trying to kill him for no reason other than he wanted to. Other than he was sick and he had wanted to take my brother from me. Take one of the very few people from me that made me feel safe, and loved and needed. One of the very few people I was sure wouldn’t judge me for anything that had happened to me. For anything that people had made me do or that I might think. But one of the people who loved me and wanted me around for just being me. For simply existing and not because I was cute, or sexy, or shy or whatever else you could think of. But just because I was there and I was his brother.

Those things were enough for John. Enough for him to want me around and to want to keep me as safe as he could. It didn’t matter to him how many times they hurt me, he didn’t want them to hurt me again. It didn’t matter if I wanted to kiss a boy or a girl. It didn’t matter that I was smart, or funny, or anything else. He wanted to protect me because I was there. Because he was older and he felt like it was his job to keep me safe. Not because anyone told him it was but because that’s the job he wanted.

“Are you serious?” I asked him. My heart hurting for him yet angry all at the same time. Thinking about how someone had tried to take him away from me. From us. How I was lucky that he was sitting on his bed next to me and my world wasn’t falling to pieces around me.

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head as he turned around, “Don’t tell anyone.”

“Uncle Ben made me suck him off in the pool. I almost drowned once,” I admitted thinking about it. Thinking about how scary that had been.

“I didn’t know that,” John sighed looking at me sadly, “Usually he’s the one who…you know.”

He meant he was the one who liked doing that. Sucking you off. He did. He liked it a lot. Not as much as Lionel and Da seemed to though. Lionel and Da their tongues went everywhere. Just thinking about it making me shiver. Making me wish I could think about something else.

“I thought Da was more into that,” I said quietly.

“I think Da’s into anything that will make you squirm,” John said quietly after a minute or two of silence.

“Da scares me,” I admitted to him, “He tells me I’m his…that I’m his cock slut. That I belong to him.”

His eyes went wide as he shook his head balling his hands into fist. I wasn’t expecting that reaction him scaring me making me back up slightly. Did he think that was true? Was that why he was mad? Was he made at me for being that?

“He says stuff like that to me too,” John said his voice breaking, “He once told me that I’m fun and mum’s work. God this is so fucked up. He shouldn’t ever say something like that to you. Not ever.” He said shaking his head as he started to cry.

It was hard to not believe it. When he said that. I knew that’s where wanting to kiss boys lead was to that. So maybe he was right. Maybe that’s what I was. It was hard to argue that he shouldn’t say that to me when that’s what I thought I was. When I knew that’s probably a part of the reason some people wanted me the way they did but, I couldn’t say that to John. I couldn’t admit that to John. He would either agree with them and hate me or he’d fight with me about it. Insisting that it wasn’t true. I didn’t have the energy for that conversation in that moment so I sighed.

“Yeah. At least he’s gone for a little while. At least we can go to the movies. I’m not sure Da would let us do something like that.”

“Probably not,” John agreed looking up whipping at his eyes, whipping his tears away, “You’re not going to tell mum about Pat and me. Are you? I kind of lied and told her nothing happened besides kissing one time.”

“I’m not going to tell,” I promised, “Just because I’m hoping she won’t hate me when I fall in love with someone because I know it won’t be a girl. I don’t want her to hate me.”

John smiled sadly at me putting his hands on my shoulders like he was going to hug me, looking at me closely, “I don’t think mum could ever hate you Will. She loves you. She’s just struggling just like we are.”

I hoped he was right. That she wouldn’t hate me once she found out what I was. That Da was right. There was a slight knock on the door as John hugged me for a second before he cleared his throat.

“Come in,” he said.

Pat popped his head back into the room smiling as he looked at us, “Is everything ok?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said smiling nodding my head taking the meant Pat wanted me to leave so he could be alone with John. So, they could have some time by themselves without me and confused six-year old’s, “Thanks John, Pat,” I said standing up, “I’m going to go eat and do homework and stuff.”

“Ok,” John said smiling at me, “We’ll talk some more later if you want, all right?”

I nodded my head at him smiling as I shut the door leaving them alone and going out to the kitchen. I was surprised to find Matt still eating with mum and Andy at the table. The idea of mum being there making me feel calmer. Usually Matt was one of the first ones to finish eating though and then I heard the conversation they were having.

“So, you understand then? Why you can’t do that? Why it’s scary for me to hear you did that?” she asked him.

“Yeah, I understand mum. I didn’t mean anything by it through I promise. I would never hurt Andy. I swear I would never hurt Andy,” Matt said looking at her.

“I know you don’t want to. But if you have thoughts like that I want you to tell me ok? Even if it’s just thoughts. Not because I want to punish you but because I want to help you so those thoughts go away ok? Your Da used to have those thoughts even when your brothers were little and I used to ignore how scared and upset they made him until…until he couldn’t stop himself from thinking them anymore and they turned into actions. You understand?” mum said to him.

“If I have those thoughts I need to tell you so you can help me before I hurt someone,” Matt said to her summarizing what I had just overheard.

“That’s right. I know you’re a sweet boy and you would never want to hurt anyone but, it’s something that because Da is the way he is I feel worried about ok? So, you promise you’ll tell me?” She asked him again.

“Yes mummy, I promise,” he said using his most sweet and charming voice he could before he stood up and hugged her, “Can I go now?”

“Yes, you may,” she said before Matt grabbed Andy’s hand and kissed it, just a small peck.

“I love you Andy,” he said.

“I wub boo,” Andy replied making both Matt and mum smile before he walked away.

“There, you are love,” Mum said, “Pat said you wanted to talk to John alone for a little bit. Is everything ok?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “I just…I wanted to make sure he was ok.”

It was half the truth. I wanted to make sure he was ok. That he hadn’t been hurt too bad and I wanted to know if…if he thought I would ever be normal. If he thought anything about me would ever be normal and what those things felt like. I didn’t want to tell mum that part though. That I was wondering about those things with boys because I figured she’d be mad. That she would hate me for it and blame me for it, for everything.

“Are you convinced he’s ok for now?” she asked me to which I nodded my head.

“Good, I’m going to get Andy and Laura down for bed and then Cat. Considering it’s almost 7:30. Can you eat and then make sure you rinse your plate and the boys are brushing their teeth so they can be in bed by 8:30?” she asked me.

“Yeah mum, no problem,” I answered her.

“Thank you love, you are such a big help,” she said kissing me on the forehead before she pulled Andrew out of his booster seat and headed down the hallway.

Was I was finishing my plate I heard the lift kick on making me freeze. I knew it couldn’t be Da because Da was already gone to New York. He had left early that morning. I froze listening to the lift and when it opened I expected Uncle Ben to come out but instead it was Dr. Palmer, sighing heavily as he rubbed his temples frowning.

I hadn’t even realized he was in the house him turning and seeing me out of the corner eye smiling at me before he frowned seeing the look on my face, “Are you ok?” he asked me quietly coming over.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “I thought you were Uncle Ben.”

Dr. Palmer nodded his head sitting down at the table with me, “I actually just got off the phone with someone about your Uncle. Him and the Leader came to an agreement about certain things.”

“Yeah, I already know. He’s allowed to touch me but he can’t physically hurt me and he’s not allowed to use his mouth,” I said feeling my face grow hot thinking about it.

“I know it’s hard,” Dr. Palmer said, “We’re working on figuring something out.”

“Not fast enough. Lionel’s a bad person and you know it,” I said looking at him.

“Yes, he is,” Dr. Palmer said, “I actually came up here to talk to your brother and Patrick, where are they?”

He started to get up from the chair where he had sat down next to me. So that was it. He wanted to tell me what Ben could do to me? What good was that going to do me. Telling me that and then telling me he was sorry.

“Do you think mum will hate me?” I asked him making him turn back around as he started down the hallway.

“Why do you think your mum would hate you?” Dr. Palmer asked.

“Because I…I held hands,” I said my brain blanking out a little bit as I felt the anxiety of the thought engulf me, making me shiver and shake a little bit.

I loved my mum. I loved my mum so much and I just wanted her to love me too but, I knew she wouldn’t love me if she knew I wanted to hold hands with Cole and not some pretty girl. I knew she’d be mad at me and probably blame me for things.

He came over and sat back down, “Why do you think she’d hate you for holding hands with someone?”

“It was Cole,” I said quietly.

“Did Cole do anything else?” he asked me his face going a little dark.

“No,” I said shaking my head, “he told me he’d never do that. That I’m too young.”

“Good. At least we’re in agreement there,” Dr. Palmer said, “Honestly, I think the idea scares your mum but I don’t think she’d hate you for wanting to do those things. There’s many reasons why someone might hold hands with a person. Because they’re friends or family, because one is leading the other somewhere. Because they’re trying to comfort each other or they are scared. It doesn’t have to mean something romantic at all. I think the idea of you being different, of your life being any harder than it already is, is hard for her and that’s why the idea upsets her. Being a homosexual isn’t easy. People might want to beat you up or even kill you. Not as much as they once did but, it’s still not an easy life. I’m sure you understand why that might scare your mum.”

“It’s not just that she says it’s a sin,” I told him.

“Well, it might be a sin. I can’t say for sure if it is or not since you know I don’t have any direct contact with the man upstairs but, I will tell you one thing. Jesus died in order to forgive us for our sins, in order to save us. No sin is any bigger than any other one. A sin where you aren’t hurting anyone. I have a hard time believing that God would send someone to hell for those ones and being gay doesn’t hurt people. That and doesn’t God teach judge not lest ye be judged?” he asked me.

“Yeah,” I answered him, “So even if it’s bad God will forgive me?”

“Yeah but I honestly don’t think it’s bad. God made us just the way we are for a reason. He wanted you to be this way. I don’t know why but, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you Will. Ok? Just…if Cole touches you. I want you to tell me.”

I wrinkled my nose. Why? Why would he want to know if Cole did that? I was positive that if Cole ever did that to me it was because he wanted me to and I wanted him to, not because he was forcing me. Was he really afraid Cole was going to hurt me?

“Cole wouldn’t do that,” I told him.

“Cole has been known to get friendly. With mostly older boys but, he takes some substances that can alter one’s judgement and he could…get uncomfortably close under those substances I’m afraid. So, if he touches you let me know,” Dr. Palmer repeated.

“Kris already told him not to mess with me,” I said.

“Well, at least Cole, Kris and I are in agreement,” Dr. Palmer said, “Let me guess guy has blue eyes and blond hair?”

“Blue eyes and light brown,” I answered as Dr. Palmer nodded his head, “Well, you don’t need Cole messing with you especially right now. I mean the brotherhood as long as you aren’t contracted if you weren’t both bottoms would be excited because it meant Cole was turning tracker which is what they want.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, him preying on someone younger than he is would be an indication the he doesn’t want to leave the brotherhood. So, he’d get a warning and told to stop but otherwise they would be happy. They like age differences. Big age differences. Recently I’ve been getting yelled at because I have recontracted Flynn and he’s at the age where …this is his last contract. After that he either needs to make his declaration of his intent his first one or he needs to sign his confidentiality agreement. I keep telling him he needs to sign. That he doesn’t want to be stuck in this with me. That and if he does decide to stay they’ll expect him and I to be together and declare a partnership or go to Canada and come back married, adopt children and then…” Dr. Palmer trailed off sighing.

“Abuse them. Or let other people in the brotherhood abuse them,” I finished and he nodded his head.

“I will never give them a child. Not ever. Over my dead body will they abuse any child I have. I’m here to get you guys out of this not bring more of you into it,” he said his voice sounding hard, angry just thinking about it.

“Kris said well he didn’t say it to me but he basically let Cole know that I’m…I’m his type,” I mumbled thinking about what Cole had said how Kris had been warning him to keep an eye on me. That my shyness was something that would attract him to me.

“Last time I checked Kris didn’t touch kids and he avoided them like the plague,” Dr. Palmer said misunderstanding me.

“No, not Kris,” I said, “Him.”

“Yes, he has a very serious type. He almost never deviates from it. Shy, quiet, nice, he likes fair eyes and fair hair however he’s been known to step away from that for a while. He seems to pick guys who decide they are homosexual. Not brotherhood type necessarily but like the normal healthy kind of homosexual. So yeah, you’re all his type.” Dr. Palmer told me making me shift uncomfortably.

“If I change will he stop?” I asked him.

“Well, you’re in a contract so no. Not now,” Dr. Palmer told me.

“Is it wrong I keep hoping he’ll change his mind?” I asked him quietly.

“No,” Dr. Palmer said, “There’s nothing wrong with hoping that. Not at all. He won’t though. It’s a year. So, by this time next year when you’re almost 12 you’ll be done. He’ll have moved on to his next boy. He’s been doing this a long time. As long as you don’t make him mad he’s not violent. He’s not like your Uncle or Arthur or Hank. So, I think you’ll be ok.”

“I don’t want to do it again,” I said shaking my head, “I want him to just leave me alone.”

“What did he do?” he asked me.

I felt the leader’s hands on my skin, his tongue, his teeth biting into my ankle before he licked the spot until the indents of his teeth left. My face feeling hot. I didn’t want to think about it. No, he wasn’t here. He wasn’t here. This wasn’t…

“Will, Will? What do you see?” Dr. Palmer asked me.

“The…the kitchen island,” I said.

“Ok, focus on it. What is it made out of?” he asked, “Slow even breaths, you’re ok. What’s it made out of?”

“Wood and marble,” I answered quietly, “It’s white with a black marble top. The fridge is behind it,” I kept going, “Next to the fridge is the microwave and next to that is the kitchen sink. It’s metal and has a garbage disposal above it are the cabinets that match the kitchen island and the counters.”

“Better?” Dr. Palmer asked.

“Yeah,” I answered nodding my head, “Better. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I understand, you don’t have to. I shouldn’t have asked and I’m sorry that I upset you,” he said.

I still felt the anxiety that was trapped in my chest even though I wasn’t feel what he had done to me anymore. What the leader had made me do. My whole body shaking as I sat at the table feeling frozen.

“I’ll be back I have to go talk to Patrick and John,” he said.

I watched him walk away down the hall, poking his head into the nursery and saying something to mum as she came out. Talking to him for a few minutes before he pointed at me her coming towards me as he went down the hall to John’s room.

“Are you ok love?’ she asked me.

“I just…,” I shook my head.

“Come on. How about we watch your brothers play video games for a bit?” she said touching my shoulder gently as I got up out of the chair.

When we made it to the living she held her arms open and I hugged her burying my face in shoulder as we sat down on the sofa. I closed my eyes letting myself relax, breathe her in. Her smell of flowers and something else. I allowed myself to feel better. To believe that everything was ok because I was with my mum. That she loved me and she’d make me feel better.

“It’s ok love,” Mum said hugging me, “I know it’s hard it’s ok. We’ll be ok.”

I hugged her with my eyes closed. I didn’t want this to go away. I didn’t want her to find out about me. She’d hate me if she did. I knew she would. I didn’t want her to hate me. I didn’t want her to tell me that I was bad, that I was…what I was. I didn’t cry even though I almost wanted to. Just so she could tell me it was ok that there was nothing wrong with me even though it would be a lie. Her running her hands through my hair and making me feel loved. Feel safe.

At some point John and Pat came out of his bedroom and started using the phone. John using the phone as Pat sat down on the sofa. I could hear that he was talking to Dom and just as he hung up the phone it rang again. “It’s me,” he said into the phone before laughing loudly and replying to what the other person said by saying, “Yeah only for the night.” He listened silently for a minute before he spoke again, “Hold on I’ll ask,” before he came towards us a few steps and then decided to shout, “Mum Cole wants to spend the night too.”

“Ok, that’s fine. It is Friday,” she said.

Did she just agree to let Cole spend the night? Cole of all people? That was awesome. I got to have someone spend the night on Friday, got to the skate park on Saturday and go see a movie on Sunday. That was awesome. That left hardly any time for Uncle Ben to pull me aside and hurt me for once in my life and I got to hang out with people. To me that was super exciting.

“She said yeah,” John said into the phone before Cole said something back and then John hung up the phone.

“He’s going to be here in 10 minutes and I’m almost done eating so can I go downstairs and wait for him?” John asked mum who was still sitting with me.

“John, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. Your Uncle is downstairs,” Mum said just as Dr. Palmer walked out of a bedroom down the hall way.

“What were you doing?” I asked him standing up trying to figure out which room he had come out of.

“I was using the restroom. Everyone is ok, they’re all asleep,” Dr. Palmer said smiling at me, “He’s a very protective brother, isn’t he?”

“They both are,” Mum sighed, “It’s ok Will, love. Dr. Palmer would never hurt any of you.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. I mean Vic seemed like a nice guy but, he wasn’t helping me. At least I didn’t feel like he was. No one was helping me. I didn’t want to be his. Especially after everything Cole and Ted had told me. That he was going to make me do horrible things to people. I didn’t want to be any more bad than I already was. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Cole had warned me that it happened to everyone. It had happened to Pat and John but, that didn’t mean I wanted to do it. Or that I was ok with it.

“Your mom is right. I won’t ever hurt anyone. All of you are already hurting enough as it is. I don’t see it getting any better until some things can change,” Dr. Palmer said, “Well, I’m on my way out. I hope all of you have a good night.”

“I can go with him,” Pat said, “John I mean. It’ll be two against one if your Uncle is down there and if we don’t come back after like 15 minutes you can come looking for us.”

Mum seemed to think about it for a second before she answered, “Ok, go on then. Avoid him though guys and be careful, all right?”

They both got on the lift with Vic and headed downstairs. I really hoped they’d be ok. If Vic was a nice guy he wouldn’t leave until he knew they were safe. Until they were back upstairs.

“Well,” Mum said standing up, “I’m going to go check on everyone in the nursey. You boys have another half hour and then I want you heading to bed along with Cat and James ok?” Mum said to Mike and Matt.

“Yeah mum,” Mike said.

“I’ll stay here and read,” I said picking up my book which was on the coffee table and moved to the chair. I wanted to seem unexcited but I was actually very excited. Cole was coming over.

I mean if I didn’t have to be with anyone this weekend because there wasn’t time and the leader wasn’t coming over. As long as no one found out, maybe…maybe I could do more than hold his hand. Not that I wanted to have sex with him. I didn’t want to do that, that was way too far but maybe kiss him. Just a small kiss.

I thought about it deciding I was going to try it and see what it felt like. That it didn’t have to mean anything. That we didn’t have to do anything beyond that. That all of that would be ok. I was going to do it. I was going to kiss Cole.

Then I heard the lift kick on and waited. Waited until it opened and there they were. There he was. My throat feeling tight as I put my book down, “Hi Cole,” I said quietly.

“Hey,” Cole said sitting down on the couch smiling at me, “What’s going on?”

“Grand theft auto,” Matt said before I could say anything.

Cole frowned his nose wrinkling as he looked at the TV long enough for the character to punch an old man, “Aren’t you a little young for that game?” he asked Matt.

He did have a point but mum had been sitting here with me watching him play. Cole smiling at me as he sat back.

“Nope,” Matt replied not taking his eyes off the TV.

“Ok, whatever,” Cole said smiling at me and shaking his head causing me to smile back.

I felt my face getting warm and cursed myself as Pat got up and got a drink before plopping himself back down on the Sofa next to Cole, “What was that?” he asked him.

“Nothing,” Cole said.

Joh sat down on the other side of Cole and whispered something in his ear that made Cole’s smile grow even more before he looked at me closer, “Hey Will.”

John smacked him on the shoulder and Cole sighed looking at him, “Don’t hit me. I was just saying hi.”

“You already said hi,” John pointed out.

“Come on, let’s go listen to some music,” John said standing up.

“Sure,” Pat said, “I’m in. It sounds fun. Come on Cole.”

I sighed figuring that they were leaving to smoke cigarettes and drink and do whatever it was they did. I could tell from looking at the way Cole’s eyes were slightly dilated that he was already high. That he had probably snorted something on the way over but, he didn’t seem to have a fit of the giggles. His pupils were so huge you could barely see the blue of his eyes.

“Will, you want to come?” Cole asked standing up.

“Huh,” did he seriously just ask me if I wanted to hang out with them? Sure, I’d hang out with them,” Sure,” I said setting my book down by the couch and standing up.

John and Pat shot each other a look that Pat shared with Cole as we got into the room Cole standing in the corner as John fiddled with his alarm clock looking for a station.

“What?” Cole asked smiling almost starting to laugh.

And there were his giggles. The giggles that seemed majorly contagious. He smiled at me.

“You are too high to be here,” Pat said smiling shaking his head.

“Am not,” Cole said, “It’s better than being home.”

“True,” Pat said, “Hey Rabbit do you have some…,”

“Of course,” John said bending over and pulling a bottle out from under his bed, “Don’t I always?”

“You’re such a fucking drownder man,” Cole said before he started giggling as John uncapped the bottle and took a deep drink before handing it to Pat, “By the way Will you tell mum you’re dead.”

“I figured,” I said shaking my head.

It was weird to see this side of my brother. Him laughing and happy. Drinking with his friends. This wasn’t a side of John I had ever really seen before but, he seemed so unlike himself. Less serious and more like a normal teenager.

“OH!” Cole shouted as this one song started playing with a slow deep base, “I gotta dance to this!”

He said before he stood up waiting for the song to start picking up the lyrics coming out with a slow electronic beat as he started rolling his hips slowly lifting his shirt. Before he dropped to the floor humping it.

“…You let me violate you
You let me desecrate you,
you let me penetrate you
You let me complicate you

I felt my face start to flush as Pat crowed with laughter, “You’re not stripping man keep your clothes on…”

“But that kind of ruins it a little bit,” Cole said shrugging his shoulders before he did this weird robotic move with his arms standing up and rolling his hips again as he winked at me.

Was he seriously…I looked over at John who was watching him dance too, his eyes wide as he stared at him. But, my thought was “is he seriously about to take off his clothes.” Cole looking at both our faces before he fell over laughing hysterically. Before he managed to stand back up thrusting his hips forward into the air doing a weird robotic move again.

I had never seen anyone dance like that. Him throwing his shirt on the top of my head as the song ended, “there I kept my clothes on,” Cole said looking at me before he started laughing, “Can I have my shirt back?”

“Yeah,” I said handing to him.

I could feel that my face was warm. It had been warm the moment he had lifted up his shirt. You wouldn’t think he had defined abs being as skinny as he was but he did. He was actually really fit. Not that I saw him naked a lot but I had seen him naked a couple of times. But not being locked in a cage together it was a different environment. More relaxed.

“You are so red right now,” Pat said taking another drink from the bottle John had handed him, “I told you guys! I told you he could dance.”

“Yes, yes you did,” John agree nodding his head his eyes still as big as saucers.

“I feel like I owe you dinner,” I whispered quietly but apparently not quietly enough because John and Pat bursts out laughing loudly as Cole sat down in front of me crossed legged.

“It was all for you,” he said.

My chest felt tight. He had danced for me? Done that for me? To impress me? Why though?

“Me?” I asked him feeling the frown on my face.

“I think you’re cute,” he said his smiling growing so big I thought his jaw might fall off as he winked at me again.

John let out a loud low groan falling into the Pat’s lap, “Oh god. That’s my brother.”

“So?” Cole asked gesturing towards Pat, “He’s like my brother and I know you’re getting dirty with him.”

“Yeah but he’s our age and Will is 10,” John pointed out.

Why did everyone keep telling everyone else I was 10? I knew I was 10. I couldn’t forget I was 10 between this and all the other shit I had going on everyone told me I was 10 at least once a day. I didn’t need to be reminded.

But, I didn’t feel 10. Not ever. Not between Da, and Ben and Lionel.

“So?” Cole said his eyes widening a little bit showing just how dilated his eyes were, “I’m 13, almost 14.”

“I’m almost 11,” I said looking at my pant leg picking a piece of lint or something off it.

“I don’t care,” John said taking the bottle from Pat and sitting up, taking a drink, “It’s not happening.”

He was telling me no? So, he wasn’t telling Cole no. He was telling me no. I had enough people telling me what to do. He had no right to tell me what to do. I sighed getting on my knees and leaning forward before I pecked Cole on the lips, him not stopping me as I grabbed him by the neck. Him kissing me back his tongue flicking across the inside of my mouth making my heart dance and my stomach flutter before I stood up feeling all the heat my body could contain in my face.

“You’re not my boss,” I said looking at John as Pat screamed loudly.

“HOLY SHIT!”

I sighed and opened the bedroom shutting it behind me. Waiting for my face to cool down. Waiting for my body to calm down. It hadn’t been scary at all. It had felt happy and exciting. Not anything like them. Me trying to even out my breathing hoping John wouldn’t tell mum.

Tell mum I had kissed him. But, he had kissed me back. It hadn’t been rough or forced but more probing, exploring. It hadn’t felt hard or rough at all. My first real kiss with someone that I wasn’t related to. Someone that I wanted to kiss.

I walked away after a second hearing the laughter. Wondering if they were laughing at me. Because I was just some kid. A 10-year-old. Because I didn’t know anything about anything or at least that’s how I’d been feeling lately. Wondering if I had made a mistake. If they were laughing at me because they knew I was a loser. That I wasn’t worth anything. That I was just Lionel’s boy, his slut.

I walked away to my bedroom shutting the door. Maybe it was better that they just thought I was some stupid kid. Maybe that was better if that’s all anyone thought of me. I felt like crying. It had been a good kiss, a nice one that didn’t feel anything like them but I felt …dirty still. Like he would never really care about me.

I heard their pearls of laughter as they took the lift down me figuring that was that because no one came to get me. That my night was about over as someone knocked on my bedroom door me hoping it was Cole or John to tell me they were sorry for laughing. That they didn’t mean anything by it only to hear mum’s voice on the other side of the door.

“Will love?” Mum asked.

“Yeah?” I asked opening the door for her.

“Are you ok? They all just went downstairs and you came in here so. Did something happen? Did John make you leave them alone?” she asked me.

“No mum, I’m just tired. I’m going to go to bed,” I lied.

“Ok,” she said nodding her head, “They are older than you are. It’s ok for you to not feel comfortable around them. It’s ok to have hard time William.”

“It’s not that mum. I’m just tired.”

“Ok Well, I just put everyone to bed so I’m going to head downstairs. Go to sleep. You’re going to bed as well?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Good night mum. I love you.” I told her giving her a hug.

“I love you too,” she said before I shut my bedroom door.

The lift turned on and she went downstairs. I wondered if I had made a mistake. Kissing him, letting him kiss me. I sighed turning off my bedroom light wondering if taking a shower would make me feel better, less dirty. I was about to get up and go shower when I heard a knock on my door.

He didn’t wait for me to answer coming in after a second. He looked at me awkwardly shutting the door behind him pressing his back to it. Did he think I was going to hurt him? Try to kiss him again?

“Will,” Cole said quietly, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have and I’m sorry that…”

“I kissed you,” I said quietly.

“Yeah but there’s a reason why everyone keeps saying how old you are. You’re not ready for that. You’re not ready for any of this. Ok? I shouldn’t have told the way I am. You’re too young,” Cole said.

“Just wanted to know what it was like,” I said quietly shrugging my shoulders, “To kiss someone.”

“Listen,” Cole said sitting down on the foot of my bed, “One day you’ll find someone you want to kiss. That wants to kiss you back when they’re not high and being stupid. And that person will want to be with you and make you forget all about them. But, I don’t think that’s me. Would I like it to be? Maybe one day but not right now. I saw the look on your face when you ran out of there. You felt beyond mortified. I don’t want you…. I don’t want to make you feel that way about yourself. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“I thought they were laughing at me,” I admitted.

“No, they were laughing at me because I was making a fool of myself. They weren’t laughing at you,” he told me, “When I get too high I do stupid things. I should have pulled away. I shouldn’t have flirted with you.”

“I was ok with it,” I said.

“Only because of him,” Cole said.

That wasn’t true. It had nothing to do with him. At least I didn’t think it did. It had to do with having something that belonged to just me. Having a choice about what I did that I could own.

“You might not see it now but it is. You wanted some control. So, you took it. I understand it, trust me I more than understand it. If you were older I’d jump on you right now just to feel like I have some control. If you’d let me,” Cole said, “That’s not a healthy way to do it though. You seek it that way you’ll never be normal.”

“You want to kiss me?” I asked him.

He smiled lightly before looking at me, “If you were older I’d do more than kiss you. That and you’re his. He doesn’t like it when his boys do things without him.”

My heart sank. I didn’t want to be his. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that he got to…and then I couldn’t say no. But I wasn’t allowed to say yes to anyone else. It wasn’t fair.

“I know,” Cole said nodding his head at me as I realized I was crying, “Let it out it’s ok.”

“It’s not fair,” I barely managed to mumble before I started crying.

“You’re right it’s not,” he said quietly opening his arms for me as I threw myself forward into them crying.

“IT’s not fair,” I whispered again.

“I know just let it go. Just get it out,” he said as he let me sob into his shoulder him rubbing my back gently.

At some point he laid down in bed with me letting me cry. Holding me and telling that it was ok. That I was ok. Him holding me as I cried. When I was done crying he sighed looking at me, our faces inches from each other.

“It’s not fair. I’m sorry. If I could change it for you I would,” Cole whispered to me dragging his fingers lazily through my hair.

“I just don’t want to be his. Why can’t I just be mine?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer his eyes forcing on mine. His Adam’s apple bobbing as he looked at me. I sighed closing my eyes before I felt his lips touch mine. Because I felt him kiss me his hand still in my hair. I wasn’t sure what we were doing but it felt different from before. From earlier. Still patient and kind but less rushed. It causing me less anxiety.

You would think it would have caused more anxiety because no one was there. We were laying on my bed in the dark. But, no. I relaxed into it. Letting him kiss me, his kisses eventually leaving my lips and trailing to my neck surprising me. I don’t remember hearing the lift turn back on. The only thing I knew was my door opened without someone knocking the light flipping on.

“OH goodness! William…Cole!” She said her eyes wide staring at us.

My heart beating so fast as Cole rolled off the bed I felt like I was going to die. Like this was it. This was where she told me the truth. Where she grabbed me by the arm threw me down the basement steps telling me it was all my fault and let Uncle Ben have me. Let them …

“Mum…I’m…”

“Cole could you give me a minute alone with my son please?” she said Cole’s gaze going from her to me.

“Before you blame him. I’m sorry ok? I kissed him. I shouldn’t have and I…”

“ENOUGH!” Mum screeched, “Go find John and Pat. I need to talk to my son.”

He sighed nodding his head shooting me an apologetic look before he got up leaving my room. I didn’t dare to look at her until I heard the bedroom door close. Her eyes were cold, dark as she shook her head slowly at me in disbelief.

“You know how sinful that is?” she asked me.

“Mum I’m…” she broke off my words not letting me speak.

“I understand you have problems. That this isn’t easy. It’s not easy for anyone but that doesn’t mean you get to go around turning your back on everything this family believes in,” she said sitting down in my desk chair, “How could you do that? How can you and John just…” she trailed off shaking her head.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly, barely above a whisper, “I know it’s my fault mum and I’m sorry.”

She looked at me her eyes wide in shock, “What’s your fault?” she asked me.

“If I wasn’t…if I didn’t…they wouldn’t,” I said trying to explain it. Trying to tell her what I thought.

That if I wasn’t gay they wouldn’t do things to me. That they wouldn’t hurt any of us. That life would be better.

“No love. I think you have it wrong. I think they do it and that’s what made you so confused. I don’t think it’s the other way around. Not at all,” Mum said looking at me.

“I don’t know mum,” I said pulling my knees into my chest sitting up, “Even back home I’d find boys kissing sometimes. And I wondered what it felt like. If it was…” I trailed off find it hard to explain.

“You think that’s why Da hurts you? Because you might like boys?” she asked me.

“Maybe,” I said quietly.

“Da hurts you because he has problems. Not the other way around,” she told me, “You’re just confused. He’s got you boys not knowing what’s up and what’s down. I just wish you weren’t acting on it William, you’re 10 years old. I know Da has done some bad things to you but, that doesn’t mean you have to let …people do that to you.”

“I kissed him mum,” I said, “You can’t be mad at him. I kissed him. He came in here to tell me it was bad, that it shouldn’t happen and …there’s a lot going on mum.”

“I know there is,” she said, “I know but, with your Da gone hopefully it will get better.”

“It’s not just Da mum. It’s other things. I’m …I don’t want to talk about it but it’s other things and I just want to be mine. I don’t want to belong to him,” I said.

“Oh love,” she sighed, “We’ll figure this out. Everything will be ok in the end you’ll see. I just need time.”

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “Don’t be mad at him please?”

“I think he’s as confused as you are. That all of you poor boys are. I can’t blame you for it. For not understanding and knowing what’s going on. Not when someone does that to you. I don’t blame him but I will be having a talk with him and explaining why that’s not ok.”

“He knows it’s not ok mum. He told me so himself. He said some guy,” I sighed trying to think of a reason why he might have done it. Other than we were attracted to each other and I had wanted him to and he had wanted to even though it was wrong and we both knew it, “Some guy when he was my age he made him do stuff with other boys. It screwed him up. I don’t think he even wanted to kiss me. That it just happened. So please don’t be mad at him.”

Mum sighed heavily, “You poor kids. Those poor boys,” she muttered, “Ok. I will still be talking to him about it though. When Cole and Patrick are here I want you to keep your doors open. I will not have this going on in my house especially someplace where James or Cat can just open the door and walk in. Do you understand?”

“Yes mum. I understand,” I told her nodding my head.

“Good. Now I’m going to leave you in here on your own with the door cracked. I want you to get some sleep and I will go have a talk with your brother,” she said before she got up kissing me on the cheek, “Goodnight again. I love you.”

“I love you too,” I told her, “Can I still go to the skate park tomorrow?”

“I’m going to say yes. Because I know where this behavior is coming from. Not everyone you know can have these problems and Mr. Lord’s grandson is going and I know he’s upstanding people. So yes, you can still go,” she told me.

I felt like I’d been hit in the chest with a stone. I wanted to tell her right then and there. That this was because of him. Because I was his and I didn’t want to be his. That when he had taken me to the zoo it hadn’t been the first time he’d seen me. That he hadn’t just shown up there but had been there since after she had gotten home and been pulled away from the motel. That when I had gotten him he had raped me. That he had made me do things. That he wasn’t the good guy she thought he was. That he didn’t just have feelings of affection for me because I was his grandson’s friend and reminded him of Teddy but because he wanted to do those things to me. To bite and lick and kiss me and other things.

I just turned over though keeping in mind Vic’s warning. That I couldn’t tell her anything until we were safe. That Lionel could make her disappear, take her away forever. I couldn’t deal with her disappearing. I needed her too much. I closed my eyes and somehow, probably out of pure exhaustion, fell asleep.

Chapter Text

At some point someone knocked on my door making me sit up. It was 1am. It was late. I just hoped it wasn’t uncle Ben coming into my room.

“Hey, your mom had to take John to the ER.” Cole said quietly.

“What?!” Now that woke me up, “Why?”

“Him and Pat got into some …your Uncle Ben and Tony,” Cole said, “He might have a broken arm.”

“Again? He just got his cast off,” I said.

“Yeah, I realize but Pat and I are watching the babies and what not,” Cole told me, “So they could go. I just thought I’d let you know so if you did wake up and they weren’t here you didn’t freak out.”

“Who is Tony?” I asked him.

“The director?” Cole asked me sighing at the clueless look on my face, “He makes videos for them. He’s kind of …gross.”

“They make videos?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” Cole said, “You have any idea how many I’ve been in?”

“No,” I said shaking my head, “Just keep an ear out if anyone cries or anything let me know and I’ll get up and take care of it.”

“Nah,” Cole said, “Pat knows how to do it. I think he’s feeding them right now.”

“With what? He doesn’t have boobs,” I said which caused Cole to snort with laughter.

“I’ll remind him of that. You do realize you guys have formula, right?” Cole asked me.

“Oh yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Well I’m going back to sleep for a while.”

“Ok,” Cole said coming over, “Go back to sleep.”

“I’d love to but you’re watching me,” I said quietly.

“Oh shit,” Cole said, “Yeah. Sorry, I’ll leave.”

“Thank you. Come get me if you need me but I’m supposed to go to the skate park tomorrow at like 11 so…,” I sighed.

“Can I come?” Cole asked me.

“I guess so,” I said, “Goodnight.”

“Yeah, night,” Cole said shutting the door behind him.

I don’t know why but I woke up three hours later. The sun not even up and I went to check on everyone finding Cole and Pat in the nursery.

“What do they feed these kids?” Cole muttered, “It’s going up his back practically.”

I heard this through the door before I opened it up to find Cole using the changing table holding both of Seamus’ ankles in one hand looking at his butt and lower back which was indeed covered in green poop. Cole’s face wrinkled in disgust as he looked lost trying to figure out what he should do next. Pat clearing his throat.

“He’s not hurting him. I taught him how to change diapers a couple hours ago,” Pat told me.

“I didn’t think he was. That is not a job for an amateur though,” I said going over and surveying the scene.

It was all the way up his back even on his onesie. I sighed as Cole looked over moving out of my way and letting me take care of it grabbing the shoulders of the onesie and pulling them down. Causing Seamus to fuss.

“Awe baby, it’s ok. It’s ok little guy,” Cole said to him rubbing his head, “Poor boy it’s just cold, isn’t it? Say but it’s so cold. Why am I naked?”

“Because I’m going wipe him down with baby wipes and get all the poop off,” I said.

“I know that,” Cole said shrugging his shoulders, “But he’s little. He doesn’t understand that.”

“Well he’ll understand in a minute that he has a clean butt,” I said causing Cole to laugh as I started wiping him down cleaning him up causing him to fuss more. Mary starting to make sounds like a she was a kitten. Starting to fuss because her brother was fussing.

“Mine is crying now,” Pat said from the rocking chair where he was sitting with her.

“They do that. All of them. Mike and Matt, Laura and Andy. When their this little one cries the other one cries,” I said getting another baby wipe continuing to clean Shay up.

“That bites,” Cole said.

“Well when that one gets loud she’ll wake up Mac and then it’ll be a real party,” I said smiling, “I know little boy I’m almost done. Big brother is almost done. You’re almost clean.”

I took another wipe wiping the last bit from his butt and around his parts and then got the baby powder before I put a new diaper on, “Cole you want to dress him?”

“How do I do that?” he asked me.

“Well, we’ll put jammies on without a onesie. Grab a pair of footies,” I said to which he handed me an outfit of made of fleece covered in little footballs and baseballs.

“Good, now you just put the little tiny feet in,” I said grabbing one of Seamus’ feet causing him to smile at me and giggle as I kissed the bottom of.

“There’s a happy boy,” Cole cooed at him, “They are so cute.”

“Yeah, they are,” I said, “And then you just zip…and snap,” I said pulling up the zipper and then snapping the snap at the top.

“Are you ever scared for them?” Cole asked me his eyes sad.

“All the time,” Pat answered for me and I nodded my head.

“I can understand why. Considering the stuff I’ve heard,” Cole said.

“What have you heard?” I asked Cole.

“Rumors from handlers about your Dad why he was allowed to join. He started doing things to John young. When he was like really young. I’m not even sure John knows,” Cole said.

“You haven’t told him any of this have you?” I asked my stomach feeling sick.

“Are you kidding?” Pat asked me shaking his head, “No. Never. I wouldn’t do that to him. You know what that would do?”

“Nothing good,” I said, “Have you heard anything about…”

“You?” Cole asked me and I nodded my head.

“Apparently he talks to my dad some about stuff. He talks about how he wanted to but how your mom never let you out of her site until he agreed to go to this counseling center. How she put you guys in boarding school to make sure your contact with him was limited. Because she knew that he was dangerous,” Cole said.

“And yet she stayed?” I said more to myself than to them.

“She loved him,” Pat said, “It’s hard to understand but, if you love someone sometimes you do stupid things. Like kiss them when you’re not supposed to. Trust them.”

“Why didn’t she leave?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Cole said giving me a sad smile, “I wish she would have. I wish that Pat’s mom would have. I know you wouldn’t be a part of my life now but, it would worth it to know you guys were happy. If you guys were happy somewhere. I’d hope most people are happy somewhere.”

“You said you were 10?” I asked him and he nodded his head.

“Yeah. Almost 10. Not as young as some people but, still took a lot to get used to,” he told me.

“I…,” I didn’t know what to say to that.

How could you ever just get used to it? Is that why he told me he got around because all of it was just a hand shake to him? He couldn’t be used to all of it. I mean he would barely talk to Teddy. Teddy who he had…I didn’t know what to say.

“I didn’t mean that. I meant just like my Dad. You never get used to that. He kind of threw me into that part,” Cole said.

“Do you guys want me to go so you can talk about this?” Pat asked.

“Talk about what?” I asked Pat.

I was trying to gage how much he knew. I knew Cole and he talked. They were brothers. They told each other things. I just hoped he hadn’t told him that. I saw Cole shake his head out of the corner of my eye.

“Look,” Pat said standing up and handing Mary to me, “He didn’t tell me who. But he said you have a contract. And that its new and you’re having issues.”

“But Cole has only had one contract,” I said.

“I know. But, we’re not supposed to talk about that stuff,” Pat told me, “I mean we do. I know who it was but I don’t know what happened because he doesn’t talk about it. And I don’t ask. So, do you want me to leave?”

“Yeah,” Cole said, “You can come back in a little bit.”

“Ok,” Pat said nodding as he walked out of the nursery and shut the door behind him.

“I didn’t mean that. You never get used to that. Having a camera pointed at you. Him inviting people over when you go to his house so they…,” Cole trailed off.

“Camera’s?” I asked.

“He likes to video tape it sometimes. It’s not …other than it being horribly embarrassing it’s not that bad because he usually doesn’t share those. I mean sometimes he will but not always. Most of the time not at all. Sometimes he’ll use you for introductions to the brotherhood as whole. Like guys who are just learning that it exists and then he’ll…he usually drugged me for that though. The first three times he did it I didn’t even know it happened. I woke up feeling sore figuring it was him. It wasn’t,” Cole told me.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked him.

“Because it will happen to you. Hopefully not right away but, it will. He has a pattern. He gets to know you, takes you places, does nice things for you. Buys you stuff. Trying to get you to just accept that maybe the ...the rape is something you owe him.
Something you let him do because he’s done nice things for you.

Then he’ll start letting other people come along on your trips. Sometimes it will be adults or other kids. And it’ll be weird because he won’t touch you. He won’t make you touch each other at first after three or four times though that will change. It starts with kissing, and touching and then it gets worse. He’ll touch one of you while the other one watches.

Eventually he’ll make you do it in front of him. Do that to each other. He makes you…use your mouth. Makes them use theirs and then. Then he’ll join you. And then he’ll drop you and switch to them. He did it to me and Kris, then he did it to me and Ted,” he said, “Kris and I fuck because we’ve done it before and without him there it doesn’t have to feel bad. I stopped for a while when I was with Justin. But Justin is gone now and Kris doesn’t mind it. It gets the feeling of them off his skin and off mine,” Cole told me.

“Just Kris?” I asked him.

“Usually. I mean I’ve done things with Christian to but for the most part Christian is straight. He’s had girlfriends. As close to one as he could. I mean you get caught before 18 with a girlfriend or boyfriend they don’t like it. If it’s someone who isn’t associated they punish you. If it’s someone who is they make an example of you,” Cole said.

“I don’t want a boyfriend. I just wanted to know what it was like to kiss you. To kiss someone that wasn’t one of them. Da made me make out with John. My first kiss was with my older brother,” I told him.

“I’m sorry,” Cole said, “It happens to a lot of bottoms though. Especially younger ones. James’ first kiss will probably be one of you. Not to mention…,” he said gesturing at the room around us. Meaning Andy, Mac and Seamus.

“I hope we get out. Mum’s trying. She said she’s going to get us out,” I told him.

“He’ll bring you back. If you’re in a contract with him he won’t stop looking for you,” Cole said, “I’m sure if the people who do this, get people out knew. They wouldn’t even try.”

“That’s why Vic doesn’t want me telling anyone?” I asked myself.

“Probably. He really wants to save you guys for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because he feels something for your mom or John or what but, he’s really trying to get you out. I talk to Flynn still. Flynn is Justin’s brother we’re still close. I think Vic just wants to stop it from happening to as many people as he can and you have three brothers that haven’t even been touched and three sisters. I think he wants to get them out before they get hurt. And with the rumors about your Dad the sooner the better,” Cole told me.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

“I really hope it works. I do. You don’t deserve this. The things he’s going to do. You don’t. None of you deserve this,” Cole said grabbing my hand.

“Neither do you,” I said quietly.

“I’m used to it now though,” Cole said.

“That’s not true. If you were ok with it, used to it. You’d be able to talk about it and you can’t. You nearly cried in that bathroom with me. You could barely look at Teddy,” I told him.

“Teddy is 11. He was seven when we…,” Cole went silent, “I can’t stand to look at him because it reminds me of what I did to him.”

“He didn’t give you a choice,” I told Cole.

“No. he didn’t,” Cole said.

“You heard Teddy. He forgives you,” I told him.

“I can’t imagine …being able to forgive myself for that,” Cole said shaking his head, “But anyway. It’s good if she’s going to try and get you guys away again. Hopefully everything will be ok.”

“I hope so too,” I said.

“Have you thought about helping your mum?” he asked me.

“How?” I asked.

“Well, you do know how to hack a computer according to John…,” Cole said.

“Yeah, so?” I asked him.

“If I were you I’d see if I could get into my dad’s emails and print some of them out. Between him and other brotherhood members. Give them to the police where ever you are going,” Cole said.

“How would that help?” I asked.

“The police will turn them over to the FBI. It could take down everything Will. Stop the whole thing where it is right now. All of those kids they’ve taken could go to homes where no one would ever do that to them. All of the kids they’ve kidnapped could go home. The whole thing could be stopped,” Cole told me.

He was right. All it would take was some emails and it would all be over. No one would have to get hurt. No one else would have to suffer. If we got out. Wouldn’t he know though? That I was in his computer? Wouldn’t he be able to tell what location they were from?

“How would I do that without him knowing I was looking at them though?” I asked him.

“There has to be a way. Does it actually tell the location the emails are being read at?” Cole asked.

“Not if they’ve already been opened,” I said.

“Then focus on those. As long as he doesn’t clean his trash file the emails will still be there and most people don’t so I doubt he does,” Cole told me.

“Ok, I’ll take a look at it later. For right now I’m going to go back to sleep. You probably should too since you want to go to the skate park with me,” I told him.

“You’re right. As soon as your mom and John come back I will,” Cole told me.

“Ok, see you later,” I told him.

“Yep,” Cole said and I walked out to see Pat standing in the kitchen holding someone. Someone tiny but all of the babies and Andy and Laura were in the nursey.

I went into the kitchen to hear Pat talking softly into James’ ear as he held him, “You’re ok. John and Will are ok. None of the bad men are here. Your Mum and John just had to leave because John had a boo boo that’s all. They’ll be back.”

“No, he took them,” James whimpered, “He took them.”

“No bud,” I said coming in them both turning to look at me, “The bad man didn’t take anyone ok?”

Pat smiled and handed him over to me.

“I went to your room and you weren’t there. I thought…he took you so I went to tell John and he wasn’t there either. Then Pat saw me and he told me that Cole was in the nursery with you but he wouldn’t let me go in. I thought he’d taken you away and you were never going to come back. Not ever,” he whimpered into my shoulder.

This poor kid. Mum said he wasn’t doing well at school because he was worried about everything. Like he had separation anxiety. It was because of Da and Lionel. Because of what they had done to him. One of the many reasons he kept climbing into bed with me.

“Well, no one took me anywhere. I’m right here. I was just having a private talk with Cole about some stuff. Do you want to go to bed?” I asked him

“Will you come to bed with me? Or can I come to bed with you?” he asked me.

I didn’t want him to but I felt like he wouldn’t actually go to sleep and stay sleeping if he wasn’t with me. So, I gave in smiling, “Yeah you can come to bed with me.”

“Ok, because I don’t want the bad man to come,” he told me.

“He’s not going to come,” I assured him, “I promise he’s not going to come here ok? He wants to be with Da and Da is in New York. The bad man is with him ok?”

“You swear?” He asked me.

“Yeah, come on. Let’s go back to bed,” I said, “Thanks Pat.”

“No problem,” he said, “You guys done talking?”

“Yeah,” I told Pat.

“Come on kiddo,” I said to James, “Back to sleep and I’m sure when mum and John get home they will tell you everything.”

“Ok,” he said, “Willy?”

“Yeah?” I asked him.

“I love you,” he told me.

That made me smile. It made me not worry about what Cole had suggested or why it was taking so long for John and mom to get done at A&E. I was glad to know that he loved me. That they all loved me.

“Ok bud. I love you too,” I said carrying him off to the bedroom and climbing into bed with him.

“Will?” he asked me as I pulled the covers over us.

“Yeah?” I asked him.

“Is he really with Da?” he asked me.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head.

“Are they doing to other people what they did to me?” he asked me.

I figured they probably were but, I didn’t want to tell him that. I didn’t want him to know. He was too little. He was already scared of being at school because he was afraid it meant mum was going to get hurt or someone else. That the “bad man” was going to hurt us. He didn’t need to know other little kids were probably getting hurt. So, I smiled at him holding him close.

“Don’t worry about it ok? I don’t know if they are or not but hopefully not,” I said.

“I really hope not too,” he told me, “Because they don’t have a Willy and a mummy and John to take care of them like I do.”

“It’s ok bud. Hopefully they do have someone,” I said, “Let’s try not to think about it and get some more sleep.”

“Ok,” he told me settling in next to me.

Next time I woke up it was nearing 9 am me waking up when James crawled over top of me to get out of the bed and use the bathroom. He looked tired. Like he had a hard time sleeping but, I felt ready to get up. Ready to get off and go to the skate park with Finn and Teddy and everyone else. I was excited that I had even been invited.

You have to understand I was the quiet kid. The one who was younger than everyone else and smarter than everyone else. Or at least that’s what they thought. I would often hear off handed comments from the guys in class while the teacher was teaching or if they asked a question to the class they would often say “why don’t you ask McGregor he knows the answer. He knows everything” I got picked on a lot for being shorter than everyone else because I was younger so naturally I was shorter. I was surprised I wasn’t being picked on more.

That Finn and Teddy along with Quinn, Julian and Todd didn’t all pick on me too. Sometimes someone would say something mean to me as they passed me at the lunch tables and I knew Finn and Quinn would give them dirty looks. I knew they stuck up for me but I still found it hard to believe they would want to hang out with me. That they actually liked me enough to invite me somewhere with them.

When I left the room after getting James to lay back down for a while I found mum up feeding Malachay in the kitchen, “Hi mum is John ok?” I asked her.

“Yeah just a sprain. Do you know someone named Tony?” Mum asked me.

“No,” I said shaking my head, “Why?”

“He was here last night. With your uncle,” Mum said before sighing.

“What?” I asked her numbly.

“They got a hold of Pat and John last night. Speaking of…you are not allowed to…”

“It was one time. It was a mistake and I’m sorry. It won’t happen again,” I told her again.

“Ok. I believe you. That’s not what I was going to say though. I don’t want you going downstairs by yourself. I will be walking everyone to and from the bus stop as long as he is here and your Da is not. He seems to have issues controlling himself. He was hurting John last night. Pat came and told me what was going on and I intervened. So, when you are ready to leave the house let me know,” she said, “I’ll walk you out.”

“Ok mum,” I said, “Cole told me that he makes movies. Tony.”

“Ok,” Mum said nodding her head, “Don’t worry about what happened with Cole. I don’t want you to think that’s what I think of you. I just worry.”

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “Cole wants to come with me. To the skate park.”

“Ok well, I’ll walk you and Cole down then,” she told me.

“Well I should get dressed and what not. We’re meeting around 11,” I told her.

“Go get dressed then,” she said.

It didn’t take me long to get dressed and then I sat down and ate something before Cole came out of John’s bedroom already wearing his clothes and grabbing something to eat. When we told mum, we were ready we both walked out. Before Cole cleared his throat.

“Mrs. McGregor? Can I talk to you about something?” Cole asked.

“Sure,” she said, “Will if you want to start walking you can I think Cole wants to talk alone.”

“Ok mum,” I said, “I’ll walk slowly.”

“Not too slowly,” Mum and Cole said in unison.

“Ok then, not too slowly,” I said walking out the front door and starting down the drive way. It didn’t take long for Cole to catch up him smiling at me.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“Nothing,” he said, “Let’s just say your mum agreed to something that I am more than happy to do.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Cole said, “However I think she likes me now.”

“Really? After she caught us I thought she might kill us,” I pointed out.

“Well, don’t worry about it now. I would love to hug you but…,” he shrugged his shoulders before he muttered something taking a step or two in front of me so that I had to stop walking and look at him, “It’ll be better soon, ok?”

“Ok?” I said feeling my eyebrows raised as he looked at me, “Do you think a kiss on the cheek counts as kissing?”

“I have no idea why?” I asked before he leaned in and kissed my cheek wrapping his arms around me, giving me a hug.

“You had a really good conversation with her then?” I asked.

“Best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Cole assured me, “Now off to the skate park.”

It didn’t take us long to get there. We could already see Finn and Julian in the distance as we walked up them waving me over excitedly when they noticed us approaching. Finn had been right about his condition when I talked to him Friday a cast on his left arm.

“Hey, what happened to your arm?” I asked him.

“Nothing,” Finn said, “Don’t worry about it. Teddy is on his way. His grandpa doesn’t let him walk anywhere so he’s driving him. Hi Cole.”

“Hey,” Cole said smiling, “How are you guys doing?”

“I’m good. How are you? How is Lydia?” I asked him.

“Still 4 months old,” he told me, “I’m ok I guess. Mostly just tired. The weekend always makes me feel tired.”

“The weekend always makes you tired?” Cole said, “My weekend is usually long and hard and shoved up my…”

“Eww no,” Julian said shaking his head, “Mine too so just no.”

At that I laughed, “Sorry,” I said sheepishly as Julian eyed me.

“Your dad?” Cole asked.

“Sexton, Joseph,” Julian said.

“Who is that?” I asked.

“Really? I thought he was more into girls,” Cole said.

“Sometimes. He’s not really picky on it. I wish he was,” Julian said.

“Sorry to hear that,” Cole said.

“It is what it is,” Julian said shrugging his shoulders, “I thought you were here to learn how to skate board?”

“I am. And to hang out,” I answered him.

“Well, what you want to do…” he said putting his board on the ground is his right foot near the front of the board, “Is use it like scooter kind of. Just put it down and use your back foot to push you forward, give it one good push and then.” He jumped slightly shifting his weight as his used his back foot to propel himself forward but that foot on the back of the board as he coasted along the pavement. Showing me how to do it.

“What if I fall?” I asked him.

“You better hope you fall on your butt,” Julian said, “Finn your board.”

Finn put it on the ground, “Go on. Try it out.”

I sighed putting my right foot on the front of the board, feeling slightly unsteady as if the wheels wanted to roll on their own. Wanted me to move forward before I was ready to. I had never been on skate board before. I had roller bladed sometimes but, never really skate boarded. It felt weird. The board under my foot as I stood on it before I gave it a small push forward trying to balance myself on it before I fell backwards. A weird vibration going up my back as I landed on the pavement under me.

“Are you ok?” Finn asked standing over top of me smiling offering me his casted arm to help me up.

“I’ve been through worse,” I said as black Limo pulled up when Finn helped me to my feet.

I felt cold even though the air was a mild 60 degrees. It might as well have been 50 below. Cole looking up at what I was looking at. Watching the black Limo, him coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around my chest causing me to jump before I realized it was him.

“It’s not him. It’s not him,” he told me as the back door opened and out stepped Teddy.

I exhaled in relief. I don’t know why I thought it would be him. I knew he was in New York but seeing the Limo had set me on edge. Ready to have him jump out and say hi. Instead Teddy jumping and going up to the driver side front widow saying something before the driver pulled away.

“What’s up?” Finn asked me before he turned to look at the limo driving away, “It’s ok man. Don’t worry about it. He uses a limo where ever he goes. You ok Cole?”

“Yeah, thanks for asking,” he said letting go of me.

“Are you hurt?” Julian asked me.

“No, I’m ok,” I answered.

My back felt a little sore but, I was used to being sore. I wasn’t seriously hurt more shaken by the appearance of the limo. Tedding getting on his board just the same way Julian had showed me giving only a small push before he glided over to us.

“Hey guys,” Teddy said, “Where is Todd?”

“He’ll be around in a little bit. I was going to teach Will how to skate board first but, he just gave it his first try. He like wiped out dude, fell right on his back,” Julian told him.

“He’ll get better. Want to show me what you did?” Ted asked looking at me.

I felt frozen still my heart rate finally just starting to slow down, my frame still pointed in the direction the limo had driven off before Ted gave me a sad smile, “They make me use it. Luke and me. They make us take it just about everywhere. Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, ok,” I said shaking myself out of it. Stopping my mind from seeing the inside of the Limo I had been in, from watching him remove my shoes and socks slowly, meticulously.

“Well go on,” Julian said, encouraging me to try again.

I sighed putting my right foot back on the board before Ted stopped me, “Aren’t you left handed?” he asked me.

“Yeah? Why?” I asked.

“Well everyone tends to balance a little more to their dominant side. So, why don’t you try using your right foot to move you and keep your left on the board?” he said.

“Ok,” I said switching feet and giving a small push before putting my right foot on the board gliding a couple of feet forward.

“There you go,” Teddy said smiling at me, “Now try it again.”

I did this time going farther, the wheels making me feel slightly unsteady. After two or three more tries everyone else was joining me just gliding back and forth across the pavement with me. After doing it for a while Julian rode up a ramp using his body weight to turn him in a circle coming back towards me.

I didn’t think I could do that. That looked hard. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do that. I sighed feeling out of place as everyone else did the same.

“It’s ok,” Cole said behind me, “You’ll figure it out. It just takes time.”

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’m not sure I like skate boarding.”

“That’s ok. There are other things you can with them I’m sure. I know for a fact that Finn surfs and Ted. You could do that with them,” Cole said to which Ted nodded his head.

“Honestly I like surfing more than I like skate boarding. It’s not nearly as painful when you fall. Too cold for that right now though,” he told me.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

I mean I didn’t think it was that cold but ocean water tends to be colder than the air around it. I knew that. So, while the air around us was 60 the ocean water was closer to 40 or 30 which would be a good way to freeze your ass off. That didn’t stop people from hanging out at the beach though. I knew people went there to just walk along the shore and play in the sand. That often it didn’t matter what time of year it was.

“You guys want to grab lunch? If we walk out of the neighborhood and down the main street we can hit the Coney,” Finn said.

“Aren’t we waiting for…,” just then someone skated up going up and ramp before turning around and nearly crashing into Finn.

“Me?” Todd asked smiling, “Well I’m here and I could go for some grub.”

“Ok then,” Julian said as we started walking away from the park.

We walked for a few minutes in silence before Teddy looked at Cole, “How are you doing Cole?”

“I’m awesome,” Cole said giving him a small smile, “And you?”

“I’m good. It’s a nice chance to get out of the house. Luke is with grandpa Greg so it’s cool.”

“Grandpa Greg?” I asked.

“Yeah he’s like a total GL so Luke is pretty safe unless he gets frisky. Which he won’t because he doesn’t drink while he has us usually,” Ted said nodding his head.

“So, he’s more into girls too?” I asked.

“Unless he’s horny and no one else is around,” Ted said nodding his head, “How are you doing Will?”

“I’m ok. My dad went to New York,” I told him.

“Yeah I heard. Some wall street stuff going on papa wants him for,” Ted said, “He said he’s going to keep him up there for a while. So that’s lucky don’t you think?”

“Not really,” I sighed, “It means Uncle Ben is in control of the house. Mum wants us sleeping in groups and keeping our rooms barricaded just in case. We’re not allowed to use the rest of the house or even be in it unless we’re leaving to go to school or coming home.”

“Isn’t it like that anyway? I mean I get it. When I’m at Papa’s I’m only allowed to be in his wing. It’s like a small apartment with kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a living room not to mention three bedrooms. One which I share with Luke,” Ted said.

“Where do you guys live that you have wings?” Julian asked.

“It’s not a wing, it’s a level,” I said, “Of the house just for us kids. 2 living rooms and music room, a kitchen, seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.”

“That’s one level of your house?” Julian asked me and I nodded my head, “How many levels does your house have?”

“Four,” I said, “I know it’s weird but, four.”

“How many bedrooms?” Julian asked me.

“14,” I answered simply.

“Ok,” Julian said, “I have 5 bedrooms in my house and 4 full bathrooms. One kitchen and one living room.”

“Ok,” I said.

“Are we comparing house size? Because my house has 7 bedrooms 3 bathrooms, 2 living rooms once of which we use as more of an office and a kitchen with a formal dining room,” Finn said.

“I don’t even know how many bedrooms the Villa has so don’t ask me. All I know is I have only seen the butler pantry once and it has a ballroom. My house has four bedrooms though.” Teddy said adding his input into the conversation as we finally got to the Coney.

“Why are we talking about this?” Cole asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said shaking my head.

We walked past a sign that said, “seat yourself” taking a seat in a large booth as some girl with brown curly high piled in a bun on her head came over and put glasses of water on the table one of each of us.

“I forgot to bring money,” I told the table feeling slightly embarrassed by that fact, my face flushing a little bit.

“Don’t worry,” Cole said, “I’ve got you covered.”

“Really?” I asked frowning at him.

I mean it wasn’t like I was poor. I had just forgotten to ask my mom for five bucks. He didn’t need to pay for me. I would have been fine with just water but he looked at me and smiled.

“Yeah, whatever you want man,” Cole told me.

“So, who is doing what tomorrow? Maybe we can have this guy skate boarding like a pro by the end of the month? What do you guys say?” Julian asked everyone.

“Only if he pays me,” Todd said.

“Don’t people usually pay you Todd?” Teddy said smiling.

“Dude, you’re sick,” Todd said but he still laughed, “Don’t they pay you?”

“Not really,” Teddy admitted, “Who does get paid?”

“We’re talking about what I think we’re talking about right?” Finn enquired.

“Probably,” Teddy said, “Do you get paid?”

“No. My dad’s an asshole. What do you think?”

“Cole?” Teddy asked.

“Yeah. Sometimes.”

“Will?” Julian asked looking at me.

“What?” I asked still confused as to what they were talking about.

“Come here,” Cole said gesturing for me to lean forward so he could whisper in my ear, “He means do you get paid for any of the…you know?”

I pulled away shocked looking at all of them as they started to laugh. Me feeling the heat rush to my face. I didn’t even know I could get paid. Could I get paid?

“Huh…no?” I said quietly, “Can I?”

“Technically if you ask for money they will give it to you if they’re feeling nice and you have a contract going. Or if you ask them if there’s some …,” Julian did the charades move for film, “They’ll usually give you some.”

I didn’t know what to think of that. Money for…that? I wasn’t sure I was ready for that let alone being paid for it. Then I would really be a whore. Matt would never let me live that down if he knew I got paid to sleep with people. I didn’t want to get paid. I would never ask them for money. I knew I wouldn’t.

“Can we not…?” I trailed off quietly.

“Yeah,” Finn said nodding his head, “I don’t want to talk to about it either.”

“Are you going to go to the middle school dance?” Finn asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“The girls are going to be there. From St. Bernie’s. It’s actually really fun. They are holding it from like 5 to 7 next Saturday,” Julian said, “Why don’t you come?”

“I might,” I said quietly.

“The upper school dance is from like 8 to 10,” Cole said.

“Is it weird that I don’t know many girls?” I asked them.

“I suppose not, I mean you have more brothers than anything,” Julian said as the waitress came back over and took our orders. I ordered two Coney dogs. Because I’m simple and someone else was paying while I remember Cole ordering himself a hamburger.

“Are you going to the dance Cole?” Finn asked him.

“Nah, I danced last night,” he said raising an eyebrow at Finn and winking.

“For who?” Julian asked frowning.

“It was a private show,” Cole said laughing as he looked at my face.

“Really?” Todd frowned, “I didn’t think he was the type for that.”

“He’s not,” Cole said, “He’s too young for my tastes anyway.”

“Your food gentlemen,” the waitress said starting to put plates of food on the table in front of us.

“You ordered hot dogs?” Todd asked me.

“Yeah. Why?” I asked.

“Why would you order hot dogs? You like hot dogs?” Julian asked.

I felt my face glowing red. I should have thought better about my food choices. I knew what they were getting at. What he was saying as he snickered at me.

“Be nice Julian,” Finn said shaking his head at him.

“It’s a joke,” Ted said, “It’s not like he asked if he liked big juicy bratwurst.”

“Real subtle Ted,” Todd said shaking his head.

“What? Isn’t that like a code word for it?” Ted said.

“I thought it was a big juicy sausage so any phallic shaped meat counts I guess. Just because he likes to eat hot dogs though, doesn’t mean he likes to “eat hot dogs,” Cole said.

“You would be the one to ask, wouldn’t you?” Julian asked him.

“You have a problem with me?” Cole asked Julian.

“I just think it’s weird ok? I think it’s weird that you could…and then…,” Julian sighed, “It’s weird.”

“You ever tried it?” Cole asked him waiting for an answer as he stared at Cole silently, “Then don’t knock it.”

“I don’t need to try it. I know what it feels like we all do,” Julian said, “There is something wrong with you.”

“It feels different,” Cole said, “So you’re some kind of homophobe?”

“Can you blame me? It’s nasty.” Julian said.

“There is a huge difference between that and the other thing. Julian, you know that,” Finn said.

Was he saying I was just as bad as they were? I would never hurt a kid. Not ever. I didn’t believe in that. That was beyond sick.

“He’s right Julian,” Ted said, “Huge difference. Regular gay people don’t touch little kids.”

“How would you know?” Julian asked.

“Maybe because I’m gay? Or maybe I’m not. I don’t know,” Ted said which caused Julian to nearly fall out of the booth where he was sitting next to Ted.

“You can’t be serious,” Julian said looking shocked, “You can’t be a fucking fudge packer.”

So that’s what Ted had meant when he said Lionel was into confused boys. As far as I knew Louis was the oldest, who then probably did something to Kris. Who I knew had a causal relationship with Cole. Who had done things to Ted, who apparently was also gay and then there was me. Along with probably next my little brother who wanted to marry some boy named Robby. So, we all had more than just apparently being quiet and shy in common. At least at one point because Cole was honestly anything but shy and Teddy I wouldn’t have used to word shy to describe them.

“Julian,” Finn said standing up, “There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”

“Fuck there isn’t. You can’t say that. How can you fucking say that Finn?” Julian hissed

“Because I know plenty of gay people and there’s nothing wrong with them,” Finn told him.

“Who besides these two clowns?” he asked.

“Other people. And there’s nothing wrong with it,” Finn said.

Finn didn’t even look at me. Didn’t even glance my way but, I knew he was talking about me. That he was sticking up for me. Protecting me. He had told me he wouldn’t tell anyone that I thought I was. And he was keeping that promise.

“You have a problem with gay people I don’t need you around. So, you can decide now whether you have a problem or not. If you don’t have a problem sit down. If you do go and don’t bother coming back,” Finn said quietly.

“Fine,” Julian said throwing ten dollars down on the table. Enough to pay for his meal before he walked away.

That was something I hadn’t expected. I mean I didn’t hang out with Julian a lot but, I didn’t realize he hated gay people. I could understand why when our branch of the brotherhood was known as “boy lovers”. He looked at Todd who shook his head at Julian as he stalked off.

“That was different,” Finn said.

“He just has issues,” Todd said.

“We all have issues Todd,” Finn said.

“Not like him. He dad claims up and down he’s not gay and then he makes Julian do horrible things so…,” Todd said quietly.

“Hey, my dad and my brother are horrible nasty people but I don’t hate gay people. Some of my best friends are gay people. I can understand why he might be upset about some stuff that goes on but, that doesn’t mean that Julian’s dad is gay,” Finn said quietly.

“Pedophilia is different from homosexuality,” I said barely above a whisper.

“What?” Finn asked me.

“Nothing. Sorry,” I said.

“You don’t have to be shy Will,” Todd said, “If you want to say something and don’t want us to share it we won’t. Ok? If you have something to say you should feel comfortable enough to say it.”

“Pedophilia is different from homosexuality. Pedophilia is when you are attracted to underage people where homosexuality is when you are attracted to people of the same gender. Supposedly that’s still different from actually being a child molester though. A lot of pedophiles don’t ever touch kids. Not like our Da’s…” I said quietly.

“I didn’t know that,” Cole said, “So what they’re like nice priest and they just don’t ever do it?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Pretty much.”

“I wish them luck and say they have huge balls. I couldn’t ever go without sex,” Cole said.

“Eww,” Todd said throwing a French fry at Cole.

“No, like real sex is totally different. You’ll get your chance. You’ll like it I’m sure,” Cole said.

“With a girl. Probably yeah, I can agree with that,” Todd said as Cole smiled and ate the French fry that landed on his shirt.

“Girls can be nice to look at. It feels really different though,” Cole said.

“Yeah, giving feels really different from getting,” Finn agreed.

“No, just like all of it. The way it…feels. Vaginas have their own lubrication system. So, it feels really different,” Cole explained.

“You’ve done it with a girl?” Ted asked his eyes going wide.

“I’m…,” I sighed feeling how red my face was.

“I’m done eating too,” Todd said, “You want to go outside with me?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head.

He could tell I was uncomfortable. I was thankful for the escape. I didn’t want to talk about sex. Not when I knew I had to go home and it was only through the grace of god my dad wasn’t there. That it was only luck that I wouldn’t have to have it later. If I managed to avoid my uncle. I looked at Cole and he said, “Don’t leave I need to walk you home.”

“Ok,” I said.

Todd and I went outside and he cleared his throat awkwardly, “I don’t like talking about it either.” He said suddenly after we sat on a bench outside.

“It’s not that I don’t want to, I just. It’s weird,” I said quietly.

“And you don’t know me that well. You hang out with Finn and Ted a lot more than me,” Todd said.

“Not too well, no,” I admitted.

“Well, what do you want to know about me?” Todd asked me.

“How old are you?” I asked him.

“That’s an easy one,” Todd said smiling, “I’m 12. I’m surprised you didn’t ask me who I was or who I’m related to. You know. How I fit into all of this.”

“That’s all family stuff,” I said quietly.

“That’s what your dad tells you too huh? That we shouldn’t talk about it because it’s “family stuff”? Look it’s a part of who we are. It’s sad but true. It’s something that we’re going to have to deal with whether we like it or not. Whenever we make a new friend we’re going to have to explain why we don’t like being tackled to the ground from behind, or why they can’t sneak up on us. Why we don’t like wrestling and noogies and all of that stuff,” Todd pointed out to me.

“I suppose so. Yeah,” I agreed quietly.

“I’d rather just be honest than hall off and hit someone. So, I tell them that my dad beats me. It’s almost the truth but not exactly,” Todd commented.

“Do they believe that?” I asked him.

“They seem to,” he answered me, “What else can I tell you about myself? I have 3 siblings. Or 2 depending on how you look at it.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Well, you know the brotherhood. That they take kids,” Todd said and I nodded my head.

“My step-mom passed away three years ago. A car accident,” Todd said looking at nothing, “He started…he got worse again. Like he was after my mom died. At first it was just me and I expected it would be Annabel but, he didn’t do anything to her. He still doesn’t. It was Rick. My little brother. About six months ago he changed his mind and took in a foster kid from the brotherhood.”

“What? I thought they lived at the Villa. Those kids,” I said.

“Most of them do but someone sold him. He’s little tiny he can’t stay at the Villa and they offered him to dad. Dad said yes. So now we have Devon. Rick as mad at first. He kept asking Dad why he was allowed to have a human but we couldn’t have a dog so Dad brought us a dog,” Todd said smiling a little bit.

“What? Your dad got you a dog because your little brother said it wasn’t fair he was allowed to have a human?” I asked confused.

“Well, Rick is 5,” Todd said.

“Oh,” I said quietly, “Do you think he understands that…?” I trailed off.

“I don’t think so. I don’t think he understands anything about it. Da hasn’t passed him out or anything and…Da doesn’t believe in hurting. When he started to…you know. I was 8 maybe. He did it and it felt weird but it didn’t hurt because probably I was used to it a little bit. Him touching me and stuff. Two weeks later he …I got branded. Before that I didn’t realize it would be anyone but him.”

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly thinking about it, “I had my brother. I knew my uncle probably would but, I didn’t know about all of this until I met Cole.”

“The kids he brought home, he’s one,” Todd said, “I can’t imagine…he cries at night sometimes. When Dad’s in the room alone with him. I don’t think he’s…you know. But he’s probably touching him. I know he’s probably touching him.”

“That has to be scary,” I said, not sure what else to say. Not sure why he was telling me any of this when we left the table because I didn’t want to talk about it in the first place.

Todd nodded his head, “We have a great Dane. He’s huge, tries to sit in my lap and chews on everything.”

I smiled at that. That sounded more like something my speed. I’d never had a dog. I would have loved to have a dog or a cat. I however had doubts about ever being allowed to have one. I did after all have a little brother that killed lizards and bunnies. I hated to imagine what he might do to a dog or a cat if given the chance.

“So, it’s a puppy?” I asked.

“Dino,” Todd said nodding his head, “He’s 8 months old. He’s super friendly though.”

“I’ve never had a dog,” I said.

“Really?” Todd asked me.

“Yeah,” I said, “I don’t know why. Just never have.” I lied.

Just then the door to the Coney opened everyone coming out behind Cole, “Are you ready to be walked home?”

“Yeah,” I said standing up.

“Why do you need to walk him home?” Finn asked.

“A favor for my friend. His mom doesn’t want him walking alone and his Uncle is around. Just safer this way,” Cole said.

“Oh,” Finn said, “Good luck with that Will.”

“Yeah,” I said, “Thanks.”

“I could drive him home,” Teddy said, “I mean wouldn’t it be easier?”

“Nah, he’s in-between here and home,” Cole said before he whispered something in Teddy’s ear which caused Teddy to nod in understanding.

“We’ll see you Monday,” Ted said nodding his head as Cole and I started walking away.

“Are you ok?” Cole asked me.

“Yeah. I don’t know it just makes me nervous,” I said.

“Sex?” Cole asked me.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head.

“You do know it’s different,” Cole said glancing at me as we continued walking, “From what they do.”

“Yeah. I know I just…,” I felt my face getting warm, “It’s hard to imagine…ever….” I trailed off.

“You’re young. There’s plenty of time to figure it out ok? Don’t worry about it,” Cole said.

“He’s going to make me,” I said quietly,” I know he will. I just…I don’t want to.”

“Even that’s different from real ok?” Cole said sadly holding his hand out of me to take, “You just do what you’re told. Don’t worry about the rest.”

I sighed taking his hand. Feeling the warmth of it. Trying to remind myself that it didn’t mean anything. That he was just offering me the only comfort he could. I thought about what it probably looked like to people driving around us, or others walking down the street.

We were both tall and lean with blond hair. His eyes were Hazel and mine were green. He was older than I was. By about 3 years almost four. We probably looked like brothers. More like brothers than John and I did. No one would have thought anything of it. Just an older brother walking his little brother home. No one would know by watching us that we were just property. Property of an old man who didn’t care about us, or how we felt. The idea hitting me like a ton of bricks stopping me in my tracks. Cole not noticing until my lack of movement tugged on my arm.

“What’s wrong?” Cole asked me quietly.

“No one knows,” I mumbled apparently not loud enough for him to understand.

“What did you say Will?” he asked me quietly.

“No one knows,” I said shaking my head, “No one knows that somethings wrong. No one knows. Not by looking at us.”

“If they did they would kill them. If we told anyone they would kill them. Flynn tried to tell a teacher once. He told me. She died in a car accident. The weird thing about it was there were open beer cans and stuff and said she had been drinking but Flynn was 14 at a time. She talked about how her dad was an alcoholic and so she would never touch the stuff. The air bags went off and chopped off her head. Some type of faulty wiring or something. But then she had Alcohol in her system, and the whole thing was just weird. They told Flynn that they had killed her. Because he had a bruise on his neck and apparently it was big one. She asked him where he got it and he said he didn’t know.

My Dad was messing with other kids at that point. I was still little and I didn’t know and neither did my mom who was in the process of dying. But it was my dad. He had shackled him in the villa by his neck. Raped him. He couldn’t deal with keeping it a secret anymore so he told. He told and they killed her. He tortured Flynn. Before I ever knew who Flynn was. Do you know what my dad does for the brotherhood?” Cole asked me.

“No,” I said as Cole let go of my hand and stood behind me rubbing my shoulders for a second before forcing me to walk forwards.

“He looks for kids no one will miss. And tells Lionel where to find them. Then Lionel kidnaps them. Or more he has someone else kidnap them. Then they get moved. To wherever. Or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t care to find out,” Cole explained.

“Are you saying he killed them?” I asked him.

“Not usually but he watches them. Then someone takes them and then…yeah, anyway,” Cole sighed.

“I didn’t know that,” I said.

“Well, don’t tell anyone. You’d figure it out eventually,” Cole said.

“So, are you going to movie tomorrow?” he asked me.

“I think mum said I’d be going, yeah,” I said as we saw the house in the distance.

“Fun I think they’re making you watch the kids with one of the girls,” Cole said, “So you’re going to go see the prince of Egypt.”

“I’ll watch it. If Matt’s going trust me you guys need someone to watch him,” I said.

“He’s still being…Matt?” Cole asked me.

“Yep,” I sighed, “You have no idea how much he disturbs me sometimes.”

“Oh, I have an idea. He’s very…he reminds me of someone we both know,” Cole said.

“Don’t say that. I don’t even want to think about it. I mean I’ve never asked mum or Da if he was always like that but if he was I could see them being very much the same in a lot of ways. However, I really don’t want to think about it,” I told Cole.

“I understand that. I want to think about…our kiss,” he said causing me to stop and look at him in shock my face flushing red as I thought about it.

It had been a good kiss. Not the first one so much that had me questioning how mortified Cole was to be the object of my affection but more, the second one. The one that we had shared on my bed in the dark. Him just kissing me. Gently, calm.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Cole said quietly sounding amused, “I meant we can revisit it in a year or two if I’m still around. If you’re still around. You know? I didn’t mean we were going to do anything about it right now. You understand why for several reasons don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said feeling myself calm down. So, he was telling me he liked it too. But, that it was too complicated, that again I was too young. Probably too immature. I supposed that made sense. I did blush every time anyone even mentioned any of that. I always felt my face getting warm every time I even thought about it. So maybe they were all right. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to look at anything romantically.

“Good, as long as we agree,” he said, “You know I’m here for you to talk to still though, right?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “I know. You’ve already helped me loads.”

“Good. I’m still here though. Even after helping you loads,” Cole said copying my accent a little bit making me chuckle.

“Do I really sound like that? I mean, I know everyone else sounds different but, you all do realize I was born here? Right?” I asked him.

“Yeah but from the time you were like six you’ve been over there. That’s a while to be there. Your last five siblings were born there. I mean you even call that place home. So why can’t I poke a bit of fun at you and your accent?” he asked me.

“I’m not saying you can’t,” I said shrugging my shoulders, “Just saying I’m not that different. I already feel it starting to fade. The way I enunciate my words, I’m sounding more like everyone else every day.”

“Don’t,” Cole said causing me to look up from the side walk.

“What?” I asked him quietly.

“Don’t let yourself sound like everyone else. I like your voice. I think it’s different and different can be good sometimes,” he said and I nodded my head, “And your stop sir.” He said bowing at me causing me to laugh.

“Thank you,” I said, “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

Cole frowned looking behind me causing me to turn. There was a cruiser in the drive way. His cruiser, Hanks. I felt like I was choking. What was he doing there? He shouldn’t have been there. Not at all. I sighed as Cole looked at me

“Morning for mass and then after Mass I think your mom is going to drive us to the movies. I’m going to go because…that might be a huge problem.” Cole told me.

“No kidding, I’ll see you later,” I said walking around the gate and in the kitchen door.

So, I walked in the kitchen door I heard the front door slam and a car starting up. I raced up the stairs to hear mum hushing John. Something bad had happened. I didn’t know what it was but, I didn’t want to check. I knew he wouldn’t want me to see. That he wouldn’t be ok with me checking on him especially if Hank had hurt him.

I went upstairs the lift opening to shrill high pitched cries me turning to look into the living room finding James trying to rock a baby with red curly hair trying to get Mary to stop screaming. “I know baby, it’s ok. Mummy will be back soon Mary,” he said to her.

“What’s going on?” I asked him as he looked at me wide eyed before holding her up.

“Poor girl, I know it’s so hard. Say it’s so hard being so little Willy, just change me, change my nappy. That’s what you say isn’t it?” I cooed to her, her tears stopping as she listened to me speak.

“What’s wrong with her?” James asked me.

“She’s probably wet. Usually she gets fussier for wet than anything else,” I said walking to the nursery with her to change her as James followed me, “Where are Mike and Matt.”

“Uncle Ben came upstairs after you guys all left and he made them go with him. I don’t know where they are but mummy came out of the nursery and they still hadn’t come back,” he told me.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head.

My heart hurt for them. I knew where they probably were. If they weren’t in the house they were at the Villa. They were probably getting branded. If that was the case they wouldn’t be home at all today and might even miss Mass tomorrow morning. That’s what would really tell us what had happened to them. I didn’t imagine either of them handling that well. After my branding I wanted to just curl up and die. Mum had made sure I stayed home that Monday just because it hurt to move. Dr. Palmer had come over to check on me. It had seemed like a busy couple of days. They were only 8. It was too little for this. For any of this.

“Are they going to be ok? Did Uncle Ben take them to the bad man?” James asked me.

“Don’t worry about it bud,” I told him as I threw Mary’s used diaper into the hamper before I powdered her bottom and put a fresh one on, “Everything will be ok.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was right. That Uncle Ben had taken them to the bad man, that when they came back they would be hurt. That they wouldn’t feel good. However, I couldn’t deal with him breaking down in clinging to me. Not when there were 6 other people that were solely dependent on me until mum and John got back. Not when 5 of those people were under the age of 3. As soon as Mary was changed I grabbed another diaper and changed Seamus on the floor. He had a poopy diaper for me and was glad I had been just in time to change it before he started screaming.

“Do you and Cat want to watch a movie?” I asked James.

“Ariel,” Cat told me.

“I’ll watch it. Is mummy coming back soon?” James asked quietly, barely above a whisper.

It reminded me of that first week. That first week after Lionel had hurt him, Da had hurt him. The way he curled around his knees he was hugging into his chest on the couch. The way he was trying to keep himself small and his words quiet. He was trying to hide how scared he was. Mum said he had been having anxiety issues and I had only seen it at night but this, this was definitely a child that was having problems. The fact that three of his older brothers and his mother weren’t with him causing an immeasurable amount of fear.

“It’s ok Jay we’ll watch Ariel and sing,” Catty said curling up next to him and doing her best to hug him.

She gave him a reassuring smile. I looked at her closely. She was already getting taller it seemed like. Her hair back in a French braid which I wondered when mum had found the time to even do her hair today. She looked like John. A female miniature version. Her freckles splattered lightly across the bridge of her nose in the same fashion has his, her eyes the same green that all of our eyes were. Her frame thin and long already even though she was only four, barely a child.

Even though Da had hurt her she didn’t seem worried about it. Didn’t seem scared unless she talked about it. Not like James, not like Mike. Hell, not even like me. We carried it with us, where her, you would think that everything was ok by looking at her. She wanted to always be with all of us. Always encouraging us to engage with her, to play tea party with her and house. To even play Barbie’s with her. Especially if we seemed sad or distracted. Like she was trying to find a way to make us feel better the only way she knew how. By distracting us. I started the movie.

Sebastian the little crab coming on screen riding a tiny shell chariot pulled by two gold fish who quickly turned him upside her letting out a quiet laugh before turning to James, “I wonder how he managed not to fall out.”

“It’s underwater. Water makes everything float,” he said quietly as she grabbed his hand, “Here comes the singing so Shhh…” he said.

“I like the singing…and then there is the youngest in her musical debut…” Catherine sang quietly along with the song letting out a pearl of giggles as the sea shell where Aerial was supposed to be sitting turned up empty, “That reminds me of John. He’s never where he’s supposed to be.”

“Mum says it’s because he’s big. He’d rather be with his friends than us,” James told her.

“No, he wants to sometimes I think. He’s just…when you can walk I think you get lost sometimes,” she said.

Now that made me smile. Thinking of a 13-year-old getting lost in their own house. Sometimes kids said the funniest things, “Did you two eat yet?” I asked them.

“Yeah, oh! SHARK!” Catty screamed pointing at the screen as it popped up behind flounder.

“You guys ate dinner?” I tried again as the shark started chasing the two main characters around a ship wreckage on screen.

“Yeah mum gave us meatloaf. There’s some in the fridge for you and John,” Cat said as James nodded his head in agreement.

“What about everyone else?” I asked them.

“Mac and Andy and Lar?” Cat questioned making a face as I stepped in front of the screen to try and hold her attention better.

“Yeah she fed them. Mary and Seamus need a bottle though,” James told me quietly.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “You two watch the movie ok?”

“Ok,” Cat said nodding her head slowly while staring at the screen as I walked away making sure I turned on the baby swings and the other three were in the play pin which was also in view of the TV, frowning when I noticed Mac was chewing on Lar’s hair.

“Mac, you can’t do that man,” I said picking him up making him gently let go of Lar’s hair who frowned at me.

“Owes,” she said shaking her head.

“I know, I’m sorry,” I said which she ignored her eyes going back to the TV.

“Come with me,” I said.

“doo da,” Mac said pointing at my nose.

“That’s my nose,” I told him as I took him into the kitchen and put him in a highchair, “I know you already ate but, I would like to eat and I don’t think Lar needs your assistance with hair care so you can stay with me.”

“Wha da,” he said.

“You stay with me,” I simplified.

“ooo,” he said as I handed him a toy before going over to the fridge and pulling an already made up plate out and popping it into the microwave.

I sat down at the counter and started eating

“yummy,” he said reaching his fists out and blinking them.

“You already ate this my yummy,” I said looking at him to which he gave me the funniest look and blew a raspberry at me.

“Don’t do that. No spitting,” I said shaking my head trying to not to laugh at him to which he said something in baby talk I didn’t understand.

“You are becoming quiet the talker you know Mac?” I told him as I heard the lift kick on, “There they are.”

When it opened mum and John both came out, both looking tired their eyes blood shot John barely glancing at me as he walked past everyone and into his bedroom as mum came over, “I see you found your food.”

“Yeah, thank you,” I told her.

“Why is he with you?” she asked pointing at my dinner guest.

“He was trying to make a meal out of Lar’s hair as she watched the movie. How him pulling on her hair didn’t hurt I have no idea but he was trying to eat it,” I told her.

“I’m afraid he’s a bored eater,” Mum sighed, “You didn’t feed him again, did you?”

“No, I was going to give Mary and Shay their bottles after I was done. Is everything ok?” I asked her taking a bite of potatoes.

“It could be better. I did something stupid and…everything is as ok as it can be for right now though. I called the cops and then your Da. Your Uncle took off with your brothers. I checked downstairs first and it was empty.”

I nearly dropped my fork. She’d been down in the basement? Had she ever been there before? Had she seen.

“Mum, I…,” I said trying to explain everything that was down there.

“I was down there last night. I’ve seen it and I know what’s down there and you don’t have to explain it ok love? Don’t worry about it. It has nothing to do with you,” she assured me to which I nodded my head silently.

It had everything to do with me. He had used those things on me before. The things on the wall. I didn’t know if she knew that but, it seemed like lately since our doomed escape she had asked less questions about everything. Quit trying to get us to talk about things with her. Like she figured it didn’t help us any. Didn’t make things any easier so she had just quit asking for the most part.

“Did Da tell you where they are?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said, “I don’t know if they’ll want to go to the movies with you guys tomorrow. I’ll ask them though. Whatever was going to happen already has at this point though your Da said.”

Her voice broke slightly as she said it. Sounding like she was about to start crying again. Thank you for watching them. Was everything ok?” she asked me.

She had only been downstairs with John for maybe 45 minutes at this point while I had been up here with just me and them, “Yeah. Everything was fine. When I came up Mary was crying because she was wet so I changed her and Shay and then put them in the swing and turned on a movie.”

“James? How is he?” she asked me.

“He’s scared I think,” I told her to which we both heard little feet turning to see who it was and sure enough it was James.

“Mummy?” he asked her quietly.

“Come here love,” she said opening her arms to him as he came and allowed her to pick him up whispering something in her ear, “I know. It’ll be ok though don’t worry about it. Everything will be fine.”

“So, the plan is still going to the movies with them and John?” I asked her.

“After mass, aye,” she told me nodding her head as she sat James in hear lap, “So no one gave you any trouble?”

“No, James was actually a big help. When I came up he was rocking Mary trying to get her to stop crying,” I told her.

“You’re all such good boys. Always such a big help,” she said smiling at me.

“How is John?” I asked her.

“You know John,” she said as a way of saying he was the same as he usually was.

Usually he was moody and drunk. He didn’t talk about things, he didn’t want to talk about things. Especially those things. Not that I could blame him for it. I didn’t really want to talk about them either. Just as she said that he came down the hall sighing opening up the fridge and looking inside it before shutting the door empty handed. Probably deciding he wasn’t hungry.

James tugged my mum’s shirt sleeve before whispering in her ear, “John, love? James said someone called for you. Someone named Dom?”

“I have to call him back,” John said quietly.

“Are we going to the movies with him?” I asked John as I finished my last bite of food getting up and rinsing my plate in the sink.

“Yeah, he’s one of the people why?” John asked me.

“I was just wondering,” I answer shrugging my shoulders, “Who else is going?”

“A lot of people actually. I do believe that Hunter, Christian and Kristoff are going and then Ellen, Talia, Delia and Celia are all going and then Pat, Cole and Dom. I think Christian has a little sister he’s bringing with him and I’m taking you and hopefully Mike and Matt if they are feeling up to it,” he answered me.

That was a big group. I hadn’t expected it to be that many people. I didn’t even know any of the girls he was talking about but, that’s not surprising considering I didn’t know any girls outside of my sisters at the time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with all of those people however Cole had told me it wouldn’t be that many because we were actually going to two separate movies and not just one.

“That’s a lot of people,” I commented.

“Well, it’s supposed to be a group,” John said looking at me as he walked over to the phone.

Mum sighed setting James down and picking up Mac walking away as she looked at us, figuring she didn’t need to be there to hear us hash out our hang out plans. It wasn’t exactly announcement worthy news since she had already agreed to let us go. It seemed like a lot of people to me though. Once mum was out of ear shot I asked just to be sure.

“Why? So, it doesn’t look like a date for you and someone else?” I asked him meaning him and Pat.

“We wanted to go see a movie with our friends. It’s not a date. We might be kind of dating but, we don’t want to announce that to people,” he said looking at me as he leaned against the counter and I turned off the water putting my plate in the dish washer.

“Look,” I sighed thinking about how he probably felt as unsure about it as I did, the liking boys thing, “It’s ok to be like that. I’m like that. I don’t exactly hide it.”

“Yeah? Well, you do realize it can get you killed? Hooking up with someone in the brotherhood so the less people that know the better off we are. So please keep your mouth shut about it,” John told me.

“I know,” I said putting my hands up in a placating gesture, “I can’t imagine the trouble I’d be in if Cole and I were…,” he snorted and rolled his eyes at me.

“Cole and you are not a thing. You kissed like twice. You’re not even 11. You don’t know if you’re gay or straight yet. You don’t know anything,” he insisted.

That’s what he really thought? He thought that I blushed around Cole and other guys because I was thinking about girls. What it was like to touch a girl, hold a girl? Kiss a girl? That kiss had been everything I imagined and more. It had excited me and scared me all at once in so many ways. Thinking about it making my face feel warm causing him to sigh loudly.

“What?” I asked him.

“You need to stop doing that. You do realize the older you get the more people think about that stuff? Everyone is always going to know when you’re thinking about se…” I cut him off.

“I wasn’t. Just kissing,” I said shrugging my shoulders and looking at my feet.

“There’s nothing embarrassing about it ok? Everyone does it, everyone thinks about it. You don’t have to be nervous. It’s ok. It’s ok to think about that stuff. Kissing people. Maybe even doing other things with people,” John told me.

“With guys though? You say I don’t know John but, I do. You’re wrong. I know I like Cole and you’re right maybe we aren’t a thing yet. But maybe one day we might be,” I told him.

“I hope not. You’re my little brother. I would not be ok with that,” John said shaking his head at me.

“Cole told me I’m too young,” I said.

“He’s right,” John said nodding his head vigorously, “You are. And it’s dangerous. It’s not somewhere your head needs to be right now ok? Just cool it. Calm down.”

“I am calm. I don’t…it felt weird. I liked it but it felt weird. Scary,” I admitted.

“Maybe that means you’re not ready then. And you won’t do it again. It’s ok to think about it but, that doesn’t mean you have to do it. You have enough going on right now Will. Ok? We are planning on leaving again though. You know that, right? I don’t know when but mum said before Da comes back for Easter break.”

Now that was something I hadn’t been told. So, she was going to try and get us out again? There went my future. Any hope I had of ever exploring that part of me with someone that made me feel safe, made me maybe want to one day. I sighed heavily muttering a slight “oh” under my breath.

“What? Would you rather say here and deal with this? With them? With what Da is going to do to us when he gets back?” John asked me.

“No,” I said shaking my head, “I like my friends though.”

“Yeah well, sadly they come with being fucked up the ass by your Da or Uncle and worse things by more people as you get older,” John pointed out.

“You act like they haven’t passed me out yet,” I said glaring at him. I mean he couldn’t be that stupid to think that they hadn’t. Especially after the parties Da had, “I’ve been to the Villa. I have a brand too. I know what it’s like. I get it. You act like Uncle Ben doesn’t come to my room just about every night like he doesn’t…,” I sighed feeling my face get warm. Feeling the words wanting to come out but holding them back so I didn’t embarrass myself, feeling myself wanting to say that he licked me everywhere. Because he did. They all did. Especially the leader. I took a deep breath before I continued, “I get how hard it is for you. I get it so don’t treat me like I don’t know.”

He looked at me his eyes softening in understanding. Maybe he realized he was treating me like a kid. Like he should treat James. Like someone who didn’t really understand what was going on when he knew very well I understood it just fine. He might not have known everything that had happened to me. I refused to tell him because I refused to watch him drink himself to death. Because of things he couldn’t stop from happening but, he knew I understood what it was and how serious it was.

“Sorry,” he said quietly before he looked at me, “Mum called the cops when she found the twins missing.”

“She told me that,” I sighed, “I wish she would have thought about it before she did though. I mean she’s not stupid. She knew who they were with.”

“I know,” he said, “Hank showed up when she called.”

The last part he barely muttered. His eyes looking wet like he was going to cry. Had something happened to him? With mum right there? Had Hank hurt him?

“Are you ok?” I asked him.

“She stopped him,” he said looking at the counter,” Barely but, she stopped him.”

“Are you sure you’re ok?” I asked him again.

He shrugged his shoulders looking at me, “Nothing a bit of drink and some time alone won’t help me with. I have to return that phone call now.”

He raised the phone to his neck before he started dialing the number me leaving the room to go out into the living room. We had been talking long enough the movie was mostly over Ursula brandishing the contract she had made with Ariel at Trident trying to convince him to give her his Trident and his life turning him into one of her squiggly little sea creatures and picking it up while she laughed. Me looking to see that Andy and Laura and Mac were already gone. Probably already in the nursery as mum came back out leaning against the wall in the hallway watching the movie from behind the couch as I looked at one of the clocks on the wall.

It was 7:30. It was time for Cat and James to head to bed. She looked at me and smiled at me putting a finger to her lips telling me to be quiet. She was allowing them to finish the movie since there was only a few minutes left. Cat gasping in surprise like she had never watched the movie before as Prince Eric drove the broken pillar through Ursula’s stomach releasing all of the trapped mer-people from her spell.

Mum smiled and cleared her throat just as the credits started to roll, “Ok loves time for bed.”

“I like this movie,” Cat said.

“I know you do. Come on wee ones,” mum said as James stretched where mum had put him back down on the couch before getting up and walking down the hall, “Brush your teeth.”

“Ok mummy,” he said quietly walking down the hallway towards his room and bathroom.

I let the credits finish rolling as I pulled the baby swings lining them up back against the wall where they sat when we weren’t using them. I tidied up a bit folding a blanket and hanging it over the back of the couch before I went to my room. I pulled out Harry Potter in the Chamber of secrets. Me having switched to lighter reading fare for the moment because I felt so conflicted I didn’t feel blood and gore. I wanted something that was still exciting but not nearly as exciting as reading about all the death and mayhem that the pages of game of thrones is riddled with. Me reading two or three chapters before I decided it was close enough to bed time that I should probably brush my teeth and get ready for sleep myself.

Chapter Text

Mum didn’t come in to say good night to me that night. She was probably talking with John or something, or too exhausted and worried about Mike and Matt to sleep. Too worried to see if I was ok. To see if I was worried about them. Or what was going on with me. But I remember tossing and turning all night. The lift kicking on at some point and me jumping out of bed and heading over to the lift. When the lift opened Mike and Matt were there. Uncle Ben carrying Mike in his arms who was sleeping. Him smiling at me before mum came out of the nursery grabbing him quickly from Ben’s arms.

“Danielle gently, he’s sore,” Ben scolded her.

“You get the fuck out of my house,” she hissed at him.

“I’m allowed to be here. I’m supposed to be here,” he said to her Mike stirring in her arms.

“What happened to them? What did you…,” Ben cut her off.

“Don’t ask unless you really want to know because I will tell you. I will tell you everything,” he said.

Matt looked tired limping slightly while favoring his right side. He looked like he was in pain. I wondered but I didn’t ask putting grabbing him gently and putting his arm around my shoulder the best I could to help him walk.

“Thanks,” he mumbled numbly as we walked down the hallway towards his bedroom.

“Are you going to be ok?” I asked him.

“It wasn’t horrible,” he said, “Just a lot of work. I didn’t… did he make you do that?”

“Do what?” I asked him quietly. Quiet enough mum couldn’t hear where she kept yelling at Uncle Ben Mike starting to wake up but struggling to stay aware as he clung to her.

“Four…four guys they…,” he trailed off.

“It was six,” I said barely above a whisper.

It had been six guys. Six guys who had raped me before they had brought that fiery hot piece of metal against my skin. Six guys who had invaded my body and torn at my soul before they had finally marked me as belonging to them. Before they had marked me as their property.

“I didn’t know Da did that,” he said, “I didn’t know we’re supposed to do that.”

I wanted to tell him I told you so. To say that he was wrong, that it did hurt. That it wasn’t all nice and it wasn’t all Da and Uncle Ben but I managed to keep silent. Taking a deep breath as I helped him lay down on his bed his right side up.

“I’ll go grab you some ice ok?” I asked quietly.

“They did that to you?” he asked me to which I just nodded my head before I left closing the bedroom door behind me.

I didn’t want to talk about my branding. I knew I probably should and I felt like I owed it to him to let him know that him and Mike hadn’t experienced it alone. That I had been through it and so had John but, I didn’t want to talk about it. Not really. However, I hoped he understood better why when John and I said it hurt we weren’t lying. That when we said we hated Da or were afraid of him there was a real reason for it. I hoped it would make him more understanding. I sighed coming back from the kitchen after making an ice pack for him mum shutting the door quietly to Mike’s room.

“Is he ok?” I asked her quietly whispering to make sure we didn’t wake anyone up.

“He seems to be. Apparently, they sedated them. He’s having trouble working his way through it. He was only awake for a few minutes. Apparently, Matt’s wore off a little faster,” she said to me.

“Understandable. Usually they don’t do more than one of us at once,” I said quietly.

“What do you mean?” she asked me.

“Branding. John has one and so do I,” I said.

“I …,” she sighed running a hand through her already messed up hair, “What do you mean by branding? You mean the scar on your hip? I thought they just assaulted you I didn’t realize that they…,” she trailed off.

“They do a lot of bad things mum,” I said quietly, “Pass us out like we’re…property to trade. Make us do things to each other. I’m sure Pat and John told you that. They…hurt us.”

“I’m sorry love. We’re going to get out of here. We will,” she said, “How is Matt?”

“He’s going to want to talk about it,” I said.

I said that because I knew him. He didn’t usually get upset about things but more curious and it wasn’t like Uncle Ben would have explained any of it to him. He would have just held him down and made him watch and then done the whole thing to him. He would have questions that mum didn’t have any answers to and that I knew John couldn’t answer. So, I knew it was up to me. And I was used to him, to his oddness. Even if it upset me at least I had a better idea of how to deal with it than John and mum did it seemed.

I knocked on his door before I opened it. He was standing on his own like he had just come out of the bathroom but, he was still favoring his right side not really bending his leg and trying his best not to move his hip at all the white padding and gauze looking clean and fresh on his hip bone his briefs rolled down as low as he could get them to sit as he leaned over holding a tank top of some kind pulling it over his head so he was more covered than he had been a moment before.

“Did you get the ice?” he asked me.

He didn’t even seem weirded out that I had seen him almost naked. He didn’t seem to care, holding out his hand to take the ice pack from me as he hobbled back over to the bed laying down again, making sure he laid on his left side so that his right side was up before he put the ice over top of his bandages hissing slightly probably at the change of the temperature against his skin.

“You have questions?” I asked him not sure how to start.

“Da made you and John do that?” he asked me to which I nodded my head.

“I don’t know what it was like for John but for me it was six guys. It hurt. They did really bad things to me. I was told I couldn’t scream and that I couldn’t say no. So, I didn’t but I wanted to,” I answered him honestly.

“Did they use their mouths a lot?” he asked me.

I felt my cheeks flush. For me that had been one of the worst parts of the whole thing. Them using their mouths. Their tongues against my skin as everyone else watched and laughed. As I tried not to cry.

“Yeah, they did,” I answered quietly.

“Did they all stick their penis in your bum?” he asked me.

At that I felt …it wasn’t even the question itself but the way he asked it like it was no big deal. Like it was normal. I got up and walked into his bathroom shutting the door behind me. I wanted to scream but, I didn’t. That’s why I was answering his questions about though and not John. Because John would have started crying where I just wanted to. I gave myself a minute or two to collect myself taking a couple deep breaths before I walked out of the bathroom.

“Sorry,” I said sitting back down in the desk chair where I had been sitting before, “Yes. They did.”

“And they touched you a lot?” he asked me.

“Yeah, with their mouths a lot and…hands and…everything,” I said trying to make myself numb.

“Did any of them stick it in your mouth?” he asked me.

“You mean their penis?” I asked him and he nodded his head his eyes wide and curious, “Yes. Has Da ever made you do that?”

“Yeah but, it always tastes weird. The guy that did it at the party he tasted really weird. I don’t like it I don’t think. It was very salty and it made it hard to breath. I bit him and he wasn’t happy. None of them were happy,” Matt said making it sound like it was no big deal.

“You bit someone? What did they do?” I asked him.

“Put a knife to me and told me if I bit again they’d cut a hole in my neck,” he said, “I didn’t bite him again so it was ok. I think one of them was a teacher.”

“Oh?” I asked him.

“Yeah. I’m not sure for real but, I think I’ve seen him in the halls before so I’m pretty sure it was a teacher,” he told me.

“What did he look like? Was it the headmaster?” I asked.

I hoped it wasn’t Barry. I hated Barry and the thought of him even…it made me so pissed that Da and Uncle Ben would be ok with that. I mean they seemed ok with him hurting me in the first place but, my little brothers too? Really? If it was me it was one thing, if it was them it was something entirely different.

“I don’t think so,” he said shaking his head, “I’ve seen headmaster Watson before and I don’t think he likes me very much so he wouldn’t want to touch me like that.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked him.

I was curious to know what he thought about it. Someone touching him like that. I knew Da, it was something he did and he told us all of us that it wasn’t wrong. That when he did it, it was because he loved us. Because he wanted us to know he loved us. I knew he’d been peddling that line to them just like he had to me when I was younger and probably John before that.

“Because Da says it’s making love. That when someone does that it means they love me. I’m pretty sure the headmaster doesn’t love me. If he does he yells at me awful lot and that’s a funny way to show love,” Matt said.

“Matty? What has Da told you about sex?” I asked him.

“That when a mummy and Daddy love each other they make love with his penis in her vagina and they have a baby. Almost like how Da makes love with me only in my butt because I don’t have a vagina because I’m not a girl. Why?” he asked me.

“Does Da ever make you do that when you don’t want to?” I asked him.

“I never really want to with him,” Matt said his face and voice still giving away no emotion, “But if I just relax it doesn’t feel so bad. It feels kind of good sometimes. Why?”

“Because when you don’t want to they call that something else,” I said.

“Da told me that. He said that’s when someone does it to hurt you though. He’s not doing it to hurt me. He’s doing it to show me he loves me,” Matt told me.

So that’s how Da had explained it. That because he wasn’t doing it to hurt him it wasn’t rape. That’s the lie he was telling him. Probably all of them. Whichever one of us he had been raping the most. Whichever of us would believe it.

“In normal families Da’s don’t …stick their penis there. They don’t…,” I trailed off.

“We’re not a normal family though. We’re a special family and Uncle Ben told me those were his and Da’s special friends and that they wanted to love me too. The one guy kind of hurt a little bit though and the other one kept poking the back of my throat and it hurt so I bit him. It wasn’t like I could say anything,” he said to me.

“Ok,” I said, “If they loved you why did they hurt you? That mark on your hip hurts. I know it does. Can you tell me that?”

“Because sometimes things hurt at first but then they hurt less next time,” Matt said.

“Matty, they are hurting you. Hurting us. When they put their mouth there it hurts…,” he cut off my words.

“It tickles. Maybe too much sometimes but it doesn’t hurt,” he insisted again just as he did every time I tried to tell him it did hurt.

“What about when they stick it in? Doesn’t that burn?” I asked him.

“Only a little bit. It’s almost like falling down really only on the inside. It’s not horrible and it’s not like it happens all the time. It was just this once,” Matt told me.

“No,” I shook my head, “It’ll be all the time now. You’ll see.”

“But it will only be Da’s special friends. It won’t be so bad. Uncle Ben told me it was just this one time.”

“He’s lying!” I hissed almost yelling at him, “He’s lying to you. They hurt. They really hurt Matty. Why do you think Mike cries? Why do you think James is so scared all the time? Because it hurts! It does it hurt how can you …”

“I’m different,” Matt said frowning at me, looking confused at my outbursts, “You know I’m different. There’s nothing wrong with being different. I’m actually glad I’m different because at least then they can’t hurt me. I can’t imagine being like you are John. You cry over everything all the time. No, that’s not right that’s lie. You don’t cry you just look like you have to poop a lot where John cries all the time and it’s stupid and sad. I don’t want to be stupid and sad. And you don’t worry about Mike. Mike is mine.”

“Mike is not yours,” I said shaking my head.

“He is, Da said he was mine and then changed his mind. Because of you. Because you’re such a…”

“What? A whore? Are you going to say it again? Are we going to go over this again? I don’t want it. I don’t want them touching me like that,” I insisted.

“Yet you let Cole kiss you. You let Cole touch you,” he said looking at me.

I had let Cole kiss me but he hadn’t really touched me. He hadn’t touched me anywhere but my cheek. Cole kissing me was really different from Lionel kissing me, or touching me and making me do other things. Cole felt nice and warm and had I wondered what he felt like. What his lips tasted like and now I knew. That was very different. I didn’t know how to explain it was different but it was.

“I didn’t let Cole touch me,” I said to him.

“Yeah you did, I heard mummy talking about it,” he said to me.

“He kissed me. He kissed me, that’s all he did. He didn’t…his he didn’t touch me like that,” I said, “You know why? Because I didn’t want him to. I didn’t want him to touch me like that ok? When someone doesn’t want you to touch them like that you should respect it. That means you care about them and love them. Forcing them to do that is called rape. Da rapes you. If you want to say no to him, that’s rape. That’s not love. You don’t make love to your children. You understand what I’m saying?” I hissed at him.

“I understand that that’s what everyone says but they’re not my Da. Da is the only one who can tell me what to do and he would never lie to me,” he said.

“Da lies to all of us. That’s not love. It’s not Matt. If the world was right he would love us but he doesn’t. If he loved us he wouldn’t let other people do that to us,” I said feeling like I was going to cry, “You didn’t tell Da, did you? You won’t?”

“You may not believe this because I’m different but I like you Willy. I wouldn’t do that because I know when Da and Ben are mad they aren’t nice. That’s why Uncle Ben hurt Mike because he was mad. He was mad at you. He was mad at you because that man wanted you and Da let him …Uncle Ben explained it all to me. How it’s all about teaching and what not. He’s your teacher now and not Uncle Ben and that makes Uncle Ben mad. So, he was mean to Mike and he told me he was sorry and Mike he was sorry but I’m not sure he is,” Matt told me.

“He told you he hurt Mike because of me?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said, “I think Uncle Ben is like me. We’re different.”

I wasn’t sure he was like Uncle Ben. I had a hard time associating the two in my head and even now still do. Probably because one is my brother where as one is…very much not my brother. However, saying that Matt was different felt like a vast understatement of what he was.

“I’m not sure you’re like him at all,” I sighed standing up, “I’m going to go back to sleep for a while. You’ll let mum know if you and Mike want to go to the movie later, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, “I’m going to make him go to mass. I think he’s scared.”

“What?” I asked turning around confused.

“Mike, I think he’s scared. Of people. He needs to not be scared of people so I want him to go. To show him there’s nothing to be scared of. I don’t want him to be wimpy like John,” Matt told me.

“John is not a wimp he’s just he’s very stressed ok?” I told him.

“Whatever you say,” Matt said, “Goodnight.”

“Night,” I said turning and leaving shutting the door behind me.

I didn’t wake up again until closer to 8:30 throwing on something that was presentable for church to find John already dressed and in the nursery helping mum dress the little ones. Mike and Matt on the couch next to James and Cat while they waited for them to get ready. We actually had help getting into service one or two of the sisters taking the babies off to nursery school.

I don’t remember much of service to be honest other than sitting next to John, near John in the pew him bumping into me a couple of times as mum shot him a dirty look because him and his friends were poking at each other and making odd comments about the service under their breaths. I wondered what going and sitting through movie with them would be like until I realized I would be seeing a different movie. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Mike and Matt it was just that I didn’t want to be treated like one of the babies. I wasn’t a baby or at least I didn’t feel like one. But then again you had to take into account that I was only 10 when most people in my grade were 12 or almost 12. I mean even Teddy was 11.

When service was over before I could talk to them they had taken off. Me sighing trying to figure out what was going on. Whether I should help mum with the babies or not. Matt came up to me tapping me on the shoulder as I stood there with Mike looking around trying to figure out where mum was in the mess of mass letting out causing me to turn and look at him.

“Are we supposed to meet the people we’re going to the movies with?” he asked me.

“We can I suppose it would be good to meet them,” I agreed, “Come on we’ll find mum later. Let’s go see where John is.”

Him and Mike followed me Mike taking two or three quick steps and then grabbing my hand.

He’d been quiet since he had gotten home. However, he had tried to keep near mum or John. I felt his hand shaking a little bit taking our joined hands in my other and rubbing the back of his. Was he really that scared of everything lately? Of whatever they had done to him.

“Are you ok Mikey?” I asked him quietly and he nodded his head before he stopped walking forcing me to stop and lean in close to hear him.

“There’s too many people,” he told me quietly.

“Ok, well we’re going outside. They’ll be less people out there ok?” I said to which he nodded his head. Me going out the front door of the chapel and taking them around to the side where I knew their spot was in the bushes. Sure, enough a bunch of them were standing there. Pat with his pack of smokes in his hand smiling as he saw us. Dom, Cole, Kris, Chris and Hunter were all there along with a girl around my age.

I walked up tapping John on the shoulder with my free hand as Pat put the smokes away, “So, this is who we’re going to the movies with?” I asked him.

“Yes, some of the people,” John said, “You remember who they are?” he asked before realizing Mike and Matt were with me.

“I’m Kris,” Kristoff said giving a small wave to Mike and Matt.

“I’m Hunter,” Hunter said before pointing, “That’s Chris with a C. That’s Cole, Dom, Pat and obviously you know your own brother I hope. And this is Hannah Chris’s younger sister.”

“Hi Hannah,” I said looking at her.

She looked like Christian the same dark brown hair only hers was long and pulled back into a pony tail. She looked like she was around my age, maybe slightly older and she waved at me sheepishly before Christian shot Cole a look.

“What?” Cole asked.

“He’s still young,” Kristoff said.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Cole said shooting him a cold smile.

“I’m not that young,” I said.

“Too young,” Christian said nodding his head in agreement.

“I’m not that young, really guys?” I sighed shaking my head.

“He is,” John said.

“Go blow your boyfriend in the bushes,” I shot causing everyone to laugh besides Christian who covered Hannah’s ears with his hands frowning at me.

“Excuse you!” he scoffed at me.

“I’m not five,” Hannah said removing Chris’s hands from her ears, “What about those two? They are younger than I am.”

“They are over exposed,” Cole said.

“Over exposed?” Matt asked frowning.

“It’s…never mind Matt, just never mind,” Cole said shaking his head.

“Sorry,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“Is this everyone that’s going?” Matt asked.

“No, Talya, Ellen, Celia, Delia and who else is going?” Hunter asked.

“I think that’s it,” Chris answered, “Cole…he’s still too young.”

“Oh,” Matt said smiling like he finally understood something, “Will said it was just a kiss.”

“You kissed a boy?” Hannah asked frowning.

I felt my face turning red. I didn’t want to talk about that anti-climax in my life especially in front of a strange girl I didn’t know.

“Hannah…,” Chris said.

“Yeah, yeah. Sorry,” she said.

“What movies are we seeing again?” Matty asked.

“The prince of Egypt,” Hannah said, “I’ve heard it’s a good one.”

“That’s what I’ve heard too,” I answered.

“Who do you know that I know?” Hannah asked me.

“Your brother?” I questioned confused as to how the conversation had suddenly turned from the movie we were seeing to me.

“What about Travis?” she asked me.

“He’s in my class,” I said, “Why?”

“Just wondering. I’ve heard him talk about you. Don’t you hang out with Finn and what not? He doesn’t seem to like Finn very much. I don’t think,” Hannah said.

“What’s wrong with Finn?” I asked.

“Only his brother,” Hunter said, “Do you know his brother?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ve heard things about him.”

“Like what?” Kris asked me curiously.

“I should stay away from him for one,” I answered giving him a small smile.

“Ok then. That’s good. Finn told you that?” Kris asked me.

“Yes. Finn and Quinn,” I said.

“What’s wrong with his brother?” Hannah asked.

“His brother is not a good person. Remember Hannah, how we talked about Dad and how he isn’t very nice to me?” Chris asked her.

“Oh,” she said nodding her head.

“Yeah, that. He’s like that,” Christian said.

“That’s nasty,” Hannah said which caused Cole to giggle slightly.

“I think that’s a bit of an understatement,” Hunter said shaking his head.

“Who is Finn?” Mike asked me.

“A friend of mine,” I answered him.

“Will he be going to the movies with us?” Mike asked me, “Or his…? He trailed off.

“No,” Hunter said, “They are not invited because they aren’t cool people. Everyone invited is a cool person.”

“I’m a cool person?” Mike asked frowning slightly.

“Of course, you are,” Matt said to him.

“I don’t think I’m a cool person,” Mike said barely above a whisper.

“I just met you and I think you are super cool,” Hunter said.

“If I was cool…,” he trailed off.

“It’s ok pal,” I said hugging him from behind, “You’re ok.”

“Bad morning?” Kris asked us.

“Well, Uncle Ben took…,” Matt started to say before Christian broke him off.

“Hannah, why don’t you go find Dad or some of your friends to talk with for a while?” Christian asked her.

“Really?” she said, “Ok, fine.”

“Thanks, Ans,” Christian said as she walked away, “I just thought it was something she didn’t need to hear. All this boy business as our Dad calls it. You can go on Matt.”

“Uncle Ben took us and they did that thing. With the metal on your skin that burns,” Matt said.

“You’re 8, right?” Hunter asked him.

“Yeah, we’re 8,” Matt said, “Why?”

“That’s young,” Kris said.

“Just curious you don’t have to answer,” Chris said looking at him,” What was your number?”

“Number?” Matt asked frowning.

“The number on the dice,” Cole clarified.

“Mine was a four,” Matt said, “Mike rolled a 5.”

“Wow,” Christian said shaking his head, “You don’t share another person’s number.”

“Why not? He’s my brother and I heard the leader call it out,” Matt said.

“Your number is personal. You know what it means. I’m sure we don’t have to explain to it you. Your number is for you to tell people if you care to share it. You don’t tell anyone else’s number it’s our code. You understand?” Kris said to him.

“Well, it’s only one dice, you can only get a 1,2,3,4,5 or 6,” Matt said, “What was yours?”

“I got a 2,” Chris said, “Anyone else care to share theirs?”

“3,” Hunter said.

“I got a one,” Kris said, “I was lucky.”

“I don’t even remember mine,” Dom said finally speaking for the first time in a while.

“Don’t remember or don’t care to share?” Hunter asked him to which Dom just shrugged his shoulders.

“You don’t have to tell anyone your number if you don’t want to. You realize that, right?” Hunter said.

“Yeah I know. I’m a 2 though I’m hardly better than a one,” Dom said.

“Dom, don’t say that. You might be a 2 but we don’t give a fuck about that shit. You’re a cool guy. Don’t let anyone treat you differently,” Chris said, “You’re one the best people I know. I mean we know things suck. We do. We know we’re privileged but you hold your own with the best fucking untouchables I know man. Don’t let anyone treat you as any less.”

“What’s a 2?” Mike asked quietly.

“Well you know the set of letters after the M they gave you?” Chris asked to which Mike nodded his head before he turned around and hugged me burying his face in my side.

“I’m sorry kid,” Chris sighed, “Maybe it’s too soon to talk about this?”

I sighed and got down on my knees so I was closer to his level, “Look at me Mike, look at me Pal, come on.”

He pulled his face away his eyes filled with tears, “It hurts.”

“I know pal,” I said hugging him, “It’s ok.”

“I didn’t…,” he hiccupped.

“We know,” Hunter said smiling sadly, “None of us want it. And we don’t think it’s fair that they made you do that. You’re too little. You’re just a kid. I was 12. When my Dad let them mark me. He could have done it to me at 10 but he made them wait. Usually you don’t have to…share your kid until they’re marked.”

“After you do though?” I asked him as I hugged my little brother on my knees Pat and John making their way back to our spot.

“Will what are you doing? Mike? Mike pal what’s going on?” John asked him bending down and picking him up which was something John had an easier time doing than I did. I might have been almost as tall as John but I was still younger and not as strong.
Where John at the time had muscles even if they were starting to shrink. Him easily lifting Mike up and hugging him.

“We were talking about Marking,” Christian said.

“Guys,” Pat said shaking his head.

“It was last night,” I said to Pat.

“I know. John told me. It’s…you guys shouldn’t talk about that right now. It’s too soon. You know how bad that is for everyone? And they are just tiny still,” Pat said.

“We’re not tiny,” Matt insisted, “He’s just sad. It was a lot for him.”

“Considering,” I said nodding my head, “How about we go find mum guys?”

“Ok,” Matt said nodding his head in agreement and grabbing Mike’s leg pulling on his pant leg lightly to signal John should put him down.

“I’ve got him Matt, he’s fine. We’ll go,” John said shaking his head at Matt as we walked away Pat following us.

“Are you guys still coming to the movie?” Pat asked.

“Yeah,” Matt said.

“I’m still going,” I agreed.

“What about him? He seems like he’s tired,” Pat said.

“We’re going,” Matt said.

“Matt he’s his own person. He can decide if he wants to go or not,” Pat said.

“Pat, not right now,” I said shaking my head.

I didn’t care to explain to him how possessive Matty was of Mike. How Mike allowed Matt to boss him around. It wasn’t my place to try and explain and it wasn’t the time to try and argue the whole concept with Pat. I knew he meant well. Of course, he did but Mike was already upset and it wouldn’t help him feel any better listening to Matt fight over him like he wasn’t a person but more of a pet.

“Sorry,” Pat said nodding his head at me in agreement as we walked over to the car mum frowning as we approached John carrying Mike.

“What’s wrong love? Is it hurting?” she asked taking Mike from John’s arms.

“I didn’t want to mummy,” he whimpered.

“I know love. I know,” she said kissing his head, “Shhh…Shhh…. it’s ok. It’s ok wee love,” she said bouncing him in her arms like he was a toddler instead of an eight-year-old.

It actually looked pretty funny considering she was only 5’0 and he was just a few inches shorter than she was, “Are you boys ready? Everyone else in the car,” Mum said looking at us.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “We’re going to go home and change, right?”

“Yes, I’ll still take you guys if you want to go. Mike do you still want to go to the movie love?” she asked him now that he was no longer crying but just sniffling him nodding his head against her shoulder instead of using his words, “Ok. You can still go. Your brothers will watch you closely though. If you guys need me for anything you use a payphone and call and I’ll come get you ok?”

“We know mum,” John said as he climbed into the car before mum kissed Mike’s cheek again before setting him down in the van and letting him buckle himself in.

It didn’t take long for us to get home and start changing. For all four of us to get ready mum giving us 10 minutes to do so because she didn’t want to unpack everyone just to pack us back them back up into the van again. I wasn’t sure Mike should go. Not the way he was acting. With him crying and what not. Him seeming so…insecure. However, mum gave both him and Matt some Motrin and sent us on our way. Telling John to watch us and not to talk to any strangers.

Once we got inside John went to concessions while the three of us sat at a table. Me looking at them and then sighing before I laid down some rules, “We don’t talk about Da here ok? Or any of that. We can talk about school, we can talk about our friends but, we don’t talk about Da. I would rather pretend I’m normal if only for the next four hours.”

“That’s fine,” Matt said, “Can we talk about Tommy Boil?”

“Who is Tommy Boil?” I asked him.

“Our classmate,” Mike told me, “He got in trouble the other day.”

“What for?” I asked curious as to who this Tommy Boil was.

“Well Tommy apparently went over the playground gate during recess and was caught talking to one of the girls we have gym with, Clara Rushers. He said Clara was his girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend? Isn’t he 8?” I asked them.

“Yeah,” Matt said, “Our teachers weren’t happy. They asked if he intended to marry her and that he shouldn’t declare such a thing if his intentions weren’t serious.”

That made me chuckle a little bit. It did sound like something the fathers and sisters would tell him. No better way to scare an 8-year-old out of dating then make it sound like a lifelong commitment. It was a sound strategy.

Just then John got back with the hot dogs, “I can’t say anything that exciting as happened at school for me. However, a lot of guys won’t talk to me.”

“Why?” Mike asked me frowning.

“I’m younger than they are,” I pointed out.

“But you’re older than we are,” Matt said.

“Well, yes. I skipped a grade though, remember?” I reminded them.

“So, they don’t talk to you because you’re younger than they are?” Mike asked me.

“Yeah, they apparently think I don’t know things or something,” I said.

“Maybe they are jealous because you’re so smart you skipped a grade,” Matt said as John set the food down on the table.

“Matt could be on to something there,” John said, “I mean you are really smart.”

“I don’t feel really smart most of the time,” I muttered.

“Just means they put you in the right grade,” John said smiling as Mike laughed, “I thought you had friends.”

“I do. Besides apparently Julian,” I said.

“What happened with Julian? I thought Cole hung around him sometimes,” John said.

“I don’t think he did. Apparently, he has a huge problem with Cole,” I said.

“Oh?” John questioned.

“He doesn’t like Cole because Cole is…,” I looked at Mike and Matt before trying to figure out how to say it because I wasn’t sure how much they understood about gay and straight and all of that, “Because Cole as a lot of very close guy friends.”

“I see,” John said, “That is a problem.”

“Considering that at least two other people at the table have some close guy friends as well, yes,” I agreed.

“Wait who? Are you talking about you too when you say two more people or…?”

“Why would he be mad about someone having guy friends?” Mike asked me, “All we have are guy friends outside of gym and art class. Does that mean Julian would hate us? He goes to an all boy’s school so it’s just silly to be mad that all of your friends just have a lot of close guy friends.”

“I think he means something different,” Matt said.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Mike said taking a bite of his hotdog.

“You mean special friends, right?” Matt asked us.

“Yes,” I said nodding my head.

I could get behind special friends. Special friends was a good way to put it. I found it hard to picture Teddy having special friends but in order to be friends with Teddy in the first place I had a feeling you had to be pretty special. Or like me apparently you had to have the patience of a saint even though I did understand Teddy a little better since learning more about his family. My stomach jumped a little thinking about Teddy’s family. Thinking about what I knew about Lionel because of Cole and Teddy and how Teddy and I might become special friends soon even if I didn’t want to be special friends with him.

“You ok?” John asked me just as Pat circled around behind him and put his hands over John’s eyes.

“Surprise,” he muttered quietly John smiling even though his eyes were covered.

“Hey,” he said grabbing Pat’s hands and removing them from his face.

“Hot dogs?” Pat asked him frowning slightly as he looked at us.

“We were hungry and it’s not like they have a lot to choose from,” John said shrugging his shoulders, “Is anyone else here yet?”

“Cole just went to the arcade,” Pat said pointing in the direction of this little corner of the waiting room filled with arcade games.

“Can we go?” Matt asked his mouth full of hot dog as he said it, his eyes lit up excitedly.

Great. They had to point that out to him. That was not my idea of fun. I wasn’t good at them. However, I knew they were mostly my responsibility because I was going to see the movie with them and a bunch of older girls and apparently Hannah.

John sighed before he pulled a 10-dollar bill out of his pocket, “Sure. Split that and share.” He said as Matt ran at him full speed swiping it from John’s hand and rushing off Mike following behind him with his soda.

“Well, I guess that is my que,” I said smiling at him as I finished my hotdog and grabbed my cup and Matt’s since those were supposed to our drinks for the movie as well.

By the time I had caught up they were already at the change machine filling their pockets with coins and discussing which games they were going to play first, “I want to do the two shooter over there,” Matt said.

“I want Pac man first. Can we play Pac man first?” Mike said.

“Ok, fine. We’ll play Pac man first,” Matt said.

“Go ahead guys, don’t wander far,” I said spotting Cole who was at one of those machines where you hit things over the head with a plastic mallet.

I walked over to him. He must have not seen me until I got closer him smiling at me nearly missing one of his targets. The windows were floor to ceiling leaving the window open for people passing by to see into the room. The sun high in sky making his hair seem almost like it was gold. Reminding me of one of the reasons why I had kissed him. Why I had wanted to. He may not have looked like Nick Carter because he was attractive. He was really attractive.

“What’s up?” he asked me.

“Not much,” I said, “I’m nervous about Mike being here. He seems to not be doing well.”

“I noticed that. He’ll be ok though. Even though Matt is like super possessive of him. It’s weird,” Cole noted.

“Yeah, I think it’s a twin thing. Matt doesn’t act that way with anyone else,” I said.

“What is it like? Having siblings that are twins?” he asked me.

“Well, they have this weird attachment to each other. Even the ones that aren’t identicals. They always want to be together. When they are little one will cry sometimes when the other one is wet or they’ll just start fussing because the other one is fussing. Otherwise they seem pretty normal. Even though Mike and Matt have their secret language. You’ve seen it,” I told Cole.

“Yes, they also tell each other to suck Dick,” Cole muttered, “Like that doesn’t happen enough in their lives.”

“Hey,” I said shaking my head, “Not here ok?”

“No one is listening,” Cole said looking around frowning at something behind me, “You might want to go…talk to them about stranger danger.”

“They were already warned about it. Why?” I asked turning around.

They were talking to some guy. Probably around the same age as Louis whom they had met. He didn’t seem dangerous but something about his body language read off. I turned back to Cole.

“You know who that is?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I do,” he said after squinting for a moment before nodding his head and walking over there leaving me to jog in order to catch up, “Neal, what are you doing?”

“Hey Cole, right?” The guy said rubbing the back of his neck smiling at us guiltily.

“You know, so don’t act like you don’t,” Cole spat at him, “What are you doing? Why did they let you out of your cage?”

“What?” Neal said frowning at him slightly.

“When did you get out?” Cole asked him.

“Three weeks ago,” Neal said.

“And you’re already scouting? Fuck off,” Cole said Neal’s face falling.

“I was talking to them. That’s it right guys? We were just talking,” Neal said looking at them.

“Yeah,” Matt said, “He was agreeing with me that shooting games are better than Pac man.”

“Get out of where?” I asked Cole quietly who shot me a look and shook his head as if to say “later”.

“You don’t need to be here. I’m sure you’re on a list for right now. Aren’t you going to get in trouble?” Cole asked him.

“That’s all-in appeals. I’ll be cleared,” Neal said.

“Guys, come on. We’re going to play over here,” I said grabbing Mike’s arm which of course Matt followed as I started to pull them away, “Did you guys start talking to him?”

“No, he started talking to us,” Mike said quietly, “I thought he was weird.”

“He is weird. Don’t talk to strangers. I don’t care how friendly they seem ok?” I said.

“He’s not a stranger. He knows Uncle Ben,” Matt told me.

“I don’t care who he knows he doesn’t know you, so you don’t talk to him. You understand?” I said to him.

“Why? It’s not like he can hurt us in front of a bunch of people and we’re not stupid enough to leave and go somewhere with him,” Matt said, “I had it under control.”

“In your very capable 8-year-old hands?” I snorted, “Yeah sure. Mum said don’t talk to strangers. You don’t know him you don’t talk to him. He’s not me, he’s not one of the people we’re going to the movies with, he’s not Pat or Cole or anyone else we’re meeting here so you don’t talk to him. You don’t talk to anyone. You have any idea what he could have done? He could have grabbed Mike, he could have tried to…,”

“He wasn’t going to try and take us anywhere. I knew he wouldn’t,” Matt insisted.

“How do you know?” I asked him.

“I just know. And if he ever tried to touch Mike I would have kicked him. Mike is mine. No one touches Mike but me,” Matt said his eyes cold.

“I’m tired of this. Mike belongs to Mike. Mike is his own person. You need to quit saying that to people. You know how upsetting that probably is to Mike? I mean look at him. Look at the look he’s giving you. He doesn’t like it when you say that so, stop saying it. If you really care about him you’ll stop,” I said pointing at Mike.

Every time Matt said it Mike would take intense interest in his feet and hug himself avoiding looking at everyone. He didn’t try to disagree with Matt but, he didn’t like him saying that to people. I was sure no one knew to what degree he was referring to. That they had an almost sexual relationship that it was at times was very sexual but that didn’t mean it was ok for Matt to constantly say it to everyone. Especially if it made Mike uncomfortable.

“It’s ok Willy,” Mike murmured quietly.

“No!” I said a bit more forcefully than I had meant to, “No, it’s not ok. You don’t like it. I can tell you don’t like it so he should stop. You need to tell him to stop.”

“He does all the time,” Matt said.

“When?” I asked him.

“He did just a minute ago. You didn’t hear it though. I heard him. I’m the boss though I can do what I want,” Matt told me.

“When you’re with me I’m the boss not you. You do what I tell you to. Not what you want. Tell him you’re sorry and you better stop before I tell mum because you know she will make you stop. She’ll separate you just like they keep you separate at school,” I warned him.

“Fine,” Matt said glaring at me before he turned to Mike, “Mike I’m sorry if I embarrass you by saying that. I don’t mean anything by it. I just want people to know they need to leave you alone because you’re my brother and you’re special.”

Mike smiled sadly at his feet and nodded his head, “I forgive you.”

“See? It’s ok. I said I was sorry. I’ll try to stop saying it ok?” Matt said to me.

“Ok,” I said as someone tapped me on the shoulder making me jump before I realized it was Cole.

“He’s gone, it’s cool. I threatened to call some pigs on him. He’s not supposed to be around places where kids hang out. That includes, Arcades, movie theaters, playgrounds, parks, amusement parks, library’s before 8pm, bowling alleys before 8pm, schools basically most public spaces,” Cole said a smug look on his face.

“Do I want to know what he did?” I asked him.

“I’ll tell you in a while,” Cole said, “You guys if you see him again you stay away from him. He is not a good person. He’s like my Dad ok? You can’t talk to him. He tries to talk to you again, you come get us. You come get Pat or me. You run away and you don’t go near him ok?”

“He’s a bad man?” Mike asked.

“Yeah,” Cole said, “You understand?”

“Yeah, I understand,” Mike said, “You understand too right Matty?”

“Yeah, whatever,” Matt said as Hunter and Christian started heading towards us with Hannah.

“Hey guys, what’s up?” Hunter asked probably reading the look on Coles face.

“Harris,” Cole said shaking his head.

“What? Where? When did he get out?” Hunter scoffed looking around.

“What did he say, Will you remember?” Cole asked me.

“Three weeks,” I answered shrugging my shoulders.

“Well Ellen’s mom just dropped her and Talya off in the parking lot. They should be coming in a second. I’ll let them know just in case,” Hunter said, “Chris do you think you’re going to still see the faculty with us?”

“I really want to. I don’t know, Talya’s a bad ass she can handle it,” Christian said.

“You sure?” Cole asked him, “I mean you and Hunter are the oldest here so it only makes sense that you would be the…”

“What? The ones in charge? We’re supposed to be chilling today. Minimal responsibility's. That’s why we invited the girls so we could all get a break from the horror show and have some fun,” Christian said, “Talia’s got it. She carries pepper spray. Anyone goes near them she will have no problem spraying them in the eyes and screaming fire trust me.”

“Ok,” Cole said nodding his head, “I’m going to go tell Pat and John about it and then we’ll pool money and go purchase tickets.”

“Hannah, you want to play some Arcade games with Mike and Matt?” Christian asked her.

“Yeah, can we play the shooter game?” Hannah asked.

“I love shooter games!” Matt said excitedly grabbing her hand and practically dragging her back towards the arcade.

“Well, I’m going to go with them make sure someone’s keeping an eye out,” Chris said, “I’ll see you guys in what? 10 minutes?”

“Yeah since the movie starts in 20 and you’re buying how many tickets?” Hunter said.

“I was going to buy for me, Dom, John, Pat, Ellen, Celia and then I was going to grab the tickets for Prince of Egypt I think or Talya is. I’m not sure sure, Tails!” Christ shouted as Ellen and Talya walked in the door, “Are you grabbing the tickets for Prince of Egypt?”

“Yeah for me, Dee, Hannah and the boys who are…,” Talya said scanning the crowd,

“They just left to go play arcade games with Christian and Hannah. They are Matt and Mike. I’m Will.”

“It’s nice to meet you. So, you’re my date for the night?” she asked teasingly, smiling as I felt my face flush lightly.

“I guess so?” I asked, “I’m going to go…and huh, I’ll be back.”

I said leaving as I heard her and Ellen break into a fit of giggles. I’d never been on a date before. I was pretty sure it was a joke but it was still weird. And she was pretty. She looked Asian with dark hair and dark eyes a little bit of an accent I couldn’t place. She seemed friendly, her whole smile spreading across every inch of her face as she giggled at me while I walked away. Walking over to find them in the middle of a hushed conversation.

“So, you’re saying he got off?” Pat asked Cole.

“That’s what he said. He said that he’s on the list for two years. He’s fucking lucky or we’re fucking unlucky. Usually you touch a kid outside the brotherhood they’ll let you rot. They should fucking let him rot, piece of shit. And he’s just over there talking to them like no one is going to know he’s not to supposed to be here,” Cole said.

“Ok, so who is this guy?” I asked Cole.

“He’s a recruit,” Cole said, “His name is Neal Harris. He got caught molesting some poor kid at the park about a year and half ago. For once Hank wasn’t the first one on scene and he was booked before Hank realized he had even been caught. So, he had to go to jail, he’s supposed to be staying on the list but apparently someone is pulling strings to get him off it.”

“What? How old was this kid?” I asked.

“Like 8 or 9,” Cole said, “Apparently it wasn’t anything serious by brotherhood standards but it was enough to scare the kid and get the attention of some strangers nearby who held him hostage and called the cops. I don’t know how bad it was but rumor in the brotherhood was he was just giving the kid a massage. A massage in the fucking park in broad day light?”

“Must have been one hell of a massage for someone to call the cops on him,” I muttered.

“He’s very touchy. Honestly, I was about ready to fucking beat him when I saw him standing that close to Matt. He’s a toucher, he’s always touching. Rubbing up against them. You know. I’m sure you have an idea of what I’m talking about right Will?” Cole asked causing me to nod my head.

When I had gone with Lionel to the zoo even when we were in public he had always been in contact with my body. Whether that was wrapping his arms around my torso or waist and holding me against his body or holding my hand. He had been touching me every second he could. It had been subtle but, it had still been unnerving. It hadn’t been something I was comfortable with or enjoyed even slightly.

Just then Kristoff tapped Pat on the shoulder two girls standing away from him a bit. They looked similar. It didn’t take much to tell they were probably twins. Somehow my life felt like it was being taken over by twins if I stopped and thought about it too hard. The only difference was one had lighter hair that was straight while the other had deep brown, long curly hair the fell neatly in ringlets over her shoulders. She looked like the nice one. If identical twins seemed to have anything in common it seemed that one was always a bit more outgoing or at the very least more vindictive than the other.

“Hi Cee, Hi Dee,” Pat said, “Did you take your happy pills today?”

“I’m going with the kids anyway remember? So, don’t you worry about me and my mood you fuck face.”

My mouth fell open or I made a sound because everyone turned to look at me Dee clearing her throat, “Sorry. Pat and I don’t get along. And you are?”

“That’s Will,” John said nodding his head at her.

“Sorry, Will,” Dee said.

“It’s ok,” I said quietly.

I knew a little bit about her from Cole and Pat. That Patrick and Delia had dated for a while before John came around. Before Pat decided he had feelings for John. I could understand why John being around would be upsetting however, I hoped whatever disdain she felt for John didn’t spread over to me and Mike and Matt. Especially when they were supposed to be protecting us. Making sure that people like this Neal guy stayed away from us.

Talya came up to me waving a ticket at me, “Will you want to help me make sure everyone has concessions?” she asked me, “Since you are the gentleman of this expedition tonight.”

I felt my face flush again. I wasn’t a gentleman and I’d hardly call a movie an expedition but her smile was big and bright again Dee going “awe…” somewhere behind me.

“He’s just shy,” Cole and John said in unison.

“Come,” Talya said grabbing my hand and pulling me away to where Matt was standing in front of the soda Machine, Mike and were attempting to wipe at the floor with napkins. Apparently one of the drinks had overflowed while Matt was refiling it causing a bit of a hold up at the drink area while Mike helped the poor girl clean it up. I grabbed a drink carrier and apologized for the mess as I finished filling the drinks and got them together.

It didn’t take long for us to actually get into the theater after that point and we actually enjoyed the movie everyone sitting quietly. The music was actually catchy and the animation was great. It’s still one of my favorite animated movies of all time. The animation of the parting of the red sea still breath taking. When we got out everyone that had been at the other movie was standing around outside talking, Christian and Hannah leaving right away as soon as Talia brought us all outside the crowd of us slowly thinning as we stood there waiting for mum to come pick us up.

“So?” Cole said after a minute or two as we watched Hunter and Ellen walk across the parking lot back to Hunter’s car and take off, “Who hopes your mom shows up first here?”

“Me,” we all muttered quietly Mike and Matt giggling slightly at the fact that we had all said the same thing at once.

“Yep,” Cole agreed nodding his head and joining their laughter.

John sighed letting go of Pat’s hand and smiling at him distractedly as someone hit him in the back with the door coming out into the parking lot.

“Sorry…” the guy said to John frowning as he looked at him, “Hey I know you. John, right?”

John gave the guy an awkward smile, “Hey.” He said.

“You remember me?” the guy asked taking a drink making that slurping sound through his straw as it sucked up the last of his drink.

John nodded his head his eyes going wide. Something seeming off. He knew this guy but he obviously didn’t like him. I could tell the guy was making him nervous. That he wanted whoever he was to go away John standing up a little straighter, scanning the area behind him. Like he was looking for someone else. Anticipating someone else being there.

“I’m kind of busy.”

“Oh well, excuse me,” the guy said turning around as someone put their hand on his shoulder him grabbing the hand of an older guy probably close to our Da’s age John going dead still like he had just been stared at by medusa and turned to stone.

“Hey there,” the guy said smiling at John.

Something wasn’t right. Something was very wrong. I remember thinking that as John took a step back Pat grabbing his shoulder.

“I heard your Dad’s out of town,” the man said his smile growing.

Yeah, ok. I didn’t know who this guy was but, he wasn’t a good guy. He wasn’t anywhere close to a good guy the way his eyes quickly scanned John’s body.

“For a while yeah,” Matt said, “Who are you?”

He made me want to smack him. I had told him not to talk to anyone. Mum had told him not to talk to anyone he didn’t know, Cole had and Pat as well as John and yet here he was talking to another strange man he didn’t know. This kid had some type of self-destructive instinct he needed to get a better grip on because right now he was on my last nerve.

“I’m your Dad’s friend, Leo,” the guy said holding out his hand and then realizing he was offering it to a small child that was frowning at him running it through his hair as he looked at Matt.

“I’ve never seen you before,” Matt said his frown growing bigger by the second as he stared at the guy.

“We don’t talk to strangers Matt,” Cole said grabbing Matt roughly by the shirt sleeve and pulling both him and Mike away leaving me standing there as I tried to figure out who this guy was and what he was doing.

“Hanging out with your friends?” Leo asked John his attention turning back to him.

I swore I heard John gulp. Whoever this guy was John didn’t like him. Not even a little bit. Pat giving John’s shoulder a squeeze smiling at the guy.

“I’m Pat,” Pat said to him.

Leo frowned at Pat looking from John to Pat and back to John again. I didn’t know what he thought he was seeing but he frowned his voice going cold, “Well Pat, I was talking to John. Who is in charge while your Dad is gone? Your Uncle? You want a ride home? Maybe I should give him a call and see what he says.”

“No,” John said shaking his head glancing around behind him as best he could without turning his back to Leo, “mum is and she’s on her way.”

Just then a car pulled up I didn’t recognize right in front of us trapping us between this guy who was standing in front of the door and the car as I looked over to see Cole holding hard to Matt’s elbow who was frowning at him, saying something to Matt in a harsh whisper, probably telling him off for talking to strangers. The window rolled down Hank leaning over the passenger side as he looked at us, looked at Cole and Pat.

John must have seen him or known it was him. He nearly tripped over his own foot stumbling into Patrick again grabbing Pat’s shoulder before he fell over, “I think I need to use the rest room. John come with me.” Pat said grabbing John’s hand hard and pushing past Leo back into the building and into the rest room. Cole looking up and looking at the direction they just went in.

“Cole could you…?” Hank shouted.

“Yeah, I got him,” Cole said not letting go of Matt’s hand which caused Mike to follow him.

I wasn’t about to stand there with those two guys because the odds of either one of them being remotely safe was pretty close to zero if they really decided they wanted to hurt someone and I didn’t know if Hank would look at me like that but, Leo the other guy had just checked my older brother and I didn’t want him looking at me like that so I too followed everyone into the bathroom.

I heard John swear loudly and then a loud bang probably as he kicked a bathroom stall or something in frustration. That guy was someone who had probably hurt John. I could tell. He froze up like that around Hank, around Da and Uncle Ben. That guy had hurt him. I didn’t know when but, he must have. That coupled with Hank pulling up behind him had probably made him feel trapped, feel sick.

At that point I wasn’t only worried about John but also Mike and Matt. How dangerous was this guy? If he had hurt John how did I know he wouldn’t hurt me? Or worse them? And mum wasn’t here. We could have always asked to go with Hank but, I wouldn’t do that to John. I didn’t even want to think about what that would do to John having to ride in a car with him. I didn’t blame him for feeling trapped. I felt pretty trapped too.

“Your ok right now,” Pat said to him.

“Barely,” John said his voice sounding like he was trying hard not to cry Cole standing there with Mike and Matt by the bathroom door him gesturing with his hand for me to go inside the bathroom and me putting a finger to my lips, telling him to be silent.
Telling him I thought we should wait.

“No, John, you’re having a panic attack right now. You need to calm down. You have three people out there that you need to hold it together ok?” I heard Pat mutter to him.

John sighed, “Ok, you’re right. I need to focus.” He said his voice sound calmer. More aware and relaxed, less emotional.

“Who is that?” Pat asked him.

I could hear the worry in Pat’s voice. Pat knew it was someone bad too. Someone that had probably hurt him. I sighed pinching the bridge of my nose something hitting me. I knew that guy. I knew him. I had seen him before and even then, he had creeped me out. Where did I know him from?

“Someone I know,” John barely muttered.

“Rabbit,” Pat said, “Don’t keep it to yourself. Talking about it can help.”

John snorted his voice getting a little louder, making him easier to hear, to understand, “He’s right out there, Pat. How the fuck is talking going to help me right now? You want to hear it’s someone I’ve fucked? Is that what you want to know? Yes, I know him very well.” John spat.

Yeah, he was really not ok. He was trying to get his emotions under control but he was scared. Panicked. I could tell by the sound in his voice he was trying not to break down again. That he didn’t want to think about how he knew that guy. That he hadn’t wanted to talk about it. That Pat asking him about it was like someone pulling teeth for John.

“Ok,” Pat said after a minute of silence, “I think I should go before my dad comes looking for me. I’ll see you later ok?” he said and then I heard a smooching sound, like maybe Pat and John kissing, “Call me and let me know you got home safe. I’ll send the kids in.”

I didn’t hear anything else but Pat walked out smiling sadly at us, Mike and Matt taking that as their que to go into the bathroom. I looked at Pat. I wasn’t sure what to say. I wanted him and Cole to stay but them staying meant Hank would be staying because he was out there waiting for them. But John might have snapped at Pat but he didn’t mean it. He was just upset. He loved Pat, I knew he did. He was just scared.

“You know he didn’t mean it right?” I asked him quietly.

“What? Oh,” Pat said nodding his head in understanding, “Yeah, I know. He’s just upset. He’ll be all right though. Make sure he gives me a call when you guys get home, yeah?”

“Yeah, I’ll make sure he remembers. I’ll try to anyway,” I said walking into the bathroom.

“I don’t feel good,” John said slowly him gripping the sides of a sink so hard his knuckles were white not really looking at anyone.

“Maybe that guy, Leo can drive us home. He said he would. All he wants us to do is call Uncle Ben or mum first,” Matt said to which John shook his head frowning at the sink as if the sink itself where the one speaking.

“Are you scared of him?” Mike asked John going up and grabbing John’s elbow.

“I huh. I don’t like him ok?” John asked Mike.

“Why? Did he suck your Dick?” Matt asked an amused smile on his face.

“MATT!” I yelled at him shaking my head.

That was very unneeded. Couldn’t he see how upset John was? Didn’t that matter to him at all that our brother was on the verge of tears in the men’s bathroom at the cinema because he didn’t like this guy? Because this guy had offered to drive us home, checked him out? He heard him tell Pat what had happened. That Leo had fucked him, raped him. Matt knew that, he had heard it and yet he had to go say something like that.

“What?” Matt said turning to me, shrugging his shoulders, “He probably did.”

“You don’t ask people that. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” I asked Matt.

“Sorry,” Matt said smiling, not looking even a bit sorry, “It happens though.”

“Not in normal families it doesn’t,” I said feeling a grimace cross my face. He had to be kidding me.

Just then someone else walked into the bathroom me looking up. It was that guy. As I looked at him, his general height, his dark brown, slightly gray hair it hit me where I knew him. Where I remembered him from. He had been at the grocery store. He had been the one following us. The guy who had kept looking at John and us while we were there with Karen. I shook my head. He knew Da?

“Give me your mum’s number. You guys shouldn’t be waiting to get home,” he said.

‘’We’d rather walk I think,” I said bravely gesturing Mike and Matt over towards me where I was standing closer to the door. I didn’t want him touching them. I didn’t want him looking at them. Nor at John. These were my brothers.

It was one of the moments where I felt most possessive of them, like it was my responsibility to protect all three of them because John wasn’t doing well. He really wasn’t. This guy had him so scared he was almost in tears. I didn’t know what this guy had done to him, not specifically but over hearing what he had told Pat made me angry. John didn’t deserve that. No one did. I wanted to guy gone and I wanted him gone now.

“Why don’t you three go wait outside while I talk to your brother?” he asked me smiling, looking at Mike and Matt and smiling.

It was a strained smile like his patience was wearing thin. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was just trying to get John alone. So, he could hurt him, touch him. That wasn’t happening. I wouldn’t let it happen. No way.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said looking at John trying to communicate to him to come over towards us so this guy wasn’t standing in-between us, so that he could leave with us. So, he could be safe with us. Mike and Matt needed him to watch out for them. And he needed me to protect him. I couldn’t protect him if he was on the other side of the room, or worse, in a different room with this guy alone.

“No,” John said while he shook his head something going on behind his eyes, him thinking about something, thinking about it carefully taking a deep breath, “Go wait for mum. I’ll be out in a second.”

At that he turned and slammed a bathroom stall door locking himself in. I could hear him heaving. I felt like my whole body was so angry I was going to start shaking. I wanted this guy, Leo. I wanted him gone. He had no right to do this to my brother. No right. That was my brother and he needed me. I wasn’t leaving that bathroom without him.

Matt pulled on the sleeve of my shirt pulling me out of the bathroom and Mike grabbed my hand making sure I didn’t fight it, that I followed them. I was mad but I didn’t want to cause a scene. There was already so much going on. John would be even more embarrassed if I tried to fight them, to stay in there. He was after all locked in a bathroom stall.

“You guys!” I said making them let go of me, “You guys we can’t leave him alone in there.”

“He told us to go wait for mum,” Matt said, “Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe this guy is dangerous ok? You don’t know. I know you want to help him but, maybe the best way to help him is to make sure we stay out of the way. So, let’s go wait for mum outside. You know he won’t come out until she gets here. And it’s a public bathroom. Someone has to go in there. An adult at some point. You know mums on her way so let’s just wait for her ok?”

Matt did have a point. I didn’t know what this guy was like only that he wanted to hurt John more than likely. I didn’t know how strong he was or how mean. I had no idea about what he was like other than he had probably been keeping an eye on John in some capacity for a while. I couldn’t just leave Mike and Matt by themselves either to sort it out. I couldn’t not when that other guys might still be around, what was his name? Neal? I knew for a fact he was dangerous. That he had gone to jail for molesting some strange boy in a park. An 8-year-old strange boy. That meant there was a good chance that if he had the opportunity he wouldn’t waste it. That he would try to hurt one of them.

Just as we made it to the front door I saw the van pull up me turning around and taking that opportunity to shout into the bathroom, “Mum’s here.”

John must have opened the stall and ran past Leo because he ran past me and outside ahead of me, just as Mike and Matt started climbing into the van me doing the same. I felt lucky. Grateful, that mum had shown up when she did. If she hadn’t I didn’t picture things going well for us. Me settling into the back seat and doing up my seat belt before I slid the door closed.

Mum looked at John and asked him if he was ok as he leaned back in his seat exhaling as she pulled out of the lot, “Yeah. Great. Fine, let’s go.”

“What’s wrong?” She asked him.

“Some guy saw him and he just flipped out,” Matt said.

“Some guy?” Mum questioned Matt frowning into the review mirror.

“Yeah,” Matt said nodding his head at mum, “I think it’s a guy who…”

I put my hand over his mouth smiling at mum. He didn’t need to tell her. It wasn’t his place to say anything about it. That and he was probably going to say something really crass knowing him and the way he worded things and I didn’t think that was something he needed to say in front of Cat and James and the rest of our siblings who were sleeping in the seats behind us.

“A guy who what?” Mum said frowning at me in the rearview mirror this time.

I felt my face getting warm. I didn’t want to think about someone doing that to John. That was gross. And you could almost feel it when you thought about it.

My brain blanking out for a second as my face flushed before I cleared my throat shaking my head, trying to shake away the feeling of the slight pinches against my ankles, slowly moving up my leg not that that past Friday but the one before as Lionel…has he worked his way up my body with his mouth. Biting and licking me every couple of inches until I couldn’t sit still. Until I was wiggling and wishing I could find my voice to beg him to stop. To just beg him to not do it anymore.

“Mum,” I said closing my eyes and saying something to pull myself back into the present, “Matty has no filter. He’s about to say something really inappropriate that you don’t need to hear and may or may not be true. So, please don’t encourage him.”

Mum sighed heavily, “Matt, you don’t answer for your brothers. Whatever you are about to say find a politically correct way to say it or don’t say it at all.”

Mike frowned at me, giving me that look like he was silently asking me what politically correct meant. They were 8. It wasn’t a phrase that my mum had often used. I don’t think I had ever heard her use it before however when I was away at boarding school the teachers would often say “be politically correct gentlemen” before starting class discussions because even at 10 sometimes rude and improper language is an issue. Especially if it’s a heated discussion.

“I think it was someone who is really friendly with John,” Matt said kind of quietly.

“Wait what?” Mum said turning away from traffic to look at John her eyes wide in fear and shock.

“I don’t want to talk about it. He made me uncomfortable is all,” John told her looking out the window.

“Well, we’ll talk about it later then,” Mum said turning back to traffic, “How was the movie?”

“It was good,” John said still looking out the window.

“We liked ours too,” Mike said nodding his head.

I saw John shake his head as he slowly turned to look at mum. So, she had no idea that he wasn’t seeing the same movie we were. I didn’t know that. However, that did make sense as to why mum had allowed him to go to a rated-R movie. Because she hadn’t known he was seeing one. If John hadn’t been in trouble before…well, he was now.

“I thought you all went to the same movie?” Mum said to him.

I saw John bring his hands up to his face. He was probably blushing. When he did something bad and got caught for it he usually felt guilty. I’d seen that look of horrified confession on his face a million times. Like the time we were 8 and visiting great Aunt Fiona and he had broken a really old vase. A really old really expensive vase.

“Was I not supposed to say that?” Mike asked me quietly.

“Don’t worry about it,” I told him as we pulled up our street and stopped for the gate to open, “You want to help me get Andy and Laura out of the car seats?”

“I’ll help,” Matt said causing me to frown.

I had told mum about some of that stuff but, I’m not sure how much she believed me because she hadn’t seemed to have done anything about it but, I didn’t trust him. Not when it came to unbuckling the buckle holding them in. That was too close to certain areas than I wanted his hands to go on our little brother. The little brother he had climbed on top of and held down. That just told me that while normal people didn’t think about that, didn’t have that thought cross their minds when they unbuckled their children his brain probably went there and I didn’t want to think of it going there.

“No, Mike can help,” I said to him as the car came to a stop in front of the garage.

Once we got everyone inside it wasn’t that hard to get everyone upstairs not with mum and John helping. I don’t know what they did but they talked about some stuff me sitting in the living room. Nothing seemed changed really. Nothing seemed different until I got back from school the next day.

Chapter Text

When I got home, mum was downstairs in the kitchen feeding Mac, Andy and Laura. It was weird. Seeing everyone downstairs. John at the table looking happy. It almost seemed like it had been back home. All of us in the house together, the real house. Happy and like a real family.

However, I did wonder why everyone was downstairs. I mean Uncle Ben was still a threat and he was probably around somewhere. The idea that he was there and Mike and Matt and James along with Cat would be home in about 15 minutes. It didn’t seem like a good idea to be downstairs.

“Why is everyone downstairs?” I asked putting my book bag down on the floor by my feet as I sat down at the table.

“Well, we’re going to be going in a while. I’ve gotten almost enough money and I figured we might as well make use of the house while we’re still here. So, I’m making a pot roast and Mary and Seamus are napping in the play pin in the living room while I feed these three,” Mum said.

“Where’s uncle Ben?” I asked her.

“Apparently he’s out of town for a bit. He said there was some stuff he had to take care of,” Mum answered my question.

“Yeah, I bet he does,” John said reaching down and putting one of his textbooks in his bag before pulling out another one.

“So, you mean I don’t have to cook dinner tonight?”

“No, everyone had a good day so I’m making a pot roast. Dinner is all taken care of love,” Mum said.

I shot John a questioning look that he didn’t see. Just the way he said what he did made me wonder what he knew. If there was something he wasn’t telling me or mum because he didn’t want us to know. It made me wonder what it was and if it was bad or…just what it was.

Me deciding to concentrate on my homework the best I could while I still had time to work on my own uninterrupted. When everyone came in there was a lot of laughing and giggling until they realized we were all right there in the downstairs kitchen Mike’s eyes going wide and him looking around like he was scared. Like he was looking for Uncle Ben.

“He’s not here pal,” John said, “He’s gone right now. Otherwise we wouldn’t be down here.”

“He’s right love,” Mum said smiling at him, “He’s gone right now. I would never have everyone down here if he was around. I love you guys too much to trust him anywhere near you.”

“Is he coming back?” Matt asked.

“Not for a couple days I don’t think,” John said.

“That’s what he told me too,” Mum said.

“Cool,” Mike said nodding his head and sitting down at the table putting his bag on the table and digging through it before pulling something out of it and setting it on the table.

“Love, don’t put your bag on the table. I’m making dinner and those things get set on the floor and dragged on the ground,” Mum said taking his bag and setting it on the floor.

“Sorry mummy I had to look for my math,” he said holding a crumpled work sheet in his fists before putting it on the table.

“It’s ok, just try to remember not to put it on the table. This table is mostly for eating,” Mum said smiling at him before she walked over, “Let’s take a look at this. Oh, this looks simple enough. Do you think you’re going to need help?”

“No, I think I’ve got it mummy,” he said as mum leaned down and kissed his hair.

By the time we were mostly done with homework dinner was ready and mum severed us before grabbing her own plate and sitting down with us. We all ate in silence for a minute or two before she asked us all a question.

“Anything exciting happen at school today?”

“We had art class today,” Catty answered her before taking a bite of potatoes, “we did models of what our world looks like. My world had black and red butterflies.”

“Why black and red?” John asked her smiling.

“Because she said what our world looks like and black and red are good colors. I like them,” she told him.

“Did you put some knifes in your world?” Matty asked Cat.

“No,” she said frowning and shaking her head, “I don’t like knifes.”

“You should. Knifes are good for stabbing bad people,” Matt told her.

“Matty, knifes are for food. Not for people,” Mum said taking a bite of her food before she drank some water giving him a quizzical look.

“Then why did that guy hold one to my neck last weekend?” Matt asked.

What? I remember thinking that. I knew that the night before the movie had been their branding but, I didn’t remember any knifes being at mine. Completely forgetting about what he had told me in the bedroom. About the knife to his throat. The idea scared me. Someone holding a knife to his throat.

Mum cleared her throat before she smiled at him calmly even though her eyes looked panicked, “What guy?” she asked him.

“When Uncle Ben took us to that house,” Mike answered for him.

John put down his fork, “Guys, can we not talk about…?”

Mum cleared her throat before shooting John a look, “No. They want to talk about it let them. What did he do with the knife Matty love?”

“He held it to my neck and said if I didn’t quit squirming he was going to cut a hole in my neck,” Matt answered before turning back to his food.

The way he said it was strange. He said it like it wasn’t a big deal. Like he got a knife held to his neck every day. Like someone threatened to cut a hole in his throat every day. He was a strange child.

“Why would he do that?” Mum asked.

She looked scared but like she was listening closely. Like she was trying to make sure she remembered it for later. I knew she had been trying to keep notes. That she wanted us to keep notes that way if we ever got away we could call the police or the FBI or something and get them arrested. Get them all sent to prison but I felt like that was a bad idea. All of it seemed like a bad idea to me.

“Because I didn’t want him sticking his thing in my throat so I bit him,” Matt said.

I nearly choked on my water. I can’t believe mum had told him it was ok to talk about this in front of our siblings many of who were under the age of 5. It didn’t seem like a wise idea to me. Especially because it would tip James off that if we didn’t get out of this he would be the next to experience that. The idea of it hurting. None of them deserved what was happening to them or going to happen to them if we didn’t get away and stay away.

“Mum, I don’t think this is something that should be discussed at dinner,” John said before raking a hand through his hair. His eyes as wide in shock was mine probably were.

“This is our lives John. It’s something that you guys need to be open with me about so that when the time comes…” John didn’t let her finish.

“You can what? Tell the cops? What good is tormenting yourself with hearing about it going to do mum? If I told you everything that ever happened to me in detail you would never get out of bed and you know it, just like I do. Andrew and Laura are almost old enough to understand and do you really want Catherine and James exposed to more of it than they have to be? Please mum, just not at dinner,” John pleaded with her.

He looked desperate. Like he just wanted to eat in peace. Like he just wanted 30 minutes where he didn’t have to think about it. Where he didn’t have to worry about what someone said or did. Where he didn’t have to worry about his mind panicking on him because he could feel them touching him when someone talked about them and what they did.

“It’s not like she doesn’t know, you realize?” Matt asked John as he put down his fork frowning at him, “I don’t think it’s weird. I just didn’t want to. Uncle Ben said it was the guys way of making sure I knew he was in charge. It’s no big deal.”

That statement worried me. That he thought that was normal. That he thought another guy raping him or doing those things to him was normal just like he thought it was normal or ok when Da did it. None of it was acceptable.

“Matt, it is weird and it’s dangerous and it’s wrong, ok? We don’t need to talk about this,” John said shaking his head as he looked at the table top.

I could tell John was close to losing it. He was shaking but trying to hide it. That’s why he had put his fork down. That’s why his hands were touching his head to hide the shaking they were doing, the tremors that were going through his body as he tried to keep himself calm. Tried to hide how upset he was from everyone.

“If it’s so wrong then why in the vid…OUCH!” Matt shouted as the table rattled a little bit mum shooting John a dirty look.

“John did you just kick your brother?” Mum asked him.

“Hey!” John hissed, “He wants to talk about his shit, fine. But, he’s not talking about mine.”

Mum shook her head glaring at him. I did have to admit that it was childish, him kicking Matt under the table. I understood not wanting Matt to talk about something that concerned him. It wasn’t fair to talk about another people’s abuse. It hurt to hear someone talk about what had happened to you. It just reminded you that everyone knew. That everyone could see it.

“You don’t kick your brothers. I don’t care what he was about to say. Who knows? Maybe it’s something I need to hear because obviously you don’t tell me things,” she said looking at John.

“I’ve told you enough,” he said shaking his head.

“Matt what are you saying?” Mum asked Matt, encouraging him to keep talking, to keep telling us all what he had been about to say.

John didn’t need to sit there and listen to that. He deserved more consideration than that. I knew how I would feel if I had to sit there and listen to someone talk about the things Lionel or Da had made me do. I would feel down right pissed. I probably would have started crying and throwing things.

“Mum, don’t,” I said shaking my head.

“No,” Mum said glaring at me, “I want to hear it. Matt, what were you saying?”

John sighed turning and looking at Matt shaking his head. He didn’t even really look angry just more tired. Tired and depressed. Tired of being reminded that this was the life we had. That there wasn’t anything we could do to stop it. That we just had to deal with it.

“Da showed me a video with John and him in bed and John was making lots of sounds. You know like happy sounds,” Matt said as John got up from the table his chair scraping the floor as he got up from the table and walked away, “He seemed like he might have really liked it.”

Mum sighed looking at John but didn’t go after him, letting him leave. She knew she had made a mistake in letting him talk about it. Everyone watching Matt. James sighing loudly before he mumbled something to himself.

“What was that love?” she asked him.

“It feels funny sometimes,” James said, “When he uses his mouth and stuff. It doesn’t really hurt but it feels really funny and sometimes you make weird sounds. That doesn’t mean John liked it though. Right?”

“Right,” Mum and I said in unison nodding our heads.

“I only make sounds like that when it feels good though,” Matt said shrugging his shoulders.

“What sounds?” Cat asked frowning at us.

“Well,” Mum said, “You know how sometimes the babies screech when they laugh and it seems like they don’t mean to but they’re doing it because it tickles?”

“Yeah,” Catty said nodding her head.

“Well, sometimes when someone is touching someone else it’s kind of like laughing only it sounds a little different. That’s the type of sounds the boys are talking about,” Mum said.

“What does it sound like though?” Cat asked.

I felt my face turning red just thinking about it. How those moans could spill out of you no matter how hard you were trying not to let them out. No matter how bad it made you feel when you couldn’t hold them back. How you almost wished you were gagged just so you didn’t have to hear them. Just so you couldn’t make them. I didn’t want to even think about those sounds. How Lionel made me make those sounds and sometimes Da.

“Willy what’s wrong?” James asked me before getting out of his seat and coming over and hugging me before he whispered in my ear, “It’s ok she’s just little. She doesn’t understand.”

“I know,” I said nodding my head as I heard my voice breaking.

“Will love, why don’t you go get cleaned up?” Mum asked me.

It was her way of telling I was excused in order to pull myself together because she could tell I was close to crying and she knew I hated crying. That I didn’t like doing it at all let alone in front of people. I nodded my head getting up and walking down the hallway and into the powder room.

I looked at myself in the mirror I wasn’t crying yet but she was right, I was close to it. I hated that he had…how Lionel made it almost harder than Da to hold back those sounds. Those sounds I didn’t want to make that seemed almost like they had a life of their own. Those gasp and sputters and squeaks. I splashed my face with water before coming back to the table.

“So, we’re supposed to write everything down?” Mike asked, “But, won’t Da be mad?”

“Da won’t know love,” Mum answered, “I’m going to start taking the wee ones upstairs. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.”

She got up from the table letting Mac out of his highchair and picking him up and walking away. I was left sitting there with my half-eaten food and Matt go up and rinsed off his plate before grabbing a sheet of paper out of his binder and starting to write something down.

“What are you writing?” I asked him.

“Mum said we should write down what happened at the party where they burned us, so I’m writing it down,” Matt told me.

“All of it?” I asked him to which he nodded his head.

“I think she meant in those journals she got us,” I told him.

“Well yeah, but mine is upstairs,” Matt told me.

“Maybe you should wait until later when we’re upstairs then?” I suggested.

I didn’t have an issue with him writing it down. I just didn’t want Uncle Ben showing up at some point unexpectedly or him leaving it out somewhere on accident where Uncle Ben could find it. I didn’t picture that ending well at all. In fact, I pictured it ending very badly. I loved Matt, I did. I didn’t want him to get hurt because of something small and stupid. I didn’t want him to get hurt for anything.

At the time I thought the treatment that he dealt with and the treatment he watched Mike deal with is probably what made him so unlike anyone else. I knew Uncle Ben could be violent. I had been on the receiving end of his temper before. I knew that probably had something to do with it but, the rest was probably something he was just born with, that it probably wasn’t his fault.

I heard mum moving around Matt eventually putting away his paper and him and Mike and going into the living room. I started doing dishes since I was finished with my homework and if Da did randomly show up he wouldn’t be happy with a dirty kitchen and mum always seemed to be in a better mood when things were clean. At some point she came back downstairs alone, putting a baby monitor on the counter and standing next to me tapping me on the shoulder to get my attention.

“Move love, I’ll wash and you can dry ok?” she told me.

“I usually wash though,” I said.

“Yeah but, I’m here and I’m moving around. The maid comes tomorrow so I can wash,” Mum said to which I scooted over grabbing a nearby dish towel, “How are you doing?”

“I’m ok,” I answered.

“You and John both got upset. I didn’t mean to upset you boys I just…this is life. The more we’re open about it and the less secrets we have the better off we’ll be. Secrets especially these type of secrets tend to be like wounds. If you don’t take care of them they fester and become dangerous. You understand that?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head, “Mum I have a question.”

“Yes, love?” she asked me.

“Well, you know how I can get into Da’s emails and stuff? Should I print them out, important ones about us?” I asked her as she turned to look at me.

“Wouldn’t he be able to tell you were reading them?” she asked me.

“Not if I read ones he’s already opened,” I told her, “If I’m careful he won’t know.”

“It would be helpful. We are going to be leaving soon. In about a month or so,” she said.

Now it was my turn to look shocked. We were leaving that soon? It didn’t save me completely. I was even supposed to see him as soon as Friday but that meant only 3 more Fridays like that at the most. That was it? Three more and I was done. I didn’t ever have to do that again?

“Are you ok?” she asked me.

I swallowed nodding my head. I was more than ok. I was grateful. I wanted to even break down and tell her why but knew that I couldn’t. That it wasn’t safe yet to let her know. That if I told her she could be killed. If she died we’d never get out.

“I’m fine, you want me to go upstairs and see what I can find out?” I asked her.

“Yes, don’t let me know when though,” she said and I nodded my head drying my hands on the dish towel before I hung it up heading upstairs.

I took a detour to the 3rd floor being careful as to what I opened once I logged into Da’s computer. I didn’t want him to know I was on it. I didn’t know much about emails but I knew you could tell when it was last viewed and where from if it hadn’t been opened previously.

I saw one that said party as the title. The writing was all in a red font and I still remember pretty clearly what it said:

Gentlemen,

I will be having an exclusive get together of a few men and a few select boys will be there as party entertainment. Those boys are in the 11 to 17 age group, Mason (Hunter) Talbot (Kristoff), Ashmore (Quinn), Cross (Alec & Brodric), Morrow (Dominic), Ford (Christian), Huber (Wallace and Finn), Huntz (Travis), Kingly (Patrick), Marks (Dylan), Merrick (Chad), McGregor (John), McOwen (Tyler), McQueen (Todd), Rodgers (Julian), Savage (Spencer), Swartzman (Rich), Baker (Alec), Gables (Cole), Wall (David & Edward), Warner (Caleb) and last but not least Winters (Samuel). Will be from 7pm on Friday until Sunday at 8am. The back room will be open but sponsorship will be on base by base.

Please allow you and your boys to get there no later than 4pm on Saturday for late arrivals in order for prep to commence. As always safe play is a must and back room activity must not involve, Scat, blood, knives. Don’t break any bones and have fun.
L.

That wasn’t the only email. There were several more back and forth that seemed to be group emails that everyone had read asking about why it was age exclusive and why it was happening. Apparently, some guy was coming in from Germany and that was his age range and they wanted him to have a selection as the one “special guest” for the evening. There was also something about a guy coming from Japan. Apparently, they had selected the boys using pictures that had been taken.

There were also several emails of people RSVPing or mentioning that were they coming or would like to attend along with others saying they were too busy with things to be there but wish they could go. There were also emails of lists of names as well as talk that the more boys were there in that range the less they had to worry about losing money. At the time I had no idea what that meant. Then I saw an email that said RE: William. My heart sank just when I had thought that maybe I would be lucky enough to duck out because I wasn’t 11, I was only 10 they had mentioned me. A private interaction between Da and Lionel my name in the subject line.

Connor,
Why are you even asking if he will be attending? The party is for 11 and up however, William is very dear to me as you know. I would like him to attend but I will handle the arrangements. No one will know he is there besides my personal staff, you and myself. He is much too special for any unnecessary exposure. He will stay in my private quarters from Friday afternoon until Saturday morning. Not even his brother will be aware he is there.
L.

So, I was kind of going. Not really but I would apparently be at the Villa. There were other emails full of numbers talking about money and transfers and other things I didn’t understand that looked like it was all financial information so I printed those out too before I took everything upstairs besides the personal exchange that I had found about me. Because I knew if mum saw that she would flip. She would beyond lose it. I didn’t give her one about the party either but when I knocked on the nursery door and she opened it I sighed heavily before I handed the emails to her.

“Mum. There’s going to be a party this weekend and Uncle Ben is taking us,” I said.

“Who is us?” she asked me.

“Me and John,” I told her.

She sighed heavily. She knew what a party meant. That it meant men repeatedly raping us. There wasn’t anything she could to stop it. We both knew that. Especially for me. She wouldn’t be able to stop any of it.

“So, if you disappear this weekend…that’s where you are?” she asked me and nodded my head.

I wanted to scream at her to do something about it, anything. To stop it from happening. That I didn’t want to be with him. That I didn’t want my body to…do that with him. But, I knew even saying his name, even telling her who he was would probably get her killed. I needed my mum to tell me it was ok and she couldn’t because she didn’t know what was going on and I was told I couldn’t tell her.

“I’ll see if I can get Vic here when it’s over,” she told me, “That gives me four days to see if I can get you out of this “party”. I’ll do what I can. I’m glad you told me love. I’ll do what I can I promise.”

“I know you will mum,” I said to her before I hugged her, “I love you.”

“I love you too. Go get some sleep,” I told her going to my room and crawling into bed.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. I remember everything weighing on my mind. My friends were on that list. Did they even know what was going on? Did anyone know? That thought replayed over and over in my mind as I tossed and turned.

I don’t remember most of the day until lunch when I sat down at the table and Todd looked at me before snorting and getting up with his tray moving to a different table. Quinn going after him and Finn shot him a dirty look.

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked him.

“No,” Finn sighed, “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Why is he mad at me then?” I asked him.

“It’s nothing you should worry about,” Finn said.

“If he’s mad at me I think I should be worried,” I said, “What did I do?”

“It’s not something you did,” Finn said, “Really. He’s just stressed ok?”

“Is this about the thing happening this weekend?” I asked him.

“How do you know about that?” Quinn asked coming back to the table, “And why do you care? You don’t have to go anyway.”

“Oh, he’s going. He won’t be with us but, he’s going,” Ted said.

“He’s only 10. It’s 11 and up,” Quinn said.

“Look,” Ted said lowering his voice, “He’s going. Trust me. He’ll be there even if you don’t see him. It sucks. So, you and Todd need to lay off him. He’s not going to have it any better than anyone else.”

Quinn sighed and looked at Ted before he looked at me and then back to Ted again, “You’re kidding?”

“No,” Ted said, “I’m not and you better not breathe a word to anyone because if you do I will make sure he knows you were the one who told. So, you tell them to lay off because he’s a kid ok? You don’t breathe a word to a single soul Quinn I swear to…”

“Yeah, I got it. I understand ok? Will, I’m sorry. I’ll tell them to stop giving you shit,” Quinn said.

“Thanks,” I said nodding my head as Quinn walked away again.

“Did you just tell him?” I asked Ted.

“Yeah,” Ted said.

I didn’t want anyone to know. That I belonged to him. I didn’t want people to know because I knew they’d either hate me or pity me and I couldn’t stand the idea of that happening. Of people doing those two things. I didn’t need their pity. I sighed closing my eyes trying to hold back the tears. The tears the humiliation of them knowing was trying to force forward.

I walked away throwing away my rubbish and went to the bathroom. I picked a stall and locked myself into it. Sitting there trying to calm myself down, trying to relax and find some sort of calm. No one came to see if I was all right. Teddy didn’t come or Finn and I felt relieved. The rest of the day I was numb.

John wasn’t home when I got home. Which was unusual. Usually he was always home. I figured he just went somewhere with Pat until it got closer to dinner time. We all stayed downstairs doing homework at the table while mum worked on making chicken on the stove. The later it got the more and more worried I felt for John.

“Mummy where’s John?” James asked as mum started putting plates of BBQ chicken, peas and mashed potatoes on the table.

“I don’t know. My friend Angela drove him to his doctor’s appointment earlier. He should be back by now. I’m going to give him 20 more minutes and then I’ll call her. The school said he missed his afternoon classes but I figured he probably just skipped. He’s is a teenager after all,” Mum said more to herself than to any of us.

“Are you sure there isn’t something else going on?” I asked mum taking a bite of my food.

“I don’t think so,” Mum said frowning before she turned around and started putting left overs into rubber mades using the spatula. Just then John came in the door.

“I was so worried!” Mum said loudly dropping the spatula on the floor and rushing over to hug him, “The school called when you didn’t come back after lunch. What happened? Where were you?”

He froze up when she hugged him. Something was off. Just the way he was carrying himself something seemed really off. I didn’t know what it was but he looked scared. Like he was on the edge of screaming as mum pulled away and he stared at his feet shrugging his shoulders.

“Did you skip?” Mum asked him a frown reaching all the way up her forehead towards her hair line.

She had to sense it too. He was after all her child. Her son. There was no way she didn’t know something was wrong.

“Yeah sure,” John said looking up from his feet a cold angry look in his eyes, “I skipped.”

Matt walked up to John, “I drew this in school,” he said holding a picture out to John and smiling.

I couldn’t tell why he was being nice, being Bruce but, he was. He was acting like a normal 8-year-old and not the Matty I usually knew. Not that one who was cold and calculated but the one that we more loved. Maybe he could even sense something was wrong so he was trying to create a distraction, pull everyone back from whatever was happening and focus our energy somewhere else.

John forced a smile as he looked at the picture, “Very nice. Let me guess, it’s out family and that one is me?” he asked stabbing a stick figure on the drawing with his index finger as he looked up at everyone the smile on his face causing his eyes to soften, to appear wet.

“Yeah, they said we needed to draw us doing something with our siblings,” he answered and then looked at John closely as they walked back over to the table.

“What?” John asked barely above a whisper.

“How come your shirt has no buttons?” Matt said grabbing at the tail end of John’s oxford and pulling on it.

John ripped it out of Matt’s hand and shook his head hugging himself.

“His shirt has no buttons?” Mum questioned after sliding a rubber made into the fridge and walking towards him.

John took a couple of steps backwards as if she was a rapid dog, or like she was Da or one of them his eyes going wide as he shook his head even more vigorously, “It’s nothing.”

“Johnathan. Come here,” she said to him, demanded of him.

The tone she had used was cold. John was trying to hide something from her and she didn’t like it. She didn’t like one bit. But, if something had occurred he had every right to not tell mum. Especially if it was something like that. Like the stuff the brotherhood did. Mum wasn’t supposed to know about what they did. It was dangerous for her to know.

“Really mum. It’s nothing,” he said sighing as he stopped backing up and she walked up to him looking at him, coming close to him.

He looked scared. Like he wanted to run, like he wanted to be anywhere else. His breathing picking up slightly as she got on her tip toes looking at his shirt collar and then checking the hem near his waist where it wasn’t tucked into his pants her frown deepening the more she inspected his shirt.

“He’s right, your shirt has no buttons. What happened?” she asked.

“Mum, nothing,” he said grabbing his shirt and yanking it out of her hands too just like he had with Matt. A shiver visibly passing down his spine as he looked at her.

She locked her jaw for a second squeezing her fist at her sides. She was angry that he wasn’t telling the truth. She would have never hit him. She knew how bad it felt to be hit. She never would hit any of us but, she didn’t like screaming. Clenching your fist or your toes sometimes helps give you a physical lock that you need in order to pull your emotions back in, in order to keep you from doing something or saying something you’ll regret.

She exhaled deeply before she spoke again, “This isn’t nothing. People don’t come home with shirts that are missing buttons when nothing has happened. What happened?” she asked him again.

“Nothing,” he said with a little shrug of his shoulders, his eyes looking around the room, anywhere but at mum’s face as he hugged himself tighter.

Whatever had happened it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about. The idea that mum was going to invade his privacy especially when he clearly didn’t want to talk about it making me slightly upset.

“Mum, he doesn’t want to talk about it apparently,” I said speaking up, “At least not in front of everyone here so can you just let it go?”

“No, I will not let it go,” she said turning to me and shaking her head at me before she turned back to John, “What happened? You need to tell me. I’m your mum.”

John’s face went from pale white to red before he opened his mouth an angry hiss coming out instead of his normal creaking voice, “If I wanted to fucking tell you I would fucking tell you! So, quit asking me!” He shouted before he ran up the stairs.

“Why is he so mad?” Catty asked looking at me, “She just wants to know where is buttons went.”

“He…it’s hard to explain,” I said, “Eat you guys.”

“Is this because of his special drink?” James asked me, “It makes him tired you said and I know when I get tired after a while if I can’t sleep I get really cranky mummy says.”

“Maybe,” I said nodding my head as I thought about it.

It would be a good way to explain it. Why he seemed to be so short tempered even though in my personal opinion mum had no right to ask him about that in front of everyone. She had an idea of what had probably happened. She wasn’t exactly stupid. So, I didn’t see the point of making him say it in front of everyone at the dinner table. There wasn’t any point to it. We all knew what had happened.

“What?” Matt asked me as I frowned at him, his voice sounding less sweet and childlike and more Batman. Bruce was gone again.

“You know what,” I said.

By now I had figured out his game a little bit. He’d act sweet and nice and then say something just a little off. To draw attention to something that might not otherwise be noticed. To try and embarrass someone or single them out. Usually he did it to me or John. That’s exactly what he had done there and I knew it.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said shaking his head at me.

“You know what you did. I don’t need to explain it to you,” I said.

“Mum would have noticed eventually,” Matt muttered taking a bite of his food.

“When she did the laundry. He has his vest on and his blazer. There’s no way she would have noticed right now without you pointing it out,” I told him.

“So? Why does it matter? His buttons are missing. So, what?” Matt said giving me a chiding look.

“Why?” I said almost laughing angrily, “You’re asking me why it matters? Because it’s none of your business and it’s not any of mums. I can’t…”

Just then there was an ear-splitting shriek that came from upstairs on the second floor. I thought it would be short scream but it kept going, Catty and James covering their ears as Matty smiled. Our brother sounded like he was fucking dying and he was smiling about it.

I couldn’t believe him. If he hadn’t of been my little brother I probably would have smacked him. I wanted to smack him anyway as I got up from the table and raced up the stairs to find mum struggling with John the best she could as he was trying to rip at his sleeves on his shirt.

It looked like he was trying to attack himself and he was screaming a wordless blood curdling scream at the top of his lungs. I had seen him do this a couple times before and so had mum. It had been right after we had left here and gone to London. Usually it happened at night while he was dreaming and he’d scream and scream and then cry and then sometimes he would mumble to himself. Mumble to Da who wasn’t there. Telling him no and to just stop. Begging him, an invisible man that was far away to stop.

She managed to pull him to the ground his screams turning into sobs, heart shattering sobs as she pushed his head against her chest, against her shirt so he could hear her heart beating, “It’s ok love. You’re ok. I’m right here love. Mummy’s right here John, it’s ok. Come back to me. It’s ok…” she said in the most soothing voice she could manage as he struggled against her. Trying to kick her and punch at her as she held on to him for dear life cradling him.

I have no idea how he didn’t hurt her. By then he was bigger than she was. Mum was only 5’0 and John probably had 3 if not closer to four or five inches on her in height. He weighed about the same as she. It wouldn’t have been hard for him to hurt her and it looked like he tried but somehow, she had managed to restrain him well enough to keep him from hurting himself or her as he cried.

He started to quiet down her sitting on the floor with him, rocking them slowly back a forth whispering into the crown of his head, “you’re ok. You’re ok love. You’re ok.”

After a minute he closed his eyes and then blinked up at her looking around confused, scared. His eyes wide.

“Where am I?” he managed his voice sounding horse from all the screaming and crying.

“You’re home. You’re safe,” she said hushing him as she continued to rock him, “It’s all right sweetie. You’re all right.”

“What happened?” he asked leaning back into her, relaxing into her as he looked up at her.

“I don’t know love. You just started screaming and trying to fight me. You’re ok though, all right?” she assured him.

“Yeah,” he said nodding his head as he moved forward mum letting him leave her arms as he stood up stumbling a little bit before he leaned up against the wall.

“Can you tell me what that was about?” she asked looking at him curiously.

I think she knew what it was. I knew what it was. Whatever had happened had been bad. It had given him a night terror during the day where he wanted whoever was hurting him to stop. Where he was begging them to stop in a way that he wasn’t allowed to when it had been happening. That it had been so real, it had confused him as to where he was and what he was doing which was why he seemed so scared and unsure in the moment.

“I don’t know,” he said a blank look on his face as he used the wall to stumble towards the lift.

I heard footsteps on the stairs and turned to look to find Matt climbing up the stairs Matt with a small smile playing on his lips, “Is John ok? He looks scared.”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” John answered barely loud enough to hear as he entered the lift when it opened him looking back at us as Mike appeared carrying Mac, “I called Dr. Palmer mummy. He’s on his way.”

Now that was impressive to me. No one had told him to call doctor Palmer but with the screaming and probably the panic it had caused in some of our younger siblings he had somehow managed to keep calm and keep his head about him enough to call Dr. Palmer. Dr. Palmer and not the police or 911 which would have probably been answered by Hank and someone else that John didn’t need to see or be around in that moment. Not when he was like that, his eyes wide and fearful as his eyes jumped around taking in his surroundings. Like he wasn’t sure where he was at or what he was doing.

Like he was waiting for someone to pop out and grab him. Someone bad. Where ever his mind was he was struggling to stay in the present. Anyone who was watching him could tell.

“Good love,” Mum said standing up and getting into the lift too, “Will can you grab Mary and Seamus and make sure Andy and Laura make it upstairs?” she managed to ask before the door shut.

“Come on Matt, you grab Mary and I’ll grab Seamus and everyone will head upstairs ok?” I said.

“Yeah no problem. Just let one of them walk in front of me in case they fall, right?”

“Right, and go slow,” I said knowing he was referring to Andy and Laura.

I would rather I didn’t need his help but, I was a 10-year-old. A 10-year-old that couldn’t move 2 babies and two toddlers on my own and Mike already had one in his arms so there was no sense in asking him for help. When we got back up the stairs which took about 10 minutes or so with the two slow pokes we were required to escort and made it to the lift the lift was already coming back down, mum inside it. James and Cat having followed us slowly up the stairs.

“Thank you, boys, such a big help,” Mum said bending down and picking up Laura who blinked her tiny fist at mum.

“Mummy I’s stirs me seeth,” Laura mumbled at her and Andy giggled and nodded his head.

“You used the stairs by yourself?” Mum asked which Laura nodded her head and giggled, “Oh you are getting so big. Both my pudding and my firelight. My big kids now huh?” she said kissing Laura on the cheek as we all climbed into the lift.

“Is John ok mum?” James asked her quietly.

“Yeah, he’s all right love. He just…he’s had a bad day is all. He didn’t mean to scare anyone,” Mum said.

“Why was he screaming?” Cat asked mum.

She sighed looking at Cat like she wasn’t sure how to explain it. I had some idea about what it was even if I didn’t know what it was called.

“I think he had a bad dream,” I said trying to figure out the best way to explain, “Only he was awake.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

“Well you know how when you play pretend sometimes you can see things you’re pretending like when we pretend the floor is lava and you can almost see the lava?” I asked her.

“OH yeah!” James said excitedly.

“I think it was like that. Only it was scary,” I told them, “So he screamed. He’ll be ok though.”

“Maybe he just needs a nap,” James said which made me smile a little bit.

“I think your right love,” Mum said smiling too, “He just went to his room to lay down. Will how about you put a movie on? Can you do that?”

“The sword and the stone?” James asked looking at mum.

“I’ll watch it,” Matt said surprising me.

“Me too,” Mike agreed.

“Ok, the sword and the stone it is,” I agreed.

Once we got everyone upstairs and I had turned on the movie mum had moved everyone to the nursery that needed to be there since it was nearing 6:30 pm which was what time Andy and Laura and the babies went to lay down for the night so I knocked on the bedroom door.

“Come in,” Mum mumbled as I opened the door to find her changing Mac’s diaper.

“Is he really ok?” I asked her.

“I think he will be. He got up here and immediately started drinking,” she told me shaking her head sadly, “Otherwise I think he’ll be fine after some rest. I’d still like doctor palmer to come by though. He told me my friend didn’t stop by but, her husband did. That’s when he started screaming so I think…” she trailed off and I cleared my throat.

“They’re everywhere mum,” I said, “I’ll look at Da’s emails again tonight print out any that I think might be worth it.”

“Ok,” she said nodding her head, “I wish I could stop this. First hearing about that damn get together they have planned this weekend and now this…it makes me feel like such a horrible person that I can’t stop it.”

She was admitting to me that she couldn’t stop it. That she knew there wasn’t that much she could do to keep us safe other than leave with us. If that even worked. And Da had told me she was dumb. Obviously if she had come to that conclusion even if it was late in coming that meant she wasn’t dumb maybe just too hopeful that things would change and get better if she stuck around. Otherwise we would have been long gone before we had moved back to the states.

“You’re not a horrible person mum. You’re a good person,” I said, “Maybe you can’t do anything to stop this weekend from happening or whatever happened today but, you’re going to find a way to stop it forever soon and I know you will.”

“Thank you love,” she said putting Mac down in his crib before she came over and hugged me, “For believing in me.”

“I know you want to keep us safe. But Da’s a really bad person mum. Every time you try he hurts you. That’s not your fault. I know you fight for us and that you’re going to save us. Because I know you love us.”

“Thank you love,” she said again as the com buzzed meaning Dr. Palmer was there.

I nodded my head as she walked away. I didn’t want to see Dr. Palmer. I didn’t want to hear his warnings or what he had to say to me. I didn’t want to listen to him tell John off for drinking. So, I stayed in the nursey for a little while. I grabbed Mary and rocked her. The only light in the room a night light plugged into the wall her fuzzy light baby hair that framed her face little almost like little flames when the light caught it just right. I didn’t spend enough time looking at them. Admiring how innocent and precious they were.

Most of the time I was just wishing they weren’t so cranky or I was thankful they were sleeping but very rarely did I get to spend time with them when they were quiet and I wasn’t expected to take care of them. Very rarely did I get moments where I could just admire them and how sweet and beautiful they were. How someone wanted to take that away from them and it wasn’t even a stranger but our Da. It broke my heart thinking about it but, they were beautiful and handsome. With ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. Green eyes all of them. I noticed that Mac and Laura sucked their thumbs and that Mary was just starting to suck on hers as well.

Mum didn’t come and get me and by the time I left the nursery everyone else was in bed and the movie was over. Me going to go grab and drink and looking at the clock on the range realizing it was 9:30 and that I was supposed to be in bed. I turned around to find Dr. Palmer coming out of John’s bedroom and coming down the hall towards the lift.

“Will?” he asked quietly as he came towards the kitchen.

“Hi Dr. Palmer,” I said.

“I’m surprised you’re not asleep. Your mum thought you were and she went downstairs to clean up,” Dr. Palmer said, “How are you doing?”

“I’m ok,” I said.

I felt pretty ok. At least compared to John. I knew I only had another day and then…I’d see him again. The anxiety was almost like waiting for the impact of a car crash. It was almost worse than the damage the impact itself would cause. However, I was holding it together and my time with my youngest siblings had been peaceful, relaxing. Just staring at them and enjoying their company in a way that I didn’t get to do that often.

“Are you sure? I meant to come by after the 8th but, I’ve been unexpectedly busy,” Dr. Palmer told me.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” I said again nodding my head.

“Do you know about what’s going on this weekend?” he asked me.

“Yeah,” I said, “I read Da’s emails. I know.”

“So, then you know…?” he trailed off the question unfinished and I nodded my head a little bit more and finished the question for him.

“That I’m going? Yeah,” I said.

“Do you want to know what it will be like? For you, I mean,” he said.

“I think I have an idea,” I answered.

My chest felt tight. I didn’t want to do that again. Not like at the zoo. Not like how it had been in the car on the way back. I knew that’s what it would be like though. His words quiet but demanding, making sure I understood I had to do what he said. That I wasn’t allowed to say no even if he lied and said I was.

“How does that make you feel?” he asked me snapping me back to the conversation, away from my thoughts.

“How is it supposed to make me feel?” I asked him quietly.

“There’s not right way to feel about it Will,” Dr. Palmer said.

“Well, there’s also nothing I can do about it,” I murmured.

“There is someone very important coming from a different country. He’s not violent but, he’ll want to see you,” Dr. Palmer warned me.

“What does that mean?” I asked him.

“Well, he’s…different. He’s into roleplay. I’m going to assume you don’t know what that is,” he told me to which I nodded my head.

“He’ll if Lionel lets him be with you they might want you to wear a diaper or something. He also has a thing about lace panties. So, it would just depend on his mood,” Dr. Palmer told me.

I felt my face heating up in the dark. I hadn’t worn a diaper since I was 2. I didn’t want to wear one especially for that. And lace panties were something girls wore. Guys didn’t wear that stuff. I didn’t want to do any of those things. That sounded gross.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked him.

“So, you’re not caught off guard if Lionel does let Hou near you,” Dr. Palmer told me.

“I’ve been talking to Teddy and Cole,” I said.

“Don’t tell Lionel that,” Dr. Palmer said in a brisk tone, “He’ll be upset if he hears that. He doesn’t like people talking about their relationships with him.”

“I already figured that,” I answered, “Is that it? Can I go to bed now?”

“Will. I’m just trying to help,” Dr. Palmer said.

“If you really wanted to help you would have made sure my Da never made me be with him,” I said shaking my head.

“Once he decided he wanted you there was no stopping him,” Dr. Palmer said, “You have to understand that. If you’re Da would have said no he was risking a lot. He was risking you being stripped. It’s where they cut the brands off of you and then rebrand your left hip as a one. You would have both been dead within a week because your whole family would have been labeled traitors. He would have made sure your younger brothers and sisters were kept alive long enough to get their trust and sign it over to him. The only thing Lionel likes more than sex is money. He would have killed your parents and that would be that. You want you siblings to grow up in a dungeon? I didn’t think so.” He said in response to my silence.

“He says I can tell him anything you know that, right? That he wants me to be honest with him and tell him what I’m thinking,” I said.

“It’s a trick. To get into your head and make you believe that he’s listening to you. He’s seeing how far he can push you. How much he can get you to trust him,” Dr. Palmer explained.

“Why though?” I asked him.

“I’m not even honestly sure but I’ve seen him do it to each of his boys,” Dr. Palmer said, “I’m going to go get Patrick and we’re going to leave now. Thank you for talking with me.”

“Goodnight Dr. Palmer,” I said quietly as he walked down the hallway and I finished my drink of water before I myself turned and went down the hallway shutting the door to my own room just as him and Pat quietly came out of John’s bedroom.

Chapter Text

I slept even worse that night than I had the night before. It was Wednesday and the day after was Thursday and then it was Friday. One of his Friday’s and also the start of a weekend party. The party was supposed to go all weekend long and I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be there because I couldn’t remember. I woke up early and got ready for school early that morning just so I could check the emails again. Just so I could check the computer and see if they had said anything else about me.

There was another email that had already been opened with my name as the title and I opened it up.

Connor,
As you know we will have special guest attending. Mr. Hou thinks I have an impeccable taste in young friends and would like to meet with William if that is ok with you. Since it is in the contract that we discuss these matters I figured I would send you an email even though I’m sure you’ll have no objections about this encounter. Hou is kind and a wonderful friend, colleague and brotherhood member. His AOA is between 6 and 12 much like my own and actually shares many of the same tastes that I do. He is into femme play but, I figured that wouldn’t be an issue for you.
Please let me know,
L

There was an email in response to it.

Lionel,
I have no problem with any of that I do enjoy that you are respecting the perimeters set up in the contact. I actually have a request if he’s into femme play. Could you perhaps have a picture or two taken. I think it’d be really interesting to see Will all dolled up. Might help me imagine myself with a new little girl perhaps a daughter with blonde hair and big green eyes (all of my daughters have the same red hair as Johnathan). It would be interesting to see what another daughter might look like if Danielle ever gets past her secondary infertility. I do plan to have more children as you know since we have previously discussed my plans to provide the brotherhood with such. I hope you have fun. Are you planning on picking him up after school is out on Friday for a fun evening before you take him to the Villa or do you want me to sign a release form so you can take custody of him that morning? If so just pick him up outside of school and I will tell Danielle that you are in town and wanted to take him and show him the office. She trusts you and won’t suspect a thing.
Connor.

There was still one more email and that one made me feel sick to my stomach;

Connor,
You would do that for me? That would be lovely, I would love to take him to the science center in Orlando for the day before we head to the Villa. I think it would be a very enjoyable experience for us so if you could sign a release that would be amazing. Thank you so much.
See you soon,
L

So, I wasn’t even going to school Friday unless you counted the front of school as going to school. He was instead going to take me somewhere else and then out to the Villa. I had heard of the science center. I had a field trip planned for March right after spring holiday. It was something that we were all excited about, my classmates and me. It was going to be the last year that we went there because we were starting to get too old for the kid’s center. So, I was going to go there with Lionel as well. Only earlier than my classmates. To me it sounded horrible. I didn’t want to go on another day trip somewhere with him. The zoo had been bad enough, him grabbing my hand whenever he had a chance, commenting on how my shorts and been a nice choice for the day because they would help make sure I stayed comfortable in the Florida weather. How at one point he asked me if I was too hot and suggested I take my shirt off as he rubbed my shoulders.

How he did that in front of people, in front of everyone and no even cared. No one even looked or noticed. No one helped me. How he didn’t even let me use the bathroom on my own following me every time I went and waiting outside the stall door for me to finish so I couldn’t even breathe. It had been horrible and then…the car ride back. Me wishing I was in any other car but his. Me wishing I was anyone but me as he demanded I take off my shorts and then… as he did that to my body.

When I got to school I must have shown I was upset because before I could say anything Cole grabbed me and forced me to follow him into a bathroom off the main corridor that connected all of the wings together that made up the lower, upper and middle schools. I sighed looking at him questioningly as he checked all the stalls.

“What’s going on?” he asked me, “Is this about John and last night?”

“How do you know about that?” I asked confused for a minute.

“Pat tells me everything,” he sighed, “Are you ok? Is this about the party? You look like you want to cry.”

“Friday is in two days,” I said simply.

“Yeah,” he said not catching what I was inferring, “What about it? It’s not a party you have to go to.”

“It is,” I said, “No one is supposed to know I’m there because I’m not a part of the party but, I’ll be there.”

Coles mouth dropped open is eyes going wide, “But you’re…you’re 10.”

“I’m not even going to be in school Friday. He wants to take me somewhere,” I was barely able to mutter, “I don’t want to go.”

“Where is he taking you?” Cole asked me quietly.

“Science center,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“I doubt it,” Cole said, “He’ll be way too busy since people start arriving around 11 on the Friday a party starts usually. I’ll be there but if no one knows you’re supposed to be there I doubt I’ll see you. I’ll be too busy in the prep room anyway.”

“I’m not sure if that’s better or worse. At least I won’t feel like I’m on display and like no one cares,” I said.

“I remember that feeling,” Cole said smiling sadly, “Looking around and wondering why no one can see how unhappy you are. Why no one is asking him why he keeps rubbing your shoulders and won’t leave you alone.”

I nodded my head. I understood that feeling well. Wondering why no one could see it. Could see how scared you were of him. How you wanted to tell someone, to ask someone for help but you knew you couldn’t because there was no one that could ever possibly help you. Not ever.

“Has he ever made you go to the Villa?” I asked him quietly.

“Well, he does live there when he’s here,” Cole said, “He has a private wing kind of like a little apartment inside the Villa. It’s kind of weird it’s three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a kitchen and living room. He’ll be too busy to do things to you for most of the day so you’ll probably just hang out and watch TV until everything gets up and moving. Then it’ll be well, you know what it’ll probably be.”

I nodded my head. I felt embarrassed about it. All of it but, I wanted to know if I was alone or not. If he had…made Cole do that or not.

“Cole?” I asked so quietly I was surprised he heard me.

“Yeah?” Cole asked me coming closer to me, close enough that I didn’t have to get any louder for him to hear me clearly.

“Did he ever…?” the words got lost in my brain. How I wanted to word it. What I wanted to say.

“Take your time,” Cole said reaching out and offering me his hand which I took him giving mine and gentle squeeze, “You can ask me or tell me anything you need to ok?”

“Did he ever bite you? Like not hard but, kind of hard and then…”

“Yes,” Cole said, “he liked the way it made me squirm,” Cole told me his eyes going dark before he closed them taking a deep breath, “Don’t think about it ok? Just know you aren’t alone. He’s scary I know he’s scary. He’s scarier than my dad and my dad is a pretty scary person and so is yours. Just don’t think about it.”

“He tickled me too,” I said before I started crying.

“It’s ok,” Cole said opening his arms and letting me hug him, “He did that to me too. For a long time, I couldn’t let anyone tickle me. Not even Pat. The longer you’re without him when it’s over though the easier it’ll get. I promise.”

“I just don’t want to do it anymore and he just started,” I managed to mumble.

“I know,” Cole said, “You’re not alone though ok? I’m right here,” Cole assured me, “And you know I know what he’s like. If you have to talk about it you talk about it to me and we’ll have a hug session and a cry ok? You’re not alone.”

“I just wish I could tell mum or John,” I said, “Someone.”

“I know. I’m someone. You’re not telling them because John can’t handle it right now and your mum. You know what would happen to her. He would either make your Dad lock her up somewhere or he’d get rid of her. Probably like he did that boy to punish me. You need her. You all need her and she’s a good mom. She really is,” Cole assured me, “It would tear her apart to know that your Dad is letting someone do this to you. Especially if she knew the things he does.”

“I know. I know that’s why I can’t tell her,” I agreed, “I just wish that he didn’t like me. I wish I wasn’t…”

“His? Me too. I wouldn’t ever wish that on anyone. I hate that you have you go through this. You don’t deserve this Will ok?” Cole said as the bell rang.

“Well,” I said whipping my eyes on my sleeve before going over to the sink, “I guess that’s our que to…,” I paused to turn and look at Cole as he handed me a wetted down paper towel.

“Put it on your eyes leave it on each eye for one minute and no one will know you were crying,” Cole said smiling at me, “You’re much too handsome to go to class with blood shot eyes.”

“Not really,” I said snorting slightly.

“No,” Cole said, “Really. Not beautiful, not cute, handsome ok?”

I nodded my head, “Thanks,” I said feeling my face heat up.

“No problem. Don’t think about it too much and do yourself a favor, one minute on each eye as you walk to class. I’ll see you later ok?” Cole asked me.

“Yeah,” I said, “Have a good day.”

He held the door open for me as I held the wet paper towel over my left eye and walked to class. I don’t remember what happened in class that day or even at school my brain was probably too full of worry. I know I talked to Finn a little bit him doing most of the talking.

He talked about his horse. He really liked his horse. Not in a gross way but in a way that someone who enjoys spending time with their pet loves their pet. He told me he had named his Horse Timber while his brother Wallace had decided to name his stallion Bob. Because you know Bob is such an eloquent and creative name for a horse. I mostly just smiled and nodded my head. We made our way to lunch. Teddy pulling Finn into a noogie for a minute before he sat down.

“So how are you two doing?”

“I’m ok,” Finn said, “Would be better if you wouldn’t have messed up my hair.”

“Come on, it’s a good look for you,” Ted said smiling as Finn tried to flatten his hair.

Usually Finn kept his hair gelled down. Little spikes of hair sticking up in a couple different places. The only problem was the gel tended to dry after a while and if someone touched your head it just flaked off all over the place like dandruff might, making it look like it had snowed on your shoulders and down the back of your blazer. So, Finn didn’t like people touching his hair.

He had nice hair. Golden brown hair however it did seem a bit unruly without the gel. Sticking up in odd places whenever Ted did manage to get his hands on it. Certain pieces curling in at weird angles because they had lost the concoction that was keeping the strands straight instead of turning inward on themselves showing their natural wave. I understood why that would properly annoy him.

“I hate my hair,” Finn said.

“Why? It’s nice hair. You do realize that there’s nothing wrong with not having straight hair?” Teddy said smiling sheepishly at him.

“Saturday, I won’t be allowed to do my hair anyway so you really had to go and mess it up today?” Finn snorted in frustration still trying to comb his fingers through his hair and get it under control.

“Finn, it doesn’t look that bad,” I sighed looking at him.

“Really?” he asked.

“Yeah, really,” Ted agreed with me, “Other than the fact that I ruined your hair, how are you doing?”

“Wishing I could see Timber this weekend instead of going to that damn…,” Finn trailed off sighing.

“Yeah,” Ted agreed before we all fell silent.

“Has Julian talked to any of you guys?” Ted asked suddenly.

“No, he doesn’t really talk to me,” I answered.

“I’m refusing to talk to him. He’s a homophobic ass. I’m sorry but some of my best friends happen to be gay and I’m not into listening to someone call them perverts when that is not what they are,” Finn said smiling at both of us.

“He hasn’t said anything to me,” Ted admitted.

“Well you did kind of come out to everyone,” Finn said, “And he doesn’t like gay people.”

“I didn’t really. Did I?” Ted asked him frowning as he popped open his can and drank some of his soda.

“Yeah you kind of did. You said and I quote “I don’t know because I’m gay? But, maybe I’m not,” Finn said smiling.

“Well, Todd’s still talking to me and he still talks to Julian,” Ted said shrugging his shoulders.

“That’s because Todd’s intelligent,” Finn said, “I’m sorry to say but Julian is kind of…he’s very emotional.”

“Well, you have to admit that it could be confusing,” I said quietly.

“What?” Finn asked me.

“What they do,” I said taking an intense interest in my green beans.

“What do you mean Will?” Ted asked me.

“Just like…,” I shrugged my shoulders still staring at my food.

“Will whatever you’re thinking it’s not true ok?” Finn said, “Look at me.”

I sighed and swallowed looking up at them. They both had worried frowns on their faces. They both had an idea of how I felt, how I thought I was. It wasn’t something I had openly admitted to Ted but, he had an idea probably because of his grandpa. Because it seemed every boy he chose had that trait in common.

“You’re nothing like them,” Finn said his face hard, serious, “You’d never hurt anyone. You know that deep down and we know that. There’s no doubt in my mind about it. You would never hurt anyone Will. They are very different from you. You understand?”

“How do you know though?” I asked him.

“Wal is very…open about stuff and he’s very similar to them. He calls himself gay but he’s like them. I’m not saying you can’t be both but I know you and you are one of the kindest people I know. There is nothing like you that similar to them ok? If anyone thinks there is they obviously don’t know you. So, don’t even think that,” Finn said.

“He’s right,” Ted agreed nodding his head, “There’s nothing about you that’s like them. Not a fucking thing ok?”

I nodded my head slowly. I hadn’t voiced that to anyone. Let anyone know that was something I was afraid of. That me wanting to touch Cole, to kiss him could mean something else. Something worse than just being gay. Something bad.

“I don’t know, I just,” I shrugged my shoulders.

“There’s nothing about it that you need to question,” Finn assured me.

“How many people know?” I asked them.

I knew people talked about things. That people were probably talking about me. About how I was his boy. How I belonged to him. No one would have ever said anything about it to my face but, I was aware that people probably knew. I just didn’t know how many or who.

“From me?” Finn asked, “I haven’t told anyone. I said I wouldn’t and I won’t.”

“I don’t know who knows exactly but some people have put patterns together,” Ted said, “It took me a while to figure it out myself. Cole pointed it out to me last year. That Louis was and then Kris and…obviously he is. I don’t remember ever even questioning what it was but, you have to understand…”

“Yeah, it’s ok Ted. We understand,” Finn said nodding his head looking around the lunch room to see who was where and if anyone was listening.

Ted meant we had to understand he was raised differently. That his life growing up had been different than those of people with normal families, if any family can ever be considered normal. He was raised in away where he was forced to make out with his older brother. Where his mom encouraged them to let their grandfathers touch them like that so to him for a long time there wasn’t a concept of gay. It was just life. That was just the way it was. Guys just did that with each other and there hadn’t been a label on it. There usually isn’t when you’re four, five, six.

Ted nodded his head in agreement smiling sadly, “That’s ok though. I mean it’s over, right? For the most part. I am what I am and guess everyone knows now.”

“Knowing how Quinn likes to gossip probably,” Finn agreed, “However at least you’ll know who has a problem with it and who doesn’t. The people who do will either say something and you can tell them to fuck off or they’ll just quit talking to you.”

“You won’t tell anyone about me, right?” I asked Ted quietly.

“What? Oh, no,” Ted shook his head vigorously, “That’s your business. Are you guys ready to deal with all of…” he gestured with his hands, “That?”

“You mean this weekend?” Finn asked as he started shaking his head, “Never.”

“Right?” Ted said, “I just feel like sleeping for forever after it’s finally over.”

“Guys could we not...?” I trailed off as Finn nodded his head.

“We shouldn’t anyway. It’s ok to be nervous.”

I wasn’t going to be public property but, I was going to be there. Ted had told everyone as much and no one had been mean to me since. Or given me shit. So, someone must have said something about it. That I was supposed to be there too even if I was out of the age bracket the party was set up for. I had no idea what it would be like. Being at a gathering like that.

I did have questions about it but, I didn’t necessarily want them answered. Sure, the mystery of it scared the shit out of me but, if it was anything like learning about Lionel I was sure I didn’t want to know until I had to face it for myself. That maybe it was better to be surprised and anticipating anything could happen than having to worry about what may happen and when it would.

“My mom is getting us a puppy,” Ted said suddenly.

“A dog really? Your mom with a dog?” Finn asked and Ted smiled and shook his head.

“We’ll have it for about 8 weeks and then she’ll give it away. It’s the same thing she did with the last one,” Ted said.

“Why get another one if she’s only going to get rid of it?” I asked Ted.

“Luke wants a puppy really bad. He’s six but, I think maybe she feels a little guilty sometimes so she’ll give into him until she can’t stand the fact that it’s pissing and shitting all over the house and then she’ll tell him it ran away. She’ll wait a couple months and then try again. This is the third one,” Ted told me, “Hopefully she’ll either wise up and get an older dog after this one or she’ll just stop. For me it was cats. I still have Stormy but cats litter train themselves and we do have a maid. So, she just scoops the box once a week when she comes to clean the house. He usually stays in my room especially when mom is moving around.”

“When did you get your cat?” I asked curious about it because he had never mentioned his cat before.

“I was like seven. He’s six now so he’s a lot calmer then he used to be. Knows who to trust and when it’s ok to come out and not hide. He hides a lot,” Ted told me.

“We still have Cosmo,” Finn said and Ted made a whistling sound smiling.

“Damn that dog is older than dirt,” Ted said, “Does he still climb in your lap every chance he gets?”

“Of course. I mean sometimes he falls off the couch while trying to get into your lap now because he’s like half blind but, he still tries bless his soul. He loves Wal to death still, the only thing that does. I don’t hold it against him though. I mean someone needs to love Wal,” Finn said.

“You know you love him even if he’s a horrible person,” Ted said, “I mean it seems like it’d be conflicting but I do love Louis even if I don’t like him as a person and he’s right in the same boat as Wallace I swear.”

“My younger brother Matt seems like that. He’s…different,” I chimed in.

“How?” Finn asked as Teddy sat up straighter both of them looking at me.

“Well, he’s manipulative. He’s angry a lot. He says things that are unsettling just to see how you react to them. He’s killed lizards and rabbits before. Probably one of the reasons my parents won’t let us have pets. He’s been violent. When he was little he used to pinch and hit James. He’s nine I think he even did it to Cat and maybe even Andy and Laura a little at first until mum caught him. He hasn’t done it since. He’s just…different. I think he’s scary sometimes,” I said.

“I don’t remember Louis ever doing anything like that to me but, he is older than I am,” Ted said.

“Wallace has a thing about fire. He really likes fire but he’s never really hurt anyone. I mean he once set his trash can on fire when I was like six so he had to of been maybe 11 or 12. My dad was not happy about it but, Wallace swore up and down it was an accident. He had found my dad’s lighter and had been playing with it. Otherwise he’s never been physically violent I don’t think,” Finn said.

“Those are the type of kids my grandpa likes. The violent ones. Apparently, they make for good…anyway. It doesn’t matter. Sorry Will,” Ted said looking at my face.

Was he saying they were going to try to turn my brother into one of them? One of the trackers and then eventually a handler? The thought made me feel sick. Probably because I knew he was capable of it. Capable of being like that, like Uncle Ben. I didn’t want to think about it but, it made me think the sooner we managed to get away the better off we would be. The better off everyone would be but, especially Matty.

“You really need to find better topics at school Ted,” Finn said, “You know how much trouble we’d get into of Watson caught us talking about that shit at school? He’d tell your what do you call him again? Pop?”

“Papa,” Ted said, “I realize and I’m sorry. I just it’s not like I have a lot that goes on in my life. It’s all about that you realize? Every dinner table conversation, every phone call him or mom makes, everything Louis talks about. All of it. When it’s all they talk about it, it’s all you think about.”

“That’s not true. My dad doesn’t talk about that stuff in front of me really and it’s all I think about to a point,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“Yeah, but you’re smart enough to know you shouldn’t talk about it,” Finn said.

“Ted’s smart too he just doesn’t have a filter,” I said, “He talks about whatever he’s thinking, says what’s on his mind. I mean that can be a good thing but usually it’s not. Not when life is like this.”

“Sometimes I think like what if this isn’t life at all,” Ted said proving my point causing Finn to give him a weird look.

“What do you mean?” Finn asked.

“Like what if ok, and this is going to sound crazy but, what if we’re dead?” Ted said making us both balk at him, “No but like. What if we’re dead and this is hell or like just our brains trapped inside our bodies and this is all in our heads. What if life wasn’t really that bad all? Or what if we were like mass murders and so this is hell’s punishment for us. Having us in the passenger seat for all eternity.”

“Come on. Nothing could be that cruel. I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that,” Finn said.

“Me too,” I said, “I can’t believe that this is all there is. There has to be something better somewhere.”

“For you I’m sure there is,” Ted said smiling sadly at me, “For me though. I’m afraid of what’s next if this is life so you guys should really wish me luck as I get older.”

“You won’t be like them either Teddy. You might be a spaz but, you would never hurt anyone,” Finn said.

“You can’t say that. You don’t know that,” Ted said shaking his head, “I’ve seen what happens.”

“And now we’re back on that topic again. How is it you always turn the conversation there Teddy? What type of talent is that?” Finn asked.

“Less of a talent more of a lame super power,” Ted muttered as the bell rang, “Well, back to class. See you guys tomorrow, same time same place?”

“Yeah,” I agreed and got up clearing up my trash.

The rest of the day nothing really happened at school. The day finished and when I got home mum wasn’t downstairs for once that week. It felt more normal though, less weird. Me going upstairs and finding mum cleaning up the living room and hearing music coming back from the back area. James wasn’t at home though so I went to go check it out. It was a speaker. I hadn’t seen him touch his piano since the week after. I mean we had been busy but usually every weekend it was something he wanted to do for an hour or two. It was weird.

“Hi mum,” I said walking back and going into the living room sitting down.

“Hi love. How was school?” Mum asked me.

“It was ok. Not a lot happened,” I answered her.

“Da called me,” she told me.

“Oh?” I asked trying to sound more curious than scared.

“He said Lionel is coming into town on Friday and he wanted to know if he could take and to his office here with his grandson Ted and that maybe you could spend the night at Ted’s house. I actually called Lionel after that. He said he asked your Da about it. That because you’re smart and you seemed interested in the idea at Christmas. I asked him if your Da would be around and he said no. He said something about taking you to a museum if I let him pull you from school. I think it’d be a good idea. I mean between John and your Uncle and everything else you could probably really use a break,” Mum told me.

“So, you told him yes?” I asked trying not to sound upset about it.

“I know people make you nervous but, he said you knew Teddy that you were friends. It’s not like you’d be alone. There are going to be people around all day and Lionel’s never hurt you,” Mum said, “So I told him yes. I’d figured you’d like it. Doing something else besides just going to school and it will still be educational.”

I just nodded my head Mac starting to fuss causing me to pick him up out of the playpen that was behind the couch that way mum didn’t have to stop her cleaning and hush him, “Hi baby do you need a diaper change?”

“yes,” he said causing me to smile.

“I got it,” Mum said smiling at me as I handed him over, “Are you mummy’s stinky boy?” she asked him causing him to giggle and say yes again. At the time it was one of the few words he said clearly enough for everyone to understand. She took him off to the nursery.

So, he had called mum and told her his plan. She had said yes. She really believed he wouldn’t hurt me. I knew she didn’t know but it still hurt that she trusted him. That she thought he was a good guy when he really wasn’t.

It made me angry that he was lying to her and that I had to lie to her. However, I did hope he was telling the truth about Teddy being there that way I didn’t have to be alone with him. It didn’t matter where we were going, I didn’t want to be alone with him.

She didn’t make any fancy for dinner that night, Mac and cheese with hotdogs that was ready before everyone else got home from school. Pat came out of John’s bedroom as I was walking towards the lift to go meet the bus.

“Pat?” I asked.

“Hey,” Pat said, “I was dropping homework off for John. He didn’t go to school today.”

“I figured he probably didn’t. I mean yesterday was…,” I trailed off.

“Yeah. That’s what your mom thought too,” Pat said nodding his head, “How are you doing?”

“I’m ok,” I answered.

“You look…stressed,” Pat said.

“It’s just tomorrow and then Friday,” I said getting into the lift with Pat.

“I can see that. I thought you were out of bracket though,” Pat said frowning at me and I noticed he didn’t have his bag with him.

“Are you leaving?” I asked him.

“No, not yet. I figured since we were talking and you were on your way down to grab the kids I’d come with,” he filled me in.

“I’m…,” I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders.

I really didn’t want to talk about it. How I would be there but not there. How I was going to be spending probably the day with Lionel and then the night. I didn’t want to have to think about it until it had to happen. I didn’t want to talk about it, especially not with Pat who would probably tell John.

“You’re a lot like Cole used to be,” he told me as the lift opened.

“Am I?” I asked him.

“Yeah, you get this look on your face like you want to say something but then you don’t say it. You think before you speak. Cole still does that he just hides it more. You can’t always see it on his face anymore but, he used to be easy to read. Like you are,” he notified me.

“I’m easy to read?” I asked him.

“Your facial expressions. I can tell you wanted to say something but, you didn’t. You can tell me you know? I won’t tell John if that’s what you’re worried about,” Pat told me as we walked to the front door and I pulled it open.

“It’s not that,” I said, “I’m just not supposed to talk about it.”

“Ah,” Pat said, “I’d heard rumors about that. Before you ask no it wasn’t Cole. This kid Julian was talking to this other guy I know named Spencer and he said something about you.”

“What did he say?” I asked him.

“Well, he called you some not nice names and said you were stuck up and that you were privileged. That he thinks there’s nothing special enough about you for…certain people to have an eye on you,” Pat summed it up for me, “Why he’s talking to Spencer anyway I don’t know. I mean Spencer is tracker city. I wouldn’t touch that shit with a 10-foot pole.”

“Well I guess Spencer’s not gay?” I asked him.

“Well, they do have trackers that go for girls once they have the chance,” Pat said, “So maybe. Those are nastiest ones though in my opinion. They start out touching whoever the brotherhood will let them and then work their way younger until they’re allowed to get a chance with the girls. It’s sick,” Pat explained to me, “Why do you ask?”

“Because Julian and Todd and Finn and Ted and I all went to the skate park last week and gay people or being gay came up and Julian had some not nice things to say about it. That they’re all perverts and he said it front of Cole. Finn told Julian that if he had a problem with gay people he could leave and never talk to him again and Teddy told everyone he was gay.”

“Wow,” Pat said, “Sounds exciting.”

“It was interesting. I mean I don’t know Julian that well so I didn’t feel bad about him being kicked out of the group. He even asked Todd to leave with him and he didn’t. Todd actually sat outside with me for a while well everyone else finished eating,” I said.

“I don’t know Todd that well. Dom does but, not me. They don’t seem like bad kids though. I didn’t even peg Julian for being a homophobe but, sometimes people surprise you. Did he say anything to you?”

“What?” I asked him.

“Well, you did make out with my brother,” Pat said as we stepped up to the curve waiting for the bus.

“No. He didn’t say anything to me,” I said, “Not directly but apparently he has opinions.”

“He’s just being an asshole. Everyone is going to be on edge tomorrow just wait and see how many disagreements break out. They’ll give the younger boys shit every time they see them just because their age bracket didn’t come up. Someone might start to pick a fight with you.”

“No one did today. They tried yesterday but Ted told them to keep their mouths shut,” I said.

“Ah, that’s how it got out? Ted might get in huge trouble for that,” Pat said shaking his head and smiling.

“What got out?” I asked him.

“I haven’t told John because he has enough going on but, there’s a rumor that the leader has his eye on you,” Pat told me making my stomach feel heavy.

So, people did know. They weren’t supposed to but, they knew. It made me wonder who else knew. What else they were saying about me.

“Hey it’s ok. If anyone can relate it’s Cole. He hasn’t told me that much about it but, after a while it always gets out who’s been…,” Pat cleared his throat and smiled as the bus pulled up.

“Hi!” Cat said climbing off the bus as the boy’s bus pulled up right behind her. She was carrying a shoe box with her.

“Hi firefly,” I said hugging her, “What’s the shoe box for?”

“We’re supposed to put things in it,” she told me.

“For what?” I asked her.

“One small thing that fits into the shoe box for each person in our family. That’s why my shoe box was the biggest,” she told me.

“I see, well. We’ll go in and start looking for things in just a minute,” I told her.

“I know, they’re right behind me,” she said turning around as her bus pulled away and bus for the boys pulled up, “Hi Pat.”

“Hi Cat how are you today?” he asked her.

“Good,” she said, “I think I want to paint my shoe box purple but, we’re supposed to do that at school. We just get the stuff from home and put it together in art class.”

“I see and its family only, right?” he questioned her.

“Yeah everyone that lives with us. I would put you in it too but, you don’t live with us.”

“I’m fine not being included. I’ll help you find something for John though. I’m sure we’ll come up with something good to represent him,” Pat said smiling at her as the boys climbed off.

“Hi guys, how was your day?” I asked the three of them.

“Good,” James told me, “Not a lot happened but the teacher gave us a chapter book to take home.”

“Well, you can show me when we get inside. Dinner is already ready,” I told them.

“That’s good because I’m starving,” Matt told me sounding like an average nine-year-old.

“Do they not feed you at school?” Pat joked.

“No, they do, he’s just always hungry,” Mike told Pat who nodded his head.

“Ok, inside we go,” Pat said, “race you to the door on the count of…hey! Not so fast you little monsters.” He shouted as all four of them took off running towards the front door before he could start his count down while he laughed running behind them to catch up.

I was glad to see everyone in a good mood. Even James had decided to race. I followed slowly behind them only catching up once I got up the stairs to find them climbing into the lift.

“Will why didn’t you run?” James asked me.

“I didn’t feel like it,” I answered simply, “Who won the race.”

“I did,” Matt said smugly.

“He did,” Pat said nodding his head.

“Good for you Matt,” I said getting into the lift and making sure the door was shut behind me.

“It wasn’t that hard,” he told us, “It’s because I have strong legs.”

“You do? How do get you strong legs? I want strong legs,” James said.

“Ask Da he’ll help you,” Matt said, “What I do is when he’s…”

“Matt,” I warned, “Don’t.”

“You don’t know what I was going to say,” Matt said.

“Yes, he does,” Mike said.

“How would you know he knows what I was going to say?” Matt asked him frowning.

“Because he knows you,” Mike said simply Matt punching him in the arm.

“OUCH!” Mike said frowning before he started telling Matt off, “Ug peniz joow te whit vo. Ug gned Pum'v lidd se peniz ovon chaxalt Vaxatt. Pum peniz whit ug.” (You don't need to hit me. You know I'm right so don't even start Matt. I don't hit you.)
“Who nud axarloaxadupp foyect chung an. Ug gned who dis. Who peosniz joow te fo velo klept zaxan who axarloaxadupp dis. Pum caxan whit ug axarr Pum riko. Usui ox ug peniz cempraxain axas reck axas dit nud yeep futt,” Matt said back. (He's already beyond stuck up. You know he is. He doesn't need to be more gross than he already is. I can hit you all I like. Usually you don't complain as long as it's your butt.)

“Jed heso foick klept? Chep dit. Act Pum peniz. Ug quich zint Pum pe,” Mike mumbled. (Now whose being gross? Stop it. And I don't. You just think I do.)

“Guys that’s enough,” I warned them looking at the two of them and smiling slightly when I saw Pat’s confused look, “Don’t hit.”

“It’s true,” Mike said.

“What’s true?” Pat asked.

“I don’t like it he just likes to think I do,” Mike said.

I sighed. I knew Mike didn’t mean anything by it and was just answering Pat’s question but because we had not been privy to the conversation they were having it didn’t sound right. Mike must have realized it didn’t sound right before his cheeks started burning red.

“I don’t like it when it spanks me,” he said realizing that sounded even worse and staring at his toes.

“Wow, ok,” Pat said raising his eyebrows at me like an “well, this is awkward” type of look.

“Why would someone spank you?” Cat asked Mike, “Were you bad?”

“I…I don’t know,” Mike barely mumbled shrugging his shoulders.

“Mummy spanks me when I’m bad,” James added in, “I don’t like being spanked either Mike it’s ok. That’s why I try to be good though.”

James was way more innocent than you think he would be for the life he was leading. It was new life for him but, he was still very naïve and didn’t always catch things like that. I mean Mike and Matt were only two years older than he was so they did have two years more experience but even me at the time was just beginning to understand that those things were things people did. Sexual things. So, the comment wasn’t really surprising but it made Pat makes a sound and then slam his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out right.

“We’ll talk about this another time guys,” I said as the lift opened, “Homework ok?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Matt said leading the group out of the lift.

Pat waited until everyone was out of ear shot and then smiled at me still trying to contain his laugher, “I know it’s fucked up but, too much time with your Uncle you think?”

“I’m positive,” I muttered shaking my head, “That’s going to be a fun one to explain later.”

“Tell your mom. She’ll do it. Like she did with Cat. Maybe she’ll even talk about how you shouldn’t spank each other,” Pat said.

“Now that will be an interesting conversation however, I would rather not be included,” I said shaking my head.

“That’s something your Uncle is into,” Pat commented.

“I know,” I said, “Trust me I’m very aware of what my Uncle does and doesn’t do.”

I probably said it in a harsher tone than I had meant because Pat’s face fell slightly before he cleared his throat getting serious, “Right,” he agreed nodding his head, “Sorry. Are you ok?”

“I’m not going to think about it too much. I’ll tell mum though. Honestly, he was probably looking for a reaction. He does that. Not Mike but, Matt.”

“If he was why didn’t he say it in English?” he asked me.

“Well I don’t know if you noticed but he’s smart. He wanted you to wonder what he was saying probably. Wanted you to ask what was being talked about and it worked,” I said, “Next time you hear them speaking twin speak, just don’t ask about what’s being said.”

“Ok,” Pat said nodding his head, “I’ll try to remember that.”

“It’s not you. You realize that?” I asked Pat.

“I know it’s not. John talks to me about it. He’s just…Matt’s different,” Pat said and I nodded my head.

“Well, I’m going to go eat and help with homework,” I told Pat.

“And I’m going back to your brother,” he told me a smile playing on his face.

“Hey, the kids are home,” I said pointing at him, “So don’t even.”

“Relax. It won’t be like that,” Pat told me walking to John’s door before he opened it and then shut it behind him.

I continued down the hallway and found mum in the kitchen cleaning up some stuff just as I heard John’s bedroom door open. I turned around and Mum was grabbing a bag of pizza rolls out of the freezer and preheating the oven.

“Mum didn’t you just make Mac and cheese?” I asked her.

“Yeah but there isn’t enough for everyone to have a lot of it and I need to find time to go to the store so I’m going to add pizza rolls,” she told me smiling.

“I like pizza rolls,” Matt said.

“I know love,” Mum said smiling at him, “Who has homework?”

“Mike and me,” Matt said.

“Ok, well get to it. Will can you…?”

“Yeah, I’ll help,” I said nodding my head as John and Pat walked into the kitchen and John picked up the phone from the cradle leaning over the counter and dialing a number.

“Hi,” I said looking back at Pat who smiled and waved at me sheepishly.

“Hi.” He said.

Yeah that’s what I figured they were doing. They had definitely been at the very least cuddling before they came out me shaking my head at him. They really shouldn’t have been doing that especially not after everyone had gotten home. At least it had only been like 10 minutes if that and then they had stopped. I didn’t look forward to that stage in my life even though I doubted it would be like that.

John waited in silence with the phone to his ear until he heard someone say something, “Is Dom there?’ he asked into the phone sounding uncertain.

The person on the other end must have asked who was calling because he said, “John from school.”

For a second you could hear a loud muffled voice even from where I was sitting John pulling the phone away from his ear and flinching. My thought was that probably made his ears ring because if I could hear it from the table that person was being loud John frowning as Pat wrapped an arm around his waist mum standing up and washing her hands shooting him a look with a raised eyebrow and him giving her a smile back and pulling his hand away.

“It’s me John,” John said into the phone after a minute. There was more shouting for a second before John stood there silently listening to the person on the other side of the phone who had gotten a lot quieter suddenly before he responded, “I’m alive, yes. Are you ok? What do you mean not really?” John asked frowning deeply as Pat grabbed John’s waist again resting his head on John’s free shoulder.

“So, you’re super nervous too than?” John asked the person on the other end of the line waiting a minute or two and then also adding, “You want to come over and hang out? Pat’s here.”

Pat must have been close enough to hear what was being said because he laughed lightly to what they said in response playing with John’s hair a little bit as he watched him.

“We’re not supposed to do that anymore,” John said as mum shot Pat a look who stood up straight again and smiled at her.

Like they really couldn’t keep their hands off each other. It was amazing that not everyone knew what was going on between them. I mean I couldn’t imagine how they hadn’t managed to get into trouble with all of that yet. Dating and sleeping with people when you were a bottom was forbidden. You didn’t mess around with each other unless you were told to. Everyone knew that. Yet they were always hanging on each other and touching each other. Looking at each other like one another was the most amazing thing they’d ever seen in the world. I didn’t see that working out in their favor anytime soon.

John laughed lightly this time nodding his head a little bit, “Not something I wanted to picture but, thanks for that.”

I looked at Pat shaking my head mouthing the words, “who is he talking to?”

“Friend,” Pat mouthed back as John sighed into the phone.

“Yes, that’s been discussed. I’ll see you tomorrow at school? You sure you’re going to be ok?” John asked the person.

Joh didn’t say bye but waited for a minute and then hung up the phone.

“So, what did he say?” Pat asked.

“Not much,” John answered, “Probably because of who is right there. He said he’s fine for right now but he’s on edge. I feel it in my bones. It’s really weird.”

“We’re all on edge,” Pat said.

“About what?” Mum turned around looking at them.

Now mum knew about the villa and what was happening because I had told her. I had even given those emails to her but, she tended to be sly when it came about confronting John about things even then. Probably because she wanted to see how much he was comfortable with sharing. Usually by that point she had figured out there were things that John didn’t want to talk about and she seemed ok with it mostly as long as she thought he was writing things down.

“Finals before break,” John answered her quickly not missing a beat.

“It’s only the first week of February love. Why are you so worried about it? You aren’t all the best students I know you guys struggle with grades a lot but you all are hard workers. I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Mum said giving him a small smile as the timer for the pizza rolls went off and she turned back around pulling them out of the oven.

“Well, that’s why we’re so worried about,” Pat said smiling at her.

“Sure, you are,” I muttered going over to the fridge and grabbing some apple juice and putting it on the counter as I grabbed new sippy cups out of the cabinet and started filling them with a little bit of juice for the babies as mum took off across the hall and started grabbing babies and toddlers and pulling them out of high chairs.

“What does that mean?” Pat asked me frowning and shaking his head at me.

I just shrugged my shoulders. If we were all going to pretend it wasn’t happening I was ok with that. It didn’t help anyone to lie about it though and I wasn’t about to tell John I had told mum. That she knew. He was already in enough of a panic about everything even if he wasn’t showing it. He was my older brother after all and I had never existed in a world where he didn’t. I knew him very well and knew that by not talking about it directly he was trying to keep himself and in turn mum calm.

“You do realize you aren’t even in the age group?” Pat asked me.

“He hacks their emails,” John muttered.

“Damn you have skills?” Pat asked me.

“Yeah,” I answered nodding my head, “I can tell you the guest list if you like. Who has sponsors. What the rules are and who is in what room. They emailed all of that to Da.”

It was true they had. It was all things that were in the emails. It seemed boring like technical stuff but I printed those out for mum too. She knew about all of it. The only emails I didn’t give her were the ones that included stuff about me. About things that Dr. Palmer had told me not to tell her, not to let her know about.

“Da’s coming?” John asked quietly.

“Yes,” I said, “He’s sponsoring someone too. Cole.”

“What?” Pat asked sitting down at the table next to Matt his face going white.

“What are you guys talking about? What’s sponsoring?” James asked me to which Pat made a gesture waving for him to be quiet.

“Yeah, McClairen is coming too and he’s sponsoring you,” I said.

“What’s…” James started to ask again.

“I’ll tell you later ok bud?” I said shooting him a look.

“Yeah. I know,” Pat said, “Any other priest coming?”

“Where are the priest…?” I cut James off looking at him.

“Look bud. This is an important conversation and it’s rude to interrupt people while they are talking so I will tell you later ok? Are you done eating?” I asked him.

“All but my pizza rolls,” he said pointing at the counter where the pizza rolls were still on the pan.

“Ok, how about you go. All of you, go into the living room and I’ll bring them to you in a little bit ok?” I asked him.

“That sounds fine to me since you guys are being weird,” Matt said grabbing Cat’s hand who frowned at him slightly.

I sighed waiting for them to leave the room before I spoke again, “No, he’s the only one. Couple of names I don’t know. Tony is coming. Of course, Arthur and Hank are going to be there. Uncle Ben, the leader some dude named Hobbs. I don’t know if you guys know him or not. Richneck, Marks, Peence, Dink, Morrow, McQueen, Huber, Frost and I can’t remember who else but, there were a lot of names so,” I sighed shrugging my shoulders.

“You’re missing half the list. Unless it’s going to be exclusive which I didn’t think this party was going to be,” Pat said looking at me frowning.

“What do you mean by exclusive?” I asked him.

“Usually they limit the number of boys going. Sometimes they exclude ones all together. Sometimes there’s a special guest. Several different things could make it exclusive,” Pat told me.

“Then yes. It’s exclusive,” I said nodding my head.

“Who?” Pat asked me.

“Who what?” I questioned.

“Which of us?” he asked me.

“There were a lot of names the ones I can remember off the top of my head are you, John, Cole, Dom, Hunter, Kristoff, Christian, Alec, Brodric, Chad, Alec, Caleb and Dylan. That’s only like half of the names though.”

John sat down, nearly flopped down in the chair next Pat. His breathing seemed heavy him shaking his head slightly. He looked pale and clammy. He was having another panic attack just hearing us talk about it. About who was going to be there and what he knew was going to happen.

“Rabbit are you ok?” Pat asked turning to look at him.

I shook my head. He wasn’t ok. He was far from ok. He looked almost the same as he had the night before after he had stopped screaming his eyes frozen wide open and his chest heaving like he couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t good.

“No. Something’s wrong,” I said, “John, just breathe ok? You’re fine.”

“He looks like he just saw a ghost,” Pat commented putting his hand on John’s shoulder as he shot me a worried look before putting his full attention back on John, “Rabbit come on. You’re ok.”

“I…can’t…do this,” he said sounding like he was struggling to breathe as he said the words barely above a whisper.

“They’re going to give you something so you don’t remember. You know that, right?” Pat said quietly to him.

I remember thinking about how weird that sounded. They were going to drug him? And who exactly were they? Were they the brotherhood themselves or my Da and the leader or someone else? Someone like Pat and his friends and John’s friends?

Or maybe even Dr. Palmer. That sounded like something a doctor would do to help someone who was struggling. Sedate them to make things easier. To make it harder for them to remember something like that. I decided it was probably Dr. Palmer and that if that’s how he wanted it and it had been discussed I wasn’t going to make an issue of it or tell mum. Hell, there were a lot of things I wasn’t telling mum.

“John, you’re shaking. Do I need to go get mum?” I asked him, standing up slowly looking at him and Pat.

Pat nodded his head a little beside John his face telling me Pat sensed something I didn’t. That something big was happening inside John’s head as I looked at John’s hands. He was griping the edge of the table so tightly his knuckles were white. His chest still heaving as Pat tried to get him to let go of the edge of the table. Tried to get him to move.

“I don’t feel right,” John mumbled before he went to go stand up him maybe being on his feet for half a second before he nearly collapsed Pat grabbing him and lowering them to the ground on his knees.

“It’s all right,” Pat muttered into John’s shoulder soothingly, “You’re ok. I’ve got you, you’re ok.”

That’s when I noticed John was shivering like he was cold. Like I did when I got nervous or scared. He was having a panic attack like he had experienced last night. He was so overwhelmed with worry, with everything that was going on it was happening again. I wanted to help him and knew there wasn’t anything I could do. That there wasn’t anything I could to help him besides maybe go get mum who I nearly bumped into on her way across the hallway.

“What’s wrong?” she asked me probably seeing the look on my face.

“John just…somethings wrong,” I said not sure how to word it.

She nearly dashed the rest of the way to the kitchen to find Pat sitting with John on the ground her kneeling as she sighed sadly, “Love what’s wrong?” she said putting her hand against his forehead, “Is this like what happened yesterday?” she asked John.
He frowned but he didn’t speak. I wasn’t sure if it was because he couldn’t or if he thought he was but nothing was coming out. He looked confused his shaking increasing before he turned and buried his head in Pat’s shoulder who started rubbing his back.

Pat looked scared. Like he was about to start crying. Like he wasn’t even sure what to do but he held onto him and let John hold him tightly rubbing his head before he spoke to mum using a hushed voice, “It can be a little different each time. It’s ok Rabbit. Can you go get him some meds?” Pat asked looking at mum.

“Yeah,” Mum said nodding her head before she wandered off down the hall towards the nursery.

We did have a medicine cabinet in that bathroom. She kept all of the medications there because she was usually in there and it was too high for the littles ones to reach anyway. It was so James or Mike and Matt couldn’t just go in a grab aspirin or cough medicine on their own. So, there wasn’t any accidents.

“Can you tell me how you feel?” Pat asked him still rubbing his back and running his hand through his hair.

“Sick, light headed. Somethings wrong,” he said his voice sounding off, slow.

“Ok. You’re having a panic attack. Do you know why?” Pat asked him and John nodded his head, “Can you tell me what you’re thinking?”

“He’s going to be there and I can’t do it. I can’t be there if he’s there. I can’t…I can’t do that again,” John said his voice growing higher and higher in pitch as he started whimpering, “I can’t. I can’t…I can’t do that again I can’t…he can’t touch me. I can’t do it. I can’t do it, I can’t, I just can’t.”

“Ok,” Pat said rocking him slightly, both of them slightly, “Don’t think about it. I need you to take deep breaths in through your nose, count to four and out through your mouth and then count to four, ok Rabbit?”

“I can’t do it, not with both of them I can’t,” he repeated his grip on Pat tightening as he started sobbing.

“Why is he crying?” James asked timidly coming into the kitchen.

“Bud, he’s just having a bad day. Why don’t you go watch tv?” I asked him.

“You were supposed to bring pizza rolls. Matty told me to come ask when you were bringing them or mum,” he reminded me.

“Right,” I sighed turning to the counter and putting them on a paper plate. They were still warm. That’s when I looked over that the highchairs and realized that Andy and Laura had been strapped in their seats along with Mac watching our conversation quietly. All three of them staring at John like they wanted to cry too but being eerily silent for two trapped two-year old’s and a one year old.

Even they could tell something was seriously wrong. I’m sure they didn’t understand what it was but, they knew enough that they needed to be quiet. That them screaming wouldn’t help anything me sighing as I unstrapped Andy and then Laura, handing the plate to James, “You need to share. Can you make sure they follow you to the living room?” I asked James.

“Yeah,” he said, “Come on guys. I’ll give you pizza rolls. You want a pizza roll Andy?” he muttered using both hands to carry the plate as Andy and Laura followed him, Laura grabbing Andy’s hand and saying something to him in baby babble I didn’t understand as they wandered off towards the living room.

“…you don’t understand what he did to me!” John screeched causing me to tune back into the conversation that was taking place on the floor in the room a couple feet away before he started gagging still clinging to Pat.

“You’re going to be sick,” Pat said, “Let’s get you into a bathroom,” Pat muttered dragging him down the hallway to the nearest bedroom and opening the door to my room, them managing to make it to my bathroom before John started barfing.

“Right now, you’re safe. None of them are here. You’re with me in your brother’s room. No one is going to hurt you right now,” Pat said soothingly trying to calm John down while he rubbed his back as John got sick.

Mum came back from the nursery with a glass of water and a pill that Pat took sitting down on the ground next to the toilet where John was hugging the bowl his chest still heaving as he tried to breathe. I had never seen anyone get sick from a panic attack. Not like this. It was scary. I felt my own heart hammering in my chest. Just watching him was painful. Knowing that I couldn’t do anything to stop it. After a minute or two Pat managed to make John swallow the pill before John turned burying his face in Pat’s neck again.

“Will love, can you help me get everyone ready for bed?” Mum asked popping her head in my bedroom door. I turned to her nodding my head.

Once we were out in the hallway asked her, “Is he going to be ok you think?”

“Yes, love I think he’ll be ok,” she said nodding her head, “It’s just hard for him.”

“I know mum. It’s hard for me too,” I said feeling like I was about to start crying.

“I know. It’ll be over soon. We’ll be out of here and none of you will ever have to see them again ok? Not Da, not your uncle. None of them. I’ll do whatever I can to help you boys deal with this. You’re so brave. You’re my brave boys,” Mum said hugging me, “He’ll be ok though. It’ll just take time. For all of us.”

“Why do you think he didn’t tell you about what’s going to happen? About the party?” I asked her.

“Because he’s scared and he doesn’t want to worry me,” she answered without hesitation, “He’s being doing that since he was wee. Trying to hide things from me to keep me from being upset. It’s unhealthy and hopefully with some help he’ll get past it. You know that’s unhealthy, right? To keep things to yourself?”

“Yeah, I know,” I said nodding my head.

“If you weren’t ok, you would tell me, right?” she asked me.

“Of course, mum,” I said, “Especially if not telling you makes me end up like that. He scared them.”

“Scared who?” Mum asked.

“Andy and Laura,” I answered, “They were the kitchen with us the whole time and they didn’t make a sound mum. While he was crying they didn’t even move just watched him. Like they could tell something was wrong and just didn’t know what to do.”
“They’re just wee love,” Mum said, “You used to do that when I would cry and you were that size or you’d come up to me and hug me. You’d be surprised what wee ones do when they can tell someone they care about is upset. Sometimes they cry with you and other times they just watch and try to understand. I’m not sure it ever works. I’m not sure they ever do understand at that size but, sometimes it helps. They didn’t seem upset when I checked on them in the living room.”

“After grabbing his pill?” I asked.

She nodded her head, “He’ll be ok. I’m sure he’ll be ok. Now why don’t you grab James and Cat and make sure they brush their teeth and I’ll get everyone else down.”

“Ok mum,” I said as she touched the top of my head lightly before we walked into the living room.

“Ok my wee ones, it’s time to start getting ready for bed,” Mum said picking up Laura who pulled on her own hair.

“John’s boo boo?” she asked mum.

“John’s ok honey he’s just sad,” she said to Laura kissing Laura’s hand as Laura put it on her face.

“Sad?” Andy asked frowning at mum.

“Yes, you know how when you get sad or upset you cry?” Mum asked him to which he nodded his head in understanding staring at her like he understood what she was saying mum smiling, “It’s that.”

“I kiss better?” he asked.

“Not the kind of boo boo you can kiss better sport,” I said turning to him before I looked at James and Cat, “Can you guys go brush your teeth?”

“How’s fix?” he asked mum.

“You just wait sport,” I said taking his hand and walking him to the nursey with mum before I turned around and grabbed Mary bringing her and then Shay into the nursery while Mac followed me.

He was just over one so he was walking just not that fast. He understood what was going on so he probably just decided to follow me because he could. I didn’t mind it and it was one less body I had to move. I remember Mac being pretty independent from a young age.

Once he figured out how to walk he liked to go places on his own and tended to whine if someone picked him up and he felt he didn’t need the assistance. He still didn’t talk a lot but when he did talk he seemed easier to understand than even Laura and Andrew. Sometimes he just walked around with this weird smile on his face taking everyone and everything in. Like he was thinking about something or knew something everyone else didn’t. He was an interesting baby and I loved him even then. I love all of them and always will. Even Matt.

As soon as he was in the room I shut the door behind me leaving and making sure that Cat and James were ready for bed. They both had questions about John. If he was ok or not. I told them he was just sad really sad and that he would be fine. James tried to ask me about what we had been talking about again but, I told him it wasn’t anything he needed to worry about and that I would take care of it and he seemed satisfied with that answer as I tucked him in and kissed his cheek telling him I loved him and shutting his bedroom behind me after I turned off the light.

As I shut the door Pat came up to me. He had just come out of John’s room. It was only 8:00. It was late enough he should be getting home and I figured that’s what he was doing. He looked tired and worn down.

“How is he doing?” I asked him.

“He’s asleep,” Pat said and nodded my head, “what about you? Are you ok?”

“Me? Yeah, I’m fine,” I said.

“You looked pretty scared there,” Pat said, “it’s ok to be scared.”

“I know that,” I said quietly, “I just wish…wish I could do something to help him.”

“You just being here for him helps him. Taking care of yourself and helping take care of your mom and your siblings that helps him. He’s tired and he’s scared. Just like you are. You just handle it differently is all,” Pat told me.

“I don’t,” I said shaking my head.

“What do you mean?” he asked me.

“I ignore it until I can be alone and then I scream. Last time I…it doesn’t matter. I’ll be fine though,”

“That’s really not a good idea,” Pat told me, “You need to talk to someone. A friend, your mom. Anyone ok? You can’t do that to yourself it’s not healthy.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll read a book, go someplace better,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“You need to talk to someone,” he said again, “Watching that happen isn’t easy. That wasn’t easy on me.”

“You’re his boyfriend,” I said shaking my head.

“Yeah and you’re his brother,” Pat said quietly, “Look you’re a good person. You have a lot you are dealing with here. I know that more than anyone. But I’m not going to tell them what’s going on and either is Cole because we don’t talk about other people’s shit but you can’t keep it to yourself. You might be trying to take care of John and everyone else by not talking about it but you’re hurting yourself if you do that. So, find someone to talk to, ok?”

“There is no one to talk to,” I said shaking my head, “You know what I was told? I was told that if mum finds out she’s gone. I don’t mean she’s leaving you know what I mean.”

“Who told you that?” Pat said frowning.

“It doesn’t matter. Until I’m somewhere they can’t hurt her and John can get better I’m keeping it to myself. So, don’t tell me I need to talk about it. If I know anything it’s that I need to not talk about it.”

“Cole was like that for a long time,” Pat told me, “Until he swallowed a bottle of bleach when we were 11. His mom had been dead for two years and mine had been gone for almost two and there was a lot of stuff going on that he still doesn’t talk about and I don’t ask that often because it’s upsets him to just think about whatever it was. But he tried to kill himself because he was so overwhelmed because he wasn’t talking about it. They took him away and they threw him in the hospital. He was out three weeks later and then he tried to hang himself. So, they took him somewhere that wasn’t the hospital and they locked him up. He was gone for three months and when he came back he wasn’t the same person. He was more angry and ruder for a very long time. Almost like Arthur.

He didn’t want to talk to me or even look at me. Until one night I did something to piss my dad off while him and Arthur were there and they started whaling on me. He told them if they wanted to hurt someone it needed to be him and took off his clothes and bent over. They were so shocked they just laughed at him and they stopped beating me like it was the funniest joke ever. He told me he was sorry and that he wouldn’t ever leave me alone again and he hasn’t. He’s been there for me every second since. I mean now he’s loud and obnoxious especially when he’s high which is often but, he’s kept that promise.”

“So, he was fine,” I said.

“No, he’s very not fine,” Pat said, “I don’t know what happened to him but he thinks he deserves to be treated badly. Every time they go to beat me for something I did he still tries to step in and stop it and that just gets us both beat or me beaten worse. That’s the only reason he stopped trying. You don’t need to be that person. You’re a person not a punching bag ok? Don’t treat yourself like you are one. Take care of yourself because the less you take care of yourself the more you are hurting them even if you don’t see it. Ok?”

I sighed and then went silent thinking about what he was telling me. That there wasn’t any reason for me to suffer on my own. For me to isolate myself like I was. That once things changed, our circumstances changed and I didn’t need to hide things anymore I should let mum know about them, and John. That once we were safe and it was ok the only way I was ever going to get past what was happening, what I was dealing with would be to tell them or at least someone.

“Ok,” I said nodding my head, “he just scared me. You know?” I admitted.

“He scared me too,” Pat said, “Because I didn’t know what to do for him other than hold him.”

I nodded my head in agreement, “Even Andy kept asking mum if he could kiss him and make it better.”

Pat smiled at that, “I love your siblings. They’re so sweet. Besides Matt but every family needs a black sheep. I mean I have Karen.”

I smiled at that. She was definitely a special one. If Matty was less mean and more stupid he would have been a Karen for sure.

“Good comparison?” he asked me smiling at my smile.

“Yeah, I think so,” I said nodding my head.

“Well, I have to get going ok? Time to go back to my own personal hell. I’ll see you later. Just try to take care of yourself. Let your mom and I worry about him ok?” Pat said.

“It’s hard,” I said my eyes starting to burn.

“I know man,” Pat said holding his arms open and I let him hug me, “He’ll be ok though. You will too I promise because you guys are going to get out of here ok? You hear me, you’re going to make it.”

“Thanks,” I said pulling back, “Well you better get home. Get ready.”

“I think I was born ready. A few bumps and I’ll be fine. It’s not my first time,” Pat told me, “Just try to stay out of trouble tomorrow. You get into any fights they go harder on you. Watson always tells them who was causing trouble the day before. Never mind you’re not going to be there.”

“No, I am,” I said, “I won’t be with you guys and you can’t tell John but, I’ll be there.”

“What?” Pat asked him his face falling as he shook his head.

“The rumors are true. I’m with…,” I made a hiccupping sound that I didn’t mean to trying to take a breath, “I belong to the leader. He wants me there so…” I shrugged my shoulders.

“I don’t know him well enough to give you any advice on how to act. At least you won’t be on the tables though,” Pat said.

“No one is supposed to know I’m there at all,” I told him.

“Ok. I won’t say anything I promise,” Pat told me, “I’ll see you tomorrow hopefully.”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head in agreement as I turned and went into my room mum coming out of the nursery and saying something to Pat as I shut the door and got myself ready for bed.

Chapter Text

I had trouble falling asleep again not managing to fall asleep until after I heard mum’s footsteps moving up and down the hall in a steady pattern. At one point I thought I heard a door slam but was too tired to check and see what it was. I woke up as my alarm went off. I was tired. I was beyond tired.

It was Thursday and tomorrow was his day and mum had told me she had given him permission to take me somewhere. That I was going to spend the night with Teddy which meant I was spending the night with him. Just thinking about it made me shiver. Making it hard to move. When I got to school I noticed something strange. Almost like the air felt off. Something about it giving me a headache.

When I sat down in math class the guy that sat next to me gave me a dirty look shifting his weight and shaking his head. In each row there were two of us and usually we were sat in alphabetical order by last name. In English and social studies, I sat next to Todd but in Math and science I sat next to Shane. His last name was McKay and mine was McGregor so you know alphabetical.

“Hi,” I said sheepishly and he snorted at me rolling his eyes.

I closed mine blinking. I didn’t want to do this today. He was probably brotherhood. It wouldn’t be surprising. It would explain why he was being an ass. I just went silent deciding to focus on my work when someone nailed me in the center of my back with a crumpled piece of paper. I picked it up and noticed something was written on it. It said Harem boy. I didn’t know what that was but, I knew it was probably bad my face going slightly red as I read the note.

“I’ll take that,” Father Barney said ripping the paper as he snatched it from my hand, “Interesting gentlemen however I believe this would be a history lesson for seniors and doesn’t belong in my math class. Does anyone care to admit to this …little love note?”

I put my head down on my desk as several guys snickered at me. No one said anything to Father Barney though. No one admitted to it, “Fine you can all have detention tomorrow after school.”

Most of the class groaned while some of the guys smiled. I wondered what they were smiling at considering their detention was going to be a lot worse tomorrow afternoon than any detention anyone else would be receiving.

“It was Danny,” some kid pipped up as everyone turned to look at him.

“Is that true Mr. Freeman?” Father Barney asked as I turned around to look as see who it was he was talking to.

It was a boy who looked out of place. I mean we were a mostly white suburb and he appeared to be African American however his eyes were green and his skin as almost the same tone a Teddy’s just a couple shades darker. I had probably seen him every day I’d gone to school but never really looked at him. He snorted and shook his head, “No, that’s not true.”

“You did…you just nailed him in the back…” Father Barney interrupted him.

“I’ll see you after class,” Father Barney said before continuing the lesson.

And that was just the beginning of my day. Several fights broke out in the hallway all day long. Usually it was boys that I was pretty sure were brotherhood even if I hadn’t spoken directly to them. Some of the older guys even coming into the cafeteria while the sixth graders were eating lunch. I recognized a few of those. Finn’s brother stopping in and coming up to us where we were sitting. Teddy had been sitting with us and we had all been eating silently mind our own business and shooting each other looks whenever someone muttered something as they walked past as if to tell each other to ignore it and let it go.

When Wallace sat down on the other side of the table. I nearly jumped up as he sat down, “Finn can I talk to you for a second?”

“Huh, can you go away for a second?” Finn said shaking his head.

“Why? We’re at school. I have five minutes come on, I just need to talk to you about something,” Wallace said, “Hi Will.”

I looked at my tray. I didn’t want to talk to him but, I also didn’t want to be rude, “Hi.” I mumbled into my potato crisps.

“Fine,” Finn sighed heavily standing up, “Come on. You want to talk let’s talk.”

Wal got up slowly following Finn away over to another part of the room. Teddy sat in silence next to me for a minute or two before he spoke saying exactly what I was thinking, what anyone who had been paying attention was probably thinking.

“You should be careful,” he muttered, “About him I mean.”

I knew. I could tell by the way he was looking at me. It reminded me of my marking. It was scary and it made it hard to breathe.

“Are you ok? You’re doing that quiet, still thing you do,” Ted said to me.

I couldn’t look at him knowing if I did I’d panic, I’d felt on the edge of panicking all morning and looking at that look in his eyes it just reminded me of where I would be tomorrow. Who’d I’d be with.

“Hey, come on,” Ted said gesturing to me.

“No, I’m all right,” I said.

“You sure?” Ted asked me quietly.

“Yeah, I’ll be ok,” I said nodding my head.

“You’re absolutely sure?” Ted asked me again his tone serious.

“For right now, yeah,” I said turning to look at him.

He sighed in relief smiling a little, “As long as you’re ok. I know it’s not…this isn’t easy.”

“No, it’s not but I’ll be ok,” I said, “It won’t be the same for me. It won’t be like it is for all of you guys. Because I’m…”

“Yeah. I know. It’ll be my first time on the tables in a while,” Ted said barely loud enough for me to hear.

My heart fell just a little hearing that. That because it was me. I was the reason he was going to be on the tables. Because Lionel had replaced him with me. And yet Teddy was worried about me when he was…? He was the one that was going to really suffer.

“Are you going to be ok?” I asked him.

“It won’t be the first time. It just didn’t happen that often for a while is all,” he said smiling sadly but his eyes starting to shine, “I’ll be all right though. I mean everyone else will be there, right? So, it’s not like I’ll be alone. Finn’s going to be there. Quinn, Todd, Julian. You’ll be alone. That’s harder I think. Being up there and knowing everyone your friends with is downstairs and that you can’t do anything about it. You can’t see them or talk to them or tell them it’s ok even if you know it’s not because you’re upstairs and they’re…,” he shrugged his shoulders trailing off.

I knew from the emails that was his plan but it felt wrong to hear someone else say it. That I was going there to be raped by Lionel and whomever he decided was worthy to do the same. That instead of having to know everyone else was going through the same thing a few feet away from me or in the next room they would all be downstairs while I’d be stuck upstairs alone with Lionel and whoever else he wanted to be there.

“It does sound worse,” I agreed.

“Just do what he tells you and whatever you do don’t say…”

“I know,” I said nodding my head vigorously the lump in my throat growing the more I thought about it, “That’s my Da’s rule too.”

“I didn’t know that.” Teddy said looking at me sympathetically.

“That’s not something they all do?” I asked him.

“No. Not always,” he answered me, “Sometimes they like it when you beg. It just depends on the person I guess.”

A cold shiver went up my spine. The only time I had been allowed to openly beg was when Ben had beaten me until my butt was black and blue before he…took pictures and stuff. Even then it had quickly turned from begging him to stop into sobs and shrieks. It felt worse to me. Being able to beg him. Him being aware how I felt about what he was doing only to have him ignore it completely.

I stood up without saying anything or looking at Teddy and went to the bathroom. Just to get some air finding Finn and Wallace still in there me turning back around to leave before Wallace spoke.

“Hi Will,” he said again like he said when he sat down at the table.

“Will why don’t you wait a couple of minutes,” Finn said looking at me.

“I…,” I hugged myself not taking my eyes off Wallace.

“I’m not going to hurt you. You know that, right?” Wallace asked sounding like him. Reminding me of him.

“WAL!” Finn shouted loudly startling both me and Wallace, “You leave him alone. He’s off limits.”

“Says who? All I have to do is ask his dad,” Wal said, “That’s only if he doesn’t want to though.”

“First off, he’s 10 you sick fuck,” Finn said surprising me, “Second he’s the leaders.”

Wallace’s face turned into a frown, “Really?”

I had never heard Finn talk to anyone like that. Not ever. It didn’t matter what they did I had never heard him swear at anyone. So not everyone knew. Not everyone knew I was his.

Wallace shrugged his shoulders, “I can see why.”

“Wal, just shut up. You’re late for class anyway. You told me what you wanted to say now go,” Finn said shaking his head at him.

“I bet you’re nervous,” Wal said looking at me, “It’s ok though. You can talk to me about it if you want.”

“Wal fucking shut the fuck up before I bash your fucking brains in. And you know I could. I’m not tied down. You leave him the fuck alone and go before everyone sees the broken nose I’m about to give you. Go!” Finn said forcefully.

Wal looking at him sighing his eyes cold, like theirs. Like theirs when they got angry, “Fine. I’ll see you later Will ok?”

He pushed open the bathroom door and left. I was frozen other than my hands that were shaking. He was so much like him. Yet they weren’t related. I felt like I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move my whole body feeling like it was incased in lead. He was like him.

“Will come on,” Finn said, “Come on its ok.”

He held out his hand to me, asking me to take it. To move. I felt like I couldn’t breathe let alone move. He had stuck up for me. Defended me and…I felt like I wanted to scream.

“Will, I promise it’s going to ok,” he said quietly.

I shook my head my body finally unfreezing the tears starting before I could stop them, “No. No it’s not.” I whimpered.

“Hey, hey,” Finn said grabbing my hand before I wrapped my arms around his neck, “It’s ok. He won’t ever hurt you if I have anything to do with it ok?”

“But they are going to hurt me,” I whimpered, “It hurts so bad Finn, it does even when it doesn’t hurt it hurts. And no one is allowed to know. And I can’t tell anyone because they’ll kill her. They’ll kill her and then they won’t have anyone. I won’t have anyone. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do it.”

“I know,” Finn said hugging me, “It’s ok. And I know. All right, I know. You’re not alone ok? Even if you’re alone when it happens you’re not alone. I know what they’re doing. You’re not alone. I swear to you you’re not alone.”

“Everyone hates me because they think he’s better but he’s not. He’s worse he’s so much worse. He’s like that. He’s like that,” I mumbled. By this point I wasn’t thinking before I spoke it was all just coming out of me and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t control what I was saying but Finn just let me hold onto him rubbing my shoulders as I cried.

“It’s ok,” Finn said quietly, “It’s ok you’ll be ok. And you know how I know that? Because you’re strong and you’re smart. You’re like the smartest person I know and to deal with this, with them, you have to be smart. You know that. I know you know that. It might not seem like you’ll be ok right now but you will be. I swear to you, you will be.”

“I don’t want him to like me. I don’t want to be his,” I said before my ability to speak broke down and I started outright sobbing.

“I know,” Finn said, “Let it out. It’s ok man, just let it out.”

That was the last thing he said as he let me sob into his shoulder in silence. I hadn’t felt like a kid for a long time until that moment. For weeks at least but letting my friend hug me as I sobbed, letting Finn comfort me as I fell apart in a way that I hadn’t allowed myself to fall apart in a long time. He waited until my sobbing subsided to small hiccups before he spoke again.

“It’s ok to be scared you know?” he asked me as I pulled away from him.

“Yeah, I just,” I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know.”

“You shouldn’t…” I cut off his words.

“Keep it inside? Yeah, I know. People keep telling me that,” I said.

“Well, when you do this is what happens. You end up skipping class and hanging out in a bathroom in the middle of the school day because you can’t stop sobbing. Because you’re so scared and you’re so upset you can’t stop sobbing,” Finn pointed out.

I chuckled a little whipping at my eyes, “Yeah ok.”

“Was it him? I told you he was dangerous,” Finn asked referring to Wallace.

“On top of everything else you mean?” I asked nodding my head in response.

“I’ll try to keep him away from you ok?” Finn told me.

“You won’t be able to forever,” I said to which it was his turn to nod his head.

“Not forever no but if we can make sure he stays away from the leader and can’t ask him if he’s allowed to. Then it’ll be ok for a while. Just keep him away from you where he can talk to you nearly alone. You’ll be fine,” Finn said.

“Can you really beat him up?” I asked which caused Finn to smile and nod his head proudly.

“Yeah I can get a few good hits in before he gives up trying to fight fair and sits on me. He weights a lot.” Finn said.

“No kidding,” I said nodding my head in agreement.

“I mean I’m not sure if it’s unhealthy or not I think it is but. You know he’s like 6 inches taller than I am and I’m like 5’5,” Finn said, “However it means I’ll probably be decently tall by the time I’m done. I’ve already shot up three inches this year.”

“I’m only like 5’0 last time I checked,” I said.

“No, you’re not that short. I’d put you around 5’1 or so. Isn’t your mom around 5’1?” he asked me.

“I think so,” I said.

“Are you taller than her?” he asked me.

“Yeah almost,” I said nodding my head.

“Yeah then probably around 5’1. Once we hit about 10 or 11 we start to get taller than them naturally if they’re short. A lot of moms are short,” Finn pointed out.

That was very true and my mum was really short. She wasn’t a big woman at all. She was tiny. Maybe 120 pounds soaking wet. And that was after having 11 children so imagine how tiny she had probably been before having kids. Her boobs were huge though. Not that I like thinking about mum’s boobs.

“Are you ok?” Finn asked me making me realize I had done that thing again where I stopped moving and talking and stared at nothing.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” I said, “I’m not going to be here tomorrow.”

“What do you mean? The party doesn’t start until tomorrow evening really,” Finn said frowning.

“They called my mum. Him and Da at Christmas they said they wanted me to start learning whatever it is they do just to check it out because I was smart. He called her and said he wanted to take me to office tomorrow instead of me coming to school and that I was going to spend the night at Teddy’s house because you know, Teddy’s his grandson. So, she agreed,” I mumbled.

“Shit,” Finn said, “Ok. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to.”

“You can tell Ted but don’t tell anyone else ok?” I said and Finn nodded his head in understanding.

I didn’t trust anyone else. Not to make fun of me and tell all of the bottoms where I was. I mean I was sure a lot of them already knew but, that didn’t mean I had to tell everyone about it. If I did it might get to John. John who was already struggling so hard with everything. John who didn’t need to know anything that would make his anxiety worse.

“Well, we can stay here and skip or go to class now and get in trouble and personally if I’m going to get in trouble for this I’d rather push it all the way. So, what are you thinking?” he asked me.

“We can stay here. I have a book,” I said sitting down against the wall.

“I have a deck of cards. We used to play poker at lunch sometimes. We haven’t in a while because Todd started betting candy and the fathers frowned upon that. You want to play?” Finn asked me.

I smiled. I could imagine that, a Hershey’s and snickers bar in the pot. I’ll see your M&M and raise you a skittle. I could see why they wouldn’t want to promote gambling at school. It made sense to me.

“What’s so funny?” Finn asked me sitting down as he reached over and pulled the deck out of his book bag.

“Oh, just picturing what that looked like. Gambling with candy,” I said.

He smiled and nodded his head, “It was cool even though because of Teddy we had to ban kit Kats because he’d always reach into the pile and eat them. Got annoying after a while and it was either ban Ted who isn’t that great at poker in the first place or stop using kit Kats so we took the nice approach.”

“Didn’t want to lose the candy?” I asked him and he nodded his head as he started to shuffle.

“What game?” I asked.

“Texas hold’em. You know how to play?” He asked me.

“Yeah, I think so,” I told him as he passed out the cards.

We played until the bell rang I won maybe one hand out of about five. I was not good at poker but, I was 10. When the bell rang we went back to class. We had skipped social studies and ended up in English class. Class was uneventful. No one balls with insults were thrown at me. Nothing happened at all really. Not until I got on the bus.

I rode the bus with only a handful of brotherhood that I knew of maybe three of us on the whole bus. There was this one guy though that me and the other guy avoided. I just figured the other guy avoided him because he wanted to live a life outside of all of that and Abe was quiet anyway. He was more of a nerd than I was to be honest. Not there was anything wrong with him he seemed nice enough but just like everyone else we had our own clicks. He just didn’t happen to be in the one I socialized with.

I thought it would just be another day of sitting alone for the 20 minutes home until Thomas sat next to me. I didn’t know much about him but knew he was like me, like us. It was a name that had been mentioned in passing a few times. I didn’t know that much about him. Causing me to close my book and eye him wearily.

“What’s up?” he asked me.

“Nothing, what’s up with you?” I asked him.

“Nothing Harem boy,” he said snickering in amusement at the look a shot him shaking my head.

“What do you want?” I asked him.

“To know if it’s true,” he asked me.

“If what’s true?” I asked him.

“You know,” he smiled winking at me.

I shook my head. I knew what he was getting at but if he was going to be an asshole I wanted to hear him say it. To accuse me of it. Of being his.

“The leader…you know?” he said, “I’ve heard he slips his boys money instead of giving it to their dad’s. How much are you getting?”

He thought I was getting money? The idea almost made me laugh. He wasn’t paying me shit. Not any that I had seen anyway.

“Where did you hear that?” I asked him playing dumb.

“So, it’s not true? You’re not with the leader?” he asked me frowning.

“Why do you care?” I asked him.

“Because maybe you could get me in with him or one of his overseas friends. I hear they let you fuck around too,” he said eyeing me, “Not that that’s something you’d be interested in. You’re super scrawny. I doubt anyone decent would want to be with you. I mean girls don’t usually go for scrawny 10-year old’s.”

“Don’t talk to me,” I said shaking my head as the bus pulled up to my stop. Me getting up and hopping over the seat into the empty one in front to get off the bus.

I sighed. So that’s why people were mad at me, didn’t like me. Because they thought he paid me. Because they thought he was nicer than the others. More worth it. He wasn’t. None of them were.

When I walked into the house no one seemed to be around again. Just as it had been the day before. I went upstairs and found mum cleaning frantically her turning to me as she heard me get off the lift.

“Mum?” I asked her, her eyes blood shot.

“John wasn’t in school today,” she told me, “He wasn’t supposed to go he snuck out of the house before I was up and moving. Before I could stop him and he wasn’t in school and he didn’t come home do you…?”

“He’s ok,” I tried to assure her, “It’s that party thing remember?”

“You think he’s there?” she asked me and I nodded my head.

It was early but the emails did say something about Thursday. People starting to arrive there on Thursday and it was Thursday. So, it made sense. Why he had left to go to school only to skip that didn’t make sense to me but, none of it made any sense.

“At least I know where he is,” she sighed sitting down on the sofa, “At least you won’t have to go there. Can I ask you something love?”

“What?” I asked her sitting down.

“Who is L?” she asked me calmly.

“What?” I asked her.

“The end of all of the emails you printed out. I read them the bottom is always signed with just one initial, L. Who is L love?”

There was that feeling again. Like I had been punched. I didn’t want to tell her it was him. Because then she would know. And then she’d be dead. And then my little siblings might be dead. My dream flashing in my head of their bodies, mutilated bodies around me on the carousel me staring back at myself my eyes pools of deep blackness “you did this.” I had told myself, “this is your fault.”

“Love, who is L?” she asked me again scooting closer to me.

“I don’t know,” I lied.

“You don’t know?” she asked me frowning in disbelief. Like maybe she knew I was lying. That I at least at an idea of who L was even if I wasn’t saying it.

“I don’t know,” I insisted, “Everyone calls him the leader.”

I dared being as honest as I felt I could be. I didn’t want to talk about him or think about him. Mum pulling me into her lap hugging me.

“It’s ok love,” she said, “It’s ok.”

“I don’t know mum,” I insisted again, “I don’t know.”

“Ok love, I believe you. At least Lionel is going to take you out tomorrow. Spare you from this,” Mum muttered.

I wanted to tell her then. The words right on the edge of my tongue. But, I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t. Mac started crying so mum got up going to go tend to him. I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the day. Mum making a phone call to someone trying to see if she could find John her swearing repeatedly into the phone until they finally hung up on her.

“Where’s John mummy?” Cat eventually asked her as mum leaned against the counter her head in her hands. She wanted to cry. I could tell by her body language that she wanted to cry.

“Let’s not worry about that right now ok Firefly?” I told her.

“But he’s been here lately. He’s been tucking us in every night,” Cat insisted.

“Well, John’s away right now ok?” I said not wanting to get into it.

Matt looking at me smiling like something was funny.

Mike tapped him on the shoulder and shook his head at him causing him to huff and shoot Mike a look rolling his eyes. I couldn’t tell what they were doing but it was almost like they were talking without using words. They did that sometimes. It always weirded me out.

“Come on guys, let’s leave mum alone. We’re all finished eating so we’ll go watch a movie,” I told them.

“What movie?” Cat asked, “Can we watch the last unicorn?”

“Huh, sure?” I said shrugging my shoulders.

So that was the movie for the night that I put on while I went and helped mum go clean up the kitchen. Me sighing sadly as she cried into the dish water. I knew it was hard for her but it was scary for me. Knowing that I had to go there tomorrow and I couldn’t tell her. That she couldn’t know.

I didn’t feel any relief that night as I helped mum put everyone down. I found it impossible to sleep getting up at 1 and then again at 3 and then the last time around 4am. Before I decided that sleeping was a wasted effort turning on my light and reading under my covers. I can’t even remember what book I was trying to read my brain spinning out of control wondering about the emails I saw. What Femme play was.

Wondering if he was really going to take me to the science center and if Ted was really going to be there or not. Or if he was just going to take me there. Just take me to the villa to be with him. When mum woke up I was nearly so tired I almost fell asleep in my cereal.

“Love? Are you ok?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head.

“Did you not sleep well? Because of everything that’s going on?” she asked me.

“I’m ok,” I lied.

“Maybe I should call Lionel. See if he’ll change the plans. Let you stay home,” she muttered.

When I heard that I was wide awake instantly. She did that he would be mad. He’d be beyond mad. I couldn’t let her do that. He’d kill her. I knew he’d kill her.

I took a deep breath trying my best to stay calm as I said it, as I…gave myself to him. As I made sure that dream didn’t come true. As I made sure it wasn’t my fault for once.

“No mum, really I’m ok. It might be fun, right? And at least that way you know I won’t be where John is stuck. That way we don’t have to worry about Uncle Ben getting to me, right?”

It felt I was skinning myself alive. Lying to her like that. But I wouldn’t let her die because of me. Because I hadn’t slept the night before.

“That is very true,” Mum said, “Ok. He’ll pick you up in front of the building. He has permission your Da already called the school and they know he’s going to be there to get you.”

“Ok,” I said, “Should I wear my uniform or…?”

“I think your Da said jeans and t-shirt is fine,” Mum said, “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. No use in wasting the dry cleaner bill.”

“Ok, I said nodding my head before I went to my room to change my clothes.

It wasn’t that I wanted to please him or Da or anything like that but mum was right. It was more practical to just not wear my uniform so I took it off hanging it back up before I went out to the bus stop the bus picking me up.

No one tried to talk to me or bother me on the bus that morning. It seemed more like a normal day until I got off the bus Sergei standing near my bus in his chauffeur uniform gesturing for me to follow him which I did. He opened the limo door for me and let me in before he shut it loudly me looking at him as he sat there smiling.

“Hello little one. How have you been?” he asked me.

My insides went cold to just hearing him speak. I wasn’t sure what to say. I mean I had been ok. I wasn’t sure that’s what he wanted to hear though. Him frowning at me the longer I remained silent.

“It’s polite to answer when someone speaks to you William,” he said.

“Sorry,” I said his stern tone helping me snap out of my silence as the car started to move forcing me to sit down in the seat closest to the door, “I’ve been ok. I huh, spend a lot of time with my brothers and sisters so not much has happened.”

“I see,” he said smiling at me, “Most of them are young correct?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head.

His smile widened, “Then I understand. They probably aren’t good at holding conversations yet. So basically, an average week for you?”

“Uncle Ben wasn’t there,” I told him.

“Yes, I know. Benjamin was with me this week helping me with preparations. Speaking of, sadly our plans for the day have changed. I think we’ll go out to breakfast and then we’re going to be heading to my house. You remember my house?”

I nodded my head before realizing me wanted me to use my words, “Yes, I remember sir.”

“You can call me Daddy L ok? I’m not sure how much your father would appreciate it but it’s a habit I want you to get into. Is that ok with you?” he asked.

I nodded my head. It was weird. I didn’t understand the point of it. Just hearing him ask me that made my stomach hurt. Made me feel wrong. Just being near him made me feel wrong.

“I talked to your mother,” he said suddenly causing me to jump slightly which he smiled at, “Come here little one. Come sit by me.”

I knew I wasn’t allowed to say no so I nodded my head and moved the car hitting a spot in the road that jostled me. It made me fall forward him catching me before I fell. His hand landing my chest.

His eyes did this weird thing that Da’s eyes always did when he wanted to…I felt sick to my stomach.

“Little one it’s ok. I’m not going to hurt you. You know that. Come sit,” he said scooting over so that I could sit next to him.

I wondered why he always said that. Why he always told me he wasn’t going to hurt me. I think maybe it showed on my face because he smiled at me.

“What are you thinking?” he asked me.

“Why do you always tell me that?” I asked him.

“Tell you what?” he asked me wrapping an arm around my shoulder.

“Th..that you won’t hurt me,” I managed to stutter out.

“Because I won’t and I think that Benjamin has treated you badly. I want you to know that there are men like me that won’t hurt you. Men that will love you like a boy is supposed to be loved,” he said to me.

I didn’t understand what he meant. I figured he meant what they did to me. The stuff they made all of us do but that wasn’t love. I knew that wasn’t love. When you loved someone, you didn’t hurt them. You didn’t put yourself inside them if they weren’t ok with it. I knew at least most of them realized we weren’t ok with it. That making us do those things wasn’t ok.

“Oh,” I managed to mumble as he rubbed my shoulder slowly.

“Are you ok my little one?” he asked me turning so he was facing me, rubbing my collar bone above my shirt looking at me. Like that, like he wanted to. Him smiling at me, “You’re so beautiful. Such a beautiful boy…” he whispered to me before tilting my face up gently by the chin to meet his.

He put his lips to mine. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to. I wanted to scream. I knew I couldn’t though. That if I did he would be mad. That if I tried to push him away he would be mad. Him licking at my closed lips until I allowed his tongue past them. Until I allowed him to kiss me, his tongue sliding against mine, him licking the inside of my mouth.

He didn’t do it for long. Maybe only half a minute but when he pulled his mouth away from mine I was shaking. My whole body trembling. I didn’t like the way it felt. The way his tongue felt in my mouth. The way his mouth tasted like some weird type of gum.

“It’s ok little one,” he said pulling me into his armpit, “It’s ok.”

It wasn’t ok. I wasn’t ok. I wanted him to let me go. I wanted to go home. If that was going to be my day I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be here with him.

“Talk to me,” he said, “I know that was sudden. I’m sorry I just…you’re so special my little one. You understand that, right? That you’re special to me. Do you want to go to ihop? Would that be ok with you?”

I nodded my head. I didn’t know what to say to him. That was the problem with him was he often left me unsure of what I should say or do. He was very much like Uncle Ben in that aspect. It felt like almost anything was the wrong thing. Being near him made my head fill with this static that I couldn’t get past. Like all I could think was this static, this fear that took control of every inch of me. Nothing about him scared me more than him robbing me of my ability to think. Taking my ability to see past the fear he made me feel and making me stupid.

He smiled at me as he rolled down the patrician that separated us from Sergei, “Sergei, take us to ihop please.”

“Yes sir,” Sergei grunted in his heavily accented voice before the divider went back up.

“Do know what we’re doing today?” he asked me his arm still around my shoulder causing me to stare at him blankly, “Use your words little one.”

“Going to your house,” I answered.

“That’s right and you know where I live?” he asked me.

“The Villa,” I answered quietly.

“Where you got your mark, yes,” he said, “It won’t be like that though. It’ll be different. You’re going to spend time with me ok?”

“Just you?” I asked.

“Well,” he said sighing, “That’s why we’re talking about it. I have a friend that’s coming an important friend who has heard about how special you are. He’d like to meet you and spend some time with us. Are you curious to know anything about him?”
I wanted to say no to him. You weren’t allowed to say no but I really wasn’t curious about this guy at all. I already knew about him but, Lionel couldn’t know that. He couldn’t know I knew the guy’s name or that he was Japanese. That he trusted Lionel’s tastes and that they had a lot of things in common.

I shrugged my shoulders.

“Well, he loves boys like I do. He’s a good friend. He’d like to meet you and talk with you. He’s coming here all the way from Japan just to see you. To spend time with you. Doesn’t that sound exciting?”

“Japan’s been around for a long time,” I said quietly because I wasn’t sure what else to say.

His smile growing and him letting out a loud laugh as I said it, “That’s why I like you. Sometimes you say the most childlike things. I think it’s because you get nervous because your Uncle and Da both tell me you’re not like that at home. That you’re very…mature at home. That you take care of everyone. Is that true?” he asked me.

I nodded my head. That was true. I did help mum take care of everyone. I always did because mum was so tired all the time and John was always drunk. Da was gone now and so it was just mum and I and the kids mostly. Because mum wouldn’t let Ben help not that he would help anyone anyway. The only thing he would do was hurt everyone.

“Use your words little one. You really are a quiet one, aren’t you?” he asked me.

“Sorry si…Daddy L I just. I don’t know.” I told him as he looked at me closely.

“What don’t you know?” he asked me.

“What to say,” I said quietly.

I was speaking just above a whisper afraid that if I was too loud I would make him angry. Afraid that if I said the wrong thing I would make him angry. I didn’t want him to be angry. If he got angry he would kill her. That’s why I had gone with him so he wouldn’t kill her.

“Just tell me what’s on your mind. Tell me about what you’re thinking. How you feel,” he said quietly, “You’re a beautiful special boy William. I want to know you. I do, I just think this fear you have because of your uncle is holding us back. I promise I won’t hurt you,” he said his eyes lighting up for some reason as he moved getting on his knees in front of me taking both my hands in his, “I vow to you William Arthur Caleb Henry that I Lionel George Lord will never intentionally do anything to hurt you that has not been justified. I swear it to you with all of my being, my body and my soul. You understand?” he said kissing my hands.

It was gesture to win me over. To get me to relax and trust him. However, I had noticed even at my young age that he hadn’t said he would never hurt me. He had said he would never intentionally do anything to me that hadn’t been justified. I knew what that meant. The question wasn’t to me justified by who because it was by him because he was in charge and I wasn’t stupid I knew he was in charge. It was more when it would be justified. When would he feel it was warranted? When would he feel he had the right to hurt me? What exactly would that offense be?

I nodded my head at him. Knowing he wanted me to accept his pledge. That he wanted me to accept him for his word. That he had done it even using my full name. Something I wasn’t aware of that he even knew. Something that even my mum rarely used. He smiled and sighed sitting back in the seat next to me only for us to turn a few moments later and come to a stop in the parking lot of an ihop. Sergei coming and opening the doors for us him holding out a hand helping me step down, me allowing him too because Lionel was right behind me.

“Sergei, if you could sit at a different table that would be perfectly fine while I sit with my guest,” he said to which Sergei nodded his head.

Lionel made me take his hand and we walked in together. Shortly after that someone called him on his cell phone. Da had a cell phone so I had seen one before they just still weren’t super common at the time. I ordered strawberry crepes. They didn’t taste nearly as good as they had at home or at Aunt Fiona’s but there were nice. The last thing I remember Lionel saying before he hung up the phone was in an annoyed hiss.

“Well I don’t care get it done and sorted. I don’t care how old they are. You take care of it. I’m trying to have a nice day. I’ll be there in less than 2 hours,” he said before he hung up his phone snapping it shut and he looked up smiling at me, “Is it good?”

“Yeah,” I said nodding my head being honest.

“I’m sorry about that. I was hoping to enjoy a nice meal with you. But, you see my life is very…busy. Next time it won’t be like this. You’ll see. We’ll make a day of it again. Maybe then we’ll actually get to go to the science museum. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. It seems like the kind of thing you would like. They have a lot of interactive displays,” he told me.

“It sounds like it would be fun,” I agreed.

“Or maybe we could do something else, Teddy and you and I could go to a movie,” he said looking at me, “Would you like that?”

“Yeah that sounds fun too,” I said his smile widening as I gave him a small smile.

Hanging out with Teddy did sound fun. I had fun last time I had been with Teddy and all of us together. I hadn’t been good at skate boarding and had fallen several times but it had still been fun and I hadn’t been seriously hurt. The only damper on that day had been Julian and him deciding to be an asshole.

The waitress came up, “How old are you?” she asked looking at me.

“He’s my grandson, he’s 10,” Lionel answered for me.

That made me slightly uncomfortable. I kind of understood why. Because it was weird to be out with a kid that you weren’t related to especially in the middle of the school day but, it still made me uncomfortable. Made me think of how wrong it was.

“You are very handsome. I have a son that age,” the waitress said making small talk.

“Do you? What does he look like?” he asked her smiling.

That made me frown. If she had any idea who this guy was she wouldn’t be telling him about her 10-year-old son. Before she could answer Lionel’s, phone rang again, “Sorry excuse me,” he said answering it, “Hello? Sasha, Sasha, stop it. ostanovit' yego (stop it). I don’t care. Ok, I’ll take care of it later,” he said snapping his phone shut again, “Sorry about that. It looks like I’m needed elsewhere. So, do I just pay here?” he asked pulling out his wallet.

“Yes, that’s fine or you can take it up to the counter,” she said.

“You know what my dear,” he said handing her a 50, “keep the change. Come on William.”

He stood up holding out his hand for me to take which I did. Sergei getting up and laying a handful of bills next to his coffee so he could meet us and hold the door open for us. When we got into the limo and Sergei shut the door. Lionel sighed heavily.
“I’m sorry about this little one. Apparently one of the …one of our purchases is giving Sasha a hard time and he tends to have a harder time with the older ones. Especially when it comes to controlling his temper,” he told me.

“Is he like Uncle Ben?” I asked finding myself speaking before thinking.

“Thank you,” he said smiling at me, “For not being nervous I mean. You tend to be very shy and very quiet. It’s refreshing when you speak of your own accord and hopefully it’ll start happening more often. To answer your question, he’s very similar to your Uncle yes. However, your uncle tends to be even more volatile than even Sasha. So usually we keep him with the younger ones because he tends to be a little more patient with them. You understand what I’m talking about?”

“People,” I said to which he nodded his head.

“Your father and Uncle told me you were sharp. Do you know what kind of people?”

“People like me?” I asked him to which he shook his head.

“No little one. The people we help are boys who aren’t as lucky as you are. They don’t have parents that care about them or love them properly and we take them away from those situations and take care of them. Make sure they feel loved and wanted. Sometimes we’re taking them away from people who want to hurt them or don’t cherish them. However, when they’re older they tend to be almost resentful because they are used to living and relying on themselves for everything. So, for a while they need to be watched to make sure they don’t hurt themselves or each other and that’s what Sasha and your Uncle and sometimes even Sergei help me with.”

“Why would they hurt themselves if you’re taking them away from bad people?” I asked him.

“Well. Last time we went out we went to the zoo, right?” he asked me to which I nodded my head, “Some of those animals were born in that zoo. If you took them out of the zoo they would be scared and they wouldn’t know how to take care of themselves or feed themselves. They’d be completely lost and probably get hurt or become the victims of other animals in the wild that knew better than they did. When a person is born into a certain situation even a bad one they don’t want that situation to change because if you take them out of there they don’t know how to function. Sometimes they get angry and confused and in turn that means that they can be mean and dangerous. So, your Uncle Ben and Sasha help them learn how to not be like that anymore. To respect what they have. To get used to being someplace else.”

“But Uncle Ben is really mean,” I said quietly, “How could he help them learn how to not be like that anymore if he’s just going to be mean to them?”

“He’s only mean when they don’t do what they are told. They need to do what they are told because it helps them. It helps make them better. Do you understand a little now?” he asked me.

I nodded my head lying. It didn’t make any sense to me at all. None of what he said made any sense as I thought about Frank. How someone had cut him really bad and then sold him. How he was only little. He had only been maybe 8. It didn’t make any sense to me how he could want to stay in that situation. He hadn’t sounded like he wanted to.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked me.

“Last time I was there I met some boys in the showers. I think they were like the boys you are talking about but one of them was little. He said his name was Frank and he turned around and he had this huge scar on his back and said someone had given it to him and then taken him away from there. From the person that did that,” I said.

“Yeah, we did. We help boys. We don’t hurt them like that,” Lionel tried to assure me, “You’ll never be like those boys though. You’re very very loved William. I love you and your Father loves you as well as your Uncle and your mother. I’m sure your siblings love you as well. So, you don’t ever have to worry about that ok?”

“Ok,” I said.

“How about we play a game?” he asked me.

My whole body froze. I mean we weren’t exactly having a normal conversation about normal things but for a couple of minutes I hadn’t been scared of him. More just thinking about the things he did. And he had to change. To be that guy again.

“What’s wrong little one?” he asked me, “Your eyes…they look so sad.”

“I…is it going to be like before?” I asked him.

“What do you mean?” he asked me quietly.

“Like last time,” I said before I exhaled deeply.

“Well, my house is kind of like a secret hide out so I have to put something over your face so you can’t see how we get there,” he told me, “So I’m going to play a game with that ok? You want to stand up and take your clothes off for me?”

He wasn’t even waiting until we got there? He was going to…I felt my lip starting to tremble. I didn’t want to. I really didn’t want to.

“Oh Shhh…it’s ok little one. I won’t hurt, I promise. It’ll be like last time, it’ll feel nice. Ok?” He tried to assure me, “Don’t cry. I won’t hurt you. Not ever. Don’t cry. Come here.”

He hugged me. Holding me rubbing my shoulders and back trying to soothe me. Trying to calm me down. At first it was over my shirt his hands rubbing lower until they were going up the back of my shirt under it. His hands against my skin. It felt cold. I looked at him to tell him that, that his hands were cold him taking that opportunity to pull away from me and kiss me, forcing me down flat on the seat with his body weight.

His hands moving around to the front of my body traveling up my skin and taking my shirt with them, forcing it up. By then it was just hard to breathe. I couldn’t cry because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He shoved his tongue back into my mouth. Kissing me hard. He broke apart sitting up his chest heaving just like mine was. Only his was probably out of excitement whereas mine was fear. Me feeling frozen laying there with my torso exposed below my collar bones.

“You’re so beautiful. I hate to cover that pretty face,” he said running his hand through my hair, “Those beautiful big green eyes.”

“Do you have to? Cover my ...my face?” I asked him.

Anyone hearing that would have probably thought I was asking because I wanted to be able to see him and I did but only because then I could anticipate what he was going to do next. With my face covered I didn’t have that chance. Everything he did would be a surprise. I wouldn’t be able to tell if I was making him angry or not. Because if I made him angry he would hurt me. I knew he would.

“I wish I didn’t but, yes. It’s important that I do. It’ll just be until we get there,” he said, “You know what?”

He looked at me biting his bottom lip before he undid his tie taking it off his neck and wrapping it around my eyes. It smelled like old spice. Him putting it on rather tight, tying it behind my head.

“Just relax its ok,” he said, “Hold still.”

I felt him pulling at my shirt. I wanted to keep my clothes on. Him climbing back on top of me. Causing me to squirm despite myself. I instinctively reached out not able to see anything, trying to tell where he was, what he was doing. If he was trying to get my shirt off. He grabbed my wrists hard squeezing it before forcing it back down to my side.

“I’m taking off your shirt. I have something sharp in my hand I don’t want to hurt you so you need to lie still you understand?” he said his voice harsh and deathly quiet.

I gulped. Why did he have something sharp? Why did he need something sharp to take off my shirt? That didn’t make any sense to me. That’s when I felt him pull my shirt away from my body and he started ripping it. Ripping it from the hem up. The sound of the fabric ripping feeling like it was rattling around in my ear drums the sound all encompassing.

I needed my shirt. Why was he ripping it like that? He could have just taken it off. I must have whimpered or something because next thing I knew he was leaning forward and I could feel his breath on my face.

“I’m not going to hurt you little one I promise. We’re just playing a game that’s all. I’m not going to hurt you. Just be really still for just another minute ok?” he said before the ripping sound started again him grabbing my shirt pulling it hard against the back of my neck for a second before it loosened.

He had cut the neck line of my shirt. Him laying a kiss on my throat as he pulled at my shirt sleeve on my right side moving my arm and pulling it out of what was left of my shirt before doing the same thing to the other arm.

“You can move freely now little one it’s ok,” he said. I would have sat up but, I could feel his weight on my legs, the feel of him heavy making my legs ache.

So, I could move freely but he was sitting on top of me. Making it so I couldn’t even really sit up. I couldn’t see him the whole thing making me that much more nervous, scared. He said he wouldn’t hurt but he was. He was hurting me and probably felt like he wasn’t. He had taken away my shirt, ripped it to shreds.

“Calm,” he whispered moving back, lifting his weigh off my legs, “Just stay calm.”

“S…Daddy L? Please?” I whimpered.

“It’s ok little one, it’s ok,” he cooed his hands going to the waist of my jeans, “I’ll make it feel so good baby I promise.”

I didn’t like the way his voice sounded. The way he smelled. The way my face smelled like old spice. My own fear was holding me down. Making it hard for me to move and I couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t fight back. Why I was never able to fight back. I wanted to scream at him but I knew better.

He undid my pants and he didn’t pull them off right away instead kissing down my chest pulling down each side and kissing my stomach there. Making it hard to breathe. I couldn’t see what he was doing but I could feel his hands on my biceps. His lips and tongue rolling over my belly button.

I whimpered. I didn’t mean to but it felt too strong, the feeling of his hands and mouth on my skin when I couldn’t see. It was like a sharp inhale mixed with a whimper, him pulling back pulling at my waist.

“Lift up,” he said his voice commanding. In the same way he had told me to take off my shorts the last time, “Don’t make this hard you won’t be happy. Lift up.”

I did as I was told lifting my hips him pulling my pants and boxers down the cold air hitting me. I went to go cover myself with my hands, hide myself from him. He grabbed my wrists again hard.

“Don’t play that game. Don’t be like that little one. I just want to make you feel good and it’s beautiful. You’re so beautiful. Don’t hide from me. I love you. I love your sweet…” he palmed me with his free hand not letting go of my wrists causing me to jerk and my legs to squirm. Me realizing I wasn’t feeling his weight anywhere near my legs. Not up against the sides of my hips or on my knees or anywhere above them. It taking me a minute to realize he was probably on the floor beside the seat leaning over me.
“Does that feel good?” he asked his voice deep and husky, “I’m going to let your arm go now but I expect you to behave. You can move however I suggest trying to relax and let it build. It feels better that way. Just make those yummy sounds you want to make ok baby? Don’t censor yourself but try not to use words. Just for this part ok?”

I nodded my head in response. Him sliding his fingers up and down. It sending a cold sharp tickle up and down my spine. It felt like he was electrocuting my body. His fingers traveling up and down my shaft. Giving me a hand job.

“That’s feels good doesn’t it baby? My special little one you’re getting so ripe, so hard. Are you ready for me? Are you ready for me to suck you?” he asked me.

I just wanted him to stop. I wanted my body to stop. I wanted the world to stop. I wanted his hands off of me. His lips wrapping around me making me shriek in surprise before I slammed a hand over my mouth embarrassed. Embarrassed that I couldn’t keep myself from sounding that way. Sounding like it felt good when I just wanted him to stop.

“It’s ok little one you can make all the noise you want. The was a surprising one but not all together unpleasant. You taste good,” he said as he stopped talking licking me rolling his tongue over my tip before he sucked me back into his mouth again.
At one point he grabbed my right leg leaning his weight over it so he could use his mouth on me. The sensations making it impossible to be silent. The more he did things the hotter my face and body felt. The harder it was to breathe. He did it for what felt like forever before he did something with his tongue that made my whole body feel tight and he kept doing it until that energy released in a rush.

When he was done he pulled away making a satisfied moan and smacking his lips happily, “That was tasty. Your cream is so tasty my special little one. I would satisfy other urges but I think we should wait. That and you look spent. You were such a good boy for me. You’re my special boy William.”

He kissed my forehead before he moved me. Making me sit up a little before pulling my head into his lap. I wanted to move, to pull away but I wasn’t stupid. He would probably do other things right there. All of the other stuff if I did so I just laid there blind folded wishing I could cut off everything. That I didn’t have to feel it anymore. Feel what he had done. Wishing that he’d give me back my clothes but he didn’t move to. Him just running his hand through my hair.

“You’re such a special boy. I’m sure our friend will be very pleased with you. Once we get you ready. That part will be very fun though. I’ll think you’ll enjoy that too. You want to play again with me little one? You seem to enjoy it. You seem to enjoy it a lot all those sweet little sounds you make. However, I think you make them louder when I give a massage while I do it. That you enjoy my fingers. What do you think?” he asked me.

I wasn’t ok with that. I just wanted my clothes back. I felt dirty and knew nothing would make me feel clean but I wanted my clothes back. I wanted my clothes back.

“William, you can use your words now little one. Speak to me ok?” he said kissing my forehead.

“Can I …. Can I h…have m-my cl-cl-clothes?” I stuttered.

“There’s no need for them it’s just us and I enjoy seeing your body. Just relax. I’m not going to hurt you. I’ll never hurt you.”

I wanted to scream at him. He had already hurt me. Putting his mouth on me had hurt me. Him grabbing my arm so I couldn’t cover myself had hurt me. Him cutting my shirt from my body had hurt me. Everything he had done had hurt me. The fact that he wanted to kill my mum if I did something wrong, didn’t do what I was told had hurt me.

Him making me lay there naked with my head in his lap blind folded hurt me. The fact that he used my silence against me hurt me and the fact that he demanded I speak when I didn’t have words I wanted to use that hurt me too. I didn’t want to be his special boy or his little one. I just wanted to be me.

That’s all I wanted was to be me. To be a boy who didn’t belong to anyone. A boy that wasn’t Lionel’s or Uncle Ben’s or Da’s. To just be a boy who wanted to figure it out and not be afraid it was the wrong choice. That those feelings were wrong and put there by bad people. People who had done those things to me and that in turn made me want to do them to others. I just wanted to be me and not be afraid of it. Of everyone and everything.

I don’t know how I managed to not cry. But I didn’t. I held it in letting him run his hand through my hair not fighting him and not trying to get away at some point me almost managing to meditate. To ignore my body and leave it behind completely. My brain playing something weird in my head. Snow. Snow falling all around. Watching a cat turn into a woman. Watching some transform. Watching a boy, a boy who lived laying on a door step in the darkness as 2 wizards disappeared and a half giant took a flying motorcycle away.

I don’t know why or how but before that moment I hadn’t ever really connected to Harry potter. Not until I saw it in my mind. It was only then that I felt the story, knew the story. Only in the moments where my brain was looking for an escape and I begin to live the story did I understand what it meant. What it meant to be the boy who lived.

Through that act of meditation, I must have fallen asleep because before I knew it Lionel was forcing me to sit up kissing my forehead, “Come on little one. We’re here.” He said stirring me awake. Bring me back to my reality.

Chapter Text

He didn’t take off his tie, not right away. Me hearing people chatting as someone carried me naked into the Villa. I wasn’t tied up but, I couldn’t see what was happening and I knew better than to remove the blindfold/tie from my face. I knew better than to speak unless I was asked to speak.

“Is this one yours?” I heard an unfamiliar voice ask probably Lionel.

“The one with Sergei? Yes, he’s mine,” Lionel said and I felt a hand on my ankle.

So that answered one question.

“He looks delightful,” the voice said, “Ben’s nephew, right?”

“One of them, yes,” Lionel answered the person.

“Will he be on the tables tonight?” the guy asked.

He sounded way too excited about the idea to make me comfortable. I couldn’t see who he was but, obviously he was brotherhood. I felt sick to my stomach wiggling a little bit wondering if there was any way to hide myself, hide the fact that I was naked and exposed.

“Vse normal'no,” Sergei muttered at me. (It’s ok)

“No, he won’t be. He’s for private entertainment tonight,” Lionel answered the guy to which he sighed loudly and disappointment.

“Why do you always keep the sweetest ones for yourself Lionel?” he asked him.

“Well, Henry because they are sweet. You can talk to Benjamin while Connor’s away if you want to arrange some private time to get acquainted with him,” Lionel said, “Come Sergei, take him to my quarters please.”

“Yes sir,” Sergei grunted before he started walking.

It felt like he carried me up a flight of stairs and then up another and then he turned left. I felt a lift kick on and then him carry me down another hallway and I heard a door open. When the door opened he set me down and took off the tie from around my eyes.

When he took it off he was smiling at me and no one else was there. I backed up until I fell into something. A sofa falling onto it as I used my hands to cover my nakedness.

“YA by s udovol'stviyem poverila, no ty ne v sebe,” he told me smiling, “You stay here. Watch TV he will come.” (I would love to believe me but your off limits.)

With that he left shutting the door behind him. I was alone. I looked around looking at the room around me. It was like a sitting room and kitchen combo almost like an apartment. A large TV sitting up against the wall in front of the sofa I was sitting on. A black recliner next to it and glass coffee table in front of it. The walls were this beige color and there was a small table in the corner next to a kitchen island. A table too small for my family to sit at only having four chairs.

I knew they made tables that small but I thought they only had those at restaurants. Apparently, people had them in their houses too. All of the appliances in the kitchen made of stainless steel the counters and cabinets white with black counter tops. There were four doors around the area but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to go in them. The air felt cold. Me sitting there naked on the couch taking in the room around me.

I knew I was in the Villa but the Villa was a big place. I wouldn’t have even known where to start looking if I had moved. Sergei had told me to turn on the TV but, I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to or not so I just sat there. Naked using my hands to cover myself as I sat in silence. I started to wonder where everyone else was. Figuring they were downstairs but I also wondered if I would see them or if what Da and Lionel had said in their emails was true, no one would know I was even there. Not John, Not Cole, none of my friends. No one would have any idea I was there at all.

I looked at the clock on the wall telling me it was 10:45. School had been in for almost three hours so no one was there probably. At least not yet. The door opening causing me to jump a foot in the air Lionel coming in and smiling at me and then frowning.

“Have you just been sitting here staring at the TV while it’s off little one? You could have turned it on. I didn’t mean for you to wait in the silence all by yourself. There was something I had to take care of. Did you look around? I want you to feel comfortable here.” He said to me coming over and sitting next to me making me scoot away a little bit causing him to frown slightly.

“Sorry,” I muttered, “I… Sergei said I could turn on the TV but he didn’t show me where the remote was and I wasn’t sure if I should…” I trailed off.

“It’s ok, come here let me show you around,” he said grabbing my hand making me follow him as he went up and opened one of the doors, “This is the bathroom. Obviously, you can use it whenever you need to. You know where the kitchen and living room are. This room,” he said walking us over to a different room and opening up the door.

It was painted powder blue. The walls were empty and there was an old quilt of varying shades of green spread over a double bed that had matching shams. It looked like a nice room like it was made to keep someone calm. The idea that such a normal room would be in his house unsettling to me for some reason.

“This is your room. If you want you can decorate it at a later date. It used to be Luke’s room but Luke and Teddy seem to like sharing a room so this room,” he took my hand and lead me over to another door before he opened it.

There was a superman themed bedspread on the bed and movie posters all over the place. Another couple posters of David Beckham and one of the backstreet boys which was surprising for some reason to me.

“is there’s and now, I’m excited to show this to you,” he said taking me to the last door, “Is our room.”

Our room. He had called it our room. Not his room or “my room” but our room. There was a huge bed made of a deep dark wood. all of the future made of the same thing only this bed was like the bed in the room downstairs. It had a foot board with three holes in it almost like stocks. The middle hole bigger than the other two. Big enough for someone’s head to go through. There was a big canopy above lace hanging down but also hooks stung up along it with different things hanging down. One of them looking similar to the paddle that Uncle Ben had used on me once a raised heart on the side facing us. It was made of black rubber. He went over smiling and lifted up the skirt of the bed.

It looked like a dog cage. Instead of the floor under it being bare it looked like there was some type of padding almost like a sleeping bag. Me taking a couple steps back a shiver going through my body as he smiled at me watching my response.

“Don’t worry little one. If you behave you’ll never have to sleep in there ok? Just remember that,” he said to me.

I nodded my head looking at him, “I’m cold.” I told him quietly.

“Oh! I’m sorry little one. Just give me a minute. You should have said something earlier. Here,” he said closing the bedroom door behind me and grabbing something off the hook. It was a silk robe of a deep red him holding it open. It wouldn’t exactly make me warm but, it was better than using my hands me sighing as he helped me into it wrapping his arms around my waist and tying it shut for me before he hands starting wandering lower making me freeze, making me strand up a little straighter as it got harder to breathe.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said, “It’s perfect on you. How about we have some fun instead? That will warm you up.”

I didn’t want to do that again. Not like we had in the car. I wanted to go home. He sighed looking at my face, my expression.

I felt like I was staring at him blankly but, apparently I was showing enough emotion it was worrying to him as he came around in front of me using his hand to gently tilt my chin upwards so he was looking at me, “You know I have a friend coming. You know we talked about that in the car yes?”

I nodded my head and he exhaled loudly.

“Use your words little one ok? No one else is here but me and you. I’m not going to hurt you and I’m not going to be angry so don’t be nervous about saying the wrong thing. Just use your words ok? A part of behaving is using your words,” he warned me.

So, he was going to put me in that cage thing if I didn’t talk to him? If I didn’t…I gulped opening my mouth to say something and then closing it again the words getting stuck. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t please no. I wasn’t a dog. I wasn’t.

“Oh, little one, just use your words that’s all ok?” he said, “Don’t cry. Use your words.”

My eyes dried. I hadn’t realized I had almost started crying. My brain trying to back track to remember what he had asked me. About his friend, him telling me about his friend in the car.

“I remember you talking about your friend, yes,” I said.

He smiled warmly at me pressing his index finger to the tip of my nose, “Daddy L remember?”

“Sorry Daddy L,” I said quietly.

“That’s all right. Just try to remember,” he said smiling, “My friend likes special things. He likes his friends to dress up nice and I have to get it ready so you can help me. Do you want to help me?”

I was confused. What was it that he needed to get ready? Teddy and Cole had talked about some guy that was into weird stuff but was this the same guy? The guy that was coming to this party? I wasn’t sure what to say but his brows started to wrinkle as he watched me waiting for me to speak so I figured I would say something quick.

“What do you want me to do Daddy L?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said the wrinkle vanishing as he smiled happily, “Why don’t you go sit on the bed? Don’t worry about the foot board. That’s not for you ok little one?”

I nodded my head walking over to the bed. It was high up. There was even a step stool to get up which I used putting my hand on the top of the foot board to heft myself up onto the bed turning around to find he was taking off his clothes. That he was…getting naked.

I hugged myself staring at me feet that were still too small. My feet hanging off the bed. I was taller than my mum. I imagined how small she would feel sitting on that bed. Him walking over to me and tilting my chin up as he set something on the bed next me.
I was afraid to look and see what it was him smiling at me, “My friend likes his boys to dress pretty. You want to help me make some special panties for you to wear for him?”

“W-w-what?” I asked.

“Just relax,” he said leaning forward into me forcing his tongue in my mouth as he made me lay back.

I gripped the foot board as he kissed me. My hand wrapping around the top part of the small circle on it as I gripped it. I didn’t want him kissing me like that. It made me feel gross. Gross like when Da did it or Uncle Ben. Bad. My knees starting to shake as he leaned into me, his nakedness up against my legs.

He pulled back after a minute smiling at me, “Why don’t you lay down little one? Go up by the pillows?” he asked me.

I sighed my whole body still shaking as I turned crawling up the bed on my hands and knees so that my head was by the pillows. He climbed into the bed with me, him grabbing me and turning me to face him his hands going to the tie holding the robe closed that he had given me maybe five minutes before.

He straddled my hips looking down at me, running his hands through my hair. Looking at me, the robe now open exposing me making me want to cover myself as he got off and then came back a tube of something in his hand, lube which he squirted a little bit of onto his hands before rubbing them together and touching my chest his hands feeling greasy as they slide over my nipples.

“Ah!” I let out a little squeak as he flicked one of them with his fingers covering my hand with my mouth in surprise.

“It’s ok. You can make all the sounds you want. Don’t be shy my little one ok?” he said to me kissing the center of my breast bone his hand going there immediately making me feel sick to my stomach.

I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want my body doing this. I squirmed as he leaned over top of me. Rubbing my member between his fingers the wetness of the lube making them slide easier over my skin than last time, making it easier for me to get aroused. Causing me to wiggle and grunt in frustration as my body gave over to him making me pant.

“You want it don’t you little one? My special little boy? You like the way it feels, don’t you? The way Daddy L makes you feel? The way it tingles so nice.” He muttered as he kept rubbing before he pulled away stopping looking at me, “When was the last time you had a B.M?” he asked me suddenly.

I balked blinking at him, me being able to breathe the moment he stopped touching me. I thought it was a weird question. It seemed like a weird question to me. When was the last time I had crapped? The night before after dinner and eventually I would have to again. Usually going like twice a day. I just stared at him his hand resting on my stomach above my pelvis as he looked at me waiting for me to answer.

“It’s ok little one. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s a natural human function. I’m just wondering is all,” he said starting to trace a small circle with his finger on pubic bone.

“Last night after dinner,” I answered him sheepishly his eyes lighting up with a smile as he looked at me.

“Did you clean after? Take a shower?” he asked me.

No, I hadn’t. I was 10, I didn’t shower every night or morning unless I had been doing something gross. Uncle Ben had been gone that week so it wasn’t like I was doing a lot of stuff that would make me dirty me instead cutting a shower or bath down to every other night that week. I shook my head in response wondering what he was getting at. If he would be mad at me for not being clean.

He made a sound of excitement before he grabbed my ankles pushing them up into my shoulders and shoving his tongue into me licking vigorously. Me letting out a shocked squeak as he licked and sucked his hands pressing hard into the back of my thighs.
It was always a very strong sensation. Making it hard to stay still and not try to get away. I didn’t like the way it felt but my body certainly did. It always made my leg twitch. I looked for something to grab so I could squeeze it so I could control the sounds I was making my face turning red with shame as he did that. Him making grunting and moaning sounds as his tongue swirled around and in my hole. His mouth pulling away and him slowly pushing his finger into me, “That’s it my good boy. My special boy,” he said as he started to move his finger in and out.

I didn’t want it to feel like it was feeling. Me scared of what he would do if I begged him to stop as I started to mouth the word “please” over and over again meaning I wanted him to stop. To please just stop. Just stop and he wouldn’t. Him laughing lightly as he pushed in harder adding another finger him finding that spot brushing against it making my whole-body flinch.

“I’m trying my little one, I promise. You want my tongue? You want me to suck your special fruit? Give me all that sweet cream?”

It took everything in me not to scream at him no. Not cry and scream at him no as I dug my nails into the mattress under me as hard as I could. He wrapped his lips around me sucking. It felt like I was being electrocuted. The heat and tightness so overwhelming my whole body was trembling.

I closed my eyes trying not to think about what he was doing. Wishing it away, wishing my body away trying to block it out. Every time I inhaled I gasped, my face feeling hotter and hotter as he kept going, as my body kept getting closer and closer. He stopped for a minute before I felt it, him slowly pushing into me as he put something on me.

“Want to help me make your special panties my little one? My friend likes special panties,” he breathed pulling out and then pushing back in a little farther grunting happily, “That’s it baby, let me in, let me have you. That’s it.” He grunted pushing all the way into me before he started rocking us the feeling of him moving inside me too much.

“That’s right baby,” he groaned, “That’s right my good boy, come for me. God yes, that’s it.”

He started hitting that spot making it harder and harder to breathe before it felt really tight and really warm him somehow staying inside of me as he moved placing something over top of me as he rubbed me to climax before he laid back down on top of me grunting happily as that wetness flooded my insides making me feel even more gross, sticky. He stilled didn’t pull out running his hands through my hair.

“You’re such a good boy. Open your eyes little one. Please, for me?” he asked to which I nodded my head opening my eyes.

There was something weird about them, something weird about the way he was looking at me that made me feel gross and sick. That made me feel uneasy. Him smiling at me and kissing my forehead. Like he was happy. Euphoric.

“There you are my little one,” he said pulling out of me, “How do you feel?”

I felt disgusting. Like the whore I knew I was. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to look at him he had just…his cum feeling like it was leaking out of me, dripping out of my insides and down the back of my legs.

“What’s wrong little one? Didn’t I make you feel good?” he asked me him frowning in what looked like worry.

I couldn’t stop myself from starting to cry slamming my hand over my mouth to keep myself from screaming. From shrieking at him to quit touching me, to let me go. To leave me alone so I could just die.

“It’s ok my special boy. You made me so happy. There’s nothing to cry about. You were so good for me William. You made me feel so good. Didn’t I make you feel good? Tell me what I have to do to make you feel good baby. Do you want me to suck you? What do you need me to do huh?” he asked me.

He let me cry into my hand before he grabbed it impatiently, “Tell me what you want. Don’t be a bad boy William use your words.”

“Can…can…can I…I... I ssshh shower D-da-daddy L?” I managed to barely squeak out.

“Not right now my little one. We’ll lay here for a while and then I’ll have someone come in and make you pretty. My friend likes pretty boys. And you’re beautiful all on your own but, sometimes he likes different things. It’s ok though. I’ll be here.”

His friend liked different things. That confused me enough to dry my tears. I wasn’t sure what he meant by different things. He must have seen the frown on my face because he frowned at me thoughtfully.

“What are you thinking?” he asked me.

“What different things?” I asked him quietly.

He smiled at me running a hand through my hair again sending a shiver down my spine, “Do you know about make-up?”

I nodded my head.

“He likes to see his boys in makeup. I honestly don’t think it’s needed. Especially for a boy as beautiful and sweet as you but, he enjoys it. Seeing boys made pretty like little dolls before he plays with them. So, we’re going to have someone come in and make you up. Make you pretty. We’ll take some pictures too. For fun.”

His hand starting trailing down my open robe as he leaned over top of me, “I bet your sticky down there. Would you like to be cleaned up?”

For some reason I thought he meant he was going to get a wash cloth or something and let me wipe myself down so I nodded my head. Instead him moving pushing putting my knees on his shoulders his tongue trailing down the back of my ball sack and going there again. His tongue going into my hole again licking and sucking. He didn’t stop again until I came again. Him stopping wiping his mouth on the back of his hand as he moved so he was lying beside me again.

“Better? Do you feel cleaner?” he asked me smiling.

I nodded my head lying to him. Because I knew that’s what he wanted. That he didn’t care that his spit was making me feel sticky and gross. He laid there with me running his hand through my hair making me wish that I could scream but knowing better.
Knowing that I couldn’t tell him what to do. That he would put me in that cage under his bed and I would probably never come out. After a while he turned looking at the alarm clock on the night stand next to the bed.

“I’ll be back shortly ok my little one?” he asked me kissing my forehead, “Stay here.”

He got up and grabbed a long black robe leaving me laying there on his bed. Me pulling my robe closed and curling into a ball but not daring to leave the bed. A near numbness washing over me as I laid there waiting for him to come back. To do that stuff again because I knew he would. When he came back he loudly shut the door making me look at him.

“Here, let’s get you ready,” he said grabbing something that was laying on the bed. It was a pair of lace panties. Women’s pink lace panties that looked dirty. Something slimy and almost white but not quite on the front of them. He bent down and held them out for me to step into. I noticed that there wasn’t really a back to them but only a thin strip of lace.

“What are those Daddy L?” I asked him confused.

“Your special panties. We made them together remember? My friend likes it went boys wear special panties for him. Come on put them on. The make-up girl is here. She’s going to make you pretty like a doll remember William?” he asked me, “We talked about it.”

“They’re dirty though,” I pointed out.

He smiled at that like he was amused, “Don’t worry about that. It’ll make him very happy ok? Just come here, let me help you put them on.”

I sighed getting off the bed and stepping into them. They felt wet and cold against my skin, sticky with my own…grossness. I didn’t like the way they felt. The thin strip of fabric going up against my butt in-between my butt cheeks. Him pulling my robe closed that I was still wearing using the tie to tie it closed as he kissed my forehead opening the door.

There was a girl sitting on the sofa. A box in front of her on the coffee table. A kit of some kind. I looked at her trying to avoid looking at her sheer robe her body naked under it. She smiled at me patting the spot on the couch beside her Lionel grabbing my shoulders and massaging them gently.

“This is Shoonji. She’s going to help make you pretty ok?” he asked to me.

“Yes, I make pretty,” she said to me in broken English.

She was Asian. Long dark straight hair loose flowing down her back. She looked pretty and she had to be maybe a year or two older than John. She looked at Lionel her eyes nervous, scared. She probably belonged to him like I belonged to him. But I thought he didn’t like girls.

“I have some stuff I have to take care of. Shoonji you’re treat him well yes?” he asked her.

“Yes sir,” she said nodding her head vigorously as Lionel left. Shutting the door to the whole area behind him, “Come,” she said gesturing to me to sit beside her again, “Sit.”

I didn’t feel like sitting. My butt felt wet and sticky still, my front wet and sticky too. I also felt a little tender which is normal. But, she didn’t need to know that. I mean she must knew what was going on even a little bit but, I didn’t want to talk about it. Bother her about it.

“Is ok,” she said standing up slowly, “I not hurt. I make pretty.” She came towards me both her hands out in front of her nodding at me smiling as she reached out to grab my hand, “please sit? I make pretty.” She repeated again.

I pulled my hands back hugging myself. I shook my head. I didn’t want to sit down. I knew that I probably should. That we would both get in trouble if I didn’t but I didn’t want her to touch me. I wanted to shower and get out of there. I wanted my mum.

“No, I not hurt. I make pretty,” she said again before she sighed sitting on the arm of the recliner I was standing near, “I know he bad man. Very bad man. I sorry. You have to make pretty though. Be pretty. He get mad if we don’t. Mad bad. Very very bad ok?”

“Shoonji?” I asked her to which her eyes lit up smiling as she nodded her head, “Does he hurt you? Does he make you…?” I trailed off.

She sighed sadly at me and shook her head, “Little namdongsaeng. How you say?”

I frowned at her. I had no idea what that meant. She sighed biting her bottom lip thoughtfully before she tried again pointing at me saying it again, “namdongsaeng. Me namdongsaeng.”

“Little boy?” I asked her and she smiled nodding her head, “you have a son? A baby?”

She shook her head, “no me not,” she gestured like she was holding a baby shaking her head, “namdongseang.” She said again pointing at me and then at herself.

“Little brother?” I asked her and she nodded her head happily, “yes.”

I don’t know why but I felt my lip start trembling the tears coming her making a gasping sound of surprise coming over to me.

“All right,” she mumbled hugging me, “Shhh…all right.”

“No,” I said shaking my head.

My whole body was shaking again. He was her little brother. He’d…I wondered if he was my age or younger. Lionel liked younger boys usually. I knew that. I imagined him being James’ size.

She pulled out of the hug smiling at me sadly, “You be ok, you be strong strong…b... buoy?” she asked me like she was asking me if he pronunciation was correct.

“Boy,” I said.

“B-boy?” she asked saying it right.

“Yeah, boy,” I said nodding my head.

“You strong boy. You ok. We make pretty though ok? No…” she took both her fist and rubbed them in circles under her cheeks frowning, “No that.”

I thought about what Cole had told me. How Lionel had killed a boy because he didn’t do what Lionel had told him to. How he had made Cole watch and I thought maybe Teddy too. I nodded my head.

This boy was probably locked up somewhere counting on me. Counting on me not to get him killed. This little boy no older than James. Probably scared and crying. Only god knew what Lionel was letting people do to him. I gulped nodding my head and going over to the couch sitting down. Nodding at her.

She smiled and grabbed my hand in reassurance nodding her head happily at me as she opened up the box. It was full of brushes and stuff. Her grabbing a little thing full of powder and dipping a brush in it before bringing it to my face.

“They have your brother?” I asked her quietly to which she nodded her head at me, “They have mine too I think. Are you scared?”

“S-sared?” she asked me.

“Scared like boo?” I asked her.

“Oh! kkamjjag nollan?” she asked her eyes lighting up in understand, “Yes I sared for my namdongsaeng,”

“How old is he?” I asked her, “I’m 10.” I held up my fingers wiggling them.

She put down her brush holding up six fingers her face falling. So, he was little like James. It felt weird. Knowing that I was right. Knowing that this poor little boy was there somewhere. That they were hurting him somewhere. I dawned on me that while she didn’t seem to speak English that well we were having a conversation. An actual conversation.

“Where are you from?” I asked her.

“daehanmingug,” she said picking her brush back up.

I wasn’t sure she had understood the question but she smiled, “Long way.”

“Did he bring you here? The bad man?” I asked her not sure how else to communicate to her who he was. What he was. She sighed loudly making her lips vibrate like a toddler before she shrugged her shoulders at me.

I took that to mean she wasn’t sure her blinking at me, “Close eye.”

I sighed closing my eyes. Her doing something taking a brush of some kind and running it through my eyelashes. Before I felt her touching my eye lids lightly. Then I felt her take a brush to my lips covering them in something kind of sticky and wet.

“Open,” she said smiling at me nodding her head, “Pretty. I make pretty.”

It felt weird. I had never even though about wearing makeup before. I knew what it was. I had seen my mum put it on and watched Catty and Mike play with Karen’s but I had never thought about putting any on myself her grabbing my hand and leading me over to a mirror on the wall.

It looked weird, my eyelashes looking big and long a light gray shimmery eye shadow spread over my eye lids. My lips wearing something light pink and sticky, lip stick. It looked weird. It didn’t look like me or a doll. My face looking like me but not. Me wanting to touch it but knowing that was probably a bad idea. That it would make a mess. I heard something loud out in the hall. A loud booming laugh.

Shoonji inhaled sharply her eyes going wide before she got on her knees on the floor putting her hands in her lap and looking at the floor. Whoever this was she was scared of them. More scared of them then she had seemed of Lionel. The door opening as I sat there on the sofa next to her.

When it opened Lionel was there and this really fat Asian guy. He was only a little bit taller than I was. Maybe five or six inches. Not as tall as Lionel even though he looked like Lionel had maybe 20 years on him physically. He was probably just a little bit older then my da. His skin just starting to wrinkle around his eyes. His hair black having a thin nearly trimmed mustache and beard. He smiled at me.

“Hou, this is William,” Lionel said introducing me before Hou turned to Shoonji and said something to her in whatever language she had been speaking her standing up daring to shoot me a sympathetic look as she hurried out of the room Lionel shutting the door behind her.

Hou as the man had called Lionel turned to look at me, “He’s stunning.” He muttered. Causing me to avert my gaze the mere words out of his mouth making me feel dirty. Feel like a thing and not a person.

“I told you he was. He’s a very good boy aren’t you little one?” Lionel asked me coming over and sitting down on the sofa next to me, “Don’t mind the quiet, he’s shy.”

“That’s ok. I’ll get you to open up. You do have the best tastes as always,” he said sitting down in the recliner on the other side of me. I was on the couch Lionel on my left while Hou was sitting in the recliner on my right the only thing separating me from Hou the arm of the sofa and then the recliner itself. They both felt too close.

Making me feel like I couldn’t breathe. I knew they were going to rape me. That they were going to make me do those things again. I didn’t want to act scared but I was. I was scared because that little boy was depending on me. Depending on me to behave so that he didn’t die. Lionel was depending on me to behave and do what I was told so that I didn’t make him mad. So that he didn’t kill my mum. I felt like everyone was depending on me.

“What’s he like in private?” Hou asked Lionel.

“He makes the most delicious little sounds. I think he tries to fight it. His face usually turns red and he sometimes cries a little bit but, otherwise he’s very…cooperative.” Lionel said.

“I don’t mind tears. Sometimes they’re nice,” Hou said to which Lionel nodded his head.

“I agree,” Lionel said scooting closer to me making me tense up.

So, he knew I cried. He noticed and he didn’t…he didn’t care. Uncle Ben hated it when I cried and so did Da so I always tried not too or to be quiet about it. I hated knowing that he had noticed me crying and that he didn’t care. That he even liked it. Liked knowing that he hurt me, that he scared me.

“William why don’t you show him our surprise?” he asked me smiling at me.

“Wh-what?” I barely managed.

“You know the surprise we made for him? Remember?” he asked me.

I wasn’t sure what he meant and then I realized I was sitting there wearing make up the robe closed, me holding the top of it tightly closed with one of my hands to cover myself the best I could. It went down to my midthigh. Me suddenly being aware of them again, the panties that Lionel had made me put on. How they felt wet and weird.

“William,” Lionel said in that warning stern voice he used when I wasn’t doing something the way he wanted me to, “Show Mr. Hou our surprise.”

I gulped nodding my head standing up. I knew he wanted me to take off the robe. To show Hou that I was wearing them. That I had those on and nothing else under my robe. I sighed my hands shaking as I untied the tie on my robe and letting it fall open Lionel moving behind me and pulling it down off my arms, taking it away.

Hou’s smile grew, “Simply luscious.” He said licking his lips at me.

“William why don’t you give Mr. Hou a hug. Thank him for visiting us. He came a long way you know? All the way from Japan.”

I didn’t want to hug him. He looked so big he could swallow me. If I had been younger I’m sure some part of me would have already thought he had swallowed a small child his stomach seeming very bulged under the black robe he was wearing.

“William,” Lionel said in that warning tone again, “Don’t make me ask again. You need to be polite.”

I walked towards him slowly my heart hammering in my chest as he sat up and little straighter opening his arms for me to walk into them. Him grabbing my arm once I was within reaching distance and wrapping his arms around me him burying his face in the middle of my chest as he grabbed my butt before he started kissing me.

I made a tiny gasping sound. His hands starting to play with the thin strip of fabric in-between my butt cheeks him feeling it oddly before he pulled away frowning palming the font before he laughed loudly making me jump.

“I’m sorry William,” he said, “You really did it, didn’t you? You know me so well.”

“Well you did come a very long way,” Lionel said behind me, “Are you pleased?”

“Very. Stunning boy all dolled up for me. In a take home gift. It’s perfect, thank you,” Hou said, “Why don’t you show me the bedroom, William it is, right?”

I nodded my head turning to look at Lionel. He was leaving me alone with him? With this guy. I didn’t…I mean I certainly didn’t want Lionel touching me but at least I knew who he was. I knew what he was like. I didn’t know what this guy was going to do to me. He was probably going to suffocate me with all his fat. He was so fat.

“L…Daddy L?’ I asked Lionel quietly him smiling at the fact that I remembered that’s what he wanted me to call him.

“Yes, my little one?” he asked me.

“Are you coming?” I asked him.

They both laughed, “Well, little one I’ll be back later,” Lionel said coming over to me and putting his hands on my shoulders, “I have some things to attend to downstairs so you and Mr. Hou are going to get to know each other. Spend some intimate time together ok? Why don’t you show him to the bedroom where we played before?”

So yeah, I was supposed to let him rape me. Let him have sex with me.

“You’re not going to hurt me, are you?” I asked looking at Hou.

Hou frowned at Lionel, “Why would he think I was going to hurt him?”

“His Uncle Benjamin has been a little overly rough in the past. Please don’t take offense,” Lionel said.

“Oh of course not William. I would never hurt you. Not a stunning creature like you, not ever ok?” Hou said to me.

He looked sad. Sad at knowing someone had maybe hurt me. I knew it was trick to try and get me to calm down, to be less scared. It didn’t help any, him promising not to hurt me.

Lionel and Da always said they wouldn’t hurt me and they didn’t physically but so many other things they did hurt so badly, so deep down there’s still no way for me to describe it. How much it really hurt. Every touch of their fingers and mouth might as well have been skinning me alive. that’s the type of emotional and mental anguish they inflicted on me. It was a type that they didn’t understand and that I was sure they never would.

I nodded my head him standing up and taking my hand, “Now which room are we playing in?” he asked me.

I walked to the door pulling it open with my free hand my whole body shaking as I did so. He allowed me to walk into the room him shutting the door behind him and smiling at me, “Is this where you played?” he asked me, “Did you have fun? Lionel’s a good friend of mine and he’s good at having lots of fun.”

He asked me that like I was six and not 10. It made me feel weird. Did he think I was that young? Me in all my 10-year-old wisdom thought it was impossible for someone to mistake me for being that young so I kind of just stared at him probably a confused look on my face because he smiled at me.

“What are you thinking?” he asked me.

“I’m 10,” I answered unsure if I was going to get in trouble for that.

He cleared his throat and muttered something to himself in what I’m assuming was Japanese, “Sorry,” he said smiling, “I’m used to playing with younger boys when I’m here usually.”

“Are you mad I said it?” I asked him.

“Not at all William,” he said to me, “Why don’t you go lay down?”

I sighed. So, this was it. I was supposed to just let him do it now. He wasn’t going to pretend that he wasn’t here to do that. That we weren’t there to do that. He wasn’t going to sweet talk me and tell me it was ok. He just wanted me to…I looked at him as he took off his robe.

It looked like he had three bellies. His rolls had rolls. I couldn’t even really see his penis one of his rolls hanging low over it. It made me wonder how he was planning to not squish me to death. Me staring at him reluctantly using my hands to cover myself and touching the wetness that was starting to dry on my underwear. The underwear Lionel had made me put on for him.

“I won’t hurt you,” he told me, “Lay down on the bed on your back. Go on.”

I swallowed. My throat feeling dry as I used the step to pull myself onto the bed and do what I was told. I was scared of what he was going to do to me. Wondering how he wasn’t going to kill me as he got on the bed next to me turning to face me. I laid flat on my back staring up at the canopy above me.

“You’re very sexy,” he said to me causing me to look at him.

I spoke without thinking saying what I was feeling because, I don’t know it just slipped out. The words making my face heat up as I said them, “I don’t feel sexy.”

“You are, you’re very very…,” he said his hand resting above the waistline of the undies I was wearing “Sexy. Lionel said you could come is that true?”

My stomach fell. Yeah, I could. They made me do it all the time. I knew it was natural that it was just a part of life but, it still felt weird to talk about it. Especially with a strange man I didn’t know that was lying in bed with me. It wasn’t something I felt like talking about especially when I couldn’t control it.

“Is it true? I know you’re shy but don’t check out here on me,” Mr. Hou said his fingers skittering across the skin at my waist.

I nodded my head. Him smiling as he shifted his weight palming me, feeling me through the underwear I was wearing.

“Do you like coming? I think it feels nice. Most boys like coming,” he said to me, “I like tasting. Can I taste?”

That sent a shiver up my spine. I hated that. He didn’t wait for me to answer before he started kissing the front of the underwear I was wearing putting his mouth around me through the fabric. It felt weird but it still made me gasp in surprise. Lionel had just spent a long time doing that. Preforming oral sex on me before he raped me. It made me feel sick inside just thinking about someone doing that again.

Thinking about someone touching me like that again. My insides freezing as he licked and nibbled at the outside of the panties he was making me wear before he pulled them aside. He didn’t take them off but exposed me through the leg hole his mouth going around my penis, his tongue lapping at me. My arms felt like lead. My chest feeling heavy.

I whimpered. It didn’t…I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way it made my body feel sending that tickling feeling up and down my spine while my chest felt tight. He moaned as he used his lips and tongue to play with my tip. My head feeling heavy, my brain feeling like it was swimming in cold water. He grunted and groaned making slurping sounds while he did it. Me gasping with each breath, wheezing. I wanted him to stop. I knew it didn’t matter what I did that he wouldn’t stop. That he wouldn’t stop because he didn’t want to. That he didn’t care at all. That he didn’t care how I felt.

After a couple of minutes, he stopped reaching up, out and stopping when he couldn’t find what he was looking for. Him looking at me and smiling, “You do make the best sounds really,” he said straddling me his body over mine for just a minute as he grabbed for my arm pulling gently.

I was gripping the headboard as best I could. Sliding my hand through one of the spaces in the wooden post and gripping it. I let go. I didn’t have a choice if I wouldn’t have he would have hurt my arms. He smiled at me kissing my hands. It did it like it was a loving gesture, a caring one careful that he didn’t let his weight rest on me as he moved again so he was laying more between my legs again instead of over top of me. He took my hands placing them on his head, in his hair as he looked at me.
“Why don’t you rub my head and pull on my hair a little baby?” he asked me, “I mean I love the sounds but I need a little more ok?”

That was something Lionel hadn’t made me do. No one had made me do that. They made me kiss them and stuff but they didn’t make me really touch them as they touched me. As they did things to me. This was new. I didn’t…I wasn’t sure what he was doing. I tried to sit up so I could see him better. He placed his hand the middle of my chest forcing me back down so I was lying flat again.

“It’s ok to like it you know? I mean you’re good. You’re amazing but, just a little bit ok? To let me know it feels good,” he said.

No. I remember thinking that. No, I didn’t want to. I was still just getting used to Lionel, to lying there. I must have shaken my head or something because he frowned at me slightly.

“We’re supposed to be playing together. Not just me playing with you. Are you uncomfortable is that why you’re…not really interacting? It’s ok to be nervous. It really is. However, I like to know my playmate is enjoying themselves too. Other than your sounds you haven’t really shown me that. Maybe if we take these off it’ll feel better?” he asked me pulling on the waist band of the panties and pulling them down my body moving taking them off.

Lionel had made me put them on for him and now he was taking them off. So, he wasn’t done because I wasn’t…being interactive enough for him. Wasn’t engaging and I hadn’t…given him what he wanted. Not really. I hadn’t come. I had been closing my eyes trying not to. The feeling had been building, the tightness and warmness getting tighter and warmer the more he did it.

He was going slow and I didn’t understand why. Lionel always seemed to be in a rush and Uncle Ben and Da even to a point. Not this guy though. Not Hou. He had been going slow sucking slowly, gently using his tongue a little bit and switching back to sucking his hands rubbing my hips and outer thighs as he had grunted and moaned and snorted.

“Do you like being played with here,” he asked touching the area under my balls making me flinch.

That area is really sensitive. I mean the whole area is sensitive in general but a small touch there is a tickle and a more forceful touch makes it tickle so much it almost burns a little bit. He smiled at me as my whole body jumped under the touch.

“Nothing to be ashamed about. We can do something about that. Hold on,” he said kissing my right hip, kissing my brand before he got up and went over to the dresser that was in the room.

I didn’t know what he was doing. He pulled something out of the dresser smiling at me. I looked at it in his hand. It was some type of toy him pulling out a condom and putting it on the thing.

It looked plastic but instead of being anchor shaped it was more like a messed-up C with what looked like a silver button at one end while the other end was black and tapered with some small ridges on it that looked like bubbles maybe. Probably for texture. He grabbed a bottle of lube sitting by my feet and squirted a generous amount onto the toy rubbing it to distribute it over top of it.

I knew what that was for. Uncle Ben had used one before. Just looking at it making me able to feel it. Feel what it did. Uncle Ben had strapped me down and let that thing run on me until it burned my insides. Until it tickled so badly it burned. I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t ok with that.

“Please…,” I begged him shaking my head, “Please…I…”

“Shhh…. it’s ok. I won’t hurt. It’ll feel good ok?” He told me lying to me, “If you’re good I won’t tell him you said no. He doesn’t like hearing boys say no. I’m not sure you know that but, you’ve probably guessed it. He’d be super embarrassed to hear that his special boy wasn’t nice to his guest. I just want you to play with me William that’s all. It can feel good if you let it.”

I hadn’t said no verbally but he was right I had shaken my head. My protest going silent as I laid there my whole body shaking as I tried to breathe. Tried to tell myself to behave. To just do what he wanted.

“There you go. That’s a good boy,” he murmured, “Can you grab the back of your knees? Please? It goes faster if you…”

He wanted to put it into me. To use it on me like Uncle Ben had. I tried to remind myself that if I was me it wasn’t that little boy. It was Shoonji’s brother or mine. It wasn’t some poor little kid that he was doing this to if he did it to me. I closed my eyes grabbing the back of my knees like he told me. He slid a finger into me making a satisfied sound as he started to stretch me. I inhaled sharply him moaning slightly as he bit his bottom lip.

“You feel so nice. So tight. I have to stretch you to even get in there probably. Even after he played with you earlier. You’re going to love this baby. It’ll feel so good,” he mumbled adding another finger causing me to dig my own fingernails into my skin as he pressed harder, deeper.

He wasn’t even trying to hit my prostate. It wasn’t hurting as badly as Lionel had in the car on the way back from the zoo but it was uncomfortable still. I tried everything I could think of to stay calm. To allow him to do what he wanted before he took his fingers out pressing that thing up against me. That thing of plastic and rubber. It felt hard.

That is one huge different between real and fake. Real penis’ have give. They mold to your body whereas with a fake one your body has to find the give. When your body isn’t that big to begin with there isn’t a lot of give to be had. The bluntness of the solid feeling plastic and the rubber over top of it causing me to tense waiting for the impact. Waiting for that beyond uncomfortable coldness to slid into me. He sighed resting his head against my pelvis for a second before lifting his head and looking at me.

“Baby you need to relax. It’ll hurt if you don’t relax. This isn’t like what you’re used to, ok? It’s not going to mold to you like my cock will so you need to relax. Now take a deep breath clench all of your muscles and then let everything go soft ok?”

I knew what he was saying, that he was saying it to be nice. To let me know that it would hurt and hurt bad if I didn’t relax. I knew he didn’t have to warn me. That he could have just shoved it right in ripping me, probably making me bleed but he didn’t. I tried to my best to take his advice and relax my body. I took a deep inhale and then a really big exhale as he started to push it into me the cold shocking me, making me squeak.

“It’s ok you’re doing so good baby,” he said starting to fuck it slowly into me, pushing in a little farther each time he pulled it out until it was all the way inside me. It stung hitting up against something wrong or stretching me too wide. Him moving it a little bit, turning it so it was in a certain position.

“AHH!” I screamed as he turned it on. It was right up against my prostate. It was too much way too much. I wanted him to turn it off. My whole-body twitching to the point where I could no longer keep ahold of my own legs.

“It’s ok you can let go,” he said moving so he was laying down with his face up against my pelvis licking my belly button and taking my hands putting them on his head, “Just pull my hair and rub my head baby that’s all.” He said before I felt his lips go around me.

I screamed and whimpered. I could feel the one end buzzing inside me sending a constant vibration up through the deepest parts of my body as the other part sat right up again the skin behind my balls, buzzing there too, making my whole body want to spasm and jerk. It took everything in me to keep myself from using words, from begging him to stop. Because god I just wanted him to stop. I wanted it to stop. Please god just stop, just stop.

I tried to pull my hands away him grabbing them hard and holding them to the back of his head. Giving me no choice but to touch him. To grip his head as he kept sucking.

I let out a shriek as I came hard in his mouth as he made snorting sounds like a pig drink it down. I thought he would be done after that but he just kept going. The pressure that my body had just released already starting to build back up. My body was shaking out of my control him sucking and licking harder making obscene sounds as he did so. Moaning happily around me as that thing made my insides burn and my whole-body twitch. He didn’t stop until he was satisfied. Until he was sure I had given him everything I had. Only then did he turn the vibrator still shoved inside of me. He sighed happily crawling up the bed to lay beside me kissing my neck and chest.

“That was so good baby. You seem so tired. Are you tired? Maybe I shouldn’t have worked you so hard. I’m sorry. We’re going to have so much fun tonight. You’ll see.”

“More?” I managed to mumble weakly.

He was right I was tired. My whole body hurt. That thing still instead me, still making me very uncomfortable even though it was turned off. My whole body hurting from the muscle cramps I was experiencing because my muscles kept spasming. Because it was too much. There was too much energy flowing through me, up and down my spine that I couldn’t control. I was too tired to cry otherwise I probably would have. Too tired to move or try and push him away as he held me, kissing me and teasing my collar bone and chest with his tongue and mouth. Him still touching me just not down there.

“I’ll be back in a little while ok baby?’ he said as he sucked on my neck for another minute before he got up and left the room taking his robe with him.

If I hadn’t of been in so much pain I probably would have cared more where he was going and when he was coming back but I didn’t. I was barely conscious the moment I closed my eyes. I was no longer able to keep myself aware, falling into an uneasy sleep. My whole body cramped and yet felling like jelly at the same time. Me jumping awake when I felt someone’s hand on my body.

“It’s ok little one,” Lionel said rubbing my collar bones, “I heard you were a good boy. Were you?”

I nodded my head. I had done what he had told me. Everything he had told me no matter how much it had hurt. Lionel staring at me as he laid down next to me. Causing me to sigh. Was he going to…now too?

“You’re so beautiful. Such a special boy little one,” he said running his hand through my hair, “Did you enjoy yourself? He said you came several times is that true?”

I felt my face turning red with shame. Yeah, I had. At least twice. I nodded my head.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Enjoying yourself is nothing to be ashamed of ok? Why don’t we…,” his hand went there causing me to gasp.

I wanted to be done. I froze afraid he was going to turn that thing on that was still in there. Him frowning as his hand hit it, noticed it before his smile grew, “Mr. Hou likes toys sometimes. He used a toy?”

I nodded my head, “ Si…Daddy L can I take it out?”

“I’ll do it just lay back. Just relax,” he said grabbing it and starting to work it free.

I moaned in relief as he pulled it out of me. Moving with it inside me even in my sleep had felt weird. Even with it off it had felt weird. It had hurt so bad holding me open making my insides hurt. The relief of it being out was something I was so thankful for until he started playing with my hole. Until he started moving two of his fingers in and out making little moans and grunts of pleasure as he did it.

It made me feel sick to my stomach hearing him do that, feeling him do that. An occasional spark feeling like it was skittering across my skin, making me freeze. Making my body tense up again.

“Mr. Hou said you were a lot of fun. That you rubbed his head a let him know what a good job he was doing. Can you do that for me?” he asked me.

“Wh-what?” I barely managed.

“Just let me know how good it feels. You want me to fuck you. You’re still so open. So sexy,” he muttered.

He must have seen a sign of protest in my face because he grabbed me by the by the back neck slamming me flat into the bed. I was just me thankful it wasn’t a hard surface as he shoved into me groaning in delight. He didn’t care that I was scared. He didn’t care that my fear was the only thing keeping me from fighting, from crying. The feeling of his hand tightening the nape of my neck as he started to push in and out.

“Tell me you want me to fuck you…say fuck me daddy,” he groaned.

He couldn’t be serious. I wasn’t even allowed to use that word. My whole body shaking. Him stopping and rubbing my neck in warning. Before he pulled out flipping me over so I was laying on my back again. So, I was looking at him before he gave my throat a gentle squeeze. It was a warning. A warning that he was going to choke me if I didn’t say it. If I didn’t do it.

“F…fu...fuck me d-daddy,” I said.

“God yes, you want me to breed you baby. I’ll breed you so good. You feel so good baby boy,” he moaned pushing back in before he started moving inside me. Moving harder and faster causing the breath to leave my body “Say it again.”

“Fuck me daddy,” I said my voice shaking as I tried not to cry. I didn’t want to say it. It made me feel dirty.

“I’m trying baby, my special boy, I’m trying so hard. I’m going to make you cum so good. You want to come for me?” he asked me his eyes going wide like he wanted me to respond, to use my words.

“Yes. Fu…fuck me daddy,” I said before I started crying.

I repeated the words over and over each time my face burning with humiliation as I did it. Reminding myself of what I was. That I was his. That I was a whore. That I was asking for it. The closer I got the harder it was to make the words come out. By the time I was ready to orgasm the only sound I could make a high pitched gasping noise his hands long gone from my throat. Him stilling inside me as that feeling filled me.

“You did so good little one, that was amazing. One of my best,” he said kissing me trying to force his tongue in my mouth as I turned my head away.

He slapped me. Right across the face. Not hard enough to hurt but hard enough to get me to look at him and stop crying. So, I was right.

I had been right. He would hurt me. He would hurt me like uncle Ben would hurt me. That had been a warning. Him smiling at my reaction before he shoved his tongue in my mouth the kiss slow, calm. The idea that he could change from slapping me so suddenly to kissing me like that scaring me more than anything. Him pulling away, his smile still firmly in place at he gazed at me with half lidded eyes.

“That was a warning. You don’t pull away you understand that don’t you little one?” he said to which I nodded my head, “Good. How about you take a shower and then take a nap. Just in case Mr. Hou wants to play again later ok?”

I nodded my head. I could feel how wide my eyes were. Staring up at him. For some reason my brain still felt betrayed. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because he had said it so many times “I won’t hurt you.” That after he had said it often enough somewhere deep down I had started to believe it. I had wanted to believe it. My whole body shaking as he got up and put on his robe.

I buried my face in the pillow under me as he shut the door. Screaming into it. I wanted to be dead. I didn’t want to do that again and yet they were…a wordless howl breaking free from me that I tried to muffle with the pillow. I knew I was slut. That’s all I was, was a fucking slut. I had…I had asked him and my body had…That’s all I was.

I cried trying to drown the sound into the pillow under me. I screamed and punched the pillow with my fists until I couldn’t anymore. Me only stopping when I heard the door crack open and then heard whispering.

“See Teddy, I told you he was crying. Do you remember him?” I heard a tiny voice. A voice like James’ voice, “Do you think he hurt him bad?”

“Luke, don’t worry about it ok? Go to the room. Just stay there and be quiet ok?”

“Why? He didn’t hurt him, did he? He kept telling him he was a good boy. Why would he hurt him if he’s good? He tells me I’m a good boy and he doesn’t hurt me. It just tickles. Is he ok?” Luke said rambling.

“Luke please? Just go to the bedroom. That way I know Papa is leaving you alone ok?” Ted said.

“Ok, I’ll read my book,” he said.

“That’s a good idea. I’ll get you when I come back ok?” he told Luke.

They door shut rather loudly making me jump. Making me hug the pillow to my chest. I knew it was Teddy but I didn’t want to see him. I was too ashamed. He knew what had happened. I knew he knew but I didn’t want to know how much.

“Will, it’s me. I