"Director, Turner is on line two for you."
"Thank you, Madeleine."
He punched the line and hit the speaker phone.
"Turner, tell me you've located the boy."
"No, sir, we haven't."
"So in the space of forty-eight hours, you've killed the librarian without getting so much as one bit of information from him about The Chosen and you can't find one sixteen-year-old boy?"
"Sir, he did put Masters in the hospital."
"Turner, obviously he's been trained, but we've spent a lot of time and money training you as well." He sighed as he rubbed his temples. "Has there been any movement by the police?"
"As far as we know no one has discovered the body."
"You didn't think making an anonymous tip might help us? The first thing the police are going to do is put out an Amber Alert for the boy and have every law enforcement agency looking for him." He started typing instructions into his laptop. "It's obvious he's no longer in San Francisco. Report back to the local office for new orders. I'll take care of the search from here."
The Director disconnected the call.
He picked up the receiver and dialed a number. "Drew, alert our contacts in the California Highway Patrol and the west coast offices of the FBI we're looking for Dyson Chambers, sixteen, six foot two, black hair, hazel eyes, one eighty-five…make something up…hacking or something…we need to find this kid…oh and Drew, when Turner reports in, have the idiot terminated."
Benji laughed when he pulled the truck into the stables driveway and saw Alex leaning against his motorcycle looking impatient.
"I think you're in trouble," Oliver grinned.
"He'll get over it."
They got out of the truck and walked over to where Alex was waiting.
"Sorry, it's my fault," Oliver apologized. "We got to talking and lost track of time."
"Let's just get changed and we can get going," Benji said.
Since he spent so much time at the ranch, Dale had given Benji his own room upstairs in the barn. It was a small room with a cot and a bathroom. Benji kept his riding clothes and boots there. Since he and Alex were the same size, Alex would just borrow his.
Oliver carried a duffel bag with several pairs of breeches and t-shirts that Benji had suggested he leave at the ranch as well.
The three boys quickly changed and made their way out to the back pasture.
"Please tell me you're gonna get me a nice quiet plug today," Alex whined as they walked through the gate.
Benji shook his head. "Let me get Arya and then we can figure out who you can ride."
Benji whistled for his horse.
"Man!! You need to stop doing that!!" Alex complained.
Oliver laughed. "He said you had a problem with it."
"Doesn't it give you a headache?"
Benji smirked. "You're just jealous cuz you can't do it."
Arya came running across the field towards the boys. When she saw Benji and Alex standing together she stopped short and started rearing, bucking and tossing her head.
"Arya! What's your problem?" Benji asked looking at the horse. "You never act like this."
"I told you she hates me," Alex said as he started back to the fence.
"Wait, Alex," Oliver said as he watched Arya. He stared at the horse. "She doesn't hate you. She's confused."
Benji looked over at Oliver. He had a strange look in his eyes. Arya had stopped throwing herself about and was watching Oliver intently.
"What do you mean, 'confused'?" Benji asked.
Oliver laughed. "Wait a second." He walked up to Arya and gently stroked her neck and cheek.
Benji could tell they were communicating. For the first time, he was envious of someone else's abilities.
Alex walked over and stood next to Benji. "What the hell is going on?"
"We're not the only ones with powers," Benji explained. "Oliver can talk to animals."
"He can what??"
"That's what we were talking about," Benji replied. "That's how he was able to ride Jester yesterday."
"He doesn't know. It used to be like an intuition or sixth sense and then yesterday it became more like our abilities."
Oliver turned back to the twins and led Arya over to them.
"She doesn't hate you, Alex. She was confused. You look like Benji who she loves so much, but every time you come here you ignore her while Benji doesn't. I tried to explain to her who you were and that you wanted to love her like Benji did."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Alex huffed as Benji cuffed him on the back of the head.
Arya walked up to Alex and placed her head against his chest. She inhaled deeply. Alex reached out and scratched at her cheek and then stroked her ears.
Benji smiled. "Alright. Come on, you two."
"Where are we going?"
"To seal the deal."
"What deal?" Alex asked before the realization hit him. "Oh, no, B. I made nice with her, come on; you're the only one who's ever ridden her."
"That's about to change," Benji said as he led Arya, Alex and Oliver out of the pasture.
As they walked through the barn, Benji darted into the tack room and grabbed Arya's bridle.
"Now you're just being mean."
Alex grinned to himself and looked at a saddle that was sitting on a fence they were passing.
Oliver watched in amazement as the saddle and blanket floated off the fence and over to Alex. Alex plucked them out of the air and carried them as he continued following Benji.
"That's pretty cool," Oliver said as he caught up with Alex.
"Well, I figured Benji must have told you already," Alex said. "You know you can't say anything."
"I know. I'm trusting you two as well."
"We've been keeping it a secret since we were seven."
Benji stopped when he reached a small arena and turned to wait for Alex and Oliver. He laughed when he saw Alex lugging the saddle.
"Nice try, A, but that won't fit Arya," he said. "And just how did you get it?"
"I figured you'd already told him."
"What if Dale or Carson had seen?"
"I didn't sense anyone else around."
"You still need to be careful you aren't use to the telepathy yet you might miss someone."
"Are you guys having a staring contest?" Oliver asked.
"No. Just a little brotherly discussion," Benji replied as he opened the gate and led Arya into the arena. "Here," he said as he handed Alex the bridle and ushered him into the arena as well.
Benji shut the gate and he and Oliver climbed up and sat on the gate.
Arya followed Alex as he walked around the arena.
"Good, she's focused on you," Benji said. "Just talk to her. Point to the right and tell her to walk on."
Alex did as instructed and the paint walked to her right in a circle around Alex.
"Good, let her circle you a few times and then give her the cue for a trot."
"You never pay attention do you?"
"Not really," Alex shrugged.
Alex watched Arya walk around him and then made a quick kissing sound twice and the horse went into a trot.
"Now canter," Benji said after a few minutes.
"What's that…three kisses?"
"See, occasionally you do pay attention."
Alex rolled his eyes and made the kissing sound three quick times and the horse went into a canter.
"Ok, bring her back down and then go the other way."
Alex ran her through the progression twice each way under Benji's instructions. After each set of progressions, Arya would stop and turn in to face Alex. Alex would praise her and pet her before sending her in the other direction.
Benji and Oliver smiled at each other as they watched Alex start to relax around the big paint.
"Now what?" Alex asked facing the fence with Arya standing at his side.
"Now, slip the halter on her and mount up, cowboy."
"Bareback…" Alex grumbled.
"Well, you need to work on concentration."
"I also need to keep my balls in one piece."
Arya lowered her head as Alex slipped the bridle on and opened her mouth readily for the bit. Benji smiled watching her behave as she did for him.
"Need a boost?" he offered.
Alex turned and flipped him off.
"If you make me look good, Arya, I'll bring you so many carrots you'll burst," Alex whispered as he brought the reins over Arya's head. He placed one hand at the base of her neck and one on her back and boosted himself up onto her back.
Arya stood calmly while Alex settled himself into place.
"Remember, legs, not hands and reins," Benji reminded him.
Alex nodded. He gave Arya a slight nudge and the horse walked forward.
Benji and Oliver kept quiet and let Alex take his time adjusting to Arya and finding his bearings. Benji knew Alex was a good rider; he had just never ridden Arya before. Now that the two had reached a détente of sorts they were looking good.
"I'm going to go and get Jester," Oliver said as he turned and kissed Benji.
"Alright." He kissed Oliver back and watched him hop off the fence and walk off towards the barn.
Benji didn't see Alex catch the exchange between him and Oliver.
By the time Oliver returned with Jester, Alex and Arya had walked, trotted and cantered all over the arena. Alex had a big smile on his face when he stopped at the fence in front of Benji.
"Wow!! That was actually fun for once," he laughed.
"Amazing what happens when you let yourself relax," Benji answered.
"Also helps that she wasn't trying to kill me."
Oliver led Jester into the arena and hopped up onto the stallion. He rode around the arena for a few minutes and then rode over to the fence where Benji was waiting.
"Come on," he said offering a hand to Benji.
"Are you sure?" Benji asked nervously.
"It's fine," Oliver assured him.
Benji nodded and slipped onto Jester right behind Oliver. He placed his hands lightly on Oliver's hips and Oliver cued the horse into a walk.
Alex stayed with Arya by the fence watching the two ride the black horse around the arena.
"Hang on," Oliver ordered as he cued Jester into a canter.
The stallion took off and the two boys hooped and hollered around the arena.
Alex laughed. "Come on, girl, we're not gonna let 'em have all the fun," he said as he cued Arya into a canter and took off after Jester and the others.
The three boys spent the rest of the afternoon riding the horses around the arena. When they had had enough they gave both horses a bath and fed and bedded them down for the night.
They went up to Benji's room to shower and change before heading back home.
When they were ready to leave, Alex pulled Benji over.
"Hey, B, can you take my bike back?" he asked.
"Well, I don't think I can ride it right now," Alex said. "Things are a little sore down there."
Benji chuckled. "Sure, I guess." He looked over at Oliver. "Hey, Oliver, can you come over for dinner so you can meet my dads?"
"Sure. Let me call my parents, but I'm sure they won't have a problem with that."
"Great. Do you mind riding to the house with Alex? He's a little tender, since he hasn't ridden in a while. I'll take the bike."
Benji and Alex exchanged keys and Benji walked over to where Alex had parked his motorcycle while Oliver and Alex made their way to Benji's truck.
Alex watched as Benji started up his bike and took off towards home. Then he started the truck and backed out of the driveway.
"Ok, Oliver, we need to talk," he said very seriously.
"What are your intentions towards my brother?"
"I beg your pardon."
"Look, I can see the spark between you guys," Alex stated. "I like you, you seem like a nice guy and the fact that you guys have a lot in common is great, but Benji has never been in a relationship and if you hurt him even a little bit I will tear you apart…literally. Got it?"
Oliver grinned. "Alex, I haven't been in a serious relationship either, probably for the same reasons Benji hasn't. I wasn't even looking or thinking about one when I moved here. There's a definite spark there between us. I really like him and I can assure you hurting him is the farthest thing from my mind."
"Ok, then. Sorry if I seem a little intense, it's just that I've been around the block and Benji has been holding out for love and I don't want him to get hurt."
"That's very admirable, he's lucky to have you."
"I don't know about that, but thanks."
"He said you had a lot of girlfriends."
"Well, not exactly, he said you had a lot of dates and I asked if you were popular with the girls and he said you were."
"That sounds more like it," Alex grinned. "The truth is, Oliver, I've been messing around for a long time with girls and guys. I say I'm bi-sexual, Benji says I'm just sexual. I've just never had any problem persuading people to be with me. It's never been a challenge or anything. Lately, it feels kind of empty and I'm starting to think Benji was right, waiting for 'Mr. Right'. That's why I want to make sure everything is good for him. I like you, Oliver, I think you two will be good for each other."
"Thank you, Alex, that means a lot."
Alex saw Benji pulled over to the side of the road when he stopped at a light.
"What are you doing?"
"Looking out for my baby brother."
"Don't call me that six minutes does not make me your baby brother."
Alex reached over and laid his hand on Oliver's.
"Talk to him, Oliver."
"Oliver, are you ok?"
"It's all good. You just have a brother that loves you very much."
"Do I need to kick his ass?"
"Not at all he's just looking out for you. I don't blame him."
"Ok. Why don't you call your dad and see if you can spend the night?"
A few minutes later the three boys when thundering through the front door of the Abercrombie-Martin house.
"Dads, we're home!!" Alex shouted.
"Gee, we never would have guessed," Damon said from where the two sat on the couch in the living room.
Alex walked in and plopped down in a recliner, while Benji came in holding Oliver's hand.
"Dad, Pop, this is Oliver Mills. Oliver, these are my fathers, Damon Abercrombie and Kai Martin."
Damon and Kai both stood up and shook Oliver's hand.
"Nice to meet you, Oliver," Kai said.
"You too, Mr. Martin."
"Please, I'm Kai and he's Damon or if you prefer I'm Pop and he's Dad." Kai grinned. "Just no 'Misters'."
"Oliver's gonna stay for the night if that's ok," Benji said.
"Sure, as long as it's ok with his parents," Damon replied.
"I called them from the truck, they're fine with it," Oliver said. "I think my father is looking forward to a romantic evening alone with my mum."
"I think I can remember those," Kai laughed.
"Dinner's ready as soon as you guys are," Damon said.
"Good, I'm starved," Alex moaned. "The taskmaster had me riding hard this afternoon."
"Poor baby," Kai said as he ruffled his son's hair. "How did he do, Benji?"
"Well, we kind of need to talk to you about that," Benji replied. "He rode Arya."
"He did?!" Damon asked.
Benji nodded. "Yeah. It's a long story. Let's sit down and we can tell you."
They all sat down at the dining room table and once they had started the meal, Benji relayed to his father's what they had learned about Oliver's abilities and how he had used them on Jester and Arya.
"So, Oliver, you have no idea where your abilities came from?" Damon asked.
Oliver shook his head. "No, like I told Benji, at first it was just an intuitive thing, but now it's something more, something stronger."
"Strange that you got stronger at the same time that Benji got new powers as well."
Alex grinned. "He's not the only one."
"What happened?" Kai asked.
"I had an unwanted encounter with a basketball player in the boy's bathroom at lunchtime."
"Someone I knew didn't want to take 'no' for an answer," Alex continued. "I was getting angry and I was afraid that I was gonna put him through a wall or throw a toilet or something. I was trying to keep myself calm. Something clicked in my head and I shouted and somehow I screamed into his head telepathically. It gave him a headache and he stumbled back. Then I took a trick out of Benji's bag and I put him to sleep."
Damon looked down at the table and tapped his finger distractedly.
"Babe, what are you thinking?" Kai asked.
"I'm thinking I wish my grandfather was still alive," Damon answered. "There are too many coincidences for my liking." He looked at Oliver. "Oliver, do you know anything about your family history?"
"Not as much as I should," Oliver replied. "My father is an historian, but he is not much for family history or lineage, he's more into the Roman Empire era."
"Benji said you were adopted, do you know anything about your birth family?"
Oliver shook his head. "Nothing."
"It could all just be coincidence," Kai shrugged.
"I don't like it, but there's nothing we can do about it tonight," Damon said. "You boys just need to keep being careful. Oliver, I'm sure Benji and Alex have told you, but it is imperative that you make sure no one finds out about your powers or theirs."
"Including my parents?"
"That's up to you. I would probably wait a bit; if what Benji did for your mother works and she isn't as fragile then you can judge if they can handle it or not."
"Well, I'll handle clean up here," Damon said standing up from the table. "What are you guys going to do?"
"Want to see the studio?" Benji asked Oliver.
"Yeah, Pop's music studio," Alex answered. "Do you play any instruments?"
"I can play a little piano."
"Cool, we can use a keyboardist."
"Hey!" Kai interrupted.
"Sorry, Pop, but we need someone our age."
"Well, if you guys are gonna jam, I'm gonna run the board then," Kai replied.
"Cool, let's go," Alex said getting up and heading out with Kai close behind.
Oliver and Benji followed.
"What does he mean by 'the board'?" Oliver whispered.
"He's going to record us playing," Benji explained. "Sometimes it gives him ideas for his scores and pieces and other times he just likes to mix the stuff we improvise."
At the door to the studio, Kai stopped and punched a seven digit code into the alarm panel.
"You have an alarm code here?" Oliver asked.
Kai laughed. "With the equipment that's in here, I'd rather have an alarm here than on the house."
He held the door opened while the boys filed in.
Oliver was bug-eyed as he looked around the room. It was an open two-story waiting area with a large couch and several chairs. Against one wall was a large glass enclosed case with several statues and awards in it. Oliver walked over to take a closer look. He stared at one in particular.
"Is that really a…" he stuttered.
Alex nodded and grinned. "An Academy Award. Yup. And a couple of Grammys, some ASCAP Song of the Year Awards, Gold and Platinum Records and Albums, Two Diamond Albums."
"Pop, I'm allowed to brag every now and then."
Oliver looked over the awards and albums that adorned the walls.
"Oh my!!" he exclaimed as he turned around in excitement. "Kai, you wrote the music for 'The Séance'?"
"Yes, that was one of the scores that the boys helped me with."
"Benji and Alex helped to write that?" Oliver asked. "That's one of my favorite pieces ever."
"Really? Cool," Benji replied. "That was one of the first ones we worked on with Pop."
"I can't believe you helped write that."
"Well, not so much wrote as improvised," Alex explained. "Pop writes, we just kinda play around some and he takes it from there."
"Actually, Alex is being unusually modest," Kai said. "He and Benji contributed a lot to that recording. The percussion and guitar pieces were all their ideas."
"Come on, Oliver; let's take a look at where the real magic happens," Benji said as he led the way to the studio.
"Impressive," Oliver commented as he looked at the various instruments that were around the room.
Benji led him over to a grand piano that sat in the center of the room.
"Here, you can warm up if you want."
"I'm not sure if I can keep up with you boys," Oliver said.
"Oliver, all we do is have fun in here," Oliver heard Kai's voice over a loud speaker.
Benji pointed to a window against a far wall and Oliver saw Kai behind the window.
"That's the control room," Benji explained. "Don't worry about 'keeping up'; this is about fun, like Pop said."
Alex sat behind his drum kit and started warming up, while Benji went and grabbed his electric guitar and plugged it into his amplifier.
Oliver tentatively started playing a tune on the piano. Alex and Benji stopped and listened as his playing became more confident. He was playing a piece from 'The Séance' soundtrack and it was flawless. When he finished Benji and Alex were both clapping.
"That was great, Oliver," Kai said over the loud speaker. "You guys ready?"
"Ready," Benji said.
"What are we playing?" Oliver asked.
"We're improvising," Benji explained. "Just play whatever strikes you. If you don't want to start then just listen to Alex and I and join in when the vibe hits."
Alex raised his sticks over his head and tapped them as he counted down, "One, two…One, two, three…"
Alex and Benji started together as they had for years. Oliver was immediately swept up in the music and started in with them.
Kai's fingers flew across the soundboard. He was always amazed at the way Alex and Benji could synchronize themselves when they improvised, but the way Oliver was joining in and not missing a beat was nothing short of incredible.
The three boys played for almost an hour. The music ebbed and flowed from the instruments. When they finally came to a stop all three boys were red faced and dripping with sweat.
"Wow! That was great, guys!" Kai praised them from the control room.
"Thanks, Pop," Alex panted. "There's definitely some kind of connection with Oliver here. He fit right in."
"I know, it was flawless," Kai commented. "I'm gonna work on mixing some of that for a little bit, why don't you guys head back to the house and catch a shower and then head to bed. You've got school tomorrow."
The three boys put the instruments away and left the studio and headed back to the house.
The Director's phone rang.
"Have we found the boy, yet?"
"Not yet, but your idea to charge him with hacking wasn't that far off."
"Our boys went through the hard drives we took from the house and he had some kind of program installed on them. As soon as they were turned on all of the information on them was wiped out."
"So have them recover it."
"Not deleted, Director, it's gone. Deleted and wiped clean. It's like someone ran a giant magnet over these things. This kid must be some kind of computer genius to have created this program."
"We're sure the librarian didn't do it?"
"We've been tracking him for years, he rarely used computers at all. We're sure it was the kid that was transferring all of his documents to the computer files."
"There must have been backups somewhere. Thumb drives, portable hard drives, something."
"If there are then the kid has them, we've turned that house upside down."
"And there's been no sign of the kid?"
"We've had a few false alarms in Las Vegas and Denver, but nothing concrete."
"Stay on it. We need to find him and fast."
Late Friday morning, Dyson was waiting at the San Diego bus station. He had made it from Oakland to San Jose and then from San Jose to San Diego without incident, but he couldn't help but feel like he was being watched this morning.
He realized why when he passed the newspaper dispenser. Staring up at him from the front page of the Los Angeles Times was a picture of his father next to a picture of him.
'MISSING TEEN SOUGHT IN MURDER' read the headline.
He stared at the picture. It was a snapshot from three years ago. His hair was darker and longer and he looked much younger. The boy in the picture looked like a private school preppy and the reflection in the glass was that of a skate rat. He was confident that based on that picture he could make it from here to Los Angeles without detection.
He pulled out the disposable cell phone he had picked up in Oakland. He dialed information.
"City and State, please?"
"Los Angeles, California."
"I have a listing for Abercrombie Physical Therapy, sir."
"Can you connect me please?"
The phone rang twice.
"Abercrombie Physical Therapy."
"Yes, I just relocated to the area and I'm having a problem with an old knee injury and a friend recommended Mr. Abercrombie. I was wondering if he has an appointment available for late this afternoon."
"Let me check. The latest he has is a 5:30."
"That would be perfect."
"And the name?"
"Mr. Thomas, if you could get here about fifteen minutes early to fill out new patient paperwork. Just ring the outside bell when you arrive."
He disconnected the call and headed towards the ticket window.
"Are you sure your parents don't mind you spending the night again tonight?" Benji asked as they drove out of the stable driveway.
"Not at all," Oliver laughed. "I think they're on a second honeymoon of sorts and they're appreciating the time alone. My mother hasn't been like this in years and my father is so happy it's just amazing."
"I'm glad, especially if it means I get to spend more time with you."
"Are you sure your dads don't mind me staying twice in a week?"
"Are you kidding?" Benji grinned. "They're probably happier than I am. Alex is always the one who has friends over. I'm the wallflower. I think they're shocked that I have a boyfriend."
"I don't think so."
"Because they know you, Benji," Oliver said. "They know what a sweet, kind, wonderful person you are. The part that's probably surprising them is that no one has claimed you sooner, but I am so happy they haven't."
Benji reached across the seat and took Oliver's hand. "Me, too," he said as he pressed his lips to the Oliver's fingertips.
Benji swerved and pulled over onto the shoulder of the road.
Oliver unsnapped his seatbelt and slid over next to Benji. He took Benji's face and turned it to his. He could see tears in Benji's eyes.
"Benji, what's wrong?"
"Wrong?" Benji smiled. "Nothing's wrong. I just…when I…I'm not used to…" He stopped and inhaled deeply. He closed his eyes and leaned forward and pressed his lips to Oliver's.
Suddenly Oliver felt a wave of warmth flood through his body. He could feel the rush of Benji's happiness and joy over finding him and his budding love.
"Oh, wow!" he said. "Is that what it's like?"
"Cool, isn't it?"
"Amazing," Oliver whispered as he kissed Benji deeply.
Damon was just finishing some patient notes at his desk when Joyce his assistant stuck her head in the door.
"Damon, your 5:30 is in the waiting room. He's filled in his new patient paperwork." She placed a folder on his desk. "I'm gonna head out, ok?"
"Sure, Joyce," he said looking up. "I'll see you Tuesday. Have a good holiday."
He finished his notes and looked through the folder Joyce had left. Then he walked out into the waiting room. There was a boy about sixteen waiting for him. He had long bleached blond hair and a skateboard. He looked like one of Alex's 'dates'. He looked around for the parents: it was unusual for a boy this age to come without a parent or guardian.
"Brady?" he asked.
The boy stood up. "Actually, Mr. Abercrombie, my name is Dyson Chambers. I need to talk to you about Benji and Alex."
"How do you know my sons?"
"I don't know them, I know about them."
"I'm not following you."
"Damon, I know about the Abercrombie powers and I know about Benji and Alex. I probably know more about your family history than you do." The boy was very agitated. "I have a lot to tell you and your husband. Have you ever heard of The Prophecy of The Chosen?"