At the hospital late on Monday morning, Kyle slowly wakes up. He rolls from his side to his back. He stretches and realizes that he is lying in a comfortable bed. He opens his eyes and looks around, and sees that he is in a hospital room. He sits up and looks at his wrists and sees the marks on his wrist that the handcuffs made. He puts his hand up to his neck because it feels sore. He pulls his knees up to his chest and puts his head down on his knees. He starts to cry silently. A hand gently touches his shoulder. With an intake of breath, he shrinks back looking at the hand. He looks up the arm to see a teenager with black hair and blue eyes smiling at him. It takes a second before he recognizes the boy, then he returns the smile.
"Hey, bud. You all right?"
Kyle nods and wipes his eyes.
"I remember you. You were there at the man's house, with the police."
"Yeah, my Dad was the detective trying to find you. He got a good lead and was able to get there just in time to save you."
"You visited us at our house. You were looking for Devon."
"Yep, that was us."
"He wasn't the only one who was there."
"I know. Devon was there as well."
"You know about him!?"
"Yeah, it was with his help that my dad could find you. And I guess he saved your life in that room. My dad told me what happened. You were his friend and he didn't want anything to happen to you."
"He just appeared in the corner and yelled. The guy was shocked and couldn't do anything more. I don't remember much else until I woke up and you were holding me."
"My dad said you fainted."
"What happened after that?"
"Handy, Clifford Handy was his name. He tried to shoot my dad. He missed, my dad didn't."
"Good. What he did was... he hurt me..."
Randy sits next to him on the bed and pulls him onto his lap, hugging him.
"I know... bud... I know. He can't hurt you or anyone else again. No one will hurt you like that again, if I have anything to say about it."
"But people will hate me now and call me names, because of what he made me do."
"No one will know. My dad will make sure of that. Don't worry."
"But how can he do that? Everyone knows that I was kidnapped."
"Well, I don't think you have to worry about that."
"What do you mean?"
"You can ask my dad when he gets here. He had to make a report and take care of some other stuff. He asked me to stay here to be with you when you woke up."
"Okay. I'm okay now. Thanks for being here."
Randy gets up off the bed and sits in the chair once again. The door to the room opens and a pregnant nurse comes in. She is pushing a cart with a couple of trays.
"Good morning, young man. I hope you're hungry." "Yes, ma'am. I am."
She pushes the bed tray from the foot of the bed so that it is over Kyle's bed and puts a tray on it. She turns to Randy. He gets up and gives her a hug.
"Morning, honey. Aren't you going to introduce me?"
"Sorry, Mom. This is Kyle Johnson. Kyle, this is my mom."
"Nice to meetcha, ma'am."
"Same to you as well. I'll check on you guys later."
Randy pulls the cart over and puts the other tray on top. He and Kyle eat in silence until they are done.
"So that was your mom?"
"Yeah, she's a nurse here at the hospital."
"She seems nice."
"She's great, you'll like her."
"So do you want to watch TV, or do you need to go."
"No, TV's sounds great. The control is on the bed."
Kyle picks up the control and turns on the TV. He changes the channels until he finds something that he wants to watch, and they settle in to watch it. After a few hours, the door opens again and Andrew comes in.
"Hi, guys. How's the patient."
"He's doing great, Dad."
"I feel fine, sir. Thank you for what you did. He was going to ki..."
Andrew and Randy both go to him and hug him, soothing the boy.
"Well, bud, you ready to get out of here?"
"Yes sir, I guess so."
"Good, cause the doctor says that you're ready to go. Randy, go ask your mom for a wheelchair, so we can take him out of here."
"Sure Dad, on my way."
Andrew steps back from the bed when Randy leaves. Randy appears momentarily with a wheelchair. Kyle starts to get up, then realizes that he is in a hospital gown that has not back. He quickly blushes and holds the back closed.
"What do I wear? I can't leave like this. Someone will see my... butt."
"Don't worry, we've got that taken care of."
Andrew goes to a closet and gets some clothes that are folded up in there and brings it over to Kyle.
"We'll draw the curtain around the bed and you can get changed."
Andrew closes the curtain and they wait for Kyle to get dressed. Kyle comes out dressed.
"Well, young master, your chrome steed awaits."
Kyle smiles at Andrew and gets into the wheelchair. Randy gets behind and pushes him through the hospital out to his dad's truck.
As they pass the nurses station. Mary waves to them.
"Bye, guys, see you at home."
"Bye, Mom, we'll have the BBQ set up and steaks on the grill."
"Okay, I always like a celebration. See you at home."
Randy wheels him out. Kyle gets up in the back seat of the truck and buckles up. Randy returns the wheelchair and gets in the front seat. They drive off toward home. As they near home, Kyle looks around with a puzzled look.
"Excuse me, but where are we going?"
Andrew and Randy share a smile and Randy turns to look back at Kyle.
"We're going home."
Randy looks over to his dad, who nods. He looks back at Kyle.
"Kyle, we're taking you home with us. We hope you don't mind. We'd like you to stay with us."
"Stay with you? How long?"
"For as long as you like."
"You mean like live with you?"
"Yeah. If you'll let me, I want to be your big brother. We want you to live with us from now on."
"Yeah! I'd love to."
"Good, then all that money that I spent on the banner won't be wasted."
Andrew just points to the house that they are pulling up to. Strung across the front is a banner that says "Welcome Home, Kyle". They pull into the driveway and get out. They show Kyle to the door and open it. They have him follow them through the living room and out a sliding glass door to the backyard. As they move out of the way, he sees that the backyard is decorated and he finds himself suddenly surrounded by several yelling boys; it takes him a minute to realize that they are the boys from the Jeffries house, his friends. He looks around and sees Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries, another man who looks kind of familiar, and Kyle realizes that he was one of the police officers who helped him, Mr. Shepard's boss. In no time he and the boys are laughing and throwing a ball around. Andrew has changed and is busy at the BBQ grill cooking up steaks and hot dogs. No one notices the boy sitting on the fence watching all this with a smile on his face. Devon is enjoying the scene. His friends are safe from The Man. He notices Randy looking at him. Randy motions toward the house. Devon jumps off the fence and heads toward the house. He goes to Randy's bedroom. Randy is waiting for him. Randy opens his arms and Devon runs to him. They just stay together for a few minutes.
"Well, little brother. What do you think?"
"Wha... Devon I can hear you."
"You can? You really can?"
"Yes, I heard you."
"Oh, wow. Thanks, big brother, for everything you did. And tell your dad thanks for taking care of Kyle."
"I hope you don't mind, but after knowing you, I just felt that we could give him a good home. Since he was your friend and he saw you, I decided to talk my dad into taking him in. He took care of everything today, and they said he can live with us. I know that soon I'm going to have a little brother or sister, but I just felt that he should stay with us."
"That's great, Randy."
Randy and Devon sit down on the bed, Devon sitting in Randy's lap.
"So, what happens now, little brother?"
"I don't know."
"Will you be staying around?"
"I don't think so. I feel that something is going to happen soon, and I will have to go."
"I don't want you to go either, but what can you do.' "I don't know, make a choice maybe?"
"Make a choice?"
"Yeah, I made a choice a few weeks ago and here we are."
"You chose to stay instead of going to join your family."
"I wanted to do something about that guy if I could, so I chose to stay and not go forward."
"Wow, you are really brave, Dev. Well, you did do something and you saved your friend, and now your friend can have a family. I wish you could be here too, but if you have to go, you have to go."
"I'm going to miss you, big brother."
"I'm going to miss you as well. I think it's time for me to go."
Randy pulls Devon close to him again and gives him a kiss on the cheek. Tears are running freely down both of their faces as they hug once more. Then Devon breaks the hug and stands away.
"I love you, Randy. One day we can see each other again."
"I love you as well, Dev. I'm going to miss you, more than you could know."
"Take care of Kyle and your new little brother or sister."
"I promise, I will do everything I can to keep them safe. Nothing bad will happen to them, if I can help it."
"I know you will. See you, big brother."
"Yeah, see ya, little brother."
Devon walks to the window, and as he fades away, he turns and waves, smiling at Randy. Randy waves back until the window gets too blurry. He sits on the bed and cries quietly for a little bit. He pulls himself together and goes to the bathroom to clean up. When he comes out, he sees his dad coming in the house. Andrew goes to Randy with a concerned look.
"Is everything all right, Randy?"
"Devon is gone, dad."
"Gone as in really gone?"
"Yeah, we were just talking in my bedroom, and he said that he had to go and he went."
"You were talking?"
"Yeah dad, really talking, I could hear him this time. We talked for a little while, and then he said goodbye."
Andrew hugs him.
"Well, we stopped Handy from hurting anymore and he really helped us. We would never have caught him. I didn't tell you about some of the other things we found in the house. We found almost three dozen pairs of boy's underwear. They were packaged in separate bags and there was sometimes a piece of jewelry that belonged to the boy that was taken and a picture of the boy. That was another clue that we never knew about; each of the boys had some kind of jewelry, usually a necklace or an earring. There was one more thing; each bag had GPS coordinates. From what I've heard they pinpoint the location of all of the missing boys. So Devon helped a lot of people."
"He told me that he made a choice to do it. He didn't have to, but he wanted to stop the guy if he could."
"Well he definitely did. C'mon, let's get back to the party and your new little brother."
"I'll be right there."
Andrew lets him go and they go back outside. Mary has just gotten home and goes over to welcome Kyle to the family. Later Randy takes Kyle aside.
"I saw Devon earlier."
"You did? Where was he?"
"He was here. We talked for a little while and he said goodbye. He said to take good care of you, and he'll see us again someday."
"I wish I could have seen him and said goodbye too."
"Well, now he's where he should be."
"Yeah. I'm glad I'm going to be here with you. If Devon liked you, then I know it's going to be great growing up here."
"Yeah, anybody that wants to bother you, has to come through me."
"You make me feel safe, Randy."
"That's a big brother's job and I'm glad to have the job. Pretty soon, you'll get to be a big brother too."
"Oh, yeah, your mom..."
"Right, our mom's pregnant. When is she going to have the baby?"
"Pretty soon, I think."
"Good, I can't wait."
"Let's go back and try to snag some more food. Welcome to the family, Kyle"
They go back to the party.
A short distance away at the park, Devon is sitting under the tree where he and Randy first 'talked'. He becomes aware of the golden light nearby. He looks up with a smile as the smiling forms of Justin and Michael come into view. He gets up and walks over to them.
"Hi, Michael. Hi, Justin."
"Well, Devon. You did it. You made your choice, and you made a difference. Your choice affected so many people, you may never know how many. You did well and there are people here who are pleased as well."
"I feel so happy now. I really love Randy and his family."
"They are good people, that is for sure. They have now taken Kyle in and he will have a good life with them. With their love and guidance he will become a good man someday."
"Good. Will I be able to see them, from time to time?"
"I just wish..."
"What do you wish?"
"Naw, you'll think it's dumb."
"No one here will ever condemn you for a wish, or think it's dumb."
"I wish I could have grown up in a family like that. Don't get me wrong, if I really had a choice, it would be great to have my family back and grow up with them, watching my little brother grow up and having my parents be proud of me. But I didn't get that chance. It would have been nice though."
"Yes, it would've."
Devon turns around and looks back in the direction of the Shephard's home with a wistful smile. Someone comes up behind him and puts an arm around his shoulders. He looks to his right and sees it is Justin.
"Justin, I miss them already. As much as I miss my family, I miss them too. I wish I could stay with them, even as a ghost."
"You know that now that you have done what you wanted to do, you can now join your family. They are waiting for you."
"I know that they are and I love them, but..."
"But you still want to stay with the Shepards."
"Yeah, I do."
Two hands descend on Devon's shoulders from behind. Devon bends his neck back and looks up at Michael. Michael moves closer and puts his arms around Devon, hugging him back against him. Devon pulls the arms around him, holding on.
"Devon, there are some people here to see you."
Devon lets go of Michael's arms and turns around. Standing there in the glow are his Mom, dad and brother Dylan. He runs toward them and jumps up in his dad's open arms. He is covered in a family hug. Feeling all that warmth and closeness of a family again. After a short while, his dad puts him down and looks down at him.
"Son, we are all very proud of you. What you did was very brave, and we are so sorry that you did not get a chance to enjoy all the good things that would have been yours growing up. We can't wait to have you with us again. However, we've decided we can wait for a while longer."
"What do you mean you can wait?"
"Devon, because of what you did, you are being given a rare chance."
"Yes, Devon, a chance. I guess you could say a second chance to grow up."
Devon turns around to look at Michael who is nodding.
"Yes, Devon. You are being given a chance to choose again. You may stay here with us and your family, or... you can join the Shepards and grow up."
"You mean I can live with them and finish growing up?"
"Not exactly. You will have a chance to live again."
"I don't understand. What do you mean? Ohhhh... are you serious, Michael?"
"Yes Devon, I am."
Devon runs to Michael and hugs him. When he lets go, he turns to look at his family.
"Dad, Mom. You don't mind, do you? I love you all, but I love them too."
"We know, honey. We can feel the love you have for all of us pouring from you."
"I won't see you again for a long time, will I?"
"No, you won't. That is why it has to be your choice. Your father and I will be happy with whichever choice you make. Because we know that we will see you in time. And we will be one big happy family when that time is, both us and your new family."
Devon goes to his mother and hugs her, then his dad, and finally his brother Dylan. He walks back to Michael and Justin.
"Michael, I choose to stay."
"Okay, if that is your choice, it will be granted. Good Luck."
"Bye, Devon. Michael and I and your family will be waiting to see you again some day."
Devon waves to everyone and turns back toward the Shepard's house. He starts to run. They watch as he runs out of sight. They fade away, leaving the park empty once again.
The party is starting to wind down when suddenly Mary drops her ice tea and holds her belly.
Andrew quickly turns around and sees his wife clutching her belly.
"Okay, Randy go get the bag from my room. Kyle, can you help me get Mary out to the car?"
The backyard is a flurry of activity as they get Mary out to the car. Randy comes up behind them carrying his mother's bag. They help her into the front seat. Randy and Kyle jump in back.
"Okay, get going, Andy, we'll lock up and meet you at the hospital."
"Great, thanks, Bill. See you there. Everyone, sorry for cutting the party short, but we got to go."
"You go ahead, Andrew. Pat and I will get the boys home. Let us know how it goes."
"Thanks, we will."
Andrew quickly drives off. He calls the doctor on the way in. The doctor tells him that he will see them there. At the hospital they quickly get into a delivery room, and Randy and Kyle are ushered to the waiting room. They sit down next to each other. Randy puts his arm around Kyle. They sit like that for a couple of hours, until Andrew comes out with a smile on his face.
"You guys want to see your new little brother?"
"We have a little brother?"
They follow him into the room and see their mom sitting in bed holding a blue wrapped bundle. They move closer and see the baby. When Randy gets near, the baby opens his eyes and Randy sees a familiar green color. The baby smiles at Randy as he touches the tiny hand, which holds onto his finger and smiles at him. Randy smiles back and gets teary eyed. Kyle leans in close and takes the other little hand. Andrew comes up behind and puts his hands on their backs.
"Boys, meet your brother, Devon Carter Shepard."
Randy looks at his mom and then at his dad.
"You mean it?"
"Yes, honey, I told you I'd talk to him about it."
"Can I hold him?"
"Yes, but be careful."
"I'll never let him be hurt."
Mary carefully puts Devon in Randy's arms. Randy walks away holding Devon, Kyle following behind him. Andrew leans down and kisses his wife and they watch the two boys with the baby. Randy leans close and whispers to the baby.
"Hi, little bro. It's good to see you again. Thanks for coming back."
The baby smiles up at his two big brothers. He and Kyle smile at each other as they walk the baby around the room.