When they came in the door, Brett smiled at Jamie as he walked by, but Jamie looked away with a slight blush, he didn't know what to say or do. Brett gave a little sigh of disappointment. Jamie didn't seem to be responding to him and he really regretted not connecting with him earlier. Logically he was sure he made the correct decisions in holding off, but his heart wasn't so sure. He felt that he was at the beginning of a long uphill climb with the end out of sight, but he was determined to at least try. He only hoped that Jamie would meet him halfway.
Josh and Jamie followed the sound of their friends and found them in a room with a huge flat panel TV. They were watching Avengers on Blu Ray. They found a place to sit down. A few minutes later one of the staff brought in a variety of drinks for everyone. About the time the movie ended, it was time for dinner. The dinner was ham, mashed potatoes, and green beans with bacon. It was sort of like an Easter dinner. The adults seemed happy in that they were able to reconnect with the people who had been their friends so long ago and there was a lot of laughing and socializing. After dinner, the boys headed to a game room where there was a Playstation with an 80 inch Flat Screen TV, a pool table, and dart board. The boys played while the adults stayed in the living room having wine.
After a little while Brett excused himself and went to the game room. He didn't enter the room, but stood near the entrance and watched all of the boys having a good time. They seemed to have become very close friends. He remembered back to when they all used to play together when they were babies. He was glad that he was able to bring them all together once again. He had a task before him now. He needed to help them all come into their gifts, and maybe when the time was right, expose the GRA for what it was and what it had done in the past. If Archer and Marcus had once again started up the old program and other kids were in danger of being harmed, then he would do what he had to do to shut them down. He focused his attention on Jamie and Josh. He could see how close they were and he was happy for his son.
His son. How many times over the past thirteen years had he longed to spend time with his son? When he and Mac finally tracked them down, he wanted to fly out to Idaho right away, but he and Mac were at that time hearing the rumors about the GRA starting over again and that Alistair Merrick was running the program for them. They had already started their plan of getting everyone together by that time. All of the other families were already in the area, in fact, they were all in the same town. Luckily the town was big enough that there wasn't too big a chance that they would run into each other. Once he got Kathy and Jamie to Hemet, his biggest worry was that the adults might run into each other in regards to school since all the boys were enrolled at the same one, but luckily, they were busy enough in their working lives, that they didn't meet. He had wanted to orchestrate it himself. His original plan was to get them together this summer when the boys were all out of school, but Sean's research precluded waiting, so now here they were. Now what was needed was for him to get to know his son. He only knew what he had gotten from reports from investigators, what he could pull from the school computers, or from Hal's interactions with Jamie. Even with everything that has happened he had turned out to be a pretty good kid. He needed to talk with his son and now was as good a time as any other time. He walked over to where Jamie and Josh were playing pool against Ian and Logan, or at least it was some attempt at playing pool, since none of them had really had much experience at playing.
The four boys looked at him.
"Can we go somewhere and talk for a little while?"
Jamie looked at Josh. Josh raised an eyebrow and gave him a supportive smile as he made a slight motion with his head to Brett. Jamie was apprehensive, since he still didn't know what to say, or how to act around Brett. He gave Josh a resigned look and nodded. Brett smiled and held out his hand as an invitation to join him. They walked from the room. Brett took a detour to the kitchen and got a coffee for him and hot chocolate for Jamie. Everything was done in silence. They grabbed their coats and Brett led them out to the covered front porch where there were some wooden benches made out of logs for them to sit on. Brett sat down and gestured for Jamie to sit down next to him. Jamie sat down, but he sat at the far end from Brett. Brett noticed and took a sip of his coffee to hide the disappointment he felt that Jamie seemed to be so uncomfortable with him. He looked out to the front yard. Jamie sat and sipped his hot chocolate, holding it in both hands to keep them warm as he waited for Brett to say something. He glanced at Brett as he tried to figure out what kind of person he was. His mom had told Jamie about his dad, that he was really smart and fun, and that she had loved him very much and that he had loved Jamie, but Jamie wasn't so sure. Jamie knew he was somewhere in his forties, Jamie thought he looked younger, but he wasn't a good judge of how old an older person was by their looks.
Jamie was startled a little since it had been a few minutes since they had come outside and Brett saying his name broke the silence.
Brett looked at him. "Jamie, I want to ask a favor of you and I hope that you will say yes. Will you allow me to get to know you? I know I haven't been in your life since you were a baby, but as I told everyone, for a long time I didn't even know where you were. I'm sorry you lost your mom. I loved her very much. I had always hoped to grow old with her, and when you were born, I hoped to watch you grow and become a good man. Regretfully that wasn't possible for a very long time, but I would like to make up for it now that we are together again. My original plan was to get you and your mom out here to this area and then once you were all settled, I was going to contact your mom and let her know that I was alive. I hoped that we could finally be a family again. Sadly, that didn't happen because of the accident and with everything going on at the time, it didn't seem right to just pop up out of nowhere. I wanted to make sure my sudden appearance didn't cause a problem and alert the wrong people. So I waited until I thought the time was right. I was going to invite all the families up here this summer. When I found out about Sean's internet search about the fire, I knew that I had to move my timetable up. So here we are."
Brett stopped talking. Jamie had listened, but said nothing. He didn't answer for a little while. He just looked down at this cup, taking a sip every now and then. He was trying to put his thoughts in order. What should he say? The man told them he was his father and everything pointed to that being the truth, but if he agreed, would he make Jamie stay up here. Jamie unconsciously shook his head slightly. Brett noticed the movement and saw his head shaking no. His eyes teared up a little and he inwardly cursed himself for not moving sooner, apparently it was too late and he had lost his son.
Brett heard the low voiced question but was puzzled. "What?"
"Why didn't you show up after she died at least? I don't know what to say. I only know you through the few times mom said anything about you. It made her sad when she talked about you, so I didn't ask her much. But you could have helped me after she died."
"I did what I thought was the right thing then. I told you why I thought it was the right thing. I got Hal to keep an eye on you until it was time for us to meet again."
"You could have done more. You should have saved me from that old bit…um, lady and what she did to me."
"Jamie, as soon as I found out about it, I had Hal start looking for you to find out what happened. Your foster parents called Hal as soon as they could when you were taken. No one knew where you were, she made sure of that. It wasn't until you showed up at Dylan's house and they called your foster parents that I found out where you were; Hal contacted me as soon as he knew. The next thing you know, you have court cases going on and once again, I was afraid to show up and cause the police to ask questions about me. I was afraid that the GRA would find out and then you would really be in danger then. So I made sure Hal had everything he needed to make sure you were safe and I waited once again."
Jamie didn't say anything once again, until he finished his cup. He looked at Brett with a determined look. "I guess you are my father, according to what you and some of the others have said. You can make me do what you want because I'm a kid, but I don't want to live up here. I love Josh and I don't want to move away from him. If you make me live with you, I'll do it because I don't have a choice, but you can't make me like you for it."
"Jamie, that isn't what I want to do. I mean yeah, I'd love for you to live with me, but I know we don't know each other. All I want is the chance for us to get to know each other. I only know facts about you. Your grades, where you live, what has been happening with you, but other than that I know next to nothing about you. I want that. I'll let you guide how that happens. I want you to be comfortable with me and I want to try to be the dad that I didn't get to be."
Jamie looked at Brett for a few moments and that determined look he'd had on his face melted away a little. He sounded a little unsure yet when he spoke. "Okay, I guess, but how?"
"Well, for now at least, since I think all of you guys need to practice with your gifts, I've told your parents that I would like for you guys to spend the rest of your spring vacation up here working on learning how to use your gifts and then send some of Gabe's guys down and bring you up here every couple of weeks for further training depending on what your parents have planned, or school, or whatever. Then during the summer maybe you guys can come up for a week or two, maybe longer, sort of like summer camp. It will give you guys more time to practice. What do you think?"
"I guess that would be okay, if the others say it's okay. Especially Josh."
"Good. I think you guys will find that it will be a good idea for you guys to do this. So I hope you guys will do it."
"I think they will want to do it."
"I'm glad. Jamie, I am so sorry I missed being with you as you grew up, but I promise I'll try to make up for it, but like I said, we will do it at your pace. However, you want to do it. I have a room for you here, for when you visit. You can decorate it however you want. I can show it to you if you want."
Jamie gave a noncommittal shrug.
"Maybe another time. Thank you for listening to me Jamie. You may not believe me, but I have always loved you and I've missed you so much. I hope you'll let me prove it. Can I ask you one thing, you can say no, but how long have you and Josh been boyfriends?"
Jamie wondered why he asked that. Was he going to say he couldn't be boyfriends with Josh. There was a suspicion in his voice when he answered. "Since before Christmas, why?"
"No reason, I just wanted to know if it was serious enough that I needed to start planning a wedding."
Jamie turned red as he looked at Brett who had a smile on his face. He couldn't help but give an answering smile, when he realized that Brett was just messing with him.
Brett gave a little chuckle and patted Jamie on the back. "I guess we should be back in where it's warmer. Let me know when you want to see the room."
They both got up and Brett led the way back into the house. Brett went to join the adults while Jamie returned to his friends. The boys were watching a movie. Jamie sat down next to Josh.
Josh kept his voice low as he leaned closer to Jamie to talk so as not to disturb the others. "Everything okay?"
"I think so. He said he wasn't going to make me move up here unless I wanted to. I told him I didn't want to, because I didn't want to be away from you."
"And he said it was okay? You're going to stay with Dylan?"
"Yeah, he said it was okay. I told him that I didn't want to be apart from my boyfriend and he seemed to understand. He told me that he has a room here for me to use when I visit and I can decorate it however I want."
"Have you seen it?"
"No, he said he'd show it to me if I wanted."
Josh nodded and the two of them turned their attention to the movie. When the movie finished there were a lot of yawning people. Brett and a few of the other adults came to the room.
"Hey guys, your parents are all in the available bedrooms. I thought you might want to just use the cushions from the chairs and couches and sleep in here. I'll have Gabe bring some sleeping bags in here for you to use. Sound okay?"
The boys nodded and started getting ready. A few minutes later Gabe and a couple of the other guys came in the room carrying sleeping bags. The boys were taking cushions off the furniture and setting them up as beds on the floor.
"You can get more from the living room."
Some of the boys left and soon returned carrying more cushions which were quickly set up. The boys went and got their bags from near the front door where they had been left. The parents said goodnight to their sons and headed up to the rooms that they would be using. Brett watched as the others hugged and kissed their sons goodnight and he wanted to do the same with Jamie, but he didn't think Jamie would want to do that so he just went over to where Josh and Jamie were rummaging through their bags.
"Goodnight boys, I hope you sleep well."
They looked up at him and Jamie sort of nodded.
Brett kept the disappointment from his face and gave them a smile.
"I'll see you in the morning boys."
Brett said goodnight to the adults and made sure that they were satisfied with their rooms, before heading to his room. He stripped and slipped into bed. Before going to sleep he made a wish that he and Jamie could become a family again. He knew it would probably take a while to rebuild a relationship with his son, but he hoped he would be able to do so. Downstairs, because of everything that had happened, the boys stripped down to their underwear and then cuddled up with their boyfriends and soon fell asleep in one big tangle of friends.
The next morning, the smell of breakfast cooking soon woke the boys up. They got up and slipped their pants on before they went looking for a bathroom. When they were all done, the boys made their way toward the smell of food and in the dining room, they found Brett and some of their parents sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee and talking. Brett gave them a friendly smile and gestured for Jamie to sit near him. He and Josh made their way over to the table and sat down where Brett indicated.
"Good morning boys. I hope you all slept well."
There were murmurs of yes, thanks, and other comments like that. Food was brought out for the boys and they dug in. As they ate, the rest of the adult filtered in and sat down to eat as well.
When everyone had eaten their fill, Brett got everyone's attention. "Boys, last evening your parents and I talked and they have agreed to what I have proposed. For the rest of the week you guys are going to stay here, if you want, and we're going to work on training your gifts so that you have control of them."
He looked at the boys and they nodded and agreed to the proposal. Brett continued. "On Friday morning, we will give you a ride back home. After that about every couple of weeks, depending on school, family schedules, or events, Gabe and his men will come down to pick you guys up to continue working on honing your gifts. Also, any time that your parents wish to come up, they are more than welcome. We were all good friends before you were born and we all got together from time to time for picnics or barbecues, so I hope that our friendship will be rekindled."
The adults nodded in agreement with that.
"What about Jamie?"
Brett glanced at Jamie before he looked over at Barbara. "Jamie and I talked about this a little last night. I would like it if you would let him continue to live with you, David, and Dylan. He and I need to get to know each other before we even think about any changes in that. Besides, all his friends are down the hill, not up here. He only knows that I'm his father, because I've told him that I am. He doesn't know me, yet. I hope to change that."
"We would be happy for him to continue living with us. Thank you."
Brett smiled and nodded. Everyone got up and the adults went upstairs to pack as they had to get back down the hill to go to work. Once they were ready, Gabe had the SUVs at the front of the house ready to take the parent's back home. Eric and Gabe were a little apart and talking. They shook hands and Eric got into one of the SUVs. They all drove off and the boys stood there wondering what to do now.
"Let's go inside and talk for a few minutes."
They followed him inside and he brought them to the living room. He gestured for them to sit down while he stood by the large windows.
Before he could say anything, Sean the researcher spoke up. "So how do we learn how to use our talents? Oh yeah, and when are you going to replace the computer that you fried?"
Brett chuckled. "Well Sean, I know that you know computers real well and I thought that sometime today, you and I can work together on building a new multi monitor system. I want to make sure that you have the very best. After it's built we'll download all your data onto it and we'll maybe add a few things so that you have something similar to what I have in my office. As for the training, I've been doing some research on what each of you can do and I have some ideas on how to work with each of you. Gabe and some of the security force have volunteered to work with you as well. I'm going to get all of us together and we'll talk some specifics. Sound good?"
The boys gave tentative nods. Brett pulled out his cell and made a quick call. A few minutes later Gabe, followed by several of his men, came into the room. The guys that were with him varied in build, size, etc. All of them had a look to them that said soldier or bodyguard. They weren't hardened or anything, most of them seemed to have friendly looks directed to the boys. They didn't have strict military haircuts or anything, nor were they wearing any sort of uniform. They were dressed like ranch hands if anything. But if you looked at them closely you could see that they were someone that you wanted on your side if things went south.
"Boys, as you know, this is Gabe. He is my chief of security. I'll let him introduce the others that will be working with you."
Gabe stepped forward and looked at the boys for a few moments before saying anything. "I have talked with some of my team members and these guys have volunteered to work with you. I've tried to choose people that would complement your talents. Not that easy with some of you. Furthermore, all of us have a background in martial arts as well. There are many techniques used in martial arts that I feel will be helpful for you to learn. I'm not necessarily meaning the fighting moves, although, we will teach you that as well. In fact it might be a good idea anyway. But what I am talking about is the mental exercises and teachings that martial arts can give you. I think these exercises will help you focus on what you are trying to accomplish."
He looked at his men, nodded, and they lined up. "Ian, you'll be working with Ray McGee, we call him Doc. He was a combat medic. I thought someone with his knowledge would be able to help you understand the human body and the ways that it can get hurt. You'll gain some medical knowledge that may come in handy."
A black man of medium height stepped forward towards Ian and shook his hand before going back into line.
"Logan, this is Jim Peterson. He'll work with you. I've gone over with him what your gifts are although he doesn't have any particular skill with your talent. He's willing to learn along with you. He's a bit of a scrounger and comes up with creative ways to accomplish or acquire things that we haven't thought of."
There were some chuckles at that statement.
Jim, who was a tall slender man, frowned at them before he went over to Logan and shook his hand. "Don't listen to them, just because I like my creature comforts and prefer to make sure that I have the right tool for the job, even if it isn't available just yet, doesn't mean my way isn't right."
He got back in line.
"Ethan, this is George Nim. He will be working with you. Again, no expertise in your talent, other than what he has read, but he claims to be a fan of Science Fiction and he was interested in working with you."
A shorter, slim, but muscular, Asian man stepped forward and shook Ethan's hand, but said nothing at least nothing anyone else could hear. <I am honored to meet you>
Ethan felt a moment of surprise. <I am honored to meet you>
He nodded back, before George got back into line.
"Dylan, this is Luke Provo. Another one who has no experience, but willing to learn with you."
A medium height man stepped forward and there was little doubt where he was from as he drawled out a greeting in a southern accent. "Pleased ta meetcha, son."
Gabe pointed to the next person.
"Jamie this is Patrick Jamison. Before he joined us, he was working as a heavy equipment operator, bulldozers and the like. So I figured someone who's used to moving things around might be a good choice to work with you."
A tall man with the typical cowboy shape, broad shoulders and narrow waist stepped forward with a big smile to meet Jamie. "I want to see how much you can move and I think with my experience I can help you balance a load when you move it."
He returned to the line and a short, sort of stocky, and well-muscled guy stepped forward. He had a mischievous look on his face.
"Josh, this is Aldo Muldoon. He is a demolitions expert, so we thought he would fit best with you. He loves to blow things up."
"Yeah. We're going to have some fun."
They shook and he stepped back.
"Dakota, I'm going to work with you to hone your ability to use items to see what, if any, limits you have. Guns, vehicles, or anything that I can think of, as long as it is some kind of equipment."
Dakota nodded and Brett stepped up.
"Sean, I'll be working with you as I have the most experience with computers than anyone else here and I want to see how deeply you can get into a computer, or anything that is run by computers. Besides we have to build your new computer."
"All right. You guys relax for the rest of the morning. After lunch, we'll get started."
Everyone left the room. The men went off to prepare for the work that they would be doing that afternoon, while the boys headed to the media room. They did pretty much what they had done the evening before until lunch time, which were hamburgers, fries and drinks. The men who would be working with them, ate with them as well.
When Brett saw that everyone was pretty much done he stood up. "Okay guys, why don't you all head out with your mentors and try out your gifts. They will push you some, but I want you to be comfortable with using your gifts. Sometimes during this training, they will push you and I would really like you guys to try to work at it even if you are a bit tired. If you have tried, but you can't accomplish what they want you to do, then they will stop and you can come back here to relax for the day. We will stop around four this afternoon no matter what you are doing. "
He looked around at the boys and none seemed to have a question.
"Okay, get to it and try to have fun. Gabe, they're all yours."
Gabe got up and stood before them. "We are going to spend an hour together first before we split up. We are going to start to teach you those mental disciplines that I talked about earlier. This should hopefully get you ready to give your gifts a workout. So let's head off to the workout room."
The boys and their mentors got up from the table and followed Gabe and Brett outside. None of them were wearing coats as they stepped into the cool afternoon. They were led to across the grounds to the same building that had the armory in it. Gabe brought them to a different door and when they went inside, they saw a large open room. In one half there were various weight machines with free weights and other strength building equipment around the edges. The other half had a large mat covering the floor. Arranged on the walls around the mat were various martial arts related weapons. At the edge of the mat, Gabe stopped and removed his boots and socks. The other men also did the same thing. The boys looked at each other and shrugged and emulated them.
Gabe walked across the mat and turned around to face them. "Okay guys, I want you all to line up. Mentors position yourselves next to your charges. Dakota come up here with me. Separate yourselves so that there is about five feet between you and sit down in a comfortable position."
Gabe sat down and motioned for Dakota to sit next to him. Everyone moved around until they where they needed to be. Gabe noticed that the couples made sure that they were next to each other. He debated moving them farther away in case it interfered with their concentration, but decided to leave them that way to see if their arrangement interfered with learning what he wanted to teach them.
"Good. Okay let's get started. My men already know what I'm going to teach you. I want to teach you guys how to relax your minds. A lot of people think that it means to think of nothing, but that is nearly impossible to do when you are conscious. What I want you to do is close your eyes and listen to your surroundings. Listen to the sounds that the other people in the room are making. Make your mind and body calm. Don't fidget, don't move. Breathe slowly in and out. Slow breath in and let it out slowly. Not big breaths just slow calm breaths. Try to think about a place of calm, like a forest clearing with no one else around, sitting beside a slow moving stream, sitting on the beach and listening to the waves gently washing up on the shore. Any sort of thing like that, that will make you feel calm. Instead of nothing, think of something, but only a place of calm, whatever that is for you. When you find that calm place, I want you to reach out with your mind and listen to your own body. Hear and feel your breathing and your heartbeat. This is called centering. Once you can feel your own inner self, reach out gently with you mind and try to sense your surroundings."
Everyone in the room followed his instruction. The men who were used to doing this quickly got to that place in their mind where they were relaxed. It was harder for the boys since they had never done anything like this before, at least not formally. Some of them had gone into a crude untrained form of centering when they were trying to make their gifts work for them, so it sort of made sense to them. The room was quiet as they tried to reach that state of calm.
After a few minutes Gabe opened his eyes and slowly looked around. He noted that the men looked to have achieved that state of calm, which included Brett, which was expected. He was surprised to see that for the most part the boys seemed to be doing okay as well. The room was silent so that all that he could hear was the quiet breathing of the others in the room. He continued to scan the room and watch the boys. Some of the boys seemed to enter the correct state of calm that he wanted them to reach, others seemed to take a little longer. He could tell when one of them achieved that state as he could see their faces relax and could tell that their eyes were not moving around under their lids. He was gratified to see that the boys seemed to grasp the basics of what he was trying to do with them.
He did a double take as he noticed Jamie start to rise off the floor a little and float. He didn't want to just blurt out something and startle him causing him to fall so he carefully got up from his position making almost no noise, but he was stopped in his tracks.
<Wait sir. Let me.>
He looked over at Ethan and tried to answer him.
He did not sit down, but watched Jamie, he was poised to quickly move over to him if he started to fall, but he did not move.
In Jamie's mind he and Josh were in a snow covered forest in Idaho in the mountains that he and his mom had gone to when they lived there. There was only a light wind blowing through the trees as they walked along a path. He heard a voice calling to him and turned to it.
<Jamie. It’s Ethan. I need you to come back from wherever you are at, slowly. Pull your TK into yourself slowly.>
<Um, just do it, trust me and then open your eyes.>
<Kay, I guess.>
Gabe watched as Jamie slowly settled back to the ground and he let out the breath he had been holding, because Jamie had been about three feet from the floor when he changed direction and settled back down to the ground.
"Okay, everyone open your eyes and try to keep that same calm about you."
He watched as everyone's eyes opened. He saw Ethan look at Jamie and Jamie looked at him with a question on his face. Ethan mouthed 'Later' to him and Jamie shrugged acceptance.
"Let's have everyone stand up and we're going to do some basic movements that are taught as part of Tai Chi. You may have seen some of this before on TV, or maybe even in a park if there is a large Chinese community nearby. You see people moving slowly through what looks kind of like martial art movements. I'm just going to teach some of the movement, relaxation, and meditation exercises. While we are doing this, I want you to try to maintain that calmness that you achieved while sitting down. I will demonstrate the movement and I want you to try to emulate it, but remember to try to keep that same calmness of mind as you do them. I think you will find that it is harder than you think. Mentors, you know the movements so help your charge in going through the movements."
Each of them nodded and then Gabe started the first movement. The boys did the best that they could with their mentor helping them. When Gabe saw that they had done the first movement. He went to the next and the mentors helped the boys. For the next fifteen minutes they went through several easy, basic movements. Gabe paused each time to let the boys go through the movement. The mentors would help the boy make the movement, which many times included repeating it a few times to get it right. For the most part the boys were unable to keep that calmness, but the moves were relatively easy and with their eidetic memories they could usually get it after a few tries.
Once they had each been shown each position, Gabe paused for a moment. "Pretty good guys. Now, we're going to put them all together and try to make the movements flow from one form to another. I want you to try to keep your minds calm as you do them. We will do them a few times and then we will take a break."
He got nods of assent from everyone and he started them on the exercises. There were starts and stops as they helped the boys do the moves and so it wasn't a smoothly flowing exercise, but they did run through it and the last time, the mentors did not help them, but let they try to move through them without correcting them. Of them all Dakota was the smoothest of them toward the end of the workout. And workout it was. All of them had worked up a little bit of a sweat, not much, but a little.
"Well done. I think that is enough for now. I think we will make this part of our daily practice. For now, why don't you all take a break, get something to drink, and then you and your mentors will head out to wherever they have decided that they want to work with you on your gifts."
There were nods and the other men patted the boys on the back and gave them encouragement as they left the workout room and headed back to the main house. After getting something to drink and using the bathrooms, the boys and the mentors went their separate ways. Brett motioned for Sean to follow him to his office. Logan and his mentor also stayed in the house. Ian and Doc, Dakota and Gabe went to the building where the Armory and gym was located. Everyone else grabbed their coats as they would be going outside. Josh and Aldo went to one of the ranch trucks, got in, and drove further into the property away from the house. Patrick took Jamie into the large building that was used as a garage. Ethan and Dylan went outside with their mentors. Now the real training would begin.