Life went back to its normal rhythm for the next few weeks. The boys were back in school and the adults were working. The boys spent time with their boyfriends after school, taking turns going to each others house in the afternoon to get homework done when they needed to and get closer to each other when they didn’t have anything to do. They also carefully practiced their gifts when they could. One of things that they all did was to practice the Tai Chi that they had been taught and they did the martial arts exercises on their own or when they got together. All the work and the exercises were starting to have an effect on their bodies. All of the boys had been slim, but now muscles were starting to be more defined, even Sean began to not look so scrawny. He was still short, but his muscles were starting to grow. As for their abilities, they practiced them as much as they could.
Sean of course continued getting better with his computer. He received his second MYO and now he had one on each arm and plus the Emotiv when he worked. He configured the laptop that he had received from Brett so that it could use the Emotiv and the two MYO devices as well. He also put a lot of the information that he decided he needed on them as well. It wasn’t as good as his workstation but it did a pretty good job overall. Sean also helped configure all of the laptops for each of them to work at their best. Many times when they could not get together, they were found talking to each other via Skype as they did homework.
He did some searches in the Law Enforcement agencies to see what the results of his attack on the porn sites were. He saw from investigation notes that some of the sites were back up. Sean got pissed at that and started writing a new virus program. He also continued his investigation into those sites and others like it. His new virus was going to be more insidious. The first one was a sledgehammer that went in and killed the website with one savage blow. This one was going to be more subtle. He wanted it to reside in the server for some time, gathering information on other computers that connected to it. The information on that computer, or server, was transmitted to Sean and dropped into a file on his computer. His virus excluded any photos or videos that were available on the site. The amount of information that was put in there was immense and he had to write another program that split it out into different folders, one was labeled customers and the other was labeled owners.
Anyone who subscribed to the website was put into the customer folder and he ignored those computers, at least for now. Once he got the site information for the customer his program checked to make sure that there was only one entry per customer. He was a little worried that even though he had a 1 terabyte hard drive, he didn’t want it to fill up with customer information.
The owners were the ones that he was really interested in and he began to gather information on them. He thought about going after them as he found information on them, but from his searches on the Police agency sites, he found that some of these owners were suspected of being involved in the trafficking, but the Police had never been able to get the evidence that they needed to put them away. So he decided that he would acquire that information for them. Another part of his search also pointed toward paid informants in those agencies. He made a third folder and named it informants. After a couple of weeks, he realized that those that had gotten away after his first attack had done so because of those informants. He decided to concentrate on the informants first and then after they were finished, he would get the owners.
He divided his time between his researches about the abilities of the group, although he deemed this of less important now that it was more or less in the open about what they could do and the child porn investigation. The child porn was more important to him, at least until Brett told him that it was time to look into the GRA, then that would be the main focus. From what they had been told by Brett, he wanted to make sure that he, his family and his friends were all safe.
Dakota and his dad got a chance to try out his new bow at an archery range in Riverside. His dad enjoyed it as well and he bought his own similar bow. Sean sometimes joined them and he used Dakota’s bow when he went. Ethan was now at the point that he no longer had to work at all on tuning other people out. Dylan could also do the same thing, and he did not have to work hard at filtering out other people’s feelings. Josh was still very careful with is gift and did very little. Jamie practiced his TK, especially the precision part. He thought that fine tuning the ability would be better than the brute force part of the ability. He already knew he could lift several tons, and couldn’t see how he could work on that without other seeing him. Ian began to ask his parents medical questions so that he could learn more about how he could help people. Logan practiced his ability by randomly picking up items and trying to read them. He did this everywhere he went, usually when he was with Ian. He found out a variety of interesting things.
The boys went up to the mountain for more work with their mentors. The first time, their families all drove up there and spent the weekend. By this time, the adults were all using their own names instead of their made up names when they got together like this. Other times it was just the boys.
One Friday afternoon in the middle of May, Jamie was over at Josh’s house doing homework and was going to be spending the night. This was a common occurrence with all of the couples. They usually switched off staying the weekend at each others house. This had the added benefit of allowing the couples to unwind and have a weekend to spend together as well. That afternoon, Eric had just gotten home and after cleaning up he was getting dinner ready when the doorbell rang. He wiped his hands and went to the front door to answer it. When he opened it he got a surprise as Brett was standing there in a pair of shorts, Hawaiian shirt and sandles.
"Mister MacLeod. What are you doing here? Uh, sorry, I mean come on in. You just surprised me as well."
"Don’t worry about it."
Eric led the way to the kitchen.
"Would you like something to drink?"
He glanced at the clock.
"It’s after five, so beer."
"Sorry, don’t much like beer."
"Okay, water, ice tea, cranberry juice, coke?"
"Ice tea would be great. It is really starting to get warm around here."
"Yeah, this will be my first summer here and Josh tells me it can get over a hundred easy then."
Brett accepted the glass of tea that Eric and poured and took a few swallows.
"Ahhh. Just right. That hit’s the spot."
"So what can I do ya for?"
"Well, I called William and Marion, Dylan’s parents and they said that Jamie was over here spending the weekend."
"Yeah, he and Josh are upstairs doing homework. Do you want me to call him down?"
"Let them finish. I can talk to him later."
"Hey, why don’t you just stay for dinner? I’m just making tacos so it would be easy enough to add one more."
"Sure, that would be great. Can I help?"
"I guess. You can grate the cheese."
The two men got to work. They talked about the boys and Brett asked about Jamie, and Eric told him what he had observed. Fifteen minutes later they heard the sound of the boys coming downstairs. They turned around and smiled at the two boys who barefoot wearing shorts and t shirts.
"Oh. Hello Mister MacLeod."
"Hey Josh. Hi Jamie."
"Hi, uh, sir."
Brett hid the disappointment.
"How’re you guys doing?"
"Good. We smelled dinner. Are you eating with us?"
"If you don’t mind?"
"No, course not."
The boys were directed to get the kitchen table set and the two men brought the taco shells, meat and all of the rest of the fixings for making tacos. They quickly started making their tacos and eating. There was very little talking for several minutes as they ate. Brett started asking the boys about school and what they had done that week. The four of them continued to talk through dinner. The boys cleaned the table up, rinsed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher.
Brett stood up. "Well thank you Eric, boys. That was good. It’s been a long time since I’ve had tacos that weren’t purchased in a restaurant."
He looked at Jamie. "Jamie, would you mind taking a walk with me for a little bit."
He looked at the other two. "We won’t be long."
He and Jamie went out the door. It was a nice evening, it was a little cool and Jamie put his hands in his pockets as they walked. He didn’t say anything, he just waited for Brett to speak. They walked down to the corner and turned to the left.
"Jamie...son...I know you’re still not sure about me. And maybe you still blame me for not being there to help you after your mom died. I can only say that I’m doing my best to make up for it now."
They walked a bit further and turned another corner and continued up that street. Jamie glanced at Brett, again waiting for him to say something. Brett was trying to think about the best way to say what he wanted to say, as they walked to the end of the street which was also a cul de sac, like where Eric’s house was. Brett stopped and put his hand on Jamie’s shoulder to get him to face him.
"Jamie, I want to ask you to give me a chance. I think the best way for us to be a family like we should have been all along, is for you live with me, here."
"But you promised. You said that you wouldn’t take me away from Josh. Now, I’ll hardly ever see him."
Tears sprang to his eyes, unbidden and he quickly wiped them away. He had a little bit of a look of betrayal on his face as he looked at Brett. His voice was quivering when he spoke next.
"You are my father, I accept that. I told you that I would do as you say, because you are. But you said it was my choice and it would be at my pace. Now you’re making me leave Josh....."
Jamie cut himself off as he tried to get a hold of himself. He started to turn to run back to Josh, but Brett grabbed both of his shoulders to hold him in place.
"Jamie, yes I did, but I want to a have bigger part of your life and I can’t do that, when I only see you on occasional weekends. I am your father. But one other thing was that you weren’t listening to me."
Jamie glared up at him. "When? When you lied to me about letting me make the choice? Now you want to take the choice away?"
"No! Jamie, listen to what I just said, very carefully. I’ll repeat it. I want you to live with me....here! Right here."
As he repeated the last part he turned Jamie toward the house that they were standing in front of and pointed.
Jamie turned back to face him. "This is your house?"
"Yes, I closed escrow on it this morning.’
"But, what about your house in the mountains?"
"Oh, I’m going to keep that too. A couple of days after you guys left, I couldn’t stand not having you nearby. Well, all of you guys and your parents, but you especially. I waited so long, maybe longer than I should have, but I didn’t want that to continue. So I had Hal start looking around for a house down here, because I really want a chance to be your dad and I knew I couldn’t do that from up there. I had to be down here, so you could be with your friends, and of course, most especially Josh. It would be cruel of me to separate you two. Hal found this house for me. Would you like to see it?"
Brett led the way to the front and unlocked the front door with his key. He gestured for Jamie to precede him and they went inside. The house was empty of everything since he had just bought it. They looked at the living room, the kitchen, dining room, the den, the bathroom, also another bonus room that Brett said would be his office. Jamie glanced at the backyard and it seemed to be pretty good sized as well, but there was no pool, like at Josh’s, which disappointed him a little bit. They went upstairs and looked at the master bedroom which had a large closet and an attached bathroom. There were three other bedrooms up there as well and Brett steered him into the room that he though Jamie might like. It was the biggest bedroom besides the master bedroom.
"See, Jamie, and I thought you would like this room. It’s the next biggest and we can get whatever furniture that you want to in here and decorate it however you want. I mean, if you wanted black walls, I would let you. It may be ugly as sin to me, but it would be your choice. We can....."
"Wait a minute." Jamie stopped looking around the room and walked over to the window that looked out over the backyard of the house. After looking out the window for a few moments and he turned back around and pointed over his shoulder back out through the window. He saw Brett smiling by the doorway. "Isn’t that...."
Brett nodded. "Yep. I had Hal look in this neighborhood especially. The young couple in this house did not have it on the market, but as they said in the Godfather." Brett changed his voice in an attempt to imitate Don Corleone. "I made ‘em an offer they couldn’t refuse." He changed his voice back. "And they didn’t refuse the offer. They were willing to sell the house for what I offered them."
Brett walked over to Jamie and gently took his shoulder and guided him back to the window, and pointed down into the backyard. "And if you do decide to live here with me, I plan on putting a gate in the wall there, so that you and Josh can easily come see each other whenever you want. That is, as long as Eric doesn’t mind if I install it. So....what do you think?"
Jamie turned and put his arms around his Dad and hugged him tight. He didn’t say anything, but he did nod.
Brett felt the nod against his chest and inside he was jumping for joy. He let that happiness show as he pulled back a little so that he could look at Jamie. "Thank you. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me."
He hugged him once more and then with his arm on Jamie’s shoulders, they left the room and headed back downstairs. "Now, it will still take some time to get the house ready. As you can see, we would have to sleep on the floor and we don’t have anything to eat or to eat with, so that’s something we need to take care of first."
"What about my mom’s furniture and stuff."
Brett nodded. "You know I hadn’t thought about that. That will speed things up quite a bit. I also need to find a good contractor to handle putting a gate through the wall over to Eric’s house, if he agrees with me."
Brett then stood there in the living room looking around and started musing aloud. "I guess I better start getting things together, like getting a U-haul truck and bring your things over to here from the storage place. Plus, I’ll need some things from the house up the hill."
"Can I go tell Josh?"
Brett was brought out of his musing about preparations and looked Jamie. "Oh, uh, yes. Let’s both head back. I need to talk to Mister Barrett about my idea for the gate, among other things."
The two of them headed back out the house, locking the door behind them and made their way back to Eric’s house to tell Josh and Eric the good news. When they got near to Eric’s house, Jamie ran ahead and went inside to find Josh. He found Josh sitting in the living room and watching TV.
"Hey Josh, guess what? I’m going to live with my Dad!"
Josh looked at Jamie with a shocked look. Inside he wondered why Jamie would want to move away from him, but he was happy because Jamie was happy. "Oh, uh, that’s great Jamie. I’m happy for you."
Jamie noticed the tone in Josh’s voice and he realized how he had made the announcement. He went over to Josh who had his head looking down, towards his lap. Josh was trying to blink away some tears at the thought of losing Jamie. He felt Jamie take his hand and pull on him to stand up. Josh allowed himself to be made to stand up. Jamie pulled him into a hug and then kissed him on the cheek. Jamie their turned and headed to the backyard. Josh was puzzled by this but figured that he probably wanted to talk to him privately. Once in the backyard, Jamie took his shoulders and turned him to face one of the back fences. He got behind him and put his arms around Josh, and rested his head on Josh’s left shoulder. His voice was low, just above a whisper when he spoke into Josh’s ear. "I’m going to be right there."
He lifted an arm and pointed to his dad’s house on the other side of the fence. Josh looked, not understanding for just a moment and then he looked over his shoulder at Jamie and saw a big smile on his face as he nodded.
"That’s where my dad took me when we went for a walk. He wanted to show me the house and tell me that he wanted me to live with him. We’re going to get all my mom’s furniture and my bedroom is right there."
He pointed at a window on the second floor. He then pointed to the wall between them.
"He’s going to talk to your Da....I mean Uncle."
"It’s alright, you can call him my dad. He’s the only dad that I have now. I’ve been thinking about asking him if I can call him that."
"Cool. Well anyway, my dad’s going to ask if he can install a gate in the wall so that we can go back and forth whenever we want to."
"Awesome. We ca...."
They were both startled a bit when a pair of bigger arms surrounded them both and Eric’s voice came from behind them. "You can call me your dad, if that is what you want....son."
Josh looked at his Uncle and saw that his eyes were a little damp on his smiling face. Josh and Jamie both melted into those arms that held them. Brett came and joined the group hug.
"Brett has already told me and I completely agree that a gate would be a good idea."
The two boys cheered and took turns hugging each of the men. The four of them walked over to the wall that separated the two properties and began to look for a good location for the gate and discuss what kind of gate it would be, wood or metal, lock or no lock. Back in the house the boys went up to Josh’s room and played on his game system while Eric and Brett made some notes on a piece of paper about the gate plans. Once they were done, Brett put the paper in his pocket and went upstairs to say goodnight to Jamie.
"Jamie. I need to get going back up the hill. I need to make some arrangements for getting your furniture out of storage and moved into the new house. I also need to get some other things arranged, such as phone and utilities, internet access, things like that so I’ll be gone for a few days. If everything works out, we can get moved in next weekend and start living there. It’ll take a little while to have the gate installed, but I’ll get on that as soon as I can. Until then you’ll have to walk or ride your bike over here when you and Josh want to get together."
Jamie got up and went over to hug his dad.
"Thanks Dad, for everything?"
Brett didn’t trust himself to speak, so he just hugged Jamie tight and kissed him on top of his head. Once he got his emotions under control. He stepped back and looked at his son with a smile.
"We’ll be together soon. I’m going to call Dylan’s parents when I get back up the mountain to let them know what’s going on. We’ll get your stuff from their house next weekend to bring them to our new home."
He released Jamie and turned to go, but stopped for a moment. "I love you Jamie."
There was a slight pause before he got the answer that he really wanted to hear. "Love you too Dad."
Brett smiled and turned away. He shook Eric’s hand and thanked him for taking care of Jamie. Outside he climbed into his Range Rover and headed back to his mountain home. As he drove he mentally put together a list of the things that he needed to take care of for the move to the new house.
At school on Monday, Jamie told everyone his news. Dylan, of course, already knew because his parents had told him. He felt a slight disappointment because while Jamie was living with his family, it had been like he had a brother, but he was happy for Jamie, because he could live with his father and he was still nearby.
Brett, with Hal’s help, took care of getting everything set up at the house. Early on Saturday morning, a couple of large U-haul trucks and an SUV pulled into the storage facility and several of Brett’s security people met Hal, who was waiting there with the keys to the storage rooms. They opened them up and started loading everything from the rooms into the trucks.
One of them was only half full on purpose and it left before the other was full. It was soon pulling up in front of Dylan’s house. When they knocked on the door they were greeted by Jamie, who showed them to his room. Jamie had been alerted the day before that the men would be there, so he had packed all of his smaller things into boxes.
The men worked quickly, and with Jamie and Dylan’s help all the furniture and other things were broken down and carried out to the truck. Then all the boxes from his room where loaded next, along with his bike from the garage. Once everything was loaded the men left for the house.
A few minutes behind them were Jamie, and Dylan’s family heading to the new house. When they arrived, they saw that there were two trucks at Jamie’s house along with some of the other families. Things were being moved from the truck to the house. Jamie went inside looking for his dad. He found him in the living room and went up to him for a hug. Brett smiled as he returned the hug and greeted Dylan’s parents before turning back to directing the security people where to put things.
The house was a bustle of activity. Jamie and Josh went up to Jamie’s room to help get it set up the way he wanted it. He had them put the boxes on one side so that it was out of the way while the furniture was set up. He told them movers where he wanted stuff and they took care of it. He and Josh decided to head downstairs so they wouldn’t be in the way.
They found that while they had been up there, the rest of the families had arrived and were helping put the house in order. A couple of the ladies were helping get things put away in the kitchen, while another couple were getting lunch together, which consisted of Pizza and cold drinks. A halt was called and everyone was invited to have lunch. They lounged around outside in the late spring sunshine. After lunch, everyone was back to work.
By the middle of the afternoon, the trucks were unloaded and the big stuff was placed where Jamie and Brett wanted it, so the men loaded all the empty and broken down cardboard boxes in the back of the trucks and took their leave of the families. The families began to go through the house and getting all the small things taken care of, hanging pictures, putting the linen in the linen closets, making the house into a home. By five, they were pretty much done. There were some things left over, like Christmas decorations, skis and things like that which were put into the garage for storage.
A couple of the families had brought their barbecue’s over and the men were grilling hamburgers and hot dogs in the back yard. The boys were sitting together on the grass in the backyard, while the adults talked.
Brett was sitting next to Dylan’s parents. "Brett, have you contacted CPS about Jamie?"
"No, not yet, I sort of forgot about that. I was so glad that the wanted to live with me, that it slipped my mind. However, if you don’t mind, can you continue to remain his foster parents for now? He’ll just live here with me until I can get everything taken care of. I’m still a little leery of popping up out of nowhere. So at least until the end of school, I want you to continue being listed as his foster parents. That will give us the summer to get everything taken care of with them and the school and everything else before school starts in the fall."
"Sure, we can do that. It’s great that he will get to live with you. We’re very happy for the both of you. Not to put a damper on anything, but have you heard anything new on the GRA?"
"Not much, Mac and some other friends are checking some things, but nothing new to report yet."
"You’ll let us know what’s going on right?"
"Of course. If find out anything, I’ll let you know as soon as I can."
They continued to talk a bit longer until eventually it became time for people to start heading home. They had decided that the first night in the house was going to be just them, so Josh went home with Eric. Brett and Jamie sat next to each other on the couch in the den and watched TV.
"Jamie. I talked to Eric and I wanted to let you know, that there will be times when I need to be away on business or have to go back up the mountain. When I do, you will be staying with Josh, if that’s okay."
Jamie smiled and nodded.
"Good. Once we get the gate installed it will be easier, but I have to get approvals from the city, so that the integrity of the wall isn’t compromised and get the contractor that I want out here to look it over and all that. Mostly a lot of bureaucratic red tape, so it will be a few weeks yet before we’ll get the gate installed. It will probably be right after school lets out that we get it done, so it will be just in time for summer."
"That’s okay, it’s not that far, just around the corner. I can walk or ride my bike."
"Good. Then during the summer, we’ll take care of any legal issues of you being officially returned to my custody. I’ll probably have to use the name that I’ve used in my business, Bryan Carpenter, although I would prefer to be Brett MacLeod again. But until the GRA are exposed, I dare not, for everyone’s sake."
"That’s okay, I’m used to being a Carpenter."
"Then I won’t worry about it for now."
They cuddled up and gave their attention to the TV, until they both started getting sleepy. It had been a long day and Jamie was out. Brett was almost there, so he gently woke Jamie and helped him up to his bedroom. He helped him undress down to a t shirt and underwear and tucked him in, giving him a kiss goodnight. He closed the door to the room and headed to his own bed. Both were out like a light.
A couple of days later, Brett called Sean’s parents and asked if he could come and talk to Sean about how is new computer was working out. They invited him over. When he got there after sitting with Eric and Claire he excused himself and went to talk with Sean. He knocked at the partially closed door.
"Hey Sean. How’s the computer working out?"
"Oh hi, Mister MacLeod. It’s great and thanks again for getting the second MYO for me. It really helps."
"I bet is does. So what have you been up to?"
"Not much, just searching around. Don’t worry I haven’t done any searches for the GRA."
"Good, it’s not time yet. Anyway, um, I had a call from a friend of mine. You may have heard me mention Mac."
"Well, he told me about some sort of super hacker who took down a bunch of porn sites and also successfully caused the arrest of several criminals and saved some kids by sending evidence and location information to law enforcement agencies in several parts of the world."
Brett could see a change in Sean and he continued.
"You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?"
Sean fidgeted a bit and when he glanced at Brett. He saw him leaning against the door jam and one of his eyebrows was raised as he waited for Sean’s answer.
He knew he was caught, and his shoulders slumped before he decided to go on the offensive
"You shoulda seen what was on those sites. They were hurting kids and I knew I could do something so I did." Sean crossed his arms and frowned as he looked at Brett defiantly.
Brett looked back at him and then chuckled a little. "I know what was on those sites, I’ve heard enough about them. And I really can’t say that I blame you. I only want you to be careful about them. Some of these have some very powerful and dangerous people behind them."
"I know, and unless they have someone as good as me, which I highly doubt, they can’t trace it back to me. I routed my attack through so many links that they’re going to hit nothing but dead ends."
"Okay, but you need to be careful."
"I am. Besides, their website security was a joke. It was as easy as getting into the school’s computer system."
"This time yeah, but next time it will be harder."
"Well, when they start using military level security, then I’ll worry."
"Are you planning on doing that again?"
"Not at the moment."
"Good. Remember our security is very important as well."
"I know, I’ll be careful, and, uh, I’m not done."
"What do you mean, you’re not done?"
"I have a tracer program in their servers. I heard that some of the people got away, and I found out that they did that because they had informants with the police. I’m searching for information on the owners and their informants, and then I’m going to take them all out and get them arrested. First the informants, and then the owners."
"Sean, I don’t like the sound of that. What you are doing is very dangerous and you might get caught."
"Well, I don’t like those kinds of sites. They shouldn’t be allowed to exist."
"Then I think it’s worth the risk, besides, there is no risk to me, only to those kids that they are using to make money. Those people cannot catch me. They’re not good enough."
"You know what they always say, there is always someone better."
"Not this time. What you did with your experiment made me the best at this, even though I know you didn’t plan on us getting our abilities, we have them and I’m going to use them to help others. I know the others would do the same."
Brett could see the determination on Sean’s face and he gave a resigned sigh. "Okay, I understand, I would probably do the same. I just want you to be careful."
"No problem. Right now, I don’t think there are many, if any sites, that I can’t get into, as long as it is connected to the net. And these slimeballs need the net to do business, so they are fair game."
"Alright, just be careful. So what have you done so far?"
Sean smiled and told Brett about what he had done and what he was doing. Brett was impressed with his efforts and they left the office after a few minutes with Brett cautioning him once again to be careful.
Just as they left the room, Sean looked at him with predatory look. "When do I get to go after the GRA?"
Brett shook his head. "Not yet, so stay away from them."
"Okay. See you."
Brett didn’t realize that Sean had not said he wouldn’t do anything more. He had just said he wasn’t doing anything right at that moment. That didn’t mean he didn’t have plans to do something later.
On the other side of the country an analyst was checking the results from a constantly running computer program. The program searched newspapers around the country and in many other countries for certain keywords. It was usually tasked to search the big newspapers in the country every other day and big newspapers around the world every week or so, and then the US tabloids about once a month, after that, small local city or town papers every few months. It worked on a rotating basis, so some of those search date parameters changed, sometimes shorter intervals, sometimes longer ones. He verified that it was running correctly and saw that a few keyword data hits was passing through the application and flowing to their appropriate destinies properly. He moved on to his other programs. The keyword information that the program had found was routed to a computer located in the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington DC.