Castle Roland

Who Is He

by Eric Aune


Chapter 22

Posted: N/A

"Hi Heather, Mikey…Yeah, it's me," Jason said to the two of them.

They stared at the teenager, who knelt next to their son, with his hand clamped on Chris' neck keeping the pressure on the wound. They couldn't believe what they were seeing. Kneeling before them was a boy who should have been dead for almost fifteen years, yet he was here, unchanged. Heather had to lean against the chair in front of her as her legs started to give out. Michael rushed to her side and helped her sit down. He then moved closer, still in shock.

"How, what…what the fuck?" Michael said to his boyhood friend.

"It's a long story and we don't have time for it right now. Right now we have to save these boys," Jason said with a voice filled with worry.

Michael turned to grab the phone, but was stopped by Patrick's hand on his arm. Michael hadn't even seen Patrick move. He stepped back in surprise.

"There's not enough time to get them to a hospital to save them. They will be dead before the paramedics will get here. But if you trust me and know that I would never willingly cause harm to my son, we can try something unconventional. It may not work, and they may die anyway, they are very nearly there right now, at least Travis and Chris are.

Heather let out a small cry at that statement and Jason looked at her in sympathy.

"I'm not sure about Bryce, but he may be in just as bad shape as the others. If this does work, they will survive and be as good as new after a few days rest. In fact, they will be better than new, but they have to survive the treatment first. I won't do it unless you agree," Jason said and waited expectantly.

"What is this treatment?" Michael asked feeling very puzzled.

Jason hesitated for a moment, "I'm going to give the boys some of my blood."

Michael was even more puzzled, "Your blood? How will that help them?"

"Trust me when I say that it is their best chance right now of survival, otherwise they will bleed out in the next few minutes," Jason told them.

Jason looked at his two boyhood friends trying to show the love he felt for Chris. Heather stared at him for a few moments, lost in those eyes she remembered from when they were young. She looked at the grayish pallor on the faces of the two bleeding boys and gave a slight nod. Jason acknowledged her assent and brought his wrist up to his mouth. Michael stepped back in surprise as he saw Jason's fangs grow before he bit into his wrist. He pressed his bleeding wrist to Chris' mouth and let the blood drip into his mouth. Chris unconsciously started to drink it. Jason grimaced as the boy sucked on the wrist. After a few moments, he pulled back and held his wrist against Travis' mouth as well. Again the unconscious boy started to drink Jason's blood causing the same pain. Patrick moved to apply pressure to Chris' neck while Jason got up and stumbled over to Bryce and repeated the act. Once he pulled away from Bryce he collapsed against the couch where Chris lay. His hand sought Chris' as he leaned back against the couch. Heather and Mike could only stare at Jason as he leaned against the couch with his head drooping.

"What's wrong Jason?" Michael asked.

"Whenever we do something like this, it drains some of our life energy. He'll be okay in a few days." Allison explained.

Michael looked around, "Who are you people?"

Patrick spoke up, "Well, we are who or maybe what you think we are, but we're the good guys; as difficult as that may be for you to believe right now."

Michael looked at the three people who had invaded his home, carrying the three injured boys. "But how did Jas…."

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Michael went to answer it. On the porch were two teenage boys, one of them had his arm in a makeshift sling. They smiled at Michael.

"Can we come in Mr. Hale?" One of them asked.

Patrick looked around at the voice and saw Jamie and Nicky at the door. He looked at Michael, "It's okay. They're friends, they're with us."

Michael hesitated before he stepped back and let the two boys in. They smiled disarmingly to Heather as they came into the living room. Just then the three younger boys started going into convulsions. Patrick turned to the two teenagers.

"Give us a hand and make sure they don't hurt themselves," he ordered.

Michael turned back to the phone, "That's it, I'm calling the paramedics."

Jason's head came up and he looked blearily at Michael shaking his head as he pulled himself up to his feet.

"No Mike, you can't, please," he pleaded. Michael turned back to look at Jason, "Trust me, trust us. What you're seeing is part of the treatment. We expected this to happen. This is the dangerous part, if they survive this, then they're out of the woods and they'll live. Our blood is powerful and to some it can be toxic. Thankfully, they are unconscious right now. It can be painful."

Michael moved back to Heather's side, sat on the arm of the chair and held her as they watched the three boys convulse violently, helpless to do anything else. The five people were holding the boys down to keep them from hurting themselves. After several minutes the boys stopped convulsing. Jason dropped down on the couch next to Chris. He was still a bit groggy. Patrick took his hand away from Chris' neck and nodded to Jason when he saw that blood was no longer flowing from the wound in his neck. Allison did the same with Travis and found the same result. Jason looked at his two old friends.

"Just to be safe, you should call the other boys' parents and get permission for them to stay the night. It will be impossible to explain the boys' condition right now. They're going to be fine, but this is not the time to have that discussion," Jason urged them.

Heather looked like she was going to object, but as she looked in Jason's eyes; she saw the sincerity in his eyes, after a moment she nodded. Michael picked up the phone and dialed the Graysons.

"Hi Mere, do you mind if Travis stays the night….yeah, he and Chris were watching TV on the bed and they zonked out…..yeah, no problem….talk to you later bye."

He repeated the process with the Sanders and got the okay there as well. He looked at Jason, "Okay, what now?" he asked.

"We wait for Robert," Patrick said.

Jason looked up at Patrick. "Robert's coming?" he asked.

Patrick nodded, "I talked to him on the way over. He said he'd be here as soon as he could."


Michael looked at Patrick with a puzzled look. "Who is Robert?" he asked.

"Our Patriarch," Patrick answered.

"But…" Heather started to say.

"Honey, why don't you see if Ty and Jessie are okay?" Michael asked her.

She nodded and stood up. She looked down at Chris before going upstairs.

Michael looked at the others. "Would anyone like something?" he asked.

"Nothing for us," Patrick answered him.

Jamie perked up, "You have some coke?" he asked.

Michael nodded, "Uh, yeah sure. C'mon I'll show you."

Jamie held up his hand to stop him, "That's okay we'll find it, you stay here."

The two teenagers left the room and returned in no time with coke in their hand. Jamie stopped by Michael and held out a beer. "I thought you might want something a bit stronger."

Michael nodded gratefully and took a drink. He looked at all these strange people in his house and his gaze stopped once again on Jason. He could not believe that he was looking at his boyhood friend. Alive, apparently, when everyone thought him long dead. Jason sat next to Chris and slowly stroked his hair as he gazed down on him. Michael could see a change in the injured boys, the gray pallor seemed to have gone from their skin and some color had returned. They were still very pale, but they didn't look like death warmed over anymore. He looked back at Jason.

"Jace, what happened to you?" he asked.

Jason sighed, "It's a long story Mike. I swear I'll tell you, but I have to wait for Robert first. He can help us."

Michael looked at the boys again, "What happened to the boys?" he asked.

"I can tell you only that some very bad people attacked them."

Michael started to say something more, but Jason held his hand up. "They have been dealt with. They are no longer a danger to the boys or anyone else for that matter."

They heard footsteps coming down the stairs and Heather came back down, followed by Tyler and Jessie. Both of the younger children had scared looks on their faces. Michael got up and went to them. He bent down and picked up Tyler and carried him over to a chair and sat down with him on his lap. Heather brought Jessie with her and she crawled up into her mom's lap. Tyler looked around and then at Michael. The two young children were wide eyed and had scared looks as they took in the scene before them. There was drying blood on the floor, the couches, the boys and their rescuers. There was also the copper smell of blood in the air.

"Dad? What happened?" He asked.

"Some very bad people hurt Chris and his friends and these people saved them," Michael told him.

Tyler looked at Chris, "Oh, are they going to be alright?"

Michael looked at Jason, getting a nod before he answered him, "Yes, they are."

Tyler smiled with relief, "Good."

He looked at Jason, "Thank you for helping my brother."

Jason smiled at Tyler, "You're welcome Tyler."

Tyler got a questioning look on his face, "How did you know my name?"

Jason smiled at him, "I'm a friend of Chris', and he told me."

"What's yours?" Tyler asked.


Tyler smiled at him, "Thanks Jason."

Jason nodded, "Your welcome."

There was a knock at the door. Michael settled Tyler in the chair, and answered the door. Standing before him was a man who appeared to be a few years older than him. His shoulder length black hair was swept back and he had a goatee. The man smiled, "I'm Robert Furginson, may I enter Mr. Hale?"

Michael nodded, "Uh, yes, yes of course."

Robert stepped in, "Thank you."

He held out his hand to Michael, who took it and they shook hands. His voice had a cultured English accent, like you would expect to hear from English nobility.

"I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm sorry it had to be under such dire circumstances."

He walked over to Heather and reached for her hand. As he took it, he bowed and gently kissed it before enfolding hers in both of his, "And you as well madam. I apologize for this inconvenience."

He took Jessie's hand and kissed it as well, which made her giggle and brought a smile to his face. He walked over to Tyler and Tyler sat on his hands, "You're not kissing my hand."

Robert laughed at him and held out his hand, "Of course not young master. You and I are gentlemen, and we will shake hands as gentlemen do when they meet each other."

Tyler sat up a little straighter, "Okay."

He and Robert shook hands. Robert walked over and looked down on the three unconscious boys. He placed his hand on Bryce's forehead and closed his eyes for a few moments. He then repeated it with the other boys. When he was done he turned to Michael and Heather.

"I'm sure you have many questions. As you might surmise, we prefer to stay in the shadows, but circumstances have changed that, at least in regards to your family. I would be happy to discuss this, but I would prefer to do so, in more comfortable surroundings. Will you accompany us back to my estate? I assure you, you will be safe there and I can help you understand what's going on."

Heather and Michael exchanged glances, "What about Travis and Bryce's families?"

Robert looked at him, "I will send for them tomorrow. As for now, it would be better for us to talk first."

Jason spoke up, "Guys, you can trust Robert. He saved me from a fate truly worse than death."

Michael looked at everyone there and finally he nodded. "Okay. Give us a few minutes to get some things together and we'll be ready."

Robert smiled, "Very well and if you will allow me, I can have this place cleaned up for you by professionals and if it can't be cleaned, I will have it replaced."

Michael nodded as he saw the amount of blood that was on the furniture and the carpet. He got Heather and the children upstairs where they spent a few minutes putting some things they might need for an overnight stay. They came back downstairs, Jessie and Tyler had their backpacks and Michael was carrying an overnight bag. Heather turned to Michael, "We forgot about the boys," she started to head back upstairs.

Robert held up his hand, "Do not worry Mrs. Hale. We have plenty of clothes and other things the boys might need. We really should be going."

They turned to follow Robert and his people, shepherding their two younger children, Robert led the way outside. He walked to a Mercedes that was parked in front of the house. A man got out of the car and held open the door for Robert. Jason carried Chris, Allison carried Travis and Patrick carried Bryce out to the van. They put the three boys on the floor inside, and Jason and Patrick climbed in. Michael and his family got in the SUV. Nicky came up to Michael's window and smiled, "You got room for one more?"

Michael looked at Nicky's smiling face and couldn't help but grin back. He nodded and Nicky opened the door and climbed in next to Tyler. "I'll tell you how to get there in case we get left at a red light or something," he said to Michael.

Allison and Jamie got in the other car. With Robert's car leading the way they made a small procession down the street. By this time, it was late at night and most houses were dark, so no one took note of the cars as they drove away.

Zebulon slammed the phone down and punched the intercom button.

"Yes, sir?" came Victor's voice on the speaker.

"Victor, take some people and go to that warehouse and find out what the hell is going on," Zebulon was fuming.

"Yes, sir," Victor answered quickly.

"Call me as soon as you get there."

He stabbed the button once again and proceeded to pace in front of the fireplace. He was seething as he clenched and unclenched his fists, feeling the need to hit someone. All he could think about was "What had those idiots done now?"

An hour later he had calmed down and was sitting on one of the couches sipping the thick red liquid from the crystal flute when the phone rang. He picked up the handset, "Yes." He was silent for a few moments as he listened to Victor's report. "WHAT!" he yelled.

Zebulon jumped to his feet and threw the glass at the wall. The liquid slowly dripped down the wood paneling, as he raged and asked for details.

At the warehouse, Victor slowly walked around and surveyed the scene, as he listened to Zebulon venting his considerable anger. He noted the two ash piles that used to be Randall and Leo. The dull sightless eyes of Barrett's disembodied head stared back at him.

"Yes sir…..I'll take care of it and get the mess cleaned up. I'll leave the three that I brought with me to take care of that and drive the vehicles back…..yes sir. I'm on my way."

Victor turned to the three others and gave them their orders.

"Clean everything up and make sure there is nothing to connect Mr. Marks with this place. We'll send some people and a truck to clean out the furniture and other stuff. Once you've got the bodies cleaned up, drive the van and motorcycles back to the estate. Get it done as fast as you can."

Victor turned and left the building, climbing in the SUV parked in front and headed back to the Marks estate.

About the time that Victor was making his report, Robert was leading his little procession onto the grounds of his estate. They pulled up in front of the house and Robert got out and waited at the door as the others joined him. Michael was carrying Jessie and Heather had Tyler, both of them had fallen asleep on the ride over. Robert led them inside and into the parlor. There was a well dressed young man and woman standing inside the parlor. Robert took note of the various young people being carried and he turned to the two that were in the parlor.

"Philip, Valerie, could you direct our guests to rooms so that the young folk can rest comfortably. When you have your young ones settled, they will bring you back. I'll have some coffee ready or perhaps something stronger if you prefer."

The couple led the group upstairs and showed them to a well appointed suite of rooms. The two younger kids were undressed and put into a couple of beds in one of the rooms. Jason and the twins helped Michael get the three older boys cleaned up and all the blood cleaned off of them. Once they were cleaned up, they were laid together in one king size bed. Chris and Travis' clothes had been ripped and soaked in blood; Bryce's were ripped up as well, so they were thrown away. Jamie and Nicky volunteered to stay behind and watch over them, while the others returned to the parlor. Robert was waiting for them.

"The coffee will be ready in a short time. However, if you would prefer something stronger, I have an excellent Napoleonic Cognac." Robert offered.

Michael gave a grim smile, "I think I'll try the Cognac."

Robert nodded to Philip and he went over to the sideboard and poured brandy into several snifters that he put on a tray to carry over to everyone that wished for them. Michael took one, as did Patrick, Philip, Valerie, and Robert. Michael took a sip of the brandy and made an appreciative sound.

"That is good. You said Napoleonic Cognac, as in, the Emperor of France, Napoleon?" He asked.

Robert nodded, "Yes, I picked it up myself."

"I've heard that they have special auctions where you can get stuff like that. Isn't something like this a little pricey to serve to regular guests like us," Michael asked after another sip.

Robert smiled graciously, "You are most definitely not regular guests and I'm glad to share this with you. Besides, I have a few casks of this. It really wasn't too expensive since I bought them from the original distiller."

Michael nodded absently as he lifted the snifter to take another sip of the brandy, then he stopped and directed his eyes at Robert, who was looking at him with his piercing dark eyes. There was a small smile on his face as he waited for Michael's reaction.

"You bought them from the original distiller?" Michael asked.

"Yes, he was a very nice man and made me a good deal on several casks," Robert said.

"You traveled over to France and bought it?" Michael said with hesitation in his voice.

Robert nodded, "Yes, in 1810."

Michael stopped and he had to put the drink down as he stared at Robert.

"1810? That's almost 200 years ago," Michael said in awe. Michael looked up as he counted the years,

"Yes, I think that's about right, 200 years."

Michael could only stare for a few moments as he looked Robert up and down, "Who are you?"

Robert cocked an eyebrow, "I think you know."

Michael looked over at Jason before turning back to Robert, "I find it hard to believe, but I saw what Jason did. I saw the fangs. You're something like vampires."

Heather let out a gasp and looked around the room.

"Correct. That is what we are." Robert chuckled.

"What are you going to do to us?" Heather asked with fear on her face.

"You, we are not going to do anything. We are, however, going to protect you," Robert assured her.

"That's not what I would expect," Michael said warily.

Robert shook his head, "No, I'm sure it isn't. You should know that not all of us are bad. There are many that are like us. We revere the life that was taken from us and do what we can to protect it in others. This evening the boys were attacked by members of an evil vampire family, the Marks/Beloch clan."

Michael looked at him with a puzzled look, "But why them?"

Robert pointed at Jason, "Because of him."

The two of them looked at their friend.

"What did you do?" Michael looked at Jason.

Robert held up his hand. "What he did, though perhaps inadvisable at the time, was leave his mark on Chris. It is only pure chance that one of those from that clan detected it."

Michael looked at his friend, "When did you do that Jason?"

"A….a few years ago…..when he was nine," he said quietly.

"When he was n…."

Both Heather and Mike realized what he was saying at the same moment, as the drawing that Chris had done early in the school year popped into their head. They both looked at Jason and pictured him in a hooded sweatshirt protecting a young boy.

"It was you, wasn't it? You rescued Chris from those bastards," Michael asked.

Jason nodded, "Yes, it was me."

"You killed them too?" Michael continued.

Jason nodded, "Yes. Chris was not their first victim. They would have killed him, once they were finished with him. I gave their victims, which included Chris, the justice they deserved."

Heather got up and went over to Jason and put her arms around him and whispered in his ear, "Thank you, Jason. Thank you for saving our son."

He held her and remembered back to the last time he had gotten to do this. She stepped back and brought her hand up to his cheek and smiled up at him. She looked into those eyes that had captured her long ago. She then went back to the couch to rejoin Michael and took his hand in hers.

Jason noticed and you could see in his eyes that he felt the lost years. Years he could have been with her, if they hadn't been stolen from him.

"Now we have to discuss what happens next, but I think we should save that conversation for the morning, it is late. Jason can show you back to your suite. Get some rest and we will talk again in the morning," Robert said.

"What about the boys?" Heather asked.

"I think that you will find that they will be mostly recovered by morning."

Everyone stood up and Jason walked them back to the suite. When they got there, Jamie and Nicky were lounging in the sitting room and looked up when they entered. They smiled at Mike and Heather. "They're all sleeping soundly," Jamie said.

Heather nodded, "Thank you."

The twins left the suite to seek their own beds. Michael and Heather checked on the kids, before allowing Jason to show them where everything was. They went to the room set aside for them and soon the day's events caught up with them as they fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next morning Heather was awakened by the sounds of laughter, and some thumps coming from the sitting room. She also heard a sound she couldn't quite place; it sounded kind of like whines and yipping sounds. She recognized the laughter as being Tyler and Jessie's. She went to the adjoining bathroom to clean up and then put some clothes on once she returned to the bedroom. Once dressed, she went out to the sitting room and froze.

"Tyler, Jessie, step away!" she ordered.

The scene she saw was her son and daughter rolling around on the floor with what looked like two large wolves or wolf like dogs. They were giggling and laughing as they tried to cover their faces while the wolves tried to lick them. The wolves crouched over them and kept darting in to lick them as they kept squirming underneath them. They looked so small with the two wolves standing over them. When she yelled their names, all of them stopped and looked at her.

"Hi, Mom, aren't they cool dogs?" Tyler said with a huge grin.

"Tyler, Jessie. I, uh….could you come over here please," she said nervously as she looked at the two wolves.

Tyler was puzzled by the tone in his mom's voice. He exchanged glances with Jessie and shrugged as they looked up at the wolves standing over them. Heather received her next shock when she saw the wolves back up and away from the two kids and go sit by the door. The wolves looked at her and she saw intelligence in the amber eyes that met her gaze. When the two kids came over to her, she pulled them against her and put her arms around them. Tyler looked up at her with a worried look.

"What's the matter mom? We were just playing with the dogs. They're nice dogs," he said.

"Honey, those aren't dogs, those are wolves."

Tyler turned back to the wolves with a big grin and he tried to pull away from under her arm, but she tightened her hold on him and kept him from running over to them.

"Wolves, coooool."

The wolves glanced at each other and then opened their mouths in what looked like a smile when they looked back at them. There was a knock at the door to the suite before it opened.

Jason stood there and smiled at her. "Morning, Heather," he said gently.

"H…Hi, Jason."

He looked down at the two wolves and motioned for them to leave, "Guys, go get your breakfast, thanks."

The wolves looked back at Tyler and Jessie before they turned and left the room. Jason closed the door behind them and turned back to Heather and her two kids. About that time Michael came into the room. "Morning, Jace. Hi honey."

He gave her a peck on the cheek and gave the kids a hug and a kiss. Jason felt that sadness again. Michael came over to Jason and held out his hand. Jason smiled as he took it and Michael pulled him into a hug. They held onto each other tightly.

"I missed you so much buddy. When the police told us you were dead, I could barely stand it. You were the best friend I've ever had," Mike said quietly.

"Me too, Mikey….Me too."

When he stepped back, they both had tears in their eyes.

"Why don't I take you guys downstairs to get some breakfast," Jason said.

Michael gestured to the other bedroom, "What about the boys?"

"They'll be okay. After I show you guys the dining room, I'll come back up and keep an eye on them," he said.

"Okay, Jace. Lead the way."

Jason led them downstairs to the dining room. As they entered the room, a couple of people were setting several platters on the table. The two teenagers that they remembered from last night were already sitting at the table and eating breakfast. They looked up and grinned. Jason took his leave of them and headed back upstairs.

"Hey everyone, how'd you sleep?" Jamie greeted them with a smile.

Michael smiled back, "Fine thank you. I'm sorry; I can't remember your names."

Jamie pointed at himself and then his brother, "I'm Jamie and this is my little brother Nicky."

Nicky smacked him on the arm, "Little?"

Jamie smiled at him, "Well you are…by a few minutes anyway."

Nicky elbowed him and went back to eating.

"It looks like your arm is okay this morning," Michael observed.

Nicky stopped eating and looked at Michael for a few moments, and then he grinned and nodded, "Yeah, it wasn't as bad as I thought and feels much better this morning."

Everyone sat and started to fill their plates. Upstairs Jason went into the suite and made his way over to the room that the boys were sleeping in. He carefully opened the door and looked in. The boys were still asleep. Chris was on one end, Travis next to him in the middle and Bryce on the far side. Jason carefully sat down on the edge of the bed and smoothed Chris' hair away from his forehead as he looked down at the sleeping boy. He sat there for several minutes just looking at his son. Then he leaned down and kissed the side of his head before he got off the bed and sat down in a nearby chair to keep watch over them. A few minutes later Jason saw Chris start to stir. He slowly stretched his stiff body without opening his eyes. Suddenly his eyes shot open and he sat up straight and his hand shot up to his neck.

"Travis!" he yelled.

He looked around wildly, not recognizing where he was. Then he saw Travis and Bryce lying in bed next to him and nearly jumped on top of Travis. The sudden movement woke Travis up. He looked at Chris and smiled.

"Morning Chris," Travis said sleepily as he rubbed his eyes.

Chris could only grin, "Morning Trav. How do you feel?"

Travis moved his hand down under the sheet and felt his stomach, then pulled the sheet down to expose his stomach. Four perpendicular scars ran from lower left side of his stomach up to just below his ribs on the right side. Chris gently traced each scar and looked up at Travis with tears in his eyes. "I thought I lost you."

Travis reached up and touched the scar on Chris' neck, "Me too."

Travis pulled Chris down and they kissed. They were interrupted by Bryce, "Could you guys not do that, it's too early in the morning for me to see that."

They both laughed. Bryce stretched and looked around with surprise. "Wow, where are we?" he said with awe.

Chris shook his head, "I don't know. How did we get here?"

They looked around and were startled by a voice from the shadows nearby. "Good morning boys," the voice said.

"Who's that?" Bryce asked.

They looked around and were able to make out a figure sitting in a chair in the shadows near the drape covered window.

"A friend," the voice replied.

"There are robes at the end of the bed, if you wish to use the bathroom.

When Jason said that, they realized that they were naked under the covers and they pulled them around themselves to make sure nothing was showing.

"When you're done, there are clothes in the dresser over there that should fit. How are you feeling?" the voice said with a little chuckle.

"O…okay, a little sore and tired, but okay I think," Chris said.

"I'm glad to hear that, well I'll leave you to it. I'll wait outside, until you're done, and then take you downstairs for breakfast," Jason said.

The word food seemed to wake up their stomachs and they started growling. Jason chuckled a little as he got up, and staying in the shadows of the bedroom, he left, closing the door behind him. Once the door was closed, the three boys got up, and ignoring the robes, they went into the bathroom and took turns cleaning up. Chris and Travis shared a shower, while Bryce was brushing his teeth with the new toothbrushes that they found in there.

"Make sure you're just taking a shower, I don't want to hear any fooling around in there. That would just be wrong?" he said.

Laughter greeted him from the other side of the shower door, but they took pity on him and quickly cleaned up so that he could use the shower as well. They opened the dresser and found that there were indeed clothes that would fit them. They chose jeans and t shirts to wear. Once they were all dressed, they went out into the sitting room. They saw someone who was standing with his back to them in the shadows near the window, looking outside.

"Uh, hi?" Chris ventured.

The figure seemed to ignore them for a moment and Chris was about to speak again, when the figure turned and walked forward out of the shadows and into the light of the room. When they saw his face, Chris sagged against Travis as he looked on a face that he had only seen in an old high school yearbook and old photos. The young man smiled at him with compassion.

"Hi, Chris. I'm Jason. It's good to see you up and about again," he said.

"But….but, ho…how are you here? Mom sa…said you we…were…d…dead," Chris was nearly in shock.

"That's a long story and I will tell you, but you should eat something first. Your family is downstairs, and we should join them before it gets cold, or the twins will eat it all," he said.

"The twins?" Travis asked.

Jason nodded, "Jamie and Nicky. They like to eat. So unless you want to go hungry, I would suggest we go downstairs and get you some food. We'll talk afterwards, I promise."

The boys nodded numbly as Jason led them out the door of the suite and downstairs to the dining room to join the rest of the family.

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