Castle Roland

From Hurt To Comfort

by MultiMapper


Chapter 33

Posted: 21 Dec 15

From Hurt to Comfort

Copyright © 2003-2007 by MultiMapper
All Rights Reserved

Cartoon Revelation

Scott led Dr. Hoffman into the containment room and said, "Matt, I'd like for you to meet Dr. Julia Hoffman. If you don't mind, she is going to examine you."

Logan looked at Dr. Hoffman, then said, "I ain't crazy bout doctors, but if it'll help get me outta here sooner, you can go ahead."

"It won't get you out sooner, but it might get Hank off your back about visitors." Scott said encouragingly.

"Good enough." Logan said simply.

"Ronny, why don't you come over here with me so we can let Dr. Hoffman do her exam." Scott suggested quietly.

Ronny nodded and followed Scott.

"Mr. Logan, Dr. McCoy didn't fill me in on your history. Do you think you might tell me what has been wrong with you?" Julia asked as she measured his blood pressure with the finger-cuff.

"Yeah, some 'friends of humanity' cooked up a virus to kill mutants. I got it." Logan said gruffly.

Julia was stunned.

Scott noticed her expression and explained, "Logan's healing factor kept him alive this long. No one else who was infected survived."

"I never imagined... I knew there were anti-mutant forces gathering, but to engineer a virus would take incredible resources." Julia said as she shined a light into Logan's eyes.

"Like the resources of the United States, Chinese and South African governments?" Scott asked, reliving the nightmare.

Julia froze and thought about that statement.

"The sudden disappearance of the scientists... it wasn't a terrorist group?" Julia asked as she looked at Scott.

"It depends on your definition of terrorism. We like to think of it as defending humanity from the actions of a few short-sighted fools." Scott said.

"Who didn't even make the thing right. It killed non-mutants too." Logan added.

"What a nightmare." Julia said and moved to a supply drawer for a hypodermic.

"I'm afraid I'll need a small sample of your blood to look for the virus." Julia said in a tone of apology.

"That's fine Doc, you do what you need to do. Just don't let big blue lock me in here alone." Matt said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

"I promise that I'll only recommend complete isolation if I am absolutely sure that it's in your best interest." Julia said softly.

"Thanks Doc. You're a good one, I can tell." Matt said with a smile.

After putting the blood sample away, Dr. Hoffman picked up a swab on a long stick and said, "You may not think so after this. I need a throat swab."

"Throat? As long as that's where you're planning on putting it, that's fine. You had me worried." Matt said with a smile before opening wide for Dr. Hoffman.

"I will need a stool sample, but it won't be necessary for some time. When nature calls, you'll need to save a little something for me." Dr. Hoffman said and handed Matt a cup with a lid.

"Okay, you're the Doc. But I usually give flower's on the first date." Matt said as he accepted the cup.

"Mr. Logan, I'm old enough to be your mother." Julia said in a playfully offended voice.

"Actually, I'm probably old enough to be your grandfather. The thing that kept the virus from killin me, don't let me age. Some doctors... evil scientist types... did something to me about fifteen years ago that wiped out my memory, so I don't know how old I really am. Professor Frost found a picture of me in eighteen sixty four, so I'm at least a hundred and forty." Matt said as Julia examined his ears.

"Remarkable." Julia said as she stood back in thought. Then she shook her head and picked up a device and started attaching sticky pads with wires to Logan's chest.

"You're starting to worry me Doc. These ain't gonna shock me are they?" Matt asked carefully.

"No, no. These are small microphones so that I can hear your heart-rate and breathing. I can't use a stethoscope in this suit." Dr. Hoffman said with assurance as she connected the wires to a small hand-held device.

After a moment of listening to what seemed like incomprehensible sounds to everyone else in the room, Julia said, "Very good."

"So how do I check out Doc?" Matt asked hopefully.

"How are you feeling?" Julia asked bluntly.

"Better than I have in four months. Except for being hungry, I'm feeling great." Logan said honestly.

"When did you last eat?" Julia asked with concern.

"Yesterday morning, but I threw up for about twenty straight hours after that, so I'm thinkin I'm ready for dinner." Logan said as he looked into Julia's eyes.

Julia looked out the window where Hank was looking in with a gruff expression.

She pressed her microphone switch and said, "Dr. McCoy, your patient is hungry."

"I'll get to it as soon as everyone has finished agitating my patient." Hank said in a put-off tone.

Ronny looked angrily at Hank and pressed his own microphone.

"Don't bother. I'll get something for him myself." Ronny said gruffly and moved toward the containment room door.

"Kid, you don't have to do stuff for me." Matt said with strength.

"I'll make you a deal Logan. When you get out and can do stuff like this for yourself, I won't lift a finger to help you. Till then, I'll do the stuff for you that you can't." Ronny said, then went into the foyer to begin decontamination.

Matt sat speechless.

"That boy has some fire. Is he yours?" Julia asked casually.

"Naw. The kid belongs to nobody but himself. We just look out for each other." Matt said as he watched Ronny removing his suit.

"Well I've done everything I can in here. I need to take these samples to the lab and see if I can find any traces of the virus in your system... Are you really feeling up to having visitors?" Julia asked with a soul searching gaze.

"Yeah Doc. I really am. If I wasn't feeling like having visitors, I'd tell you." Matt said, allowing his honesty to show.

"Right. I'll be back to let you know what I've found." Julia said and went to the decontamination room.

"Do you want me to stay with you Matt?" Scott asked carefully.

"Naw. You go and take the kids camping... And watch out for the kid... He ain't as tough as he acts." Matt said with concern.

"Don't worry. We're just going to have a good time. You take care of yourself." Scott said, not wanting to leave Matt alone.

"Go on one-eye. The kid's been through a lot. Help him to make some good memories. He needs 'em." Matt said seriously.

Scott nodded and walked into the containment foyer where Julia was waiting for him.

"Icheb! There is a Bruhnalli animation with your name on it." William said with excitement.

"Let's us take a break and see what the whelp's found for you." Spike said to Icheb, who was still writing.

"Will you help me again later Uncle Spike?" Icheb asked hopefully.

"Just let me know when you're ready for me. I don't plan on leaving anytime soon." Spike said happily.

Icheb finished what he was writing and took the padd as he left the table.

Jimmy returned to the library and said, "Aunt Tara will conduct Dr. Hoffman back to the library when she is finished."

"That's fine Jimmy. What do you think of what you've seen so far?" Warren asked as he gathered some papers into his briefcase.

"It has been very interesting. The process of negotiation was fascinating." Jimmy said with excitement.

"I've always thought so... What did you think about the deal?" Warren asked curiously.

"I believe the proposed agreement will be beneficial for all involved." Jimmy said seriously.

"It has that potential. There are quite a few things that could go wrong too." Warren said in thought.

"I believe the nature of business is to take risks. If there were no risk, everyone would do it." Jimmy said knowingly.

"That's right Jimmy. If you ever decide to go into business, let me know. You've got the right mindset for it." Warren said proudly.

Alan and Andrew were looking at bags upon bags of baby things piled before them.

"There must be forty bags here. Did you buy out the store?" Andrew asked with a furrowed brow.

All the girls laughed as Dawn said, "This is just the stuff we carried home. They'll be delivering the rest tomorrow."

"The rest?" Alan asked with wide eyes.

"Of course the rest. We had to get six cribs, three car seats, two changing tables... you'll just have to wait till it all comes. But there was no way we could have carried half the stuff home to take care of three babies in two different places." Dawn said as she looked through bags, trying to decide what to show off first.

"Father, if you will take Jimmy back to the boathouse when he is done, I will leave now." Trey said quietly.

"Okay. It looks like we'll be here for a while. Go ahead." Andrew said in a whisper as Dawn pulled out a large T shirt.

"That's kinda big for a baby." Alan said hesitantly.

"Maybe, but it's not for them. We got you a few maternity shirts so you won't have to wear that red and black thing all the time." Dawn said happily.

Alan smiled and held out his hand for the shirt before saying, "Thanks Dawn, I really appreciate that."

"I thought you'd like it." Dawn said proudly.

"William, before you start the cartoon, why don't you wake up your grandfather?" Alex said as he took his seat on the couch.

"Right away." William said and hurried to the bedroom.

Icheb walked into the room and Alex said, "William says that this cartoon is from your people."

Icheb took his seat and said, "I am curious to see this video."

William came back into the room followed by a sleepy Lee.

"Are we ready to begin?" William asked with excitement.

"Yes. Go ahead." Alex said as Spike sat next to him.

The video began to play and Icheb said, "This is a kroosch-tali, an educational film."

Alex nodded as he watched the scene of a primitive village on the screen.

"The Lowelltie clan were a peaceful people who settled a colony on the Southern tip of the Arugai continent. After a non-productive growing season and outbreaks of Gurutan and Quatamarin, the Lowelltie were feeling discouraged and many were considering returning to Drashu." The commentator said as the scene reflected people harvesting puny vegetables and some falling down sick.

"Do you need me to pause the video so Icheb can translate?" William asked helpfully.

"No, I think I'm getting the gist of it." Alex said as he continued to watch.

"Then the Marisch-ka settled a colony less than a days walk from the Lowelltie. This caused much concern among the peaceful Lowelltie, since the Marisch-ka were known to practice varischi-chu." The commentator continued.

"Hold it, I need to know what that one is." Alex said.

William hurried to the iso-decoder and pressed a button to freeze the action on the screen.

"Varischi-chu is the practice of harvesting without replenishing the soil and gathering resources such as wood without replanting." Icheb said carefully.

"Oh, I thought it was something a little more horrible from the sound of it." Alex said in thought.

"To an agrarian society, it is quite serious." Icheb said firmly.

"Okay, go ahead William." Alex said and watched the cartoon continue.

"Scouts for the Lowelltie reported that the Marisch-ka had superior numbers of people and had brought offensive weapons." The commentator said with a voice of disapproval.

"The elders of the Lowelltie looked at the resources available to them and could not find a way to defend against an attack if it should come." The commentator said as the video showed the animated forms of many worried old men talking.

"Finally, the eldest called the group to order and said that they were not seeing all the resources at their disposal. The eldest said that the only way they could prevent the Marisch-ka from taking over their colony was to use everything that nature had provided them to its fullest advantage." The commentator said as the video showed an old Bruhnalli man talking.

"Nature has given us resources to use against the Marisch-ka. We must gather the infecting agents from all those in the isolation wards of the hospital and create a weapon." The eldest said in a shaky voice.

The animation showed the other elders agreeing and leaving the council chambers.

"So the elders went to the healer and told him that they needed the most infectious substances that he could gather, so they could use this force of nature against their enemy." The commentator said as the animation showed the doctor listening and agreeing.

"The vomitus, blood and feces of the most severely ill of the patients in the medical ward were gathered into a tightly woven cloth bag, and the icheb was created." The commentator said as the video showed things being scooped, spooned and poured into a bag.

"Two of the bravest of the town's men carried the icheb to the Marisch-ka and put it in a secluded area of the spring that supplied the town's water." The commentator said with a voice of excitement as the video showed the men hiding the cloth bag in a heavily reeded area of the small pond.

"For three long days the Lowelltie scouts watched before the first signs of disease could be seen." The voice said as the picture showed a man walking through the town square, then falling to his knees and vomiting.

"Within two weeks, no movement could be seen in the town at all. A brave scout named Kenaschu walked into the Marisch-ka town. He returned to the Lowelltie village and told the elders that all their enemies had been defeated. The entire colony was dead." The commentator said happily.

"And thus the icheb saved the Lowelltie clan who eventually came to inhabit the entire Arugai continent." The commentator said in a grand voice before the video stopped.

Ronny returned to the BioLab with a plate of meatloaf and potatoes and a bowl of fruit salad.

"That food is too spicy for him. He must have bland food until he is more recovered." Hank said irritably.

"Why don't you let him decide what he feels like eating? You had your chance to fix him food but it was too much trouble for you." Ronny said as he continued to the BioLab's foyer.

"You can't talk to me like that! I'm the doctor here and if I say my patient can't have that food then he can't have it." Hank said with increasing volume as he moved toward Ronny.

A bubble of fear arose within Ronny as he saw the large blue beast coming toward him. Deep inside he felt his power awaken. He remembered the feeling and tried to focus it, not so much to suppress it as to guide it to do what he wanted.

Hank stopped in surprise as he felt himself becoming heavy.

Ronny concentrated his power and watched as Hank fell to his knees.

"Logan didn't do nothing to you. I don't know why you're trying to hurt him, but I'm not going to let you do it." Ronny said fiercely as Hank fought to remain upright.

"I could squash you like a bug. I would have before I met Logan. Think about that, if it wasn't for Logan, I'd kill you. You owe him your life." Ronny said and held his power constant, not wanting to really hurt Hank.

All Hank could manage was a disgusted growl.

"Tell me you're going to lay off Logan and I'll let you up." Ronny demanded.

"I'm... not...." Hank began with difficulty.

"Wrong answer." Ronny said and increased the pressure slightly.

Hank groaned at the increased weight and forced himself to say, "Give."

Ronny reduced the force on Hank and said, "I'm going to take Logan his food now. As far as I'm concerned, this is done. But if you want to go again, I'll be ready."

After a moment to see that Hank wasn't injured, Ronny walked to the containment foyer where Julia and Scott were standing and watching him.

"I'm sorry. He was trying to take away Logan's food." Ronny said shyly.

"Quite alright. If I had the ability to do so, I would do the same thing in your circumstance." Julia said softly.

Ronny smiled at her as Scott said, "We can talk about using your ability responsibly later. But just so you know, I'm proud of your self control. I would rather not let a disagreement degenerate into a confrontation like this, but I'm glad to see that you were able to make your point without doing any damage."

"Thank you Mr. Summers." Ronny said in an embarrassed voice.

"Now why don't you get that food in to Matt before it gets cold." Scott said with a gentle smile.

Ronny nodded and rushed into the containment room.

"Hank. We need to talk." Scott said in his most commanding voice.

Icheb had a look of horror and humiliation on his face as he raced out of the room and upstairs.

Everyone looked at each other as they heard the door slam.

"His parents named him shitbag?" Spike asked in stunned disbelief.

"That's really messed up." Alex said in shock.

Alex got up and started toward the stairs when Lee said, "Wait a minute Alex."

"He needs someone to calm him down." Alex said as he walked up the first steps.

"Yes, but this is too big. No offense to you, but this cuts to the core of his being, his personal identity. He needs his father." Lee said seriously.

Alex stopped and thought for a second before he moved to the phone.

"Thanks Lee, you're right." Alex said and dialed the phone.

"Can I speak to Andrew please?" Alex asked carefully.

"Yeah, I'll wait." Alex said and got an impatient expression.

"Andrew? I need you to come home. Icheb needs you." Alex said firmly.

"I'll tell you when you get here. Port over, he needs you now." Alex said with a tone of menace.

Before Alex could hang up the phone, Andrew was standing in front of him with a look of panic.

"William, replay the video, your father needs to see it." Alex said in a commanding tone.

"Jimmy, Dr. Hoffman is taking longer than expected. Would you bring a carafe of coffee and some cream? Then you can go." Warren said seriously.

"I do not mind staying." Jimmy said quickly.

"I know, but I'm leaving too. Kurt and Julia will work the rest out between them. I don't see the need for a third party for that type of meeting." Warren said honestly.

"Very well. But if you have need of me, I would be pleased to work for you again." Jimmy said with excitement.

"About that, I'm going to have a check sent to you for the time that you worked. And there will be a little bonus for your suggestion about the debate. That was above and beyond your duties." Warren said with a smile.

"You do not need to pay me. I am happy to help you." Jimmy said simply.

"This is business. You work, you get paid." Warren said firmly.

"Yes Mr. Worthington." Jimmy said, straightening.

"It's okay Jimmy, you're almost off duty, you can call me Uncle Warren again." Warren said gently.

"I will get the coffee now. If I do not see you before I leave, have a good evening Uncle Warren." Jimmy said as he turned to leave.

"You too Jimmy." Warren said with a smile as he closed his briefcase.

Silence filled the room but for the sound of the video.

Everyone watched the expression on Andrew's face move from concern to worry and finally to anger.

"Thanks for calling me Alex. I knew we were right to trust you with this job." Andrew said as he walked toward the stairs.

"Is there anything we can do?" Alex asked helplessly.

"Yes, make some very weak chamomile tea and bring it up when it's ready." Andrew said and began to walk up the stairs.

Scott followed Hank to the office and firmly closed the door behind him.

"He was out of line." Hank said quietly but steadily.

"He was defending himself against a perceived threat." Scott said, matching his tone.

"I would never hurt a child." Hank said, obviously hurt that Scott could think otherwise.

"Hank, I didn't think you were capable of hurting anyone before today." Scott said, feeling pain at saying the words.

"I haven't..." Hank began.

"I'm tired of trying to explain to you Hank. Where Logan's concerned, you have a blind spot and no matter what I say you'll think you're acting reasonably." Scott said with resignation.

"I'm simply treating my patient..." Hank began until Scott interrupted.

"BULLSHIT! You've been bullying Matt and doing your best to isolate him." Scott spat.

"You don't understand." Hank said quickly.

"You're right. I don't understand. Matt's lost everything and everyone he ever knew. He's spent four months thinking that he was going to be alone for the rest of his life. Did you know he's over one hundred forty years old? If he survived the virus, he had an eternity of being alone to look forward to. And after all that, do you know what he's done since he's been here? He's offered to take in two boys who need someone to look after them. He's offered me his support and advice. He's making plans for the future. And the only thing that's standing in his way is his doctor who is doing his damnedest to make him feel alone and unwanted." Scott said as he paced the room.

"He's trying to take Orroro from me." Hank said quietly.

"What?" Scott asked incredulously.

"I was just beginning to get to know Orroro and he asked her on a date. He's forceful, charming, masculine... he looks human... I can't compete." Hank said in a lost voice.

"So all this is because he wants to date Storm? Hank, you need to get your priorities straight. He's your patient. You have a duty to do what's best for him despite your personal feelings. And what do you think Storm would think about the way you've been acting? I have to tell you, unless she's into petty, vindictive, mean, selfish men, she'd be put off by your recent behavior." Scott said and forced himself to sit.

Hank sat silently and thought about the words.

Scott sat and waited for Hank to speak.

"I can behave professionally. I didn't see what I was doing." Hank said quietly.

"That might have been good enough before, but now Ronny's involved. He hasn't had much in the way of role models from what I can tell, so you need to set an example for him of how a man is supposed to behave when he's messed up as badly as this." Scott said firmly.

Hank nodded.

"Okay. I'll leave this in your hands. You decide what you need to do to make things right and I'll stay out of it." Scott said seriously.

Hank nodded again.

"And a piece of advice. You won't make Orroro like you by attacking Matt. Try being the man that she would want you to be. If anything will get her to notice you, that's it." Scott said as he got up to leave.

"I'm sorry." Hank said with shame.

"Then make it right." Scott said on his way out the office door.

"Icheb, can I come in?" Andrew asked as he gently knocked on the door.

Silence greeted Andrew as he expected.

"I'm coming in. I have something to tell you." Andrew said and waited a moment before phasing the door and walking through.

Andrew walked into the room and found Icheb curled into the corner with his knees pulled up to his chest.

"You saw it?" Icheb asked as tears ran down his face.

"I saw it." Andrew said quietly.

"Why would they do it? Why would they name me after such a horrible thing?" Icheb asked in a lost voice.

"I don't know if it's going to help you to know this, but I think it will help you to understand why." Andrew said nervously.

Icheb looked at his father with wide hopeful eyes.

"The doctor told Alan and I before we adopted you... You were genetically engineered. He said that there is no way your genetic code could have occurred naturally." Andrew said and took a seat in the floor in front of Icheb.

Icheb's only response was to allow a look of curiosity to come over his face.

"It appears that you were created for the specific purpose of infecting the Borg with a virus which would have the effect of disconnecting all the drones from the collective." Andrew said carefully.

"So I was the cause of the malfunction on the cube?" Icheb asked in a trembling voice.

"Yes. The modified water molecule has no effect on Borg physiology. Otherwise all of you would have been behaving as if you were drunk." Andrew said as he looked into a place of distant memory.

"So I was named Icheb because I was created to infect our enemy. I am a weapon." Icheb said as he tried to compose himself.

"You were created to be a weapon, but you fulfilled your purpose. Now you are yourself, no different from anyone else." Andrew said with assurance.

"But... I am a thing... I was never intended to be a person." Icheb said as his breathing became more shallow.

"Icheb LeeAndrew Malachi Summers, you are a good person who I am proud to call my son. No matter how or why you were created, this is who you are now and we all love you." Andrew said firmly.

"But how can you? I am a container filled with disease, used to attack those who might threaten us." Icheb said as he became pale.

Andrew moved quickly and pulled Icheb close.

"You are my son. No matter what else you are, you are that. Do you have any doubt of that fact?" Andrew asked as he rocked Icheb, trying to bring comfort.

After a long silence, Icheb finally said, "No, no doubt. You are my father, I am your son."

Andrew let a smile of relief come over his face as he said, "Then that makes you the same as all the other children. I have never worried about which species any of you are, so this doesn't make the slightest difference in how I see you."

Icheb hesitantly nodded.

"The family are downstairs and all of them are worried about you. When you're ready, you need to come down and prove to them that you're okay." Andrew said calmly.

"But how can I? They know what I am, I will be so ashamed." Icheb said as his tears began to fall again.

Andrew thought for a minute then quietly asked, "If this were happening to Trey, how would you react?"

"I don't know." Icheb said helplessly.

"Would you make fun of him?" Andrew asked in his fatherly voice.

"No. I would never do that." Icheb said immediately.

"Why not?" Andrew asked in a leading tone.

"Because it would be mean and cruel." Icheb said definitely.

"Do you think Trey is mean and cruel?" Andrew asked carefully.

"No, he is a good person. He would never do such a thing." Icheb said with a note of offense at the suggestion.

"So what about the others? Is there anyone downstairs who is mean and cruel enough to tease you about this?" Andrew asked as he pulled back to look into Icheb's eyes.

After a long moment of thought, Icheb said, "No. They are all my family. No one downstairs would do that."

"Then you can come down when you're ready and let them know that you're okay. You don't want them to be worried do you?" Andrew asked as he held Icheb's gaze.

"No Father, I do not want them to worry." Icheb said slowly.

"Do you want to come downstairs with me now?" Andrew asked gently.

"I should. It is difficult." Icheb said as he wiped his eyes.

"I know son. Sometimes the things you need to do are difficult, but they still need to be done." Andrew said with a note of apology.

Icheb nodded and pulled himself to stand.

Andrew put out a hand and Icheb pulled him to his feet.

"Thank you Father." Icheb said and pulled Andrew into a hug.

"I'm here for you whenever you need me son." Andrew said as he held Icheb tightly.

After long silent minutes of hugging, Icheb said, "I believe I am ready."

Andrew nodded and pulled out of the hug to lead the way.

Ronny walked into the containment room, carefully carrying the food.

Matt got off the bed, took the food from Ronny and carried it to the table.

"Thanks kid, this looks great." Matt said enthusiastically.

Ronny smiled with pride.

"So anything goin on out in the world?" Matt asked as he began to eat.

"There's a bunch of girls giggling and stuff with that Andrew guy's fat husband." Ronny said as he took a seat.

"He ain't exactly fat. He's having babies... two of 'em." Matt said between bites.

Ronny thought about that and finally asked, "That ain't how it's supposed to be is it?"

Matt laughed and finally said, "Just for him kid. He had a machine put in his stomach so he could have kids."

"Oh. I don't know about all that sex stuff, but I thought that sounded wrong." Ronny said seriously.

"Well, I ain't gonna sit you down and give you the talk till I have to. But whenever you have questions, just ask 'em and I'll answer 'em." Matt said as he enjoyed his first taste of the fruit salad.

"I just need to know about when guys... you know... do it. You can't get like pregnant or nothin from it can you?" Ronny asked timidly.

"Naw, Alan's the only one I know who's been able to manage that. But you can get some pretty nasty diseases if you ain't careful." Logan said seriously.

Ronny nodded with evident worry.

"Go ahead kid. What is it?" Matt asked with concern.

"I'm just... I want to be sure... I mean my... dad... I know he did that to me... and Bobby... and mom... I don't know if there was anyone else. I mean, he could have given me something, couldn't he?" Ronny asked in a whisper.

Matt looked quietly at his plate as he tried to contain his rage. Finally he said in a controlled voice that mostly suppressed his growl, "Yeah, he could."

"How can I know... I need to know." Ronny said with worry.

"When the Doc comes back and tells me how I'm doin, you can ask her if she'll do the tests. She's good people, I think she'll treat you right." Matt said with assurance.

"I don't know how to ask. I mean, I'd have to tell her, and I can't do that." Ronny said in a pained voice.

"Okay kid. Don't expect me to do stuff like this for you every time. You gotta speak for yourself. But I'll talk to her for you this time." Matt finished quietly.

"Thanks Logan." Ronny said with relief.

"Yeah. And thanks for the food. That was just what I needed." Matt said, feeling the rage curled within him, waiting to strike.

Andrew walked down the stairs as Alex walked into the living room carrying a cup of tea.

"Thanks Alex. Icheb decided to come down." Andrew said with a proud smile.

Everyone was silent, not knowing what to say.

Andrew looked at Icheb's frightened expression and knew that he'd better get the ball rolling.

"What do you want to be called?" Andrew asked Icheb bluntly.

Icheb thought carefully about his answer before saying, "I will continue to use my given name. I will use it to remind me of where I came from."

Andrew smiled and nodded before asking, "Do you want me to tell them the rest of the story?"

Icheb had a look of gratitude as he nodded.

Trey walked in the door as Andrew was about to begin.

"Come in Trey. I have a story to tell you." Andrew said with a smile and began to tell the tale of Icheb's origin.

To Be Continued...

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