Castle Roland

The Clone Chronicles

by Steve Williams


Chapter 5

Published: 3 Mar 16

The Clone Chronicles

Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved


Morning comes soon enough, when my alarm goes off. I get my robe on and go to wake the boys. Alex is awake, but lying quietly, so as not to disturb Ian. I bend down, gently brushing the hair from Ian's face.

"Ian, time to get up."

He opens his eyes, blinking to focus. When he sees me he smiles and reaches out to me. I pull him up into a hug, then help him out of bed and straight to the bathroom.

Following our routine, I tell Ian what to do, along with hand signals. His overnights are damp, but not real wet, which I take as a good sign of progress. He gets up on the toilet and is soon finished. Using a washcloth, we get him cleaned up. I forgot clothes, so we walk with Ian naked into the boys' room and get him dressed. Alex, to his credit and my relief, pretends not to notice, as he heads to the bathroom.

This morning, I help the boys make the bed and straighten the room. Ian is starting to understand that when I point to and say "ball", then point and say "toy-box", I mean for him to pick up the ball and put it in the toy-box. I also have Alex get their clothes into the hamper.

Rich decides to join us for breakfast this morning. Cereal, bananas, milk and juice for the boys, with Ham, egg and cheese bagels, for the adults. I do ask Rich to bring a bowl of fruit and some snacks for the boys later. When breakfast is done, I let Alex take Ian to the bathroom. Then they are to go to the classroom.

I go to my room and collect my dirty clothes. I go through the bathroom and collect towels, noting that some cleaning is needed here. Then I get the boys hamper and go into their room to double check. Finding no clothes under the bed, I head for the laundry room.

As I sort the clothes, I notice that Ian has more dirty pants than I was aware of. I will need to talk to Alex about this. I get a load started, then hit the couch to do more reading.

As I sit reading a mystery novel, I am interrupted by the arrival of Alex, looking glum.

"School out already?" I ask, looking at my watch."No. Dad needs to work with Ian alone, so he sent me off to play, but Ian and I are the only two kids here, who do I play with?"

"Sounds more like you feel unwanted, at the moment," I reply. I sit up and pat the sofa next to me. Alex comes over, sits down and leans up against me.

"I thought I was helping but now he doesn't need me."

I put my arm around him, "Who says he doesn't need you? Right now, your dad needs to work with Ian. Sometimes we have you work with him alone, but as long as we're on this island, maybe even longer, we need you.

"You just said that you and Ian are the only 2 kids here. How's Ian going to become a normal ten-year-old if you don't help him get in trouble? How will he learn that cake and ice cream are good breakfast foods?"

Alex finally laughs.

"One thing, however," I pause a moment, "when Ian has accidents, I need you to tell me. I need to know how often he's going to the bathroom so I can try to help make sure he gets to the toilet before accidents happen. If you just help him change, he won't learn very well. Okay?"

"OK. I just didn't want him getting in trouble.

"Ian will never get in trouble over an accident. I know he's learning and he's doing well, thanks to you. Now as a punishment for keeping secrets from me." I watch his eyes widen. "You, my young helper, get to assist in changing laundry loads. Are your hands clean?"

He nods and I lead him to the laundry room, his arm around my waist. Since I washed whites first, I let Alex take the boys' underclothing out and put it in the dryer. We then load sweats and swimsuits and start the washer anew.

Going back upstairs, I suggest to Alex that he get a book and read while we wait for Ian and lunch. I notice that the book he grabs is a few years more advanced than what we've been getting for Ian. I'm glad for that. He needs time for himself, even if he won't admit it.

After about forty-five minutes, I again take him to the laundry, where we fold all the underwear and socks, then change the loads again, getting the boys' pants in the washer. I point out to Alex that the swim suits and sweats should be dried on a line instead of the dryer to keep the elastic good. Alex says he will put the boys' clothes away and I take my few pieces and do the same.

As I walk back into the living room, I meet Gordon bringing Ian up.

"Hi Ian. Hi Gordon."

"Hi T-Teve," Ian stutters, coming over to me.

I grab him in a bear hug, spinning him around.

"That sounds so good."I'm so excited over this progress, that I don't even pay attention to the soup, sandwich and macaroni salad lunch Rich brings in. I mouth to Gordon that I think it's time for fishing lessons. When lunch is finished, we send the boys off to the bathroom.

"Steve, we might want the boys to change before we go fishing. Do you think Ian can hold it long enough?"

"We're only going to the cove. It's sheltered enough that if all else fails, we can teach Ian how to use a bush. Besides, I only want to spend a couple of hours fishing, then I want to take a hike and try to teach Ian about some of the plants. You are right though, they're in sweats. Jeans and sneakers would be better. We walk to the boys' room where they are coming out of the bathroom.

"Steve, Ian went almost all by himself." Alex is as excited as if he just got a present.

"Way to go, Ian!" I open my arms and he runs up for a hug.

"Let's change clothes boys. We're going fishing."

"Cool," responds Alex, while Ian looks blank.

I take Ian over to his dresser and pull out a pair of jeans. Making downward motions with my hands, I tell him to take his pants off. He moves his hands, but doesn't do anything. He looks at Alex who has his sweats off and clothes on. Ian pulls off his sweats and I help him into the jeans.

Going out to the cove, I express my fears, to Gordon.

"I'm a little nervous about this. I wonder how Ian will react to pulling another creature out of the water. He might be too sympathetic."

"That could happen, but you should still try. You want him to experience as much as possible."

"Could it cause a setback?"

"I doubt it. He's really progressing well." After a moment he adds, "From what I see, every experience is only adding to Ian's development. Even his fears of the other day are helping him to express himself. Positive and negative influences are helping him form those links to know what he does and does not like."

On the way to the boathouse, we run across Corey who pretends to grab a hose. When no one throws anything at him, he stops and smiles.

"We're going fishin'!" Alex exclaims.

"Sounds like fun. Steve," he lowers his voice, "a boat will be here about 3:00. You're getting visitors." Raising his voice he adds, "Catch some big ones. Salmon eggs work well here."

Corey walks away, talking into his collar. We move on to the boathouse and pick some gear. I decide to go with bamboo pole for the boys. Since the line is tied on the end, it may be easier for Ian. No casting. Getting some tackle, we walk out on the pier.

"Boat," I tell Ian, pointing to the boat.

"Boat," he repeats, close to normal.

"Very good," I say with a smile.I take Ian all the way to the end of the pier. Gordon and Alex stop a few feet back. I tell him the name of every item, hook, line, egg, as I work with it. We are using barb-less hooks to make it easier to release if needed.Slipping eggs onto the hook, I lower it into the water. Helping Ian wrap his hands tightly onto the pole, I reach out and tug a couple of times on the line.

With my other hand, I pull up sharply on the line with Ian's hands. He looks confused, so I pull him up on my lap, while we wait for a bite. Ian is a bit restless but after about ten minutes, I feel the line wiggling. Holding up one hand flat, I wiggle it next to the pole, then grab and pull up, to set the hook. The pole vibrates wildly and together we lift the tip, bringing up a small trout on the end.

"Fiss, fiss!" cries Ian.

Gordon and Alex are clapping and I see they haven't yet put their lines in the water. I nod to them so they can start, but only Alex dips his line.

Ian stares, wide eyed as I carefully remove the hook from the fish's mouth. Holding the fish gently in one hand, I take Ian's hand and carefully tough the fish on the sides and the fin. Then I carefully lower my hand down and release the little fish. Like Ian, he needs time to grow.

I re-bait Ian's line and we lower it into the water again. The last time I enjoyed fishing this much, I was younger than Ian, fishing with my grandpa in San Francisco.

Anyone who thinks fishing is relaxing should do it with two small boys. Gordon and I don't even wet a line. We spend our time working and sharing with our boys. I keep Ian on the bamboo for simplicity. Gordon starts Alex on a spin casting reel and four-foot pole. I find it funny that the pole is only slightly shorter than Alex. I'm sorry that Gordon isn't able to take any pictures to remember this time.

After Ian catches his third 'fiss' he is restless and keeps squirming around, kind of like the fish.

"Ian? Toilet?" I ask.

"Toy-let" he echoes.

I grab Ian and we head to the boathouse. Although there are changing rooms, there is no toilet. With no other alternative, we go out and, seeing no one around, I point to a bush.

"Toy-let" Ian voices.

"Bush," I say.

I grab him and undo the 'fly' on his jeans just in time. By helping him, we avoid the need for a clothing change. As we fasten his pants, there are tears in Ian's eyes. I think he believes he made a mistake.

"It's okay, Ian. You did just fine." From behind him I give him a hug. Then I take his hand.

"Let's get more fissies."Then we run back to the pier.

Even with only the boys fishing, we manage to keep about eight fish. Gordon agrees to clean the fish, while the boys and I clean up. Going back to the house, I ask Alex to use the second bathroom, while Ian and I use the master bath. I notice that one effect Alex is having on Ian, is that Ian would rather get in the tub and play, instead of showering. On the other hand, when he sees I'm serious about the shower, he gets in and starts to wash. He now only needs a little help to get clean.

Because visitors are coming, I put Ian in overnights, then slacks and a button front plaid shirt. He has never worn an outfit like this but seems to adjust okay.

"Ian, today, please tell Alex if you need to use the toilet. We have guests coming. I try to always talk to Ian as if he fully understands me. I believe that this will help his language and cognitive skills. I kneel down and pull him into another hug.

"I Love you Ian."

He wraps his young arms around me and nuzzles his face next to mine.

I quickly get myself dressed, also in western style clothes. Then we head over to the living room. Gordon and Alex both wait, freshly scrubbed.

"You boys clean up pretty well," I quip.

As Alex takes Ian over to a corner to play, I notice that his normally crumpled hair is even combed.

"Ya, know Gordy," I say with a western twang in my voice. "I thank them there younguns ort to dress up more offener. Maybe dress up when Ya'll have em in fer larnin'."

Gordon starts laughing and Alex looks at me like I've suddenly turned into an alien.

"I would agree, but Alex only has 2 good outfits with him," he replies, with a wink.

Now Gordon and I are both laughing, knowing full well that my idea was never serious. Since this is still a vacation, albeit a working one, casual is the normal attire.

"By the way," Gordon brings us back to now. "Rich will fillet and cook the trout for dinner. He will also bring something else in case Ian can't or won't eat fish."

"Sounds good. Thanks Gordon. Ian?" I call him over as I pick up a book.

I read to Ian for about 30 minutes, until our visitors arrive.

The intercom buzzes. "Steve, the boat is arriving. You might want to come to the dock alone, to greet everyone, Corey suggests.

"No Corey. Let them come to the house. We will all greet them."

"As you wish. You should know that there are 2 women on board."

"Thank you, Corey."Several minutes later, there is a knock at the door. Gordon goes to answer it, while I wait with the boys. I am very surprised to see Bill. Something serious must be happening. Gordon ushers them in and Bill starts.

"Hello Steve. I would like you to meet Connie and Susan. Connie is here to discuss some genetic findings and I will explain Susan as we go."

At that moment, Marty walks in.

"Sorry I'm late," he mutters.

"Actually, good timing," I begin.

"Connie, Susan, Bill, this is Marty. He is our resident pediatrician.

I point to Gordon, "This is Gordon, education and development."

"This is Alex," I pause, thinking quickly, "Play therapist and kid-stuff trainer." Alex beams with pride at my including him. "As you heard, I'm Steve."

'Unexpected parent and guide," pipes up Gordon.

"And this," pulling him out from behind me," is Ian, the reason we are all here. Ian can you say hi?"

"Hi," he responds, still very nervous.

"Would you all wait in the living room? I need a moment with Ian."

Gordon leads them off. Alex holds back until I nod, then he slowly moves off.

"Ian, it's okay. No one is going to hurt you." I hold him tight. "I won't let them." I hug him another moment, then stand, holding out my hand.

"Shall we go in now?"

Ian takes my hand and follows me, with some hesitation. Going into the room, I move to the big stuffed chair, where I read to Ian. I sit and pull him onto my lap. I don't yet know if he fears the women, or just realizes that they are different.

"Sorry about that. Ian is still nervous in new situations. As we start, I would just like to ask that we all remember Ian and Alex are both staying. They are part of this and need to be involved. Let's take that into account and not be led by fear. Alex knows most of the story."

Bill raises an eyebrow, but leaves the question out as he begins.

"As you know, Steve, we found Semtex rigged to the tank, at the cabin. We removed the explosive, but left the circuits all intact. Two days ago, the device was triggered. At the same time, we saw a car about two miles from the cabin. We followed it to a house."

"When we got a warrant, we entered, only to find a man and a woman dead inside, with no identifying marks left." He pauses while the adults ponder this. "We have absolutely no way to trace these people. However, we do have a plan. We let out to the paper that a remote cabin was destroyed by fire and possible gas explosion. Although no-one witnessed the blaze, the body of a child was found in the ruins. That brings us to Susan."

"Susan is a forensic anthropologist. Her specialty is reconstructing faces from skulls. What we want to do is make a mask of Ian's face, with a few changes. Then we will put the picture in the paper for identification. We hope that will take any pressure off you. Thus allowing you to return home, with Ian."

Those last two words make my heart leap.

"I think we can get Ian to cooperate. We will probably need his kid-stuff trainer to help."

Alex smiles at the thought of an adventure.

"Please continue Bill," I say.

"The only other thing I have to say is that we will be keeping our eyes open for other boys that look like Ian. We don't know how many there might be. Connie would you take over?"

"Thanks Bill. Let me first say that as a geneticist, this is the most interesting case I have ever seen. I cannot say for certain that Ian is a clone. I would need the original for comparison. It is however, a high probability. I say this because I also believe that in the cloning process, there has been some minor genetic manipulation."

"Wait," I interrupt. "If a clone is an exact replica of the original, wouldn't genetic manipulation make Ian something different?"

"No clone is an exact copy. Like a photocopy, there are minor changes; 'replicant fading.' In Ian's case, I believe the changes are to allow for rapid initial growth, followed by slowing to normal, which I believe has happened. I also think he has a heightened immune system and changes to give him the physical characteristics he has."

Connie sits down by Susan. There is a prolonged silence as we all digest this information.

"That makes some sense. Yesterday when I was getting Ian cleaned up, I noticed that the marks left by the IV's were gone, as was a mark from a blood test only 2 days ago. The question is, where do we want to go from here?" I ask to no one in particular.

Connie replies first. "I will want to track his genetics, possibly for a few years, if you and Ian don't mind."

"We'll be keeping you on the island for a while yet. We want to make sure you're safe before we send you home." Bill's announcement again gives me hope.

I consider my options before responding.

"I won't make any promises on Ian's cooperation. I want to let him make some decisions after he catches up. I know that his life will never be 'normal', but I don't want him known as 'clone boy' or anything else. Any watching must be done discretely. Marty or Jarod will be his doctors!" Suddenly protective, there is anger in my words, causing Ian to get upset. I hug him tightly as I curb my own fears.

"Pardon my outburst, Connie, I know Ian is a special case. That said, if it is up to me at all, I will not allow him to be a lab rat. Fate has made him my responsibility. For better or worse, I believe Ian has imprinted on me. If he needs to be tracked, it will need to be done through his regular doctors."

"Maybe I should apologize Steve," Connie says. "I agree totally with you. It was not my intention to put him under glass. His development only has meaning, if it is as normal as possible. Anything else would be basically useless. Since you found Ian, that increases the possibility of other clones. Ian will provide the baseline data by which we measure their progress."

"Steve," Gordon interrupts. "Dinner is in a couple of hours. Why don't we break and let Susan do her work. I can bring Connie up to speed and we can start in again after dinner. We can also let the others see how you've done with Ian."

"That's how WE have done, Gordon. Without you and Alex, I don't think Ian would be where he is."

Ian is getting fidgety. Although it may be our constantly using his name, but I suspect something else.

"Will you all excuse us? I think Ian needs my help. Gordon, will you please show Susan where to set up and I'll get the boys ready?"

By the time I finish speaking, Ian and I are already out the door. Alex quickly catches up as only a ten-year-old can. Leading Ian into the bathroom, I ask Alex to change and get clothes ready for Ian. I suggest some of Jeffery's old clothes for both of them.

I get Ian to the bathroom, just in time. As he finishes, doing everything by himself, I again praise him for doing well. As we get him washed up and dressed, it occurs to me that Ian is going much more than one would expect. Occasionally, he even needs to go within one hour of prior elimination. With this in mind, I keep the overnights on him along with the other clothes. I then walk both boys downstairs, where Susan is waiting.

She has quite a bit of clay mixed up and ready. Alex is excited about the play coming up.

"Remember, Alex, this is not play time. This is to help protect Ian from some not so nice people."

"You mean the people who tried to kill him?"

"I'm sorry you had to hear that, but there are only a few secrets I want kept. Since you volunteered to help your dad, you need to know what's at stake."

"Could dad and I be in danger because we helped you?" His voice quivers.

I stop, kneeling down and putting my arm around him. I feel his body shaking, as he fights back sobs."I think you and your dad will be just fine. Remember, the reason we only use first names is to help protect each other. Besides, no bad guys can get through the love you share with others. That is your best protection. Now smile and let's get your head molded."

With a smile, more pasted on than felt, Alex follows Ian and me into the lab. Noting his son's posture, Gordon raises an eyebrow to me and shaking my head, I mouth 'later' to him. Susan turns to us, unaware of the interchange.

"Are we ready to start? Alex, please take your shirt off and jump up on the table."

As Alex follows her directions, Ian watches, transfixed. Matching action to words, Susan describes each step.

"First, we're going to put these tubes in your nose, so you can breathe. I'm also going to put a swim cap on your head to keep your hair clean. Now lay back. That's it. You're doing fine; just relax. I'm going to put some oil on your face to protect it. Good. Now you have to close your mouth and eyes. Not so tight, relax. I'm going to start applying the clay now. Are you breathing okay?"

Alex nods.

"Remember to hold still. It will take the mud a few minutes to set. Then I'll pull the mask off."

Since Ian is still mesmerized by Susan's work, I pull Gordon back to the door.

"Our discussion seems to have unnerved Alex a bit. He is worried about your safety. I tried to reassure him and I think he is some better."

"I'll talk with him tonight and try to bolster him."

"That may not be the best approach. Let him think about our talk and tomorrow I will see how he feels. If he is able to overcome the fear on his own, it should make him stronger in the future. If he looks at the fear honestly, I think he can beat it."

"Okay. I think we're ready," Susan announces. "Alex when I say now, I want you to hold your breath. Then when the mask is off I want you to breathe out through your nose."

She works her fingers around the edge of the mask. "Ready....Now! Hold your breath"

Susan pulls forward and slightly down towards his feet. With a slight kissing sound the mask comes off.

"Now breathe out through your nose. This helps remove any dust. Don't open your eyes yet."

Alex does as instructed. Susan sets the mask aside, then grabs a washcloth and carefully wipes Alex's face.

"You were wonderful," she tells him. "The best living model I've ever had. Gordon, would you please help Alex?"

Catching the rag thrown at him, Gordon beckons Alex over and starts to wash the plaster off him. After moistening another bowl, Susan motions for Ian. I lead him to the table, pulling off his shirt."Okay Ian, now it's your turn. We're going to make a mask of your face."

I lift him up onto the table. Susan hands me the tubes for Ian's nose, which I gently insert. Now Ian will only breathe through his mouth, so I put my hand on it so he will use the straws. All the while I am softly reassuring him that everything is alright.

Following Susan's instructions, I lay Ian back on the table, then brush my hand over his eyes, so he closes them. As we put the cap on his head, he has a moment of panic. I keep rubbing his chest and Alex comes over to hold his hand.

Slowly and carefully, I help Susan apply the clay to Ian's face. He whimpers softly, but remains still.

"You're doing great Ian," Alex encourages him.

Finally, the clay is on. Now all we must do is keep Ian quiet for a few minutes, while it sets. For me those minutes seem to stretch for about half an hour. For Ian it must seem like an eternity. I keep my own eyes closed, going through the darkness with him. Between rubbing his stomach and talking to him, I do not hear Susan when she first says it's time.

"Steve, Ian, it's time. Steve hold him down. Gordon, please be ready with the washcloth for his face."

"I'll do it dad. I'm right here anyway." Alex is quick to help.

As quickly and carefully as possible, Susan pulls the mask off Ian's face. Alex gently wipes the sweat away. Ian is shivering from fear and cold. I ask Gordon to go fill the large tub, while I carry Ian upstairs. Undressing Ian, I see that he has had another accident. Still comforting him, I wash him off then carry him into the jetted tub.

I'm sure some would question my actions. My only concern now is to comfort this boy, my boy and get the plaster off him. Within a few moments, Alex and Gordon join us in the tub. Ian is reclining with his head just out of the water. The water has both warmed and soothed him.

"Alex, will you stay here in the tub with Ian for a while? I'm sure you can find something to do." I comment, looking at the bathtub toys. "Just don't make too big a mess. I'll be back with clothes for both of you, in a few minutes."

Gordon and I grab towels and go to my room.

"My God, Gordon. What did I just do?"

"In order, you used my son as a guinea pig; subjected your son to several minutes of terror, then climbed into a tub with him, naked, joined quickly by two accomplices. All for Ian's ultimate benefit, of course. And all this time, I thought you were making progress toward parenthood."

"You don't need to sound so glib about it," I say, pulling on some sweats.

"Steve you need to get over some hang-ups, if you're going to keep helping Ian progress. First, quit worrying about what others think, on this island at least. As long as Ian's well-being is the focus, what you do doesn't matter." We walk to Gordon's room.

"Next, put things in perspective. Ian looks ten. His mental ability right now is that of a three year old. When Alex was getting potty-trained, I often had to wipe or wash his genitals. I was bathing him every day. If Ian stays at this stage, you may be doing this always."

"Since we got here, as a team we have made remarkable progress with Ian. None of us knew what to expect, but I believe he is starting to advance. It may be slow, but I think it will happen. Rats!"

Gordon finishes his tirade just as he tries to tie the string on his sweats. It breaks and he quickly changes to another pair. He puts in a parting shot as we head to the boys' room.

"When I take Alex to a public swimming pool, we swim, shower and dress together. There is nothing wrong with that. There are countries where boys of ten still go naked. And in at least one Asian country, families shower individually, then climb naked into a family hot tub to discuss the days' happenings. What you did just now with Ian, is perhaps the best thing you could have done. It shows that, for a few minutes, you were not afraid of intimacy with your son, who needed you."

I stop Gordon while still in the hall.

"In my heart, he is my son. My head however, still fights to accept this. When I was growing up, it was unthinkable to be seen naked by others, let alone with someone else. My gym classes were always scheduled last, so I didn't have to shower. I even wore my supporter over my underpants."

Gordon chuckles, "Glad I wasn't the only one doing that."

We enter the boys room and hear them splashing in the tub. I start getting dry clothes for Ian.

"Tell you what Steve, since Alex is a model for Ian, I will be a model for you. You follow my leads as we dry the boys off. Alex will fuss for a moment, but I'm sure he'll be okay when he knows what we're doing."

Feeling subdued, I follow Gordon to the bathroom. The boys, though mostly clean, need some adult guidance. Alex agrees to his dad's plan and unselfconsciously climbs out of the tub. Standing on a bath mat, his dad helps Alex get dried off.

Then it is my turn. I get Ian out of the tub and starting at the top, work my way down, helping him hold the towel in the correct ways to get dried off. I realize that Alex is there with the towel around his shoulders, waiting for me to finish. Then one step at a time, we get the boys dressed. Now I know why so many parents dress their young children in sweats. The elastic waists are easy for the kids. This is an advantage when toilet training. The four of us together, wipe up the bathroom, before going out to join our guests again. We find that everyone is in the lab, watching Susan, as she starts to make Ian's face. We arrive just as Susan prepares to fill the mold. We see that she has smoothed the inside of the mold and sprayed an oil like substance on the inside. Next she prepares the new plaster and pours it into the mold. She does the same with Alex's mold and puts them up on a shelf.

"Now we just have to let them set. Then we can pull the molds off and see what we have." Susan washes her hands.

Looking at my watch, I see it's almost dinner time.

"Why don't we break for dinner," I suggest. We can talk and maybe even relax while we eat. The boys caught the fish today."

Leading everyone upstairs, I remember that it is also time to work with Ian, so I grab his flash cards on the run. Because of the day we've had, I keep it to about ten minutes, then let him go play with Alex.

It is not long however, until Rich brings dinner. Trout in a tomato sauce, green beans with mushroom soup and scalloped potatoes, triple chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert.

Dinner was so good, that no one actually spoke, except Alex, who was describing everything to Ian. The rest of us watched the highly animated exchange with smiles. I am grateful that Ian eats what is served. I still fix his plate, giving him small portions. When he finishes those I ask if he wants more. I don't want him to overeat.

As dinner finishes, I ask Alex to take Ian to their room and play. Susan asks to be left alone to work on the masks. Gordon goes to prepare lessons for Ian. That leaves me with Connie. There are a few moments of quiet, while I form my thoughts and questions.

"Connie, have you formed any ideas about how Ian will develop? What concerns are there?"

"My first concern is the growth tank. Early tests show that Ian may have aged ten years in 12 - 18 months. In some cases, where growth cultures have been used, growth continues even after removal from the culture. That's basically what cancer is."

"Now before you panic, Ian's blood work shows no indicators of cancer. In fact, his blood shows no problems at all. From the reports I've seen, Ian is the healthiest ten-year-old on the planet."

"Using his blood and other factors, is there a way to figure a birth date for Ian, based on his development?" I question.

"Well there are averages. From a growth chart, we could compare his height and weight to the average live. Then we would need to factor in bone density, muscle density and others to see what's up."

"Earlier you mentioned genetic manipulation. How has Ian been modified?"

"If I've read the genetic markers right, Ian's genes have been changed so that his hair, eyes and development are specific. There is not enough known to be positive. I can only make an educated guess. Here again, it would require the original to make the determinations."

"What about his immune system? Are there any problems in that area?"

"From the tests I've done, I don't see any. I believe Marty is going to vaccinate him and you may still need to fight measles, mumps and other illnesses. On the other hand his immune system may be boosted to keep him healthy. There is again no way to know these things. All we can do is track him like we do any child."

"Sometimes I feel overwhelmed," I sigh. "Every time I start to get a grip on things, something else pops up to throw me off again."

"Welcome to parenthood. There isn't a parent I know that doesn't go through the same thing."

"That's my problem!" I exclaim. "Most parents get nine months to prepare then go through these steps one at a time. I'm having to do ten years of development at the same time."

"That's why we're all here Steve. We all have some understanding of what you and Ian both need. From what I know of Marty and Gordon, they are the best men you could have on this job. I think the three of you can do it."

We lapse into an uneasy silence, as I ponder this discussion. At times I find it difficult to express my concerns to these other people. When I do, they give me explanations that on consideration, I realize I should have seen for myself. My thoughts are interrupted by Susan calling us all to the lab. Getting Ian and Alex, we go downstairs.

There are boxes set on the table. As we enter, Susan waves us all to chairs. Since there are not enough for everyone, Ian sits on my lap, while Alex sits on Gordon's. There is an air of anticipation as Susan begins.

"Remembering that I usually work from skeletons, these were much easier to build. Since Alex is a copy, it was really easy."

She pulls the box off of the replica of Alex. He laughs, looking at his face.

"Ian was a bit more difficult. I needed to do his face, then make enough changes so that the people seeing the picture believe that it's the body from the cabin, without ever being able to recognize Ian."

She pulls off the second box. I see Ian's face. A little fuller in the cheeks and jowls, a different nose and dark hair and eyes.

"Why the dark eyes and hair?" I ask.

"Well since Ian is lighter skinned, by using dark tones it should put the others off. We're hoping that they don't know how Ian turned out. His body build and features can be either light or dark. Statistically speaking he should have dark hair, eyes and skin. The lighter tones are all recessive genes. We think that by going this way we won't make those responsible nervous."

"Just so you don't feel left is one for you to keep." She pulls out another head. This one is a perfect Ian. "IAN" Ian shouts, pointing."

"Yes, that's you." I tell him with a hug.

Now we all get up and check out the heads. I have to work to keep Ian's hands off the model. I see Alex yawning and realize that it is getting late for the boys. I also realize that I am getting tired.

"C'mon Ian, time for bed." I take Ian by the hand and lead him back upstairs. Stopping in the boys' room for night clothes I send him to the bathroom. Before I can offer any help, Ian pulls his pants off and heads to the toilet. While he is occupied, I into the dresser for regular underpants.

As Ian returns, I hold up the overnights and the regular shorts, giving him the choice. As he tentatively reaches for the overnights, I nod and give them to him. I agree with his choice since nights are still a bit shaky, but at least I have given him the choice. Again he starts to put them on backwards and I make circular motions with my hand so he turns them around. I hand him his pajamas, but he hands them back to me. With a smile I hold them up while Ian climbs into them. Although I am working to make him independent, perhaps he sees that I need to be able to help him so that we grow together.

While I take care of Ian, Alex is already changed. He runs into the bathroom as I put Ian into bed. When he comes back in, Alex comes over to Ian to say goodnight to his friend. I put an arm around Alex.

"Alex, I can't say thank you enough times for all you are doing to help Ian. He's making remarkable progress and I'm sure it's because of your wonderful example.

Alex gives me a hug as his reply then goes around to his side of the bed. I stroke Ian's hair for a moment then lean down to kiss his forehead.

"Goodnight Ian." I whisper to my already sleeping boy.

Going to my room, I review the day and quickly write my journal notes. I believe that I feel the same pride that any father would feel at his child's accomplishments. Each day Ian feels more mine than before, yet there is still this lingering fear that something might happen to take it all away. With these thoughts, I fall into a deep sleep, dreaming about a future that I hope comes to pass.

Authors Note: This is my first story, ever. If you are enjoying my story, I would like to hear your feedback on it:

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