Castle Roland

The Clone Chronicles

by Steve Williams


Chapter 10

Published: 7 Apr 16

The Clone Chronicles

Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved

DAY 10

The morning sun peeks through the window shades. Beyond the closed window I hear the early morning song of some unknown bird. I wake slowly, peacefully. Ian is still asleep beside me, now turned on his side. We both seem to have slept better on this night. I reach out and stroke Ian's face.

"Ian, wake up sleepyhead."

Ian opens his eyes, then rubs them, trying to focus. When he sees me he smiles.

"Good morning, Ian," I state simply.

"Good morning," he responds sleepily.

"Can you say 'Good morning, dad?'" I question, remembering last night's discussion.

"Good morning, dad," he replies. His pronunciation is getting much better.

"Very good, Ian. Will you go get dressed and ready for breakfast?" I give him his morning kiss before sending him off.

As I dress, my thoughts are drawn to my displays of affection toward Ian. I have met a man who still hugs and kisses his son, at age 19. I also know many who show little affection to their boys beyond age six. Weighing the pros and cons, I decide to let Ian have some control. As long as he seems comfortable, I will show him all the love he wants to accept. My decision made, I finish dressing and go out to breakfast.

Today's breakfast is fairly simple. Juice, toast, cracked wheat cereal and fresh fruit. I choose a banana for now and an apple for a later snack. As the meal ends, I ask the boys to once again get their dirty clothes ready for the laundry.

As Gordon prepares to take the boys to class, I pull Ian aside.

"I love you, Ian," I tell him.

"Love you, dad," he replies.

"Have a good day in class," I say, giving him a hug. He turns and heads off with Alex and Gordon. Gordon looks back.

"Remember the pressure builds today," he tells me.

Gathering my dirty clothes, I move to the laundry room and get the wash started.

"Steve. Where are you?" the intercom buzzes.

I press the button and respond. "I'm doing laundry. Wanna help?"

"Some papers and packages arrived for you. Where would you like them?"

I pause a moment, not recognizing the voice. Although I haven't held long conversations with most of the security people, I believe I have spoken to each of them over the last 8 days, if only brief introductions. Not wanting my weakness shown, I defer to a different choice.

"Would you please leave them with Rich? I'll be seeing him soon to discuss menu plans."

"Very well, sir." The intercom clicks off and I quickly buzz Rich.

"Rich, some packages have arrived and I've asked for them to be delivered to you because I don't recognize the voice of the deliverer."

"That's a good move. I know everyone working here, so I'll check things and bring them in. Where do you want them?"

"I'll meet you in the den in about 15 minutes."

"I'll be there." Rich clicks off.

I finish getting the laundry started, then contact Marty, asking him to join me in the den. He meets a few minutes later.

"What's up, Steve," Marty asks.

"Some things arrived, but I didn't know the messengers voice, so Rich is checking it and bringing it over."

"Sounds good. How soon do you expect him?"

"Any-" I begin as the door opens and Rich comes in with a cart full of boxes and two envelopes.

"There seem to have been no problems," I say, regaining my composure.

"The messenger was one of the regular guys, he just has a bit of a cough that has changed his voice. I think everything is for you, Steve. There's something outside as well."

There are several boxes, so I decide to start opening them. The first, a smaller box, is filled with different styles and types of underwear and socks. Whites, plaids and cartoon prints. There are even a couple of swimming suits, all sized for Ian. The exception is two sets of satiny pajamas, one in each of our sizes.

Other boxes are filled with toys and games. Glancing through them, I see that the age ratings start as young as 5 and go up to age 12. Someone has thought through what Ian might want as he learns. Other boxes are filled with various shirts and pants for Ian, including more sweats, pajamas and a couple of robes.

There is a large, flat box that I open last. I am truly surprised when I see the interior. Inside, carefully laid out are four nice suits. Two are my size and they match the two in Ian's size. They are light blue and black, each with two pair of slacks and five shirts, and a variety of neckties.

"Where did these come from?" I ask Rich.

"All I was told is that they are gifts. Some were used as donations, just to get you started."

I have to choke down my emotions to reply. "I wish I knew who to thank. I really appreciate this, even more because it is so unexpected. I figured I'd need to buy all this."

Marty stops me.

"Steve, this was set up by people in the loop. You might have noticed that some of the clothes look pretty worn. They are actually all new, just washed to get that worn look. It's part of the camouflage, to maintain the adoption theme."

With nothing more to be said on this matter, I wipe my eyes and look at the envelopes.

The first envelope is to update me on Ian's medical tests. Most of it is fairly simple. Ian's blood tests show antibodies for measles and chicken pox. He has somehow been through these while he was in the tank. I pass these notes off to Marty for his review. I also ask him to make up a CD Rom on Ian's medical records, to take to Jarod.

The last envelope contains all the papers to show Ian as my son. There is even a birth certificate that shows me as his father, but lists no mother, which is common in adoptions. The file includes a bank statement for a special account to help with Ian's expenses. Twenty-five thousand goes quite a way, even today. I stuff everything back in the envelope, quickly becoming overwhelmed by everything.

"There are actually two more things, Steve," Rich advises.

"I don't know if I can handle two more," I respond.

"How about one now and the other later?" he asks.

At my nod, he reaches out the door and brings in a large, wrapped, flat, rectangular package. Although I suspect what's in the package, I'm in no way prepared for the beautiful portrait that Rich unwraps.

Since I know Ian and I never posed for pictures, I wonder how they got photos to work from. The picture shows Ian, with a big, bright smile, sitting on my lap. My arms are wrapped around him, holding his arms crossed in front of him. Much like a parent holding a small child during prayer. Somehow the artist has captured the love and joy that I know we both feel for each other. We look just like I always hoped I would look if posing for a picture with my son. My emotions and tears flow freely.

"We'll save the other package till Ian's here, after lunch," Marty suggests.

Without waiting for my reply, Marty and Rich leave. I spend several minutes just letting the tears flow. I finally pull myself together and go change laundry loads. In doing so, I realize that I've done more laundry in the last 9 days than in several months before my vacation.

I manage to get two more loads finished before it is time for lunch. I decide to meet Ian at the classroom, if only to keep him out of the den until after lunch. When the time comes, I crouch down by the door. As the boys exit the room, I reach out and grab Ian with a short growl. Both boys squeal and Ian seems scared until his friend starts laughing and he realizes that it's me who grabbed him. As his shock subsides, he grabs me in a hug and kisses my face.

"Did you do well in school today?" I ask him.

"Yes," he responds.

"Why don't you two go get ready for lunch and meet in the kitchen?" I suggest. I rumple Alex's hair as they head down the hall.

As I make my way to the kitchen, I try again to measure my joy. Several people, unknown to me, have spent their hard earned money to help insure that my new son gets off to a good start.

Lunch is comically messy. Chile cheese dogs, tater tots and fruit. Here again, I realize that my eating habits have improved since Ian came into my life. I also decide that if I'm going to keep up with a ten-year-old, I need some exercise.

"Hey, Gordon," I say between bites. "New plan for mornings. I think we need to get some exercise." I grab Ian's non-existent love handles. "We need to get the baby fat off these boys."

Ian loses a mouthful of food, as I tickle him and Gordon almost chokes on his sip of soda. He has to start breathing before he can respond.

"That really sounds like the pot calling the kettle black," he quips. "Sounds more like you're worried about keeping up with a ten-year-old."

"No reading my mind," I reply. "Just for that, you get to exercise with us. You could use a little shaping up."

"I resemble that," he responds.

We go back to our lunches and then send the boys off to clean up and meet us by the den. We stand outside the door and I kneel down and talk to Ian.

"Ian, we have some surprises for you. You have to close your eyes, while we go in."

I take Ian's hands and hold them over his eyes, using slight nudges to get him to a chair, sitting down. Alex looks very surprised at the stuff for Ian, but says nothing.

"Open your eyes," I say, taking Ian's hands from his eyes.

Ian's expressions range from puzzled to a bit awed and as he realizes this is all for him, excitement. Like many young children, he wants to try everything on, even the underwear, but stops when asked to wait.

A very proud moment for me happens when Ian picks up one of the underwear sets and offers it to Alex. Alex looks at his father and me with the question on his face. I nod and he takes the present from Ian with a hug and thanks.

"Gordon, have you done lessons on sharing?" I ask.

"I haven't done any lessons on that. I've been concentrating on his speech."

I take a moment to show Ian his new suits, then pull out the portrait. Only now does it click that the portrait shows us in these suits.

Ian jumps on to my lap, giving me a great big hug, bringing me back to the moment.

"Thank you, dad!" he states clearly.

Gordon and I glance at each other. There is no stammer in Ian's voice.

"Do you like all these things?" I ask.

"I like everything," he responds.

Now even Alex is quiet. He too sees the change in Ian. We are all stunned at yet another shift in Ian's verbal skills. It is what we have been working for, but is again changing more rapidly than expected.

"You are talking very well tonight, Ian," Gordon says.

"Thank you, Gordon," he says plainly.

Through my shock, I remember the other package.

"There is another package outside," I tell everyone. "Shall we go get it?"

Ian quickly starts pulling me to the door, Alex and Gordon following.

As we step onto the deck, we see what has to be the present. Leaning on the rail is a sapphire blue metallic, boy's mountain bike, with a big red bow attached. I think Alex becomes more excited than Ian, who has only seen bikes in pictures. There is an envelope stuck to the handlebars, which I have Alex hand me. There is a note inside.

"Dear Sir

I don't believe we know each other. I don't even know your name. All I have heard is that you are helping a young boy who has no one and needs help. When I was asked if I could discount a bike for the boy, I offered instead to donate two bikes to your cause. I am told that for now you will only receive the smaller bike, but that yours will follow soon. As a special feature, I have locked the gears of this bike because I was told that the boy has never learned to ride. The instructions for unlocking them are included with the manuals. I hope that you and the boy you are helping both do well in the future.

The note is signed by "A Friend." I hand the note to Gordon as I fight to keep the tears from my eyes again. Looking at the boys, I see Alex trying to point out features to Ian, who is now straddling his new bike.

"Ian, would you like to learn how to ride?" I ask.

"Yes, Yes" he responds with only a touch of fear in his voice.

"Alex, would you like to help?" I ask, already knowing the answer.

Without waiting for or hearing his answer, I lift Ian off the bike and lead boys and bike out to the lawn. Getting Ian to watch, I explain each step as Alex climbs aboard and starts pedaling. Ian watches intently as his friend slowly pedals around the yard. After a few minutes, I help Ian onto the bike and hold the seat while he pedals around. I help him feel the balance then let him go. After a couple of falls, he is up and pedaling like an old pro. I make a note to get him a helmet and pads as soon as possible.

For about two hours, Ian pedals around the yard. He starts to understand the principles of leaning into his turns and more important, using the brakes. As I watch him, I start to realize that getting me to exercise will be the hard part.

Reluctantly, I tell Ian it's time to come in. We put the bike on the porch and I take Ian to the den to get his packages. Then it's off to his room to put things away. Some of the older things we might just toss, but most will be given to charity. I have Ian take the older things from the dresser and set them on the bed. Together we fold the new clothes and he carefully puts them away. Only the swimming suit remains.

"Shall we go swimming??" I ask.

In response, Ian quickly strips and gets into his suit. I have to remind him to grab dry clothes and a towel, before he starts running to the pool. I buzz Gordon only to find out that they are already at the pool. It's hard to get Ian to take some laps before just playing.

We get about ninety minutes before we need to shower and get ready for dinner. Without any prompting, Alex goes with Gordon and Ian goes off to his room. I get myself showered and dressed, then go to get Ian.

As I enter his room, I have to suppress a chuckle. Ian is there, in his underwear, sorting through his new clothes, trying to decide what to wear. I watch for a few moments, before interrupting him.

"Ian," he jumps at his name. "Do you need some help deciding?"

He stands there looking at me, holding a shirt in his hand.

"That's a nice shirt, in your hand. Go ahead and put it on," I tell him. "Then just slip on a pair of sweat pants and your slippers."

It only takes a moment for Ian to dress and we move to the dining room. The others are waiting.

"Alex, would you and Ian please set the table," Gordon asks.

As the boys work on the table, Gordon, Marty and I help Rich set up the food. T-Bone steaks with sautéed Portobello mushrooms, Fresh peas with new potatoes in a cream sauce, spinach, green salad, milk and sugar free chocolate pudding. As we sit down at the table, Gordon reminds me of the work Ian should be doing.

"Ian," I begin, "tonight you need to ask for the things you want. If you ask, I will help you. What would you like to start with?"

Ian points to the salad bowl.

"You need to ask for it by name," I say.

"S-salad." A pause, then "Please."

I pass Ian the salad bowl and he gets a proper helping. When he asks, I then pass him the rest of the food, again letting him decide how much to take. Once more I am impressed that he takes some of everything and eats it all.

When dinner is done, we all move to the den, where Gordon hands me several sheets of paper.

"What's this?" I query.

"Welcome to homework," Gordon answers. "You have several pages of reading and a couple of pages of simple math. Easy stuff."

I spend the next hour with Ian working on sentences, easy addition and subtraction and reading three and four digit numbers. Then comes "us time."

Once again, I take Ian out to the deck. I sit on one side of a porch swing and Ian curls up on the other, laying back against me. Now, there is no pressure. I hope I can keep this time every day, in the future. Just a time, when it is about bonding, and relaxing. When Ian is ready and if he feels a need to talk, I hope this "us time" will help him know that he can talk about anything.

As the stars begin to appear, I point out the ones I know, to Ian. When he starts to yawn, we move inside and get him into his pajamas. Tonight I decide to put Ian in his own bed. He balks at first, but I get a book and read to him, until he settles down and quickly falls asleep.

Leaving Ian, I move back to the den, where Gordon and Marty are talking. Marty hands me a cold soda, as I walk in.

"So, how was your evening?" Gordon asks.

I think Christmas will be very special this year. The hard part will be making Ian understand the true meaning of that season." I stop to take a drink.

"How long do you plan on having your sitting time with Ian?" Marty asks.

"I hope to keep it up until Ian moves away or doesn't need me anymore. Perhaps turn it into a time for discussing our days and anything else that seems important. A simple, no pressure time for both of us to just enjoy each others company."

"A good plan. I hope it works well," Marty states. "There is research showing it to be a good idea."

"I don't need research to tell me that spending time with my son is a good idea."

"I didn't mean it that way, Steve. I'm saying I agree with you. I wish more parents would do this."

"I'm sorry Marty," I sigh. "I didn't mean to snap. It's just been another emotional day. I'm a bit overwhelmed at all the stuff for Ian. The portrait is wonderful. There must be well over $1,000.00 worth of clothes and toys."

Getting up, Gordon pats my shoulder. "I believe that if you follow your feelings, you'll do just fine. And right now my feelings are telling me to hit the sack." With that he leaves, followed quickly by Marty.

I finish my drink then head to my room, taking a quick peek at Ian on the way. In some ways my room feels empty, yet I know Ian doesn't need to sleep in my room. I read for about 20 minutes, before falling asleep.

Authors Note: Thanks to those who have made comments and/or suggestions on my story. Since you are still reading, I hope you are enjoying this.

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