Monday 13th May 2002
Julia waited until she had carefully shut the door behind her before
sinking down onto her bed and letting her eyes fill with tears. There
was a constant pressure on her chest, which had begun on the day that
her son was taken from her, and which had only increased as time went
on and she heard nothing about him. It was now a continual weight, making
it difficult to draw breath and left her feeling listless. Every morning,
when she awoke and felt it there, it was hard to convince herself to get
out of bed. Even the threat of what she knew the Herr Direktor would do
to her was barely sufficient to make her move.
And yet her son was happy. He had made friends with his stepbrothers
and cousins, as well as the other children, and he delighted in the new
games they taught him. He also had his mother's gift for languages and
was confidently using the few English words he had been taught. But she
knew there were times when he missed her, and it was hard for her not
to break down in tears herself, every time she glimpsed him crying himself
to sleep under the quilt she had made, the only thing that linked him
to his life in Germany, and to her. The people at Sanctuary had wanted
to take it away, to be washed and, on one occasion, mended, but he had
refused, clearly terrified that they wouldn't give it back, and so it
remained on his bed.
It was she who truly had nothing. Another person slept in Peter's room,
and Joseph's had been converted into a storeroom. Clare and Michael were
now given so many simulations that they had no time to talk to her anymore.
Her own workload had also been increased, with the head of Security also
demanding her assistance on the few occasions when Herr Delius was out
of the building. The nights were the only times that she had to herself.
A knock on her door made her wipe the tears off her cheeks and stand
up hurriedly as she called for the person to enter. Herr Winston stepped
into the room and carefully closed the door behind himself.
"I'm sorry to disturb you," he stated quietly, in his native
language. "But this arrived today and it's been the first opportunity
I've had to give it to you."
He held out an envelope and she accepted it with trembling hands, easing
it open and pulling out the sheet inside. Unfolding it, she saw that it
was a picture of her son, painted with the firm, sure brushstrokes of
a skilled artist. The words 'I miss you Mommy' and 'Love Peter' were written
in a large, untidy hand along the top and bottom of the sheet, and the
picture was signed by someone called Keely. Julia sank back onto her bed,
unable to help the tears that flowed from her eyes and down her face.
A soft click made her look up sharply to see the door had closed after
the man. As she returned her eyes to the painting, she noticed a dot of
color on the floor and realized that she had dropped the envelope. The
color that had attracted her attention was a large, lopsided heart drawn
on the inside flap, and she touched the bright red object with a shaking
finger, biting her bottom lip to stop it from trembling. The longing for
her son increased, until she pushed away the page and lay on the bed,
sobbing frantically into her pillow.
* * * * * * * * *
Monday 13th May 2002
Mr. Sun dropped a pile of papers onto the table in front of the Australian
and sat down in the chair behind him. Sebastian couldn't help chuckling
at the satisfaction on his face.
"If the wind changes, you'll be stuck like that."
"I'd just love the chance to tell Parker that every time he sends
me here to try and persuade you to give him back the kids, he's giving
me the chance to pass on such useful information." The man grinned,
the dimples in his cheeks almost making his green eyes close. "It's
almost too easy, really."
"Don't get complacent," Trevor warned as he read through one
of the sheets. "We're too close for it all to go wrong now."
"It won't," Sun vowed, before laughing again. "You should
have heard Sydney in the Chairman's office. He sounded like getting the
kids back was the main aim of his life."
"I'm still not sure I trust him. He's the only person we don't really
know about," Sebastian stated thoughtfully. "He doesn't have
a motive for being on our side
"Except for his relationship with Jarod," the Centre employee
interrupted. "Have you seen them together? It's just like father
and son, only closer."
"The same 'father' who held him in the Centre for 33 years,"
Trevor remarked icily. "I don't know how much we could trust him
if he was alone."
"I don't think he ever will be," Sun responded. "Somehow,
I can't see Miss Parker ever letting him come without her."
"Good." Sebastian nodded in satisfaction and then pulled the
pile of papers over the table toward himself, spreading them out so that
he could see the progress of numerous projects that were underway. Trevor
brought up a screen on which they had already been keeping note of many
of these, and they began to compare the results.
* * * * * * * * *
Monday 13th May 2002
Jordan carried Jacob out of the elevator, followed, a short distance
behind, by Jarod and Sydney. The noise increased as soon as they opened
the door to the playroom, and Jarod laughed as a ball hit the wall next
to the psychiatrist's head. The Pretender caught it in a neat swipe worthy
of a major league shortstop.
"You have to watch yourself in here," he warned the older man,
his mood lighter than it had been an hour earlier, as he tossed the ball
back to his niece. Tempest accepted it with a dimpled grin and continued
with the game.
Sydney eyed the numerous children in the room. "These aren't just
"Not unless they multiplied when we weren't looking," Jarod
agreed with a grin, steering the man over to the sofa in the corner. "Some
of the children were already here, a few are children of the people Sebastian's
gathered around himself and others were brought here because of their
own skills." He pointed to a dark-haired little boy, playing in a
corner with Raphael. "That's Peter. He's from Germany."
The psychiatrist turned, his eyes curious. "Sam told us about him,
I think. His father's a healer?"
"Joseph, yes." Jarod smiled. "He and Peter managed to
escape a week ago. They're both still trying to adjust." The Pretender
felt a small hand tugging at his jacket and looked down into a pair of
blue eyes, placing Angelique on his lap with a smile and brushing a strand
of blond hair off her face. "Hi, sweetie."
She hugged him gently, but her eyes quickly swiveled around to the man
beside him, and Jarod wondered for a second exactly what emotions she
had picked up from the psychiatrist. However, even as he was about to
perform an introduction, the older man spoke.
"This would be Angelique," Sydney stated softly, leaning forward
slightly, his face expressionless. "I've heard a lot about you from
your Daddy, Angelique."
Her blue eyes widened. "You knows my Angel?"
Sydney shot a sly look at the man beside him before nodding in agreement.
"Yes, I know him very well. In fact, I probably know him almost as
well as you do."
Jarod couldn't help raising a skeptical eyebrow at this, although he
couldn't deny that the girl on his lap was no longer tense with anxiety.
In fact, her body was wriggling with anticipation as her eyes lit up in
"Angel telled me 'bout you," she suddenly said, her voice full
of suppressed excitement, bouncing on Jarod's knee. "You's Gran'pa!"
The Pretender's jaw dropped and he stared at the psychiatrist in utter
disbelief. Ignoring this, the older man picked up the little girl, placing
her on his own lap and gently returning the enthusiastic hug she gave
him. Before Jarod could demand the explanation he was preparing, another
child's voice shrieked and then a small body hurled itself at Sydney's
"Gam'pa!" Gabriel yelped in delight, squeezing tightly, as
Jarod rose to his feet in bewilderment, looking around to meet Morgan's
amused eyes. He opened his mouth to ask a question, saw the smug look
in her eyes and shook his head.
"I don't think I want to know."
"Well, that's got to be a first for you," she retorted, passing
him to sit down on the sofa beside her father. Jarod watched as she picked
up their son, introducing Gabriel to the psychiatrist, before moving towards
the middle of the room, hearing Morgan call the other six children to
her, one at a time, to be introduced to Sydney.
Turning his attention to other parts of the room, he saw Jacob sidle
over to the table where Peter was trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle.
Jacob's body was slowly falling apart, but his mind was still sharp, and
Jordan had begun teaching him German so that he could converse with this
new friend. Their discussions were still of the simplest variety, but
Jacob was teaching Peter English, and the foreign child was now enthusiastically
repeating words as Jarod listened.
"What do you think, Dad?"
Jarod turned to find Jordan beside him and passed an arm around the young
man's shoulders, a task made slightly difficult by the fact that his son
was now almost exactly the same height.
"You're doing a wonderful job with him, Jordan," the man stated
encouragingly. "He's much more confident than he was, and he's happy.
They're the most important things."
"He's not any better," Jordan confessed, his eyes filling,
and Jarod gently guided him over to the other side of the room, sitting
beside him on the floor and feeling his son's head come to rest on his
shoulder. "Everything I try, it just doesn't seem to do any good."
"I know it's hard," Jarod murmured, stroking the young man's
hair. "But you're doing the best you can, son. We always knew this
would be difficult -- an almost impossible fight. We just don't have the
time to get it right."
"But he doesn't seem to mind, that's the worst part," Jordan
choked out, between sobs. "He goes through so much pain every day,
and yet he's never grumpy or complaining. He just sits there and tells
me 'it's not so bad today,' even when he can hardly breathe." His
arms passed around Jarod's stomach and he squeezed tightly, his voice
a faint wail. "It's not fair, Daddy!"
"I know, Jordan," the man soothed, feeling his son's agony
flash through him like a searing of his soul. "It's hard for me,
too, being up there and knowing what you're going through down here and
that I can't be here to help you. And I can only imagine how difficult
it must be, trying to be so cheerful around him all the time." He
gently squeezed the boy's shoulder. "I'm very proud of you, son.
There wouldn't be many people who could go through something like this
as well as you have. It's comforting to me, to know that I can leave him
in your capable hands." The man gently brushed the tears off Jordan's
face. "I just hate the thought of how it affects you inside."
"W-when he looks at me, and w-when he smiles," the young man
stammered, the fight for control obvious in his eyes, "then I can
almost forget what's coming."
"Do that, son," Jarod whispered lovingly. "Don't think
about it -- not yet. Enjoy the moment. Show him how much you love him,
and know that I feel exactly the same way about you."
Jordan gave up his struggle and turned his face to Jarod's shoulder,
weeping silently. The man's eyes glistened also as he held his son close,
watching the delight and satisfaction on the small boy's face as he fitted
a piece into the jigsaw.
* * * * * * * * *
Tuesday 14th May 2002
Broots felt Debbie's hand slip into his and turned his head to smile
at her. She'd been doing that a lot lately, and it was nice to think that
she wasn't embarrassed about being seen with her father. After Miss Parker
had received notification to travel to Texas, knowing that she would be
gone for most of that day and possibly the next, she had allowed him time
off, trusting his guarantee that his team could handle any emergencies.
After a quick call to make sure Debbie was free, he had come up to see
It also meant that he could keep his promise to take her to buy her first
pair of shoes with proper heels, to match the dress that was being made
for her school dance in six weeks' time. It was at times like these that
he wished she still had a mother who actually cared about her. Miss Parker
was always commenting negatively on his taste and had insisted that he
use the free time she was giving him to also buy a few more decent shirts.
The new ones he had purchased were an improvement, she had said cuttingly,
but he had worn them so often that she was beginning to see their patterns
in her sleep. She wanted more.
"Lazslo!" exclaimed a familiar voice from behind them. "Fancy
meeting you here."
He turned to find Kim standing behind them and stared at her in a second
in astonishment before he remembered to speak.
"Kim! What are you doing here?"
"This is the first place I lived, after moving to America from Africa,
five years ago," she told him, looking around with a satisfied smile.
"I still have a few friends here, and Sydney gave me the day off
while he went to Texas, so I thought I'd come up and spend it here. How
He explained his purpose, feeling his daughter's eyes on him, an expectant
expression in them. He couldn't help gulping slightly. He wanted his daughter
to like this woman. He could even feel his brow beginning to bead with
sweat as he introduced them.
"This is my daughter, Debbie. Debbie, this is Kim. She works with
The woman offered her hand to the girl with a smile. "It's a pleasure
to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from your Dad." She eyed
the girl critically. "You know, I think I recognize that style of
jacket. Doesn't Miss Parker have one just like it?"
Debbie beamed. "Yeah, she does," the girl admitted shyly. "She
helped me pick this one."
"She did a great job," Kim enthused. "It's looks wonderful,
but then she always has great taste in clothes, doesn't she?"
Nodding, Debbie's eyes ran up and down Kim's red dress, which clung to
her figure and yet was also light and flowing enough not to be mistaken
for a gown. Broots had already noticed and had felt a bead of sweat begin
to trickle down the back of his neck at the low cut of it.
"That's the same color as my dance dress," Debbie told Kim
eagerly, pulling the photo out of her pocket to show the woman. "That's
what it's going to look like when it's done."
"Wow, it's great," the woman responded enthusiastically. "And
are you buying all the etceteras for it today?"
"Shoes," Debbie told her, before leaning forward to whisper,
"and maybe, if I can persuade Dad, a nice necklace or something too."
Kim grinned at Broots, who had heard, but was pretending he hadn't, before
whispering back, "I bet we can convince him together. Or maybe I
can lend you some of mine."
"Hey, that'd be cool!" the girl beamed. Her eye was caught
by a shoe shop and she raced over to the window as Kim and Broots followed.
"Mind if I tag along?" the woman asked. "I wasn't really
doing anything special and it'd be nice to have company. My friend's working
"That'd be good," the man responded, relieved. "I think
this could do with a woman's touch."
Kim grinned and then stepped forward to admire a pair of shoes at which
Debbie was staring with a look of longing on her face. As she bent down
to get a closer look, the low-cut back of her dress meant that Broots
could easily see the line of color along the small of her back and he
stared at it for a second, before hoping frantically that Debbie wouldn't
notice. She had been bugging him for ages to be allowed to get a tattoo,
and so far he had stood firm in his refusal, although they had eventually
compromised on pierced ears. It was, however, still a bone of contention
and he hoped that his daughter wouldn't see this, even as he moved over
to join them at the window.
"How about those?"
Broots' eyes widened as he saw the price tag beside the pair Debbie had
pointed out, but Kim was eyeing them and it was suddenly obvious to the
man that her opinion would mean more to Debbie than his.
"Hmm, I'm not sure," the woman stated thoughtfully. "It's
really hard to buy red shoes that will be a perfect match for your dress,
unless you've got the material with you. It might be better this time
to buy black ones, just to be safe. Then," she laughed, "when
you're rich and famous, you can get a shoemaker and a dressmaker to come
to your house and make exactly what you ask for."
Debbie giggled at this, turning away from the red shoes without a murmur.
The woman pointed out a pair of black ones, about half the price, and
walked with the girl into the shop to try them on. Broots followed, watching
as Kim dealt crisply with the shop assistant and seeing as she and his
daughter giggled while trying on the shoes, relieved that they seemed
to be getting along.
At the second shop, his daughter fell in love with a different pair of
black shoes, and he could feel another trickle of sweat down his back
at the price, but Kim calmly had them put aside and then drew the girl
out of the store.
"Let me show you a little trick I know," she told the girl,
who was beginning to look disappointed, and led her around the corner,
down a small, quiet alley. At the end, she halted at a window and pointed.
There, in the corner, was an almost identical pair, at a much cheaper
price, and the man was able to relax as Debbie's mood immediately improved.
The shoes were tried on, found to be a perfect fit and purchased, Kim
making sure, though, that Broots' opinion was consulted first.
The girl was almost dancing along the street, with Broots and Kim following,
when she stopped in front of another store and turned to her father with
a pleading look on her face. He could guess which it was even before they
reached it and suddenly wished that they didn't have anyone else with
them. He could probably have withstood his daughter's pleading on his
own, but not when she had an ally.
"Please, Daddy!" Debbie was begging as soon as they drew level
with the store.
"Oh, was this one of the etceteras?" Kim asked, laughing, and
Debbie turned to her.
"I've wanted one for ages!" she exclaimed. "Ever since
we went to Paris! And Daddy keeps on saying no."
"So what makes you think I'll change my mind now?" the man
began, in an attempt at sternness, one that he knew instinctively was
doomed to fail this time.
"What's wrong with a tattoo?" Kim asked in surprise, and Broots
groaned inwardly. Debbie's eyes were wide at the prospect of assistance.
"Do you have one?" she asked in awe-struck tones.
"I sure do," the woman told her, turning and pulling down the
back of her dress. In the mirror of the shop window, as she looked over
her shoulder, she could see the multi-colored animal that crawled along
her lower back.
"What is it?" Debbie asked in hushed tones.
"A chameleon," Kim responded. "It's a personal symbol
"That's so cool!" the girl exclaimed. "It looks so real."
"Only the real ones look good," Kim told her, pointing to a
rack in the tattooist's window, showing a range of delicate butterfly
pictures. Then she pointed at a variety of cartoon characters, which looked
gaudy by comparison. "See what I mean?"
"Uh huh." Debbie's eyes were wide as she turned to her father.
"Please, Daddy! Can't I have one for the dance?"
"I'd like to see you getting it back off after the dance,"
the man grumbled, knowing that he was losing ground fast, and Kim laughed.
"Come on, Lazslo, it's not that bad. And she'll take good care of
it, so it won't get infected. This is one of the better places, too."
The woman pointed to a sign in the window, signifying that it was officially
recognized. "Tell you what, I'll make sure she doesn't choose anything
too outrageous and you can go do a little shopping on your own."
Her eyes traveled pointedly over his shirt. "Just like you were told
Debbie giggled again, her hand already on the doorknob, and Broots rolled
his eyes, even as he turned away, knowing this was battle he could never
win. And he also had to consider, although he would never admit this to
his daughter, that seeing Kim with a tattoo had played a significant role
in lessening his dislike of them.
* * * * * * * * *
Monday 13th May 2002
Elizabeth walked down the hallway, unsurprised at the number of rooms
that were still lit, and in which the occupants were still awake. The
children had been particularly difficult to settle tonight, and she had
had to induce sleep in a number herself. Now, only Gabriel remained awake,
and she stopped outside the door of the room that had been given to Miss
Parker, listening to the low hum of voices in there, broken only occasionally
by the drowsy interruptions from the small boy, as Faith and her adopted
sister were able to spend some meaningful time together.
At another door, she entered the room, finding the living area empty
but the bedroom door ajar. As she appeared, a tall figure was framed in
the bathroom doorway, his toothbrush in his hand, but he recognized her,
despite the dim light, and sent a shy smile in her direction. The woman
knelt down beside the small bed, listening to Jordan gargle, and stroked
the hair of the sleeping boy, keeping the demons in his young mind at
bay, if only for that one night. But there were fewer than there had been
since she had last seen them, and always, at the end, came a tall figure
with dark hair and flashing brown eyes to rescue the terrified child from
whatever torments beset him; a figure the boy addressed adoringly as "Daddy."
"Doing your nightly rounds?" Jordan asked in a teasing voice,
and she smiled.
"Doing your Dad a favor," she responded, turning back the covers
and watching as he climbed in between the sheets. "You need a night
of solid sleep, too, or you'll never be able to keep yourself going."
"You sound like a mom," he remarked, unable to suppress a yawn.
"Maybe one day I will be," she suggested softly. "I'm
not as old as I look."
"Then you must only be about 15," the young man stated drowsily.
"'Cos you don't look that much older than 20."
"Thank you, Jordan," Elizabeth smiled, smoothing his hair and
tucking the blankets more closely around him. "Sweet dreams."
"Uh huh." He gave another massive yawn and snuggled down beneath
the covers, rolling onto his side and nestling into the pillow. "You
The last words were almost inaudible and he was asleep before she even
turned away from the bed. Closing the door behind her, she paused at the
open door that separated Jarod's apartment from Jordan's and nodded to
let him know that his son was asleep, seeing the man's answering smile
as he continued his conversation with Sydney, learning about the man's
relationship with Catherine Parker. Elizabeth returned to the hallway
in time to see Faith coming out of her sister's room and walked with the
empath down the hall to her room.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Tuesday 14th May 2002
Mr. Parker watched as Sydney entered the office, taking a seat opposite
and extracting a sheaf of paper from a folder he carried.
"I made a report on each child," he told the Chairman. "I
gave each one an examination and spent time watching them play. I will
say," he admitted, "that MacKenzie is continuing with quite
a lot of the classes they did here, or at least projects with similar
The man's blue eyes sparkled angrily. "And the caregivers?"
"Several are still working with the children -- those of Angelique
and Tempest, for instance - and the others are doing work around the building.
They're all surviving their Aurora addiction, though. Whenever we get
the children back, we'll probably have some or all of them too."
"And you still believe the children will be useful to us once they're
"They're learning to work as a team, relying on each other as much
as their caregivers for comfort if something happens," Sydney responded
thoughtfully. "They might have lost a few of the more detailed skills,
but I'm not really sure because I never worked with them personally."
"No, that was a mistake," Parker mused. "If we'd known
what was going to happen
"Then, with all due respect, you probably would never have created
Aurora in the first place," the psychiatrist interrupted softly.
"That played the largest role in all this. Without it, MacKenzie
would never have had the chance to arrange for the abduction."
"Possibly," the Chairman mused for a moment, before picking
up the pile of pages from the desk and dropping them into his tray. "Thank
you, Sydney. I may need you to go down to Texas again on a few occasions
in the future. It's going to take time before we have everything in place
to get the children back."
The man rose, nodding in agreement. "I understand, Mr. Parker. But,
as you know, sir, it's not so easy for me to get around these days."
He cast a demonstrative glance at his cane. "It might be useful if
I could have someone with me."
"Yes, yes," his boss responded impatiently. "Of course.
I'll let you know a little in advance each time, so you can organize something."
"Thank you, sir." The psychiatrist nodded and went to the door.
As he opened it, the Chairman could see his heads of the Corporate and
Security sector waiting outside and, noting the scowl on the woman's face,
sighed deeply before waving them in.
* * * * * * * * *
Trader Vic's Campground and Emporium
Rural Blue Cove
Tuesday 14th May 2002
Jarod returned to his trailer, feeling somehow empty, the way he always
did after one of his visits to Sanctuary. As he sat in front of his computer,
he made an inner vow to go down there at least once a week. His son needed
support, and the plan could go ahead without him for one night. He also
wanted to be there when Jacob began to fail, and he'd told Joseph to call
him, no matter what day or time it was. Briefly, he eyed the blond beard
and wig lying on his bed, but they were distinctly heating things to wear,
so he decided to remain without them for a little longer.
The machine started up its usual program and he checked whether he had
any new messages. One sat in his box, but the sender was unknown and he
gazed at it thoughtfully. Being so small, he dismissed any risk of viruses
almost automatically and opened it. The message was short.
Meet me in Jackson's Barn, Carney's Point, New Jersey, on Tuesday,
14th May at midnight. Bring a photo of the oldest of the Seraphim.
Jarod sat back in his chair, staring thoughtfully at the screen. He felt
instinctively that this was not from any of the people employed by the
Centre. It was too obvious for that. And the request for the photo seemed
to discount any suggestion of it being a threat. That made it more likely
to be from one of children's parents, and, as Jarod pocketed his cell
phone and wallet, preparatory for his trip to New Jersey, he wondered
exactly what they wanted.
* * * * * * * * *
Tuesday 14th May 2002
Jordan let himself softly into the room, knowing that Jacob would be
awake from his nap now. He usually used the spare time for something he
enjoyed, like being down in his greenhouse. Jacob couldn't be taken down
there. The air was too difficult for him to breathe, so Jordan neglected
his beloved plants to spend time with the boy.
"Hi, Daddy," a soft voice greeted him from the corner, and
he stepped over to the bed, sitting on the edge of the air-filled mattress,
seeing Jacob giggle as the bed bulged underneath him.
"How'd you sleep, Jake?" Jordan knew better than to ask how
the boy was, as this question was invariably answered in the same non-committal
way. The child was, so far, more honest about his sleep.
"In bits," the child responded thoughtfully. "I had lots
of dreams." His small brow furrowed. "It's funny; I didn't have
any last night."
The young man decided not to bother with explanations. They tired the
child, who had numerous questions he wanted answered, questions Jordan
sometimes found very difficult to find a solution to.
"What do you want to do now, squirt?"
Jacob's arms tightened around his teddy-bear as he considered this question,
before his eyes suddenly brightened. "Can we go to the playroom?
Peter and I were doing a big puzzle and Helen promised to leave it for
us to finish."
"Sure we can." Jordan pulled back the covers, helping the child
sit up on the edge of the bed, and got the clothes that were draped over
the back of a chair that stood nearby.
As he helped the boy to don them, he took note of the new bruises that
had appeared, knowing it was time to take the child back to Joseph for
another session of treatment. All of Jacob's clothes were loose-fitting
and none put any pressure on his body when they were being pulled on,
with buttons and studs around the waist and neck-holes. Jordan had designed
the clothes and helped Rebecca to make them.
The stroller stood by the door, but before Jordan could put Jacob in
it, the child looked up at him out of hopeful eyes. "Will you carry
"Piggyback?" Jordan suggested, knowing that Jacob loved this
mode of transport, and the child giggled as he nodded. The young man bent
down beside the bed so that his son could climb on, and then ran carefully
down the hallway to the elevator, making sure not to bump the fragile
Peter looked up in delight as Jacob was put down on the seat beside him.
"Help?" he asked in his limited English, beaming as Jacob nodded,
reaching for a piece. Jordan smiled as they discussed the proper location
for the bit, occasionally turning to him when they got stuck over a word.
"Can I help, Jo-din?"
Jordan looked down to find Gabriel standing beside him, and pulled the
boy up onto his lap. "Not this time, Gabe, okay? They want to finish
it themselves. But maybe the next time they start one, they'll let you
The child nodded wisely, looking at the brightly colored farmyard picture
on the box, and Jordan saw with relief that he didn't try to interfere
as the other boys tried to fit a piece into a place that was obviously
wrong. Gabriel was a lot sturdier than either Jacob or Peter and Jordan
didn't want the weaker boys hurt if the younger child tried to push them
aside in his enthusiasm.
"Dey speaks funny," the little boy pronounced flatly, after
a brief period of listening to the gabbled conversation opposite, his
big brown eyes, full of curiosity, swinging up to meet those of his older
brother. "What's dey saying?"
"They're talking in another language, kiddo," Jordan explained.
"It's called German." He pulled an atlas off the nearby shelf
and opened it to show a map of Europe, pointing out the German-speaking
areas. "That's the main language in all those places and here,"
he pointed at Berlin, "is where Peter and his dad came from."
Gabriel studied the map intently, and Jordan knew that he would recognize
any of the major cities on it, if asked about them again. He pointed at
various countries, and Jordan told him something about each and the language
they spoke, providing a sentence or two in as many languages and dialects
as he knew. The child repeated them after him, struggling to get his tongue
around some of the more complicated pronunciations.
There was a lot of laughter over some of Gabriel's struggles, and it
attracted the attention of the other Seraphim. The group gathered around,
and Jordan suddenly found that he was conducting an inadvertent language
class. Dominique was the standout student, managing to get her little
tongue around some of the more convoluted sentences, and the child beamed
at the praise she received from Jordan and the caregivers.