The Touch – Volume 1: The Void

“Easy now,” I heard Natalie say as I felt myself beginning to slip back into consciousness. “You can put him on the sofa…”

“I’ll hold him. I don’t mind,” a baritone voice interrupted. Then, he took on a softer tone as he apologized. “Sorry, Natalie. It’s just… It’s been ten years…”

“I know, David.” I heard Natalie say softly.

“Is he going to be okay, dad?” I heard a voice ask that sounded just like my own.

“He will soon, Kyan.” The man replied. “I don’t blame him, I almost fainted too.”

I heard Natalie laugh softly.

“Someone needs to call Lauren,” the man said as he shifted me slightly to dig in his pocket. “Her number is in my contacts…”

“I already called her,” I heard Greg say from nearby. “She’s grabbing Sarah from school and heading here to our house. I also called Karen to let her know what’s going on.”

“Who is Karen?”

“Zachar…” Natalie began before she suddenly stopped mid-sentence. “Forgive me. This is going to take me a little time to get used to. Karen is Zyan’s social worker from CPS.”

“What?” The man asked in confusion.

“I’ll explain it once everyone is here, David.” Natalie said reassuringly. “I promise. Rub his back gently, and he’ll start to wake up. It gives him something to focus on.”

“He’s been asleep for a long time,” the boy said in concern.

The man began to rub my back gently as the they continued to talk quietly around me. I focused on the feeling of his hand rubbing up and down my back as I fought against the darkness. It was a trick that my therapist had taught me after he found out I could feel Greg holding onto me. I had never told him about the visitor in my dreams, though. Only Natalie knew about that.

“He’s been out for a few hours before,” Greg said. “With how his fingers have been twitching, I’d say that he could wake up at anytime. Watch out for his right-hook if he’s having a nightmare, though.” Greg chuckled before adding. “That little boy can pack quite the punch. I had a shiner for a week.”

“Is that what happened?” I heard the man ask in surprise.

“Good old Zac…” Greg stopped and chuckled as he corrected himself. “Damn. This is difficult, Natalie. Zyan was having a nightmare, so I tried to help him by holding him and he wound up punching me in the eye. The guys at the office still won’t let me live it down.”

“He has a lot of nightmares,” I heard the boy say softly.

“He’s been through more than you could ever imagine, Kyan.” Natalie said softly.

I managed to open my eyes slightly and saw that it was the brown-haired man from Greg’s office that was holding me. He was looking at someone else as watched him. His jaw had a slight covering of stubble as if he had shaved the night before, his adam’s apple only stuck out slightly from his slender neck, and the sound of his voice seemed as though he was being sincere in everything that he said.

“I’ve waited a decade for this day to come around, Greg.” The man said quietly. “How did you realize who he was? How did you know?”

“Ask Natalie,” Greg said with a chuckle.

“We found out from Karen that today is Zyan’s twelfth-birthday,” Natalie explained. “It just so happened that you had given Greg that book to give to Zyan, so Greg gave it to him this morning as a birthday present. Well, while Zyan was off getting his bookbag, I picked up the book and thumbed through the artwork. That’s when I saw the picture of the main character. I flipped to the back of the book and saw the picture you had there, as well. I told Greg immediately, but we didn’t tell Zyan. We thought it would be a good surprise for him.”

“I wasn’t exactly expecting him to faint like that,” Greg said with a light laugh. “Although, I probably should have.”

“Does it happen often?”

“It hasn’t happened since April when he had the flu,” Natalie replied. “He’s been getting better. This is going to change everything, though.”

Then, the man from Greg’s office glanced down at me, and his green eyes went wide in surprise for a moment before his expression softened. I felt myself hesitate as I waited for his reaction. He smiled at me as tears began to fill the corners of his eyes.

“Daddy?” I whispered hesitantly.

All he could do was nod happily as he pulled me into his arms. I buried my face in his chest as a decade’s worth of emotions began to escape from both of us.

“I’ve waited so long to hear those words come from your pretty little face, baby boy.” He said with a trembling voice. “So… so long…”

“I have to go get Toby from school, Greg.” Natalie said before Greg stopped her with a smile.

“No you don’t, love.” My foster-dad said quietly. “Geoff and Gavin should already be waiting for him. I already called the school and told them what was going on, as well.”

“I knew there was a reason I kept you around,” Natalie teased Greg.

I felt my father start to relax his grip on me, so I quickly grabbed the front of his jacket, and pulled myself tighter into his chest as I sniffled through the tears.

“Don’t worry, buddy.” My father reassured me. “I wasn’t going to let go of you. I just didn’t want to hurt you by holding onto you too tightly. If I had my way, I’d never let go of you again.”

“I’d like that,” I whispered.

“Me too, Zyan.” He whispered back. “Me too.”

I jumped slightly when there was a sudden knock on the door.

“I’ll get it,” Natalie said softly. I heard the front door open, followed by the sound of Natalie leading someone into the room. I froze when I heard Natalie introduce the visitor. “David, this is Karen Stevens, Zyan’s social worker. Karen, this is David Montgomery, Zyan’s father.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Montgomery.” I heard Karen say politely. “How do you know that this is your son, though?”

“Are you blind, Ms. Stevens?” My father asked. “His identical twin brother is sitting right there.”

“Oh my,” Karen said in surprise. “I see. My apologies, Mr. Montgomery. I didn’t see Zachary’s brother…”

“His name is Zyan!” I twisted around at the sound of the fierce tone to see icy blue eyes focused on me.

“I need to call Judge Roberts really quick,” my social worker said awkwardly before she turned and walked into the kitchen.

The boy stood and crossed the room slowly until he was standing directly in front of me. He reached out and touched my cheek before he burst into tears and fell into me. Our father pulled my brother into his lap with me, and held the both of us to his chest as we reconnected.

“I told you I would find you,” the boy whispered.

“I know,” I said apologetically. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”

“I’m not mad, baby brother.” He said with a sniffle. “I could never be mad at you. I’m only happy that you’re safe, now.”

“Happy Birthday, guys.” Our dad whispered with tears in his own eyes. “I love both of you so much.”

Karen reentered the room with a smile on her face.

“I’ve got good news from Judge Roberts, Natalie.” Karen said as she tucked her phone back into her purse. “He’s going to have the paperwork sent over to Greg’s office in about two-hours to finalize the case on ‘Zachary Brody’, now officially known as Zyan Montgomery. Greg, you’ll need to get Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery to sign the paperwork, and have it back on his desk Monday morning in order for them to get back full custody of Zyan.”

“I can’t take him home, yet?” My father asked sadly.

“You can take him home tonight, if you wanted.” Karen reassured my father quickly. “It’s just the paperwork portion that’s going to take a while.”

My father nodded before Karen turned her attention to me and smiled. The woman walked over to the sofa and kneeled in front of me.

“I’m so sorry for everything that’s ever happened to you, Zyan.” She said with a sympathetic look. “I truly wish that I would have been able to get ahold of your case a lot sooner than I did. Your former social worker really did a number on your file. That’s no excuse, though. You deserve much better than that. I’ll make sure that you get justice for the crimes that were committed against you, Zyan. I am happy though, that everything has worked out for you in the end, little one.”

“Thank you, Ms. Stevens.” I said softly.

She reached over and ruffled my hair before she turned back to Greg and Natalie.

“I’ll be over to check on Toby on Tuesday at my usual time,” my social worker said politely. “Thank you again for reuniting Zyan with his family.”

“I’ll see you out, Karen.” Greg said with a sad smile.

I looked at him curiously, but I was quickly distracted by Toby running into the room with Geoff and Gavin right behind him. Toby came to an immediate halt the moment he saw me and my brother cuddled up with our dad. Gavin almost ran into the back of the boy.

“Why are there two Zach’s?” Toby asked curiously.

“Zach has a twin?” Gavin asked in surprise.

“Let’s go into the kitchen for a moment, guys.” Greg said as he picked Toby up into his arms. “It’s a little bit of a long story…”

Gavin stared at me with a grin on his face as he follow Greg from the room. I smiled back at the older boy before I turned back to find myself face-to-face with the other me. I blushed for a moment before he reached out and took my hand in his own.

“I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this, Zyan.” He said only loud enough for me to hear.

“Me too,” I replied.

Suddenly, I had a sobbing six-year-old in my lap, with his face buried deeply in my chest.

“I don’t want you to go, Zach!” The boy whimpered. “You’re my brother…”

I broke down in tears…

Natalie finally took Toby from me when he managed to cry himself to sleep, and carried him up to his room while Greg kept Gavin and Geoff occupied in the kitchen. Kyan slid his hand into my own as our father continued to hold us against his chest. Natalie reentered the room and moved over to her chair to sit.

“Sorry about that, David.” My foster-mom said. “Toby and Zac… Zyan have become more like brothers since Toby joined us.”

“I understand completely, Natalie.” My father said softly. “I feel like this little guy has the ability to make everyone fall in love with him.”

“You’ll be wrapped around his finger the moment he bats those baby blues of his at you,” Greg said with a chuckle as he came back into the living room. “Gavin, go put your stuff in Zyan’s room.”

“Okay, Uncle Greg.” Gavin said without taking his eyes away from me. He smiled shyly when he noticed me watching him before he ran from the room.

“Are you sure that you want Gavin to stay here, Greg?” Geoff asked nervously.

“Now, more than ever, Geoff.” Greg said softly. “Toby’s going to need his help adjusting.”

There was a sharp knock at the door, and Greg went to answer it.

“That’s probably your mother, guys.” My dad said almost sadly. “She’s going to steal you away from me, Zyan.”

I gripped onto the front of his shirt tighter.

“It’ll be okay,” he reassured me as Kyan slid down from our dad’s lap. “I’ll make sure that I get a chance to give you tons of hugs before the end of the night.”

I nodded in silent acceptance of his offer before I felt him stand up with me still in his arms.  He crossed the room and stopped just short of the door as Greg led the new visitors into the room.

“David?” I heard my mother ask in confusion. “What’s going on? Greg told me I needed to get over here as fast as possible. I nearly wrec…”

I turned my head away from my father’s chest long enough to look at the blue-eyed woman. Her words trailed off the moment she saw me, and a look of disbelief followed by shock filled her face as she struggled to speak. A blonde-haired girl entered the house behind my mother and took a dismissive glance at me until she saw Kyan standing next to us. The girl froze and kept looking between the two of us.

“This…”  My mother stared at me in disbelief.  “But…”

“What’s going on, mom?”  The girl asked in confusion.  Then, she looked at me and my father as he continued to hold me.  “Dad?”

“Are you okay, mom?” Kyan asked as the woman’s face began to go pale.

My mother glanced down at Kyan before she glanced back at me.

“You should sit down, Lauren.” Natalie said as she grabbed the woman’s elbow and led her to the couch.

“You didn’t tell her, Greg?” My father asked as the woman continued to stare at me in disbelief.

“It must have slipped my mind, David.” Greg said with another chuckle. “The look on all of your faces made it completely worth it, though.”

“Is this real?” My mother asked as my father carried me over to where she sat. “Am I dreaming again, David?”

“No, Lauren.” Natalie said as she rubbed my mother’s shoulder. “This is very real.”

“Mommy?” I asked softly.

“Oh my word,” she said in awe as my father set me in her lap. My mother didn’t hesitate to pull me into her arms. She sobbed uncontrollably as she held me. I breathed in deeply of the lavender scent of her perfume as my own tears fell down my cheeks. “I can’t believe he’s really in my arms, David.”

“I know, honey.” My father said in a trembling voice.

There was another knock on the door.

“We go days at a time without visitors, and today it’s turned into Grand Central Station.” Greg said with a laugh as he went to see who was at the door.

“Zyan’s really popular, today.” Natalie said with a slight laugh, making me turn to see Sheldon, Deedra, and Chad all standing at the other end of the living room with looks of shock on their young faces.

“Zach’s a fricking clone,” Sheldon said, breaking my friends out of their stupor.

“You’re such an idiot, Sheldon.” Deedra said with a roll of her eyes. “He’s a twin.”

“Did Zach find his family?” Chad asked in confusion.

“That’s not all he found out, Chad.” Natalie said with a smug grin.

“What do you mean, Mrs. Harris?” Chad asked without taking his eyes away from me.

“Sheldon, Deedra, Chad, I’d like to introduce you to Zyan Montgomery.” Natalie said proudly.

“His name isn’t even Zachary?” Chad asked.

“I like ‘Zyan’.” Deedra said thoughtfully, making me blush. “It fits him better.”

Sheldon giggled before he crossed the room to where Kyan sat next to Gavin quietly on the floor.

“I’m Sheldon,” my friend said with a warm smile as he held out his hand to my brother. Kyan grinned widely as he shook Sheldon’s hand firmly.

“I’m Kyan Montgomery,” my brother said. “I’m Zyan’s older brother.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Sheldon said. “Do you play any basketball? Greg and Natalie have a hoop out front.”

“Can I come, too?” Gavin asked.

“Of course, Gavin.” Sheldon replied with a grin. “Are you up for it, Kyan?”

Kyan looked at me longingly before he finally turned and nodded his head at Sheldon.

“I’ll be right out,” Kyan said as Sheldon helped Gavin to his feet. Kyan crossed the room and stopped in front of me. He leaned over and kissed my forehead. “I love you, baby brother.”

“I love you too, Kyan.” I whispered before he followed my friends outside.

Deedra waved slightly as she left the room. I grinned at her and nodded briefly.

My mother and father took turns holding me for the remainder of the afternoon as Greg and Natalie put together a dinner for everyone. Uncle Geoff manned the grill while Gavin and Toby ran around the yard with Sheldon and Chad. Deedra and Sarah were sitting off to one side having their own conversations, and Sarah made it a point to kiss my cheek everytime that she passed by which ever parent was holding me. My father would walk around the yard and stop to talk to Greg and Geoff, and my mother helped Natalie prepare some side dishes for our little gathering on the kitchen.

My mother and Natalie were talking in the kitchen while I listened quietly from my mother’s arms. I breathed in deeply of her flowery perfume, and soon found myself drifting off to sleep without even realizing it had happened.

My mother was there, sitting beside me at the kitchen table in my dream. She was helping me cut up a burger into smaller pieces so my toddler self could manage it better.

“Thanks, mommy.” I heard myself quietly before I happily started grabbing the pieces of burger with my hands. The dream morphed into another one as my mother reached over and ruffled my shaggy blonde hair with her hand.

I was lying in bed, and my mother had her arm around me while she read me a bedtime story. The scent of her flowery perfume, and the soothing sound of her voice made the younger me relax before the gray mist swirled around the both of us.

Then, there were the two little boys playing in the sandbox with each other. The blonde-haired woman sat there with her nose in the novel while her two boys played happily together. I had already had this dream once, and I knew exactly where it was heading. I tried screaming out for the woman to look up as I watched the toddler climb to his shaky legs and head towards the bushes. I screamed louder towards the woman, but she just wouldn’t pay attention.

Her blue eyes went wide with fear when she realized that one of her sons was missing from the playground. Her cries of terror echoed from the walls of nearby houses as she screamed out for her son. I cried along with the woman as I felt her pain echo through my soul. Then, I began to smell the flowery scent again. I tried focusing on the smell and let it push the darkness away from me until I could hear the sounds of voices from nearby.

“Does it happen often?” My mother asked in a worried voice.

“Not as often as it used to, Lauren.” Natalie replied. “He’s gotten much better with the nightmares. It’s probably been a stressful day for him. Like we told David, just keep rubbing his back, and you’ll be looking into your favorite blue eyes in a minute or two.”

I opened my eyes to see my mother looking down at me with tears in her own blue eyes as she watched me closely.

“There he is,” Natalie said from the chair beside us before she reached over and pushed a strand of hair from my forehead. I smiled and sighed happily as I realized that I was still safe.

“Is everything okay in here?” I heard my father ask from nearby.

“Just a bad dream, David.” Natalie said with a smile. “He’s coming around, though.”

“Good,” my father said as he joined us at the table. “There’s something that I wanted to talk to you two lovely ladies about, anyways.”

“What’s going on, David?” My mother asked suspiciously.

“I’ll just go ahead and say it, rather than beat around the bush, I guess.” My father stated calmly. “I think Zyan should stay here for the remainder of the week.”

“What? No!” My mother said defiantly.

“Lauren,” my father said softly. “Think about this from Zyan’s perspective. I don’t think it would be a good idea for us to suddenly relocate him when he’s had enough emotional stress in his young life. I’m not saying I don’t want him by any means, no. I’m just saying that we let the boy adapt to his new situation. He’s not in any danger here. He has people who love him dearly…”

“It would be better for Zyan,” I heard my mother say as she rubbed my back absently. “Fine, but only if Kyan can stay, too.”

“I’m sure that will be fine with Greg, Lauren.” Natalie said softly.

“And I get to see him whenever I want,” my mother said with a tremble in her voice as she fought off her tears.

“We wouldn’t have it any other way, Lauren.” Natalie reassured my mother. “Plus, you did invite us all over for the cookout tomorrow.”

My mother turned her attention to my father.

“Someone needs to check on the caterers, David.” My mother said as if reality was beginning to sink in around her. “God only knows how they’re trying to set up the tables…”

My father took me from my mother so she could make her phone calls, and he promptly carried me towards the backdoor of the house.

“Daddy?” I asked quietly.

“What’s up, baby boy?” He asked as his hand froze on the doorknob.

“I have to pee,” I whispered nervously.

My father chuckled and kissed my cheek before he set me back down on my own feet.

“Hurry up and do what you need to do, buddy.” He said with a smile. “I’ll be waiting for you right here.”

I nodded before I raced off to the bathroom with the sound of my father chuckling behind me. Once I was done, I was surprised to find him waiting for me. My father smiled and held out his hand towards me. I hesitated only briefly before I slid my hand into his much larger one.

“Feel better?” He asked with a grin.

“Much better,” I said with a shy smile.

“Good,” he stated happily. “Let’s go see how Geoff is doing with the grill.”

I held tightly to his hand as we walked outside together, and I was suddenly bombarded by my friends asking me a million questions. I glanced up at my father to see him motion towards Sheldon and Deedra.

“I’m not going anywhere, buddy.” My father told me. “You can go hang out with your friends if you want. I’ll be right over by Greg and Geoff if you need me.”

“Yes, sir.” I said softly before he pulled me into a tight hug.

“I love you, baby boy.”

“I love you, too.” I whispered.

Then, I was swept away by Deedra and Sheldon. They drug me over to where Chad and Kyan were sitting under the tree in our backyard together, before they motioned for me to sit next to my brother. Kyan immediately pulled me into a tight hug. Then, Sheldon started with the questions.

“Did you know about all of this?” The brown-haired boy asked me.

I shrugged in response, which only prompted more questions from my friend before Deedra and Chad were able to quiet him down. I tried to answer what I knew, but Kyan had to fill in the gaps for me.

“Wait a second,” Deedra’s green eyes turned to Kyan. “Are you related to Derek Montgomery?”

“He’s our uncle,” Kyan replied with a shrug.

Deedra’s eyes went wide for a moment before she let loose with a piercing scream and threw herself at Kyan.

“Really?” Deedra squealed in delight as she hugged my frightened twin against his will.  “I’ve seen every single one of his movies!”

“Yes, really.” Kyan replied with fear and amusement in his eyes. He had obviously been witness to antics of his uncle’s fans before, but had never had anyone cling to him like Deedra was doing.

“If you guys are at the party tomorrow, you’ll meet him.”

Deedra’s eyes went wide as she sat back from my brother in disbelief.

“It’s true,” Kyan responded to the unspoken question.

“I think this is the first time I’ve ever saw her speechless, Zyan.” Sheldon whispered to me making me giggle at his comment.

I quickly backed away from Sheldon as Deedra launched herself at him, and the two friends started wrestling around on the ground. Kyan and Chad laughed as the three of us watched the two roll around in the grass until Sheldon started crying out how sorry he was.

“Okay! Okay! Okay!” Sheldon panted as he struggled to get away from Deedra.

“Are you going to behave yourself, mister?” Deedra demanded as she held Sheldon down by the shoulders.

“For now,” he said with a grin.

Deedra scowled at the boy before she rolled off of him and moved to sit across from my brother and I. Sheldon’s face was red from the exertion as he quickly brushed himself off before sitting back down with Deedra and Chad. Chad just rolled his eyes and laughed at the duo. Then, I was face-to-face with a tearful Toby. He was biting his bottom lip as he fought the urge to cry. Kyan and I both pulled the little boy into our lap, and hugged him tightly against us.

“I know you have to go, Zach.” The boy said quietly. “I just don’t want you to go…”

“I know, buddy.” I said just as softly. “I think I’m going to be here the majority of this week, though. Kyan is going to be here, too.”

Toby looked between the two of us with a surprised grin.

“Really?” He asked me hesitantly. I saw Kyan look at me curiously.

“Yeah,” I said with a nod. “My daddy…”

I froze for a moment as the words left my mouth. I smiled as a tear fell down my cheek.

“Kyan?” I asked nervously.

“Yeah, Zyan?”

“Can you watch Toby for me, please?” I asked quietly. I turned to see our father standing over by the grill with Greg and Geoff. “I need something from…”

“Go ahead, baby brother.” Kyan said softly. “We all understand. Take as long as you need.”

I nodded without looking back at anyone. I didn’t want them to see me cry anymore. All I wanted was to be back in my father’s arms again. If he didn’t want to hold me, I would move onto my mother. My dad looked down at me and smiled as I approached. He saw the tears in my eyes and quickly pulled me into his arms without any prompting from me.

“What’s wrong, baby boy?” He asked quietly as he rubbed my back.

“Nothing,” I replied quietly as I wiped the tears away with the back of my hand. “I… I just needed a hug.”

I glanced up shyly at my father to see him smiling at me.

“I’ll give you a hug whenever you want one, Zyan.” My dad whispered before he kissed my cheek. “Even when you don’t want them, I’ll give you the best hug I can.”

“I love you,” I whispered as he turned back to talk with Geoff and Greg.

“Are you still going to have the party tomorrow, David?” Geoff asked curiously.

“Oh yeah,” my father replied with a chuckle. “Lauren would kill me if I postponed the birthday party. Now, we’ve got another reason to celebrate.”

“I’d be celebrating, too.” Greg said with a chuckle as he tended the grill. “I think the food is about ready. Can someone go get the ladies?”

“I’ll do it,” my dad suggested as he turned towards the house. “We’ll be right back.”


I couldn’t help but cry as my mother and father left that evening. It felt like my heart was breaking, even though Natalie and Greg had promised that they were taking me over to my future home the next day. It was Toby that finally got me to stop crying when he crawled into my lap and held me tightly.

“No matter what,” he said only loud enough for me to hear. “You’ll always be my brother, Zyan.”

I wiped the tears away before I wrapped my arms around Toby.

“Sorry, Toby.” I said softly. “It’s been a long day.”

“I know,” my foster brother replied with a nod. “I’m glad you found your family, Zyan.”

“Thanks, Toby.” I said. “That means a lot to me.”

Toby went over and climbed up onto Gavin’s lap while my cousin played some racing game. Kyan sat on the couch and just stared in disbelied at me.

“What?” I asked nervously.

“Nothing,” Kyan replied with a shake of his head before he reached over and took my hand in his own. “It’s just weird to actually have you here with me.”

I looked at him in confusion, making my brother frown.

“It’s not important, Zyan.” Kyan said softly. Then, he turned his attention to Natalie. “Mrs. Harris?”

“You’re allowed to call me Natalie, Kyan.” Natalie chided the boy. “Everybody else does.”

Kyan blushed and smiled.

“What do you need, little one?”

“I was wondering if I could take a shower?” Kyan asked with the same grin. “I feel gross after today. Dad and I just got back this morning from Chicago, and went straight to Greg’s office.”

Natalie laughed and smiled at my brother.

“You don’t need to worry about anything, Kyan.” Natalie said. “Just have Zyan show you where the bathroom is. I’m sure he has more than enough clothes for you to borrow something to wear to bed.”

“Thank you, Natalie.” Kyan said with a smile. “Come on, Zyan.”

“Make sure you take a shower too, Zyan.” Natalie said. “We’re going to be pretty busy in the morning.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I said meekly before I led my older brother upstairs to my room.

“Nice room,” Kyan said as he looked around at everything. I had a few Harry Potter posters, as well as a few decorations from Maroon 5 and other bands. Kyan went over to my booksheld and grabbed my Spider-Man plushy. “I have a Deadpool one.”

“Nice,” I said with a grin. “Spider-Man is my favorite.”

I stared at him awkwardly for a moment before he giggled at me.

“Do you have something I can wear after I shower?”

“Yeah,” I said with a nervous grin. “Just a second.”

I went over to my dresser and grabbed a pair of pajama pants for Kyan.

“Here you go,” I said shyly.

“Thanks, baby brother.” He said with a grin. “Where’s the bathroom?”

“Right next to Toby’s room,” I said as I motioned for him to follow me.

I showed Kyan the bathroom, and how to work the shower before I left him to his thing. I went back to my room, and pulled out my own pajama pants and t-shirt. While I waited on Kyan, I thought about everything that had happened today. Natalie and Greg had given me the best present ever. They had given me my family back. My mother and father had spent the day holding me tightly, barely putting me down to spend time with my friends. My sister Sarah chided them that she better get some cuddle time with me at the party as they were leaving. My mother kissed Kyan and I on the cheeks before making us both promise to behave as my parents left. My friends had accepted my new identity without question, and even though there was a slight hiccup with Toby, I had hope that he would accept the idea once he saw where I was going to be living.

“Are you okay?”

I glanced up to see Kyan standing in the doorway, wearing the pair of pants I had given him. He had the beginnings of a six-pack, and his entire chest was covered in a golden tan. His blue eyes seemed to be studying me as our gazes met each other.

“Yeah,” I said, snapping myself out of my daydream. “It’s just been a long day.”

“Well, the shower’s free…”

“Thanks,” I said with a smile.

I grabbed my clothes, and as I was passing my brother, he reached out and pulled me into a hug.

“I’ve missed you, baby brother.” He said with a trembling voice.

“Thank you for keeping me alive,” I said before I pulled away from Kyan, and went to take my shower.

My room was empty when I was finished with my shower, and I found Kyan sitting downstairs with everyone in the living room.

Gavin saw me and pushed Toby in the shoulder.

“Come on stinky,” my cousin said with a grin before he started tickling Toby. “It’s time for you to take a shower.”

“I’m not stinky!” Toby squealed out in a fit of giggles.

I laughed as Toby broke free from Gavin and tried to use me as a human shield.

“Don’t let him get me, Zyan.” Toby said as he continued to giggle.

“No guarantees,” I said before I caught a whiff of the boy. “Dang, Toby. Did you wrestle with a skunk?”

Then, I twisted and grabbed the little boy to keep him from running away.

“Hey!” Toby called out in protest.

“Sorry, dude.” I said as I held him until Gavin snatched him. “You do kind of smell.”

“Traitor!” Toby accused me with a grin.

I ruffled his hair before Gavin carried the boy upstairs.

“Can we talk to you, Zyan?” Natalie asked with a smile as she patted the empty spot next to her on the sofa. “You should come over here too, Kyan.”

I nodded shyly, and went to join Natalie on the sofa. Kyan sat on Natalie’s other side.

“Is something wrong, Mrs. Harris?” I asked nervously.

“Absolutely not, Zyan.” Natalie said with a grin. “Everything is perfect, actually.”

I glanced over at Kyan to see him shrug his shoulders.

“I wanted to talk to you about Toby, actually.” Natalie continued.

“Is he okay?” I asked in a worried tone.

“Yes, Zyan.” My foster-mom reassured me. “Toby understands what’s going on now, and he only wants you to be happy.” Natalie glanced up at Greg who was watching us from his recliner.

“Babe? A little help, please?”

Greg chuckled.

“We’re adopting Toby, Zyan.” Greg said with a grin.

“Really?” I asked excitedly.

“Yes, sir.” Greg replied. “Don’t tell him, though. We’re going to wait until tomorrow night to tell him.”

I grinned and nodded.

“I won’t say anything to Toby,” I said happily.

“Thanks, Zyan.” Natalie said as she hugged me for a moment. “Go ahead and go to bed, guys. We’ve got a long day ahead of us, tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Kyan said with a smile.

Natalie pulled him into a hug as I slipped off the couch. Greg motioned me over to him as he sat forward in his chair.

“I’m happy for you, Zyan.” Greg said as he hugged me.

“Thank you for helping me find my family, Greg.” I said quietly.

“My only regret is that we didn’t figure it out sooner, little one.” My foster-dad said quietly before he shooed me away.

Kyan followed me back upstairs, and we could hear Toby giggling happily as Gavin dried him with a towel.

“You’re tickling me!” Toby said with a loud giggle.

“Sorry,” Gavin said. “You could just dry yourself, ya’ know?”

“No!” Toby said with a whine. “I want you to do it!”

“Then, hold still, kid!” Gavin said in exasperation.

Toby giggled again.

“Are you going to stay in my room, tonight?”

“Only if you hold still,” Gavin replied making me chuckle. “There, get dressed in your PJs, dude.”

I laughed as Kyan pulled me towards my bedroom. He went over and switched on my table lamp before he pushed the door partially closed and turned off the overhead light. I stood in the center of the room as I waited for Toby and Gavin to get done in the bathroom.

“Get in bed, Zyan.” My brother said with a giggle.

“I have to pee, first.” I said shyly.

“Oh,” Kyan giggled and poked me in the side. “Sorry.”

I practically ran from the room the moment the bathroom door opened. I didn’t even wait for Toby and Gavin to leave before I started relieving myself. Once I was done, I washed my hands and turned off the bathroom light before I went back to my room. Kyan was already lying in my bed, and I was hesitant to join my look-alike.

“Don’t worry,” Kyan said with a grin as he patted the empty spot of the bed. “I only snore a little bit.”

I laughed quietly before I finally climbed under the covers with my twin. Kyan reached over and switched off the light as I made myself comfortable in the darkness of my room. Then, Kyan pulled me into his arms, and snuggled his face into the side of my neck.

“Welcome back, Zyan.” Kyan whispered with a happy sigh. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” I replied quietly.

“I’m glad that you’ve been found,” Kyan said softly. “As weird as that sounds.”

I burrowed myself tighter into Kyan’s arms.

“It doesn’t sound weird, Kyan.” I told him quietly. “I’m glad I was found, too.”

Kyan hugged me and sighed deeply.

“Happy Birthday, Zyan.”

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