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Since that day… their lives were happier.

Chapter Text

Since he was a little child, he knew that he didn’t have parents, so he would never ask about them. He also knew the other kids didn’t have parents, so he would never ask about it to them. He was extremely quiet, shy and with a big tendency to be insolated from the others (not his choice, but the other’s, sadly). Ernesto wanted so badly to leave the orphanage because of the horrible treatment he would always face not only with the other kids, but with the caretakers as well.

He was honest with himself since he was too young: he was a little bit overweight, and with that the other kids would pick on him, calling him “pig”, “obese”, “ball” and other more harmful nicknames. Ernesto was just a little child; how could he not cry about it when half of the whole group would make fun of him and call him names? The caretakers would always tell him to defend himself. And the only day Ernesto decided to talk back and to push the kid who was pushing him as well, the only day Ernesto decided to say out loud “Stop calling me “pig”, you big meanie!” … the caretakers would take side with the bully, yell at Ernesto for “being too mean to one of his roommates” and send him to his bed without dinner.

Ernesto cried that night in silence. He wanted to leave, he wanted to be adopted by someone and be beloved, respected. Because of the picking up, the harmful nicknames, the lack of attention, the lack of security and more, Ernesto started to isolate himself by choice, starting to get used to cover up his right eye with his hair, sit all alone in the cafeteria, stay indoors while the others where playing outdoors, and more. Why nobody adopted him? He was polite, he was attentive, he was a good kid. It was because he was overweight? It was because he was quiet and shy? It was because he was just a few years older than the other kids? Why nobody adopted him?!

“Nobody loves you! Nobody loves you! That’s why you don’t have parents!” the bullies would chant, laughing at him.

With tears in his eyes, he would yell back: “You don’t have parents either! None of you have!” and he would be kicked and yelled till one of the caretakers would separate him from the bullies. But, as always, he would be sent to his bed without dinner. Ernesto accepted his fate after watching a lot of other kids be adopted year by year.

He was never going to be adopted.

“You can’t leave me in the streets, Miss!” he cried in despair, grabbing the female caretaker’s arm.

“Knock it off, brat! You’re about to be eighteen years old, it’s time to man up, get a life and work! We can’t keep you here anymore, you’re going to be an adult!” the caretaker yelled, slightly pushing Ernesto to free her arm. Ernesto kept crying; how could they do this to him? He wasn’t prepared for the world, he was scared, he still didn’t have parents! But the orphanage didn’t care. He tried everything: he cooked, he fixed the broken toys, he sewed, he did everything that was considered functional for someone to work and live at the orphanage.

But no, the orphanage simply didn’t want to deal with an eighteen-year-old. “Do you have any idea how much it would cost us if you go to college?!” the caretakers would yell.

“I haven’t even gone to high school!” Ernesto would cry. But nobody cared.

Now he was there, crying in the main hallway, hugging desperately his knees close to his chest. Some adults walked by, looking for the “meet up” room to see which child adopt, trying to ignore the crying teenager. He was alone, Ernesto was going to be abandoned. Where was he going to find a job? A house? Food? New clothes? A shower? He was going to die alone in the streets.

“Hey… hey, kid, is everything okay?” someone talked to him.

Ernesto looked up. It was a young man (28ish, maybe). Pale skin, pale green hair, black eyes, with a worried expression on his face.

“They… they’re going to abandon me! They’re going to abandon me because I’m going to become an adult!” Ernesto cried, closing his eyes and feeling the warm tears fall again, caressing his cheeks. He heard the young man gasp. “Nobody is going to ever adopt me! Nobody wants me here, nowhere! I… I want to disappear! I want to go home!”

But where was home? Was home even a true place? It existed? Ernesto knew he didn’t have a home. He never did. He kept crying, hugging his knees. The young man kept looking at him and after a few minutes he walked away, fast walking. He heard a door being opened.

“Hello, sir, how can I—”

“I want to adopt the teenager”.

Ernesto hold his breath for a moment.

“Ernesto… why didn’t you tell me about this?” Boxman asked, gently holding Ernesto right arm. He had a nasty bruise, which he tried to hide with his purple sweater. But at dinner Boxman- his father found out. “What happened? Please, son, tell me.”

“I… I was at my classroom, it was recess… I was about to eat my lunch when… John and his friends came. He said… that if I didn’t give him my homework, he would beat me up… and I…” Ernest felt warm tears, his voice started to shake, it was a very hurtful pain. “… I said to him that I wasn’t going to give it to him… and he then… grabbed my arm and… I didn’t want to tell you because…”

“Because…?” Boxman asked.

“Because… you would get mad at me! And… and…!”

He stayed in silence, sobbing. Surely his father was mad at him because he decided to talk back, because he decided to defend himself. He was going to be send back to the orphanage. Boxman opened his mouth to talk. Ernesto closed his eyes, ready to hear those words.

“Ernesto, son, I’m not mad” his father said. Ernesto looked at him, surprised. “Ernesto, my son, I’m so proud of you. You defended yourself, my son, you said out loud you weren’t going to give what you truly worked on when someone didn’t!” Boxman smiled at him, trying to clean up the tears from the teenager’s face. “I’m mad at the kid! He doesn’t have the right to hurt others in order to get something he didn’t worked on! Tomorrow I’m going to talk with the teachers. My son, no one has the right to belittle you, to use you. And you have the right to make your voice sound. My son, I’m so proud of you for defending yourself”.

With that Boxman hugged Ernesto. Ernesto had already received a ton of hugs because of his father, but… now he truly felt secure, because now someone was looking after him, someone loved him. Ernesto hugged his father back and cried on his shoulder.

He usually didn’t work too late in his job but one of his coworkers had his wife at labor and he needed to leave sooner, and Ernesto, being the kindred heart that he was, said he would cover him up. It was already 1am and he was dead tired. Counting all day, doing papers and that always tired him, but he truly loved his job. Once he got home and he opened the door he saw Fink, Darrell and Shannon sleeping on the couch with the TV still on. He softly sighs and smiled, covered his two siblings- well, three siblings, with the covers they had already there and walked towards his room.

“I wonder how Venomous is doing with Mikayla…” he asked quietly to himself, later to pass by Raymond and Darrell’s room. The sleepy beauty was with that cucumber mask on his face, his cellphone still on with a few messages on the screen. Ernesto got closer to take the cellphone and leave it on Raymond’s nightstand. And he pretty saw that last message from the punk guy Radicles ‘Sweet dreams corny stuff xoxo’. Ernesto smiled; he was pretty sure Raymond now had a boyfriend. He got out and passed by Sara and Shannon’s room. Sara was sleeping peacefully, hugging her pillow. She deserved to sleep and relax, study to be a police officer wasn’t an easy task after all. He kept walking until he saw Boxman reading a book, sitting on his bed.

“Ah, Ernesto, you finally came” Boxman smiled at him. He looked tired and maybe he was just reading to keep himself awake. Ernesto smiled and waved his hand. In the right corner (away from the only window of the room) was Teagan’s pale organ crib, where said baby was sleeping in calm with his pacifier.

Ernesto entered the room while Boxman left the book on his nightstand. “Were you waiting for me?” Ernesto asked, gaining a nod from his father. Ernesto sigh again. “Well, I’m home now. Sleep well, dad”. Boxman yawned, tried to say those same words and quickly fell asleep. Ernesto chuckled quietly. And once he got in his room, he was met with a sleeping Jethro which bed was a big mess as him, all tangled with the sheets and pillows. Ernesto got rid of his clothes (leaving them organized perfectly over his chair, all with his elegant hat), put his pajamas and got into bed. He smiled and thanked in silence and soon, he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

He was abandoned when he was only 4 years old. The caretakers received him after they heard the mother tell them: “his father doesn’t want him, and I don’t want him too. He’s broken. He’s not my son”.

The caretakers were sad after hearing those heartless words and gladly the orphanage welcomed Jethro. Sadly, after a few months, the orphanage started to think like the mother: they thought Jethro was broken. The first thing they started to notice it was how quiet was Jethro, dead quiet. While the other kids of his age would start to get excited about talking and making all the noises they could, Jethro would always stay in silence and say nothing, not even make a single vocal noise and stay in the back while the other kids were taking the lead in the show. And the caretakers were starting to worry. They tried everything to make Jethro talk or even make a single noise, but nothing seemed to work.

At first the other kids truly didn’t care (it weirded them out, but not too much at the same time) until Jethro started to say his name.

“I am Jethro!” he screamed one morning, scaring the freak out of everyone. Jethro had a big smile on his face while he was screaming his name. While all the kids were starting to get annoyed, some caretakers were about to punish Jethro for his behavior until Miss. Hilda came rushing and gently carried Jethro in her arms.

“Shh, Jethro, my darling, let’s keep it down” Miss. Hilda begged with a sweet smile, yet she was nervous. Some caretakers and kids threw annoyed looks at Hilda and Jethro.

“I am Jethro! I am Jethrooo!” the younger kept screaming. Miss. Hilda decided to get out of the room and try to calm down Jethro. It took her 30 minutes to make him stop screaming.

After that day the caretakers and the other kids kept their distance with Jethro. Year by year Jethro started to grow up, yet he was still deadly quiet or just saying his one and only phrase “I am Jethro”. But then more of his personality started to show up to the world: how much he loved architecture! Jethro was in love with the architecture! The architecture was his favorite thing in the world, he loved to memorize the orphanage blueprints and every single detail it had. He also loved the blue color! Such a nice color he loved to use, that’s why he always used blue clothes (the caretakers would buy him only blue clothes, if Jethro was forced to use any other color, he would scream and make a mess).

While he had some positive traits like good memory and great capacity to stay focused, he would have some negatives ones… at the eyes of the caretakers and the other kids. Because of his condition Jethro would always face a lot of problems. He had a lot of anxiety attacks every single time he heard a loud noise like the great clock announcing the changing of the hour or the multiple excited screams the other kids would make when one of the caretakers said they could have some ice cream as dessert. Jethro felt like he was going blind every time he heard a loud noise, and it was painful and scary! He also had a problem with social interactions: he didn’t know when one of his “friends” was sad even if said kid had some nasty tears rolling down on his cheeks. He didn’t know when the caretaker was angry at him even if he had the caretaker in front of him and said person was yelling at him: “I told you to stay indoors, you can only be outdoors if I’m near!” with a red face. He wasn’t capable to know when one of his “friends” had a mischievous smile on their face, he wasn’t capable to know when they had an evil tone on their voice, saying to him: “come on, Jethro, follow me!” to later be guided to the basement stairs… and be pushed.

After rolling down stairs and hearing said “friend” run away while laughing, Jethro would just stay there, laying on the floor, too sensitive to move because it was too much (the rough movements, rolling down, every single part of his body getting hit), it was too much to handle and he didn’t know what to do: scream? Clap his hands? Shake his legs? Slap slightly his cheeks? It was too much to handle! So, he would just lay down in the floor until one of the caretakers would come down and find him in that stoic state. No matter how many questions the caretakers would ask to him about what happened, the questions would always be faced with either silence or a very loud “I am Jethro!”

It was the same thing till Jethro was 10 years old.

And, sadly, everybody was tired of Jethro.

“I am Jethro! I am Jethro!”

“Shut up, Jethro! We just want to look at these drawings!” one of the kids pushed back Jethro. The other 2 kids had in hand Jethro’s favorite blueprints. They were holding the blueprints without care.

“They’re so weird, I don’t understand these ugly drawings” one kid said. Another kid tried to snatch one blueprint out of the other’s hands. Jethro was starting to get too anxious, he was slightly shaking, closing and opening his hands while trying to grab back the blueprints, saying out loud his only known sentence (his only verbal option). Other people would have caught the despairing tone in Jethro’s voice and know that something was truly bothering him, but the kids didn’t care and decided to ignore Jethro, still pushing him away whenever he was very close to them and close to grab the blueprints. Everything went downhill in the moment one of the kids, accidentally, teared in half one of the blueprints.

Jethro was in silence, his eyes glued to the now destroyed blueprint. “Crap, it’s broken!” said the kid who teared in half the blueprint “We’re going to get in trouble!”

“Let’s get out of here!”

“You better say nothing about this, Jethro” one of the kids threated.

“It doesn’t matter, he only knows how to say his name because he's stupid! He won’t tell a single word about this to the caretakers!” other kid said with a big grin on his face. And with that the kids left while Jethro was still there, looking at the now ruined blueprints. Jethro slowly sat on the floor, hugged his legs against his chest… and started to rock himself; while other kids would have cried with nasty tears and loud screams, Jethro would quietly rock himself on the floor, hugging his legs and stay there for hours until one of the caretakers decided to get him up (forcefully, at that point the majority of the caretakers were too tired of Jethro’s “bratty behavior” and decided they were not going to be gentle with him anymore, incorrect decision). How many hours he stayed there, rocking himself? Apparently enough hours to make someone approach to him with worried eyes.

But something was different. Jethro, miraculously, sensed that someone was by his side and he was patiently waiting for a grip on his arm and to be force stand up and walk back to his room (and feel too uncomfortable because of the numb feeling in his legs and that blank noise inside his brain). But he was met with…

“Hey, kid, it’s everything okay? Something hurts? Tummy pain?”

Jethro slowly moved his head to look up and he was met with an adult and a teenager. Both were looking at him with worried eyes, not with angry and annoyed eyes (not with that frown Jethro knew by that time, that frown always meant “I’m going to yell at you”).

The teenager got a little bit closer while he rested his hand on the adult’s shoulder. “Wait, dad… I think I recognize him. Jethro?”

“I am Jethro!” Jethro answered with a loud yell. The adult was surprised at how a little guy could be able to yell that loud.

“You know him, Ernesto?” the adult looked back at the teenager.

“Kind off. He got here when he was four, I think… I was seven years old at the time” Ernesto looked at Jethro and then at the adult (his father) again. “He doesn’t talk, he just says his name. I never actually talked with him because… you know”.

The adult looked back at Jethro and smiled at him. “Hey kid, so your name is Jethro? Nice to meet you, I’m Boxman”.

“I am Jethro!”

The man—Boxman, didn’t yell at him. Jethro felt calm, he felt happy.

“Hmm… this is weird, he only knows how to say his name? If you’re by now seventeen years old, Ernesto, then he has…” the man stayed in silence while he was calculating. “Um, Jethro, are you fourteen years old?”

Jethro clapped his hands two times.

Boxman waited for a few minutes and was met with silence. “Well, I suppose that’s how you say ‘yes’…”

And when Boxman was about to say something else, one of the caretakers interrupted him with a soft “hmph”. Boxman and Ernesto looked in the caretaker’s direction, but Jethro kept his eyes glued to Boxman. “Ah, excuse me, sir. Sorry for being late, the papers are ready and… oh, was Jethro bothering you, sir?” asked the caretaker, quickly their friendly tone changed to an annoyed one when they noticed Jethro. And Boxman wasn’t deaf and blind. He noticed the change; the annoyed tone, the indifferent look. The caretakers didn’t like Jethro. And that concerned Boxman.

“I’m so sorry if Jethro was bothering you, sir. I’ll leave with him and soon one of my coworkers will attend you” said the caretaker while they tried to grab Jethro’s arm. But Jethro flinched at the slight touch and, standing up, he grabbed Boxman’s hand. “Jethro, don’t annoy the sir, he’s—”

“Actually,” said Boxman, catching the caretaker’s attention “… I want to adopt Jethro”.

Ernesto smiled.

“… excuse me, what?” muttered the caretaker in surprise.

“I am Jethro!”

“Are you ready for a new adventure, kids?” Boxman asked with a big smile while he left in the car the last box filled with small and fragile things like the medicines, some crystal plates, glasses and other things like Ernesto’s books and Jethro’s clothes and notebooks.

“I’m going to miss the house…” said Ernesto, now an eighteen-year-old, while he looked back at the now empty house. He was hugging tightly his favorite book with one hand while with the other was holding Jethro’s hand.

“I am Jethro! I am Jethro!” Jethro shouted excited and clearly, he wasn’t too bothered with the idea of moving, not after Boxman told him they were going to get some copies of the new house’s blueprints.

Boxman smiled at his oldest son and then at his youngest one. “Hey, Ernesto, my son,” he said, catching Ernesto’s attention “everything is going to be okay, don’t be sad. Yes, it’s difficult to let go of things that we feel attached to, but today we’re going to make a new start, together”.

Ernesto stayed in silence but, after a few minutes, smiled at Boxman. He whispered softly an “okay”.

“Welp everyone, let’s get going! A new house is waiting for us!” Boxman exclaimed.

“Yeah!” Ernesto exclaimed too.

“I am Jethrooo!” Jethro shouted.

The three got into the car and started to drive towards their new home. While driving they listened to music, talked, counted how many red cars passed by (well, just Ernesto and Jethro!), and more little activities. And when they arrived at their new house it was already 9:00 pm! And for a few weeks they cleaned, placed the furniture and decorated their new home until everything was in place. After one month, Ernesto was ready to again to school and Jethro was about to start his new scholar year too, but the night before his first school day, Jethro was feeling too anxious about the idea. He… remembered how the others treated him in the orphanage… what if his new classmates treated him the same way? (His father taught him what kind of actions were bad, and now he knew everything the others did to him in the orphanage were bad actions!)

But when Boxman was getting him ready to sleep, he said: “remember, Jethro… you’re not alone now, I’m here and your brother is here too. We’re going to look after you, and your new teachers will look after you too, my son…” Boxman smiled at him.

Jethro stared at his father and nodded, feeling calmer now. His father was right, he wasn’t alone now… he had a family now, a family that understood him. Jethro waited a few minutes and then clapped his hands softly. Boxman nodded and kissed his son’s forehead.

“Goodnight, Jethro”

“I am Jethro”

“Woah, Jethro, this looks so cool!” Shannon exclaimed while she took a seat beside Jethro in the kitchen’s table. Jethro was working in some blueprints, a house design as his project for his semester. Jethro looked at his younger sister (even when she was taller than him, he knew he was the second oldest!) and smiled at her. It made him happy the fact that her sister was impressed at his blueprints.

He exclaimed happily “I am Jethro!” and started to explain everything in his blueprints using sign language (Boxman and other people taught him that language, and later on his siblings were taught too! Jethro didn't have any struggle with sign language!). Shannon gave her whole attention to her older sibling and how not to be impressed! Jethro knew everything about architecture, and she was happy knowing that Jethro had passion for his career. Soon the front door was opened and Boxman got in with Raymond behind him (carrying a few groceries bags) and Teagan on his arms.

“Look, dad! Jethro is totally a pro with the whole architecture thing!” Shannon said while trying to catch her father’s attention.

“Really, my daughter? Well of course he is!” Boxman said while he walked towards Shannon and Jethro to see what they were doing while Raymond closed the door and left the bags in the kitchen. Once Boxman saw Jethro’s original blueprints he smiled. “Oh my, Jethro! All those angles, notes, everything looks so professional! And I’m pretty sure they’re all correct and without any flaw! I’m so proud of you, my son”

Jethro looked at Boxman and clapped his hands with happiness. Shannon soon joined him and Teagan too! Jethro was happy. His teachers already told him that his project was awesome and that he was going to get an A plus, but… listening to Boxman’s words made his heart jump with excitement and feel proud about himself.

With a big smile, he shouted: “I am Jethro!”

As a result, he received an innocent laugh from Teagan.

Chapter Text

“Sir, could you give me some coins? My… my little brother is hungry…”

The adult looked at Sara, pity on their eyes once they noticed the little baby in her arms. The adult just gave her some coins and she left the little store, while rocking her little brother in her arms to keep him sleeping, to go back “home” (which, sadly, was an alley with tons of old blankets, trash bags and used boxes). The true is, her mother died when she gave birth to Teagan, leaving her all alone with her father and little brother.

Since she was 7 years old, Sara lived in the streets with her parents and just 1 month ago she lost her mother. But even after losing her mother, Sara was happy to have Teagan with her. Teagan, her beloved little brother. How she loved him, and he was just a little thing in her arms, all wrapped up and warm thanks to his blanket. Maybe she lost her mother because of Teagan’s birth, but… Sara couldn’t be angry at Teagan, it wasn’t his fault. And how could she be angry at this cute and adorable baby?

“Don’t worry, Teagan, me and dad are going to always be with you. I’m going to get you warm and clean clothes, fresh food and awesome toys to play!” Sara promised with a little smile on her lips, looking at Teagan for a few moments. Teagan moved slightly his hands and his head, but soon stayed still and went back to sleep.

She kept walking, from one street to another, and after a few hours, she was finally back at their little home-alley. Her father was already there, waiting at the entrance of the alley. Sara smiled at her father. “Dad, we’re back! I got some coins and now we can buy Teagan’s formula and…”

“Sara…” her father interrupted her with a sad whisper. Sara’s smile faded slowly, worried.

After a few minutes, Sara was walking with her father, holding hands with his left hand, while he was carrying Teagan with his right arm. They walked in silence. After an hour of silence, she finally asked: “Where are we going, dad?”

Her father stayed in silence. She did too. After a few minutes, with a broken voice, her father asked: “Sara… you love your little brother, right?”

“Of course, I love him!” she answered right away, smiling again. “He’s my little brother, he’s cute and I love him with all my heart, dad!”

“Then, you will always take care of him and love him, right?”

“Of course, dad! I will work hard to make him smile, I will protect him and play with him forever! And I’m going to protect you too, dad!”

Sara looked at her father, still smiling. Her father looked back at her and returned the smile. Then, he asked again: “Sara… would you ever forgive me?”

Sara looked at her father, innocence in her eyes “… for what, dad?”

“For everything… I’ve done?”

But her father has done nothing but bring her happiness, her father didn’t do anything wrong! Nothing bad! Her father was a good man, he loved them, why was he apologizing? Sara was confused, but she smiled again at her dad and said: “I will always forgive you, dad! Because I love you with all my heart and I know Teagan loves you too!”

Abruptly they stop walking, standing in front of a big building: “Miss. Tutu’s Orphanage”. Her father got down on his knees, still rocking Teagan with his arm. He looked directly at Sara and then hugged her with his free arm. Sara hugged him back, hiding her face against his shoulder, crushed against his chest. Soon she heard how her father started to sob, whispering things like “I’m so sorry, my Sara, my Teagan…”, “I will always love you…” and “Everything is going to be okay…”

After a few minutes a woman came out of building and waited silently. Her father let go of her. “I love you, Sara” he said to her with a sad smile, tears on his eyes. He looked at his son. “I love you, Teagan” he said.

He handed Teagan to Sara and, once the baby was on her arms, she kept him close to her. Sara looked at Teagan and then to her father and, with a happy yet sad smile, she said: “We love you too, dad”

Her father smiled at her; his tears fell while he kissed their foreheads with love. Then, he got up, turned around to look at the woman and said: “Please… take care of them…”

The woman got closer and held Sara’s left hand with care. Her father smiled at her again and left. He left. Sara stood there, holding Teagan with her right arm, looking how slowly her father started to disappear from her sight. Sara didn’t understand…

But, at the same time, she understood it.

“Her name is Sara, she’s 11 years old” the caretaker explained “and she has a younger brother, his name is Teagan…”

“How long have they been here, Miss?” Boxman asked.

“They just have been here for a few weeks, maybe ten weeks, Sir. The baby it’s just 2 months old” the caretaker explained, now with a sad smile on her lips. “Sara loves Teagan dearly. He only drinks his formula if Sara is holding him and he only sleeps if Sara is rocking him with her arms…”

Boxman felt his heart ache. 2 months ago, he and his sons had arrived at their new city. And just after Ernesto started his scholar year, Boxman heard the rumor (and soon to be late, a fact) that there was a poor man who had 2 kids; a daughter and a son. What made him panic was the fact that the son was just a newborn baby. Later he found out that the police found a man in alley, dead. Cause of death? Apparently, depression and a heart attack. In just two days he found the orphanage where the two orphan siblings were and went directly to look after them. He thanked in silence to all those people who gave him information: people who recognized the man and the children.

“There they are!” the caretaker exclaimed while entering to the playroom. Sara was sitting on an individual blue sofa. In her left arm was Teagan resting his head while his body was resting against Sara’s left leg and the sofa. He was looking directly to Sara with all the calm of the world, moving his hands slightly like he was trying to touch his sister’s face but without success.

Sara was just admiring her little brother until the caretaker and Boxman appeared. “Sara, he’s Mr. Boxmore and he wants to talk with you, love”

Boxman got near and kneeled in front of Sara, keeping some distance to not scare her. He smiled with kindness. “Um, hello Sara, nice to meet you, my name is Boxman… how are you?”

Sara stayed in silence for a few minutes until she smiled shyly. “I’m fine, thanks…”

“I heard you were eleven years old and that your little brother was two months old too, am I wrong?”

“Yes, you’re right” she answered, looking at Teagan who wasn’t bothered at all with Boxman’s presence. “He’s still a little baby…”

Boxman smiled. Sara loved Teagan and that made him happy. “Um… excuse me” Sara said, catching Boxman’s attention. “Do you… know something about my dad? He left us here a few weeks ago… and nobody tells me where is he or how he is… and…” her voice started to sound sad, hopeless “… I’m scared, sir… do you know something about my dad? Anything?”

It broke his heart. A young pre-teenage girl, who lost her mother and then her father, without knowing the state of the last one. All alone to take care of her younger sibling. A young pre-teenage girl who lived in the streets. They stayed silence for a few minutes, Boxman was trying to find the correct words to tell her about the truth. But soon, Sara said: “… he’s never going to come back, isn’t he? Dad… dad didn’t eat a lot and, well, without water and heat… I’ve… I’ve heard some adults say that he’s… he’s…”

Teagan made a tiny noise once he noticed Boxman. Sara and Boxman looked at Teagan, who was moving his arms with more enthusiasm. Sara smiled and laughed. “He… he has never done that with anyone other than me and…”

Boxman looked directly at Teagan’s eyes and gave him an awkward smile. And that made the baby smile. Sara was in shock, small tears on her eyes. “He… he actually never smiles at other people than me!” she smiled all surprised. Boxman smiled back at Teagan and then looked back at Sara.

“Sara…” he said, catching Sara’s attention. And, with a kind and paternal smile, he asked: “Would you like to be, you and Teagan, adopted by me? I know that I’m not your real father, that I’m a stranger… but believe me when I tell you that I want to give you and your little brother a new life, a happy one… I promise to take care of both of you, to protect you, to love you with all my heart…"

Sara stayed in silence. But soon her eyes started to get teary and fat tears started to roll down her cheeks. She tried to suppress her sobs but nodded. She looked down at Teagan and, while some of her tears fell on Teagan’s blanket, she exclaimed: “Teagan, dad came back… dad is here!”

Boxman smiled at her, took Teagan with his left arm and hugged Sara with his right one. Sara hugged him tightly, crying on his shoulder. Her father was back… Their father was back.

Everything was new!

A new family, a new house, a new life! Sara was so happy! Since the 1st day in her new house she loved Ernesto and Jethro right away, and they loved her too! And they loved Teagan too! Ernesto was a little bit nervous about Teagan because he was a baby (“Babies are too fragile, dad! I trust you, but I’m a mess! And I’m supposed to be an adult too!”) but that didn’t stop him to love him. And Jethro was so fascinated with Sara and Teagan, he loved them with all his heart! (It took her a lot of time to learn sign language and to learn her brother’s behavior to know him better, but she still loved him no matter what).

Everything was new, but some things stayed the same.

For example: Teagan’s crying at 2am.

Teagan had a thing about crying at 2am. Maybe he was hungry or needed to have his diaper changed, or maybe it was because he was all alone in the middle of the night without someone at his side with all that silence made in the night, and that scared him a lot!

While living on the streets Teagan would cry because of being hungry or because he heard a very loud noise. And even after he and Sara started to live under the orphanage’s roof, he would cry because of being hunger or the whole diaper thing. And Sara would always have to wake up and put back Teagan back to sleep. Why? Simply: Teagan may not recognize who truly is taking care of him (who was changing him? Feeding him? He didn’t know! He was just a baby!) but he did recognize voices… or somewhat recognized voices. And he recognized Sara’s sweet voice. A caretaker’s voice? They weren’t Sara! No Sara equals crying, which means not going back to sleep!

Sara had to wake up at 2am by the caretakers to put back Teagan to sleep, singing him a lullaby while rocking him slowly and carefully (after attending his needs, obviously). Sara needed to be honest: it bothered her, she wanted to go back to sleep. But she always pushed herself to take care and responsibility over Teagan because she loved him dearly. She felt… alone. Teagan could only recognize her voice and none other, she was the only one capable to put back him to sleep and that tired her a lot, it could take her 30 minutes or a whole hour to make her little brother sleep again!

But now… she was not alone.

Teagan was crying and Sara woke up. She was currently sleeping in Boxman’s bed and Teagan’s crib was at the bed’s side. Sara was about to sit up when Boxman woke up and walked towards Teagan’s crib. But he soon noticed that Sara was awake, with a kind smile, he whispered: “Sara, my dear, go back to sleep. I will take care of Teagan.”

Sara slowly rested her head on her pillow and looked how Boxman carried Teagan, checked quickly if he needed to have his diaper changed (which wasn’t needed) and gave his formula. He was hungry! Boxman waited patiently for Teagan to finish his formula, with a loving smile on his face. And after Teagan finished, Boxman patted his back carefully to make him burp. Sara forced herself to stay awake, she was so… fascinated about how Boxman was taking care of Teagan. It looked so natural, like he has been doing it all his life! Boxman soon started to rock Teagan gently on his arms and sang a lullaby. A lullaby about stars, dreams and sweets.

And what surprised Sara the most was the fact that Teagan… recognized Boxman’s voice. And soon the baby fell asleep. Boxman kept singing softly while he left Teagan in his crib. Boxman turned around to look at Sara and, with a gentle smile, kissed her forehead. Softly, he said: “Sweet dreams, my daughter. You’re never going to be alone while me and your siblings are still here. I promise”.

Sara smiled and went back to sleep. She was so happy… she wasn’t alone, she was never going to be alone.

“Okay dad, we need to talk…” Sara said while she was taking seat on one of the kitchen’s chairs. Ernesto headed back to work because he left some important papers, Jethro was playing some videogames in his room, Darrell, Shannon and Raymond were at Enid’s house doing homework together (with KO and Rad tagging along) and Teagan was sleeping.

Now Sara had the opportunity to talk with Boxman. She was feeling so anxious, way more anxious than that moment when she came out of the closet when she was 16 years old (and, for your information, Boxman took it very well, Sara was and always be his daughter no matter what!). But just in a month she was going to become a police officer.

It was kind off hilarious to see her father get through the 5 stages of grief when she told him she wanted to be a police office. At first Sara was worried, Boxman was anxious and having ups and downs whenever she or he touched the topic. But Sara never got mad at him every time he expressed disapprove or fear of the idea of her studying and pursuing that career, Boxman was scared. It was a dangerous job, what if Sara got hurt? Or something worse? What if she needed to do something awful? What if she never gets to come back home? Boxman tried so hard to keep those awful thoughts away. Even when he hated that fear in his guts, he didn’t have the strength to prohibit Sara from pursuing her dream.

And that night, where the two of them were alone to talk (excluding Jethro’s and Teagan’s presence in the house), they decided to finally talk about the topic and give the ultimate answer.

They talked for a couple of hours, talking about the career, the pros and cons, how the system works and more.

“Sara, my daughter… I just… can understand why you want to become a police officer. I know that you’re capable, you’re strong and smart! But… I’m scared…”

“I know, dad” Sara answered, smiling sweetly at her father. “I want to help others; I want to be there for anyone who needs it. I want… to be like you.”

Boxman was speechless.

“You… you saved us! You saved all my siblings! You saved Teagan, dad, you saved a baby! And you… you saved me, dad… because you found me, you found all of us! You looked for us to give us a new chance in life! You gave us…” Sara looked at Boxman with teary eyes but a bright smile in her face “… a life. I want to find and look after people, I want to find others who need help and be that person who gives them a hand and a little push to keep going. I want to be like you!”

Boxman looked at his oldest daughter and, with a few tears, he laughed. “Like me, you say? You’re already copying my height!” he joked, earning a laugh from Sara.

“Hey! That’s mean! I already have battle between Raymond because of our height difference!” Sara warned while laughing. Both father and daughter hugged each other laughing heartily. And after a few minutes both were in silence, but it was a good silence.

“Sara, my daughter… just promise me one thing: be careful. Your siblings and I are going to support you no matter what, just… be cautious, be intelligent, be careful and be strong, okay?”

Sara smiled and nodded. “Thank you, dad”