Family Ties...

© 2016

The story you are reading is fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are purely from imagination and are for pleasure and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locality is entirely coincidental.

Family Ties...

"Now don't you be any trouble getting up in the morning," she said, putting her hands on her hips, trying to look cross. Moira Davies and her husband Derek had been foster parents for close on thirty-five years now, they had fostered many children... children had come and gone; all different - all tearing the heart and soul from within that supposedly separates us as human beings from animals. But be that loss or cruelty, they loved each and every one of them as if they were their own children; which inside of course, they were. The photos and cards above the fireplace showed the degree of love she had for 'her' children, and they in their own special way recipitated with visits and cards. She had, over the years, lost touch with a lot of the children, but never forgot a one of them, either by face or name. The children she was now taking care of, she thought, would be her last, as their age crept on.

Chris cleared the last two steps as he bounded toward his room giggling, quietly opening the door so as to not disturb the other kids. All of them looking dead to the world as he entered, sleeping in positions that he couldn't rap his head around as he drew the covers over each, smoothing their hair as he did. Walking over to his bed, he pulled back the covers and got changed for bed.

There were six children in the house including Chris, with ages ranging from five to ten, Chris being the oldest.

Robin and Cindy were four and five respectively; Terry and Gregory were seven; and Rose was nine. All five treated him as a brother, and though Chris would never admit it, he loved all of them.

Before getting into bed he walked over to the window, opening the curtains slightly. Outside the snow was slowly falling, drifting in every direction, resting sparkling as the light seemed to absorb each snowflake in turn. As he gazed down the street, excitement bubbled as his eyes widened at the picture postcard scene as the coloured lights from the snow covered windows flickered gently over the falling flakes, leaving a canvas that would absorb in memory a lasting vision that would gleam a smile on all who had the privilege of the scene.

Chris was your all everyday boy who gave everything a go, and considered it a challenge to try almost every activity to the fear of everyone but himself; though that not being the view of his five brothers and sisters. If he shied away from anything, it was Rose, the tomboy. Her constant attention, to Chris' annoyance, to this 'take on all' boy made him go weak at the knees and attempt to find a place to hide whenever she gave what he felt was that certain smile, though not wanting it to show. They had at times had their run-ins, their fallings out, but all was quickly forgotten. But to a ten year old ... the thought does not reciprocate the same attraction.

At times he shied away to the cellar for solitude. Though not a loner, Chris was a thinker; and at times being in a world of his own gave some concern.

His time with younger members of his little family was a pleasure to all being within its circle, laughing, giggling, cheering, brought smiles from all... though at times, the volume of noise was chastised.

Chris was a baby that would not be aborted, but would not be wanted at birth; family on either side of mum or dad would never be seen. Within weeks of Chris's birth, both parents were dead.

The Davies's were contacted by social services two month after he was born, being only released from his see through chamber once all toxins were flushed from his small body. Tests for other diseases proved to be negative to the relief of all.

Ten o'clock that morning, Moira held Chris in her arms, smiling at the smile he gave after being picked up, wrapping his little hand around her finger.

Having a strong pair of lungs, he let everyone know when he needed feeding or changing; though that did not follow after a few months. At times, his quietness would be a concern, as he would at times have slept through day or night, if not for being awakened for feeding and necessities.

His character started to show at near on twelve months old - seemingly giggling at all and everything. As he became two years old, his gentle nature was to take care of anything or anyone that looked upset... issuing hugs without a second thought. He could destroy a room in seconds, and getting a scolding didn't change his mood. Mud and water were his love to the chagrin of the adults, which at times give encouragement to the other children.

Years followed but with little change. At eight years old, parts of his personality changed ... going within his self, quiet, putting his self to one side, becoming reserved at times. His time around the adults decreased, blossoming when around the children, coming out of his self seclusion when he was needed, seemingly becoming a parent without the scolding.

Making his way back to his bed, leaving the curtains slightly open, he looked around the room with a smile; he may not be as lucky as most kids to have a mum and dad, but as he again set his gaze warmly around the room, he did have a family, a family that loved him. Getting into bed his eyes closed with a smile as he drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

Breakfast was a noisy affair as six energetic children talked one over the other, and cutlery sounded like a protest as it clattered against every and all pieces of pottery. The eggs, bacon, sausages, and toast were devoured -seemingly going somewhere an adult could never find room for as they emptied plates and glasses alike of their contents, then emptying the table, making no less noise.

After eating what alone felt emptying every cupboard of its contents, the fridge itself not overlooked; Moira sent them all upstairs to get cleaned up and properly dressed, leaving visible signs of relief behind as they quickly made their way out of the dining room. "And don't forget to clean your teeth," with some encouragement, as "Yes ma'ams" could be heard. Derek being absent from work today would be a godsend, being the boss did have its privileges. Though a small company, it kept their needs in hand comfortably. Moira, the ever present housewife and mother, on the other hand, had the unenviable task of finishing what was the late, very late Christmas shopping, but at least, not last minute; leaving her husband to look after the six children minus one, Chris. Taking one was achievable, but six had been a nightmare on more than one occasion leading up to the festive season.

"Christopher, you make sure you wrap up warm, and don't forget your bob cap."

"Yes ma'am," he said, feeling as he didn't need to be told.

The bus pulled up at their stop, Chris had to jump the final step, as his inner child appeared. The snow crackled as their feet touched the ground, then making their way slowly shop by shop ... window shopping at some as an option if all items could not be found.

Moira preferred the smaller shops to the bigger retailers. Though a little more expensive, they represented the spirit of the season - not a chore too big to be given without a smile or a helping hand. They all seemed like kin striving for the same pleasure. The bigger retailers stocked all the Christmas wants; but were more akin to getting a sale, and then quickly moving on to the next customer ... being so pushy and demanding as they clattered away at the till to get money - be that cash or credit card. No one gave a hoot to anyone, shoppers and others alike.

People pushed and barged with little or no concern for the folks around them, even children being no obstacle to their rudeness.

Taking a bench, they sat down to take the weight off Moira's feet, as the non-stop shopping had taken its toll. Moira sighed, and then a little weary looked toward Chris.

"We won't be much longer, then we can go home and get warmed up," giving a warm smile to her little angel.

Chris held his hands out catching the snow as it fell, then turning to Moira with a smile before washing the snow into his face with a giggle. "Do you like the snow that much?" she asked.

He threw the snow that was in his hands into the air and giggled as he wrapped his arms around her...

"I like Christmas, it makes me feel warm and tingly. I like the snow, the Christmas carols, the happy music; but best, I like being at home." He gazed around taking in the lights, the trees, the people, even what they wore.

"My, aren't you the happy one," as she pulled him into a hug. They say if you make a Christmas wish, and if you've been good," she winked, "then whatever you wish for will come true." He pulled away, resting to the side of her, again taking in all he could see as tears ran down his cheeks, a mum and dad entering his thoughts.

"I've got you and Derek, err... Mr Davies. I've got brothers and sisters. I've got a family that loves me, and I love them. I'm the happiest kid alive. I don't need to wish for anything." She gently stroked his cheek and gave a warm smile.

"I love you, ma'am."

She again gently wrapped her arms around him as their tears seemed to mingle - any words she wanted to speak were in thoughts only. She raised his head, smiling warmly. "I love you too little one, more than you will ever know, but sometimes you need to think about what 'you' want, think about yourself."

"But ..."

"I wish... I wish all my children would never grow up or ever leave, and that's selfish I know; but I also know with all my heart that it isn't wrong ..."

"But ..." Chris looked into her eyes, seeing love as he stammered trying to put his thoughts into words. "But you care... I love you, ma'am. I'm selfish too, because I don't want the others to grow up. I never want to leave. I want to live with you forever and ever." She wrapped her arms tightly around his small frame. "You are a special young man, little one," as she gently kissed the top of his head, Chris melted into her embrace.

"What do you say we spoil ourselves and go for lunch, you choose?"

"Can we take something home for the others?" She looked up to the heavens and smiled at his thoughtfulness. "Of course we can, but you choose, okay?" his smile would certainly light-up the heavens as he nodded, his eyes shining with happiness.

Getting up to leave made her old bones creak, but her little helper guided her to her feet gently. The snow crackled, making Chris stamp his feet with no small amount of pleasure, which again brought out his inner child as he giggled a little louder than Moira would have liked, but a smile crossed her face... being young only happens once were her thoughts.

Chris stiffened, stopping Moira dead in his tracks. Without warning, Chris set-off running, leaving Moira stunned. "Christopher!" as he started to run faster. Moira came to her senses when she saw where Chris was running.

Hand to mouth, "Oh my God. Chris, nooooo..." now moving as quickly as her legs could carry her. For a split second, everything seemed in slow motion as she watched Chris run into the road. Everyone seemed to stare at the commotion as Moira screamed.

Chris dived to the road, taking the little girl with him as he slid uncontrollably across the road; the single decker bus sliding with brakes locked, skidding as it careered toward the little girl ... and now Chris.

There was a 'thud,' and time seemed to stand still for what seemed forever, but merely seconds, as more screams broke the silence. People ran without thought with fear in their eyes.

Moira pushed through the crowd, stopping as she saw Chris lying face down - still. Forcing herself to move, she spoke to the boy. Though hampered by the bus, she gently rolled Chris over, fearing what she would see as a passerby picked up the child from within a short distance of the boy.

"CHRISTOPHER, CHRISTOPHER, open your eyes," smoothing his hair away from his face.

"Is she okay?"

The little girl screamed as a reply, Chris slowly opened his eyes before closing them again - a smile crossing his face.


At that moment, a woman turned and seeing her baby, ran to the woman that held her little girl, grabbing her from the woman's grasp. Then looking down, she saw the boy who lay in the arms of Moira. She looked at her daughter again, then at the boy, putting her hands to her mouth. In the background, sirens could be heard as the crowd slowly cleared access for the Emergency Services.

The paramedics surrounded Chris with some concern as they gently moved Moira to one side, gradually moving the boy outside the shadow of the bus with precaution to keep him flat but comfortable. His breathing was laboured and his pulse shallow.

"What's his name, ma'am?"

"Christopher" she said after a moment or two.

They spoke to Chris, getting no response. He was given oxygen as the second paramedic put a line in after putting the mask over Chris's face, then he began to put probes on his abdomen and chest as the heart monitor beeped it's not so festive tune. His blood pressure was low, giving some concern; but with head injuries that was to be expected. Checking a laceration on his forehead, and then down the side of his face. Seeing the deep gash on the crown of his head, he asked his colleague to help turn him onto his side as he checked for any skull fractures or back trauma, then checking other parts of his body for further trauma associated with this type of accident. Chris moaned as the paramedic put pressure on his right arm, getting a positive look from both of them.

"I know this is upsetting, and I'm sorry, but I have to get some details," Moira looked up at the officer, crying as she gave a tentative nod. "Can you tell me what happened?" she tried to explain giving a highlighted version of the events. The officer, seeing the upset, put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. "Go and see if he's okay, we can get more details later. Is there anyone we can contact?"

"Derek Davies, he's my husband. I'm sorry officer, my name is Moira." Thanks, he said as he reassured her everything would be okay.

"Do you want me to take your bags home?" she looked around for her bags, then at the officer.

"That would be kind of you, thank you." He walked away after again putting his hand on her should as a reassurance.

"Christopher," he opened his eyes, but remained quiet, "I need to move your arm and it's going to hurt. I'm sorry, but I need to stop your arm from going numb," a simple explanation so as not to upset or frighten him anymore than necessary, "do you understand?" Chris gave a hesitant nod.

"Moira, right? I need you to hold his head?" The bone aligned quickly, and upon feeling a strong pulse, he smiled, "Good boy, Chris, we're going to put a splint on your arm, I know it will hurt a little, but try to be brave, okay?" Chris opened his eyes to show he understood, and the paramedic smiled. Putting the splint on got no reaction other than the blowing of air from Chris's mouth. "Won't be long now, okay?"

He gave Chris time to settle again.

"Okay, Chris, we're going to put you on a spine board, try and stay as still as you can, okay?" Getting the same response, the paramedic again gave him a warm smile. "Good boy." Slowly they manoeuvred him onto the spine board, both paramedics working as a team, one slowly turned his weight, and the second paramedic laid Chris's broken arm across his chest, as an officer tried to keep the movement of his legs to a minimum. As they laid him down, a rush of air as a sign of relief shot across Chris's face.

"Okay, Chris, it'll soon be over." Lifting him onto a stretcher, they carried him to the ambulance to try and lessen the discomfort.

"Christopher, can you hear me?" As Chris opened his eyes, a tear rolled down his cheek. "You've been a brave boy," he said as he took his paramedic pin from his uniform and pinned it to Chris's coat.

The officer closed the doors, as the paramedic fitted the seatbelt around Moira.

At the infirmary, Chris was rushed into a cubicle. Moira as best she could was trying to stay out of the way, being stopped in her tracks. "Please wait in the waiting room; a doctor will be out shortly to talk to you."

"Don't even go there, nurse; he is ten years old and needs his family," the first reaction she had made since seeing her little angel lying on the snow.

Some twenty minutes later, Derek with her other five children rushed into the ER and walked over to the reception to find out how his son was doing.

A nurse entered the cubicle where Chris was being treated.

"Your husband is here, would you like to go speak to him," knowing the small cubicle would be hard pressed to hold the man and his children.

"How is he?" her husband and the children all asked at once with fear and concern in their voices.

Moira hugged her husband as she cried on his shoulder.

"I don't know. God above, the last thing he did was smile. We can't lose him, Derek, we can't." The children began to cry before Moira came to her senses ... holding them and gently soothing them as she spoke. 'He'll be all right, since when have you known Chris to give up on anything," more a statement than a question, then looking up at her husband, not quite believing it herself.

She walked up to the reception desk as the officer she spoke to earlier finished talking to the nurse at the desk. Even at such a time as this, her love for children never wavered. "Excuse me, can you tell me how the little girl is, I'm sorry I don't know the child's name, but she would have come in about the same time as my son Christopher?"

"She's going to be all right, a few minor scrapes, but nothing too serious. "Your son is a very brave little boy ... the police said he risked his own life to save the little girl." Moira smiled before bursting into tears. The nurse stepped out from behind the reception area and walked around to where Moira stood.

"I am so proud of him, it hurts." The nurse closed her hands around Moira's, as at that moment a doctor stepped up to the side of her.

"Mrs. Davies?"

"How is Christopher, doctor?" she asked with concern, as Derek and the children stood behind her with no less concern.

"We've sent him upstairs for a CT scan; from the x-rays we've taken, we could see no fractures to his skull. The second set of x-rays shows a double break of the radius and ulna just above the wrist. There appears to be no splintering, but it's going to mean surgery to set the bones. I will be able to give you more news after his surgery, please excuse me. Nurse, will you take Mr. and Mrs. Davies to the family room?"

Some twenty minutes later, when there was a knock on the door, Derek stepped forward and opened the door to see a middle aged man. "Mr. Davies, my name is Anthony Woodman. I'm sorry to disturb you, but I've come to thank you for what your son did today."

"Please come in." As he entered the room, Derek glanced at the well dressed man who wore a three piece charcoal grey suit - tailor made being more than a guess; and his overcoat was woven - so again expensive, then holding out his hand to the gentleman.

"I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Woodman."

"Tony, please."

"Thank you. This is my wife Moira; and these are our children, Robin, Cindy, Terence, Gregory, and Rose," pointing to each as he gave their names. Mr Woodman walked over, shaking everyone's hands.

"How is your son doing?"

"Christopher?" Moira replied. "We will know more once he comes out of surgery."

"Please sit down, Mr. Woodman."

"Tony, please, formality is for board meetings." He found himself a seat and smiled at the youngsters as he sat down. "Janet, my wife, is with Sophie." Then just as if on cue, there was a knock at the door.

Derek answered the door to see a lady, again dressed in refined clothing with a young girl at her side, hesitantly moving behind the woman.

"Hello, my name is Janet Woodman, and this is my daughter Sophie. I was told my husband was in here?"

"Please come in."

"Thank you." She said as she and her daughter walked over to her husband.

The families had talked at what was over ninety minutes when there was another knock on the door.

"Doctor, how is Christopher?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Davies, Mr. Woodman, Mrs Woodman." shaking each other's hands in turn.

"The good news is there is no brain damage; any trauma was to the scalp and stitches sufficed. We have repaired the broken bone, but there was a slight complication. The radius had splintered, though no splinters have separated from the bone itself. And considering the circumstances, since both breaks were clean, I don't envisage any problems. As was necessary, the radius and the ulna were both pinned; but sometime in the future they will be removed."

"How long will he be in hospital?"

"I would say a week, maybe two." Moira sat down with tears in her eyes.

"Healing can be shorter at times with someone of Christopher age," he said as he laid his hand on Moira's shoulder, completely missing the point.

"May we see him?"

At the moment he is sleeping, but I will have one of the nurses take you to him as soon as he's transferred to a ward; at the moment, he's still in recovery." The doctor left with the nurse, who said she'd be back shortly.

"We shall be going; but we would like to visit Christopher and thank him personally - with your permission of course? His actions were courage without any such thought of his own safety." As he left, he gave Derek his personal card with details of address, home number, work number, and mobile.

Moira sent her family home with a hug and a kiss, and the promise that everything was going to be alright, and that she would see them all tomorrow, which seemed to abate some of their worries and concerns after they had seen him. "When you come tomorrow, will you bring Christopher some pyjamas; and if you remember, bring me something clean to wear. See you all tomorrow," then kissed Derek.

Moira sat gazing at her little angel, a hand constantly smoothing his cheek while rubbing the back of his hand gently. Sensing a presence, a nurse was standing at the foot of the bed holding a small tray. The nurse gave a warm smile as she gave Moira something to drink... a cup of tea always seems to hit the spot.

"I'm Wendy, I'll be back in from time to time to check on him; so, if you need anything, please ask." Moira smiled and gave a nod.

As the night gave way to day, the room began to glisten as the light shone its glare through a window causing one to look away because of its brightness.

Opening his eyes, blinking them to clear his view, his green eyes giving a cat like view, and seeing Moira, he gave a loving smile. "Where am I?"

"You're in hospital." Though sleepy, his thoughts came rushing back as he remembered.

"How is the little girl?"

"She's going to be alright," seeing the look of concern. He again smiled as he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep again, his smile still evident.

"They forgot to fit you with wings," she said as she took his hand in hers.

"He woke up for a few seconds." She said, as the nurse wandered over toward her. "His only thought was for the little girl," she said as she kissed the back of his hand, her tears more than adequately showing her feelings for her little angel.

"Would you like a cup of tea?"

"Thank you" she said, giving a warm smile.

"I take it, you didn't you get much sleep either?" She said as she looked up at her husband?

 "How's he doing?"

"He's woken up a couple of times."

 "Chris!" All the children said at once, and Derek put his finger to his mouth to shush them.

All went quiet for maybe a second as Chris was, in the nicest possible way, mauled. He smiled as each asked one question or another. Moira and Derek could see he was in pain, but watched as he took everything in his stride. "Come on, kids, give him a minute," Moira said, and he smiled with thanks.

"How are you feeling, son?"

I'm okay."

"Christopher, if you're hurting, please tell us ... okay? " Chris not wanting to complain as little soldiers should.

"Sorry, ma'am, I have got a bit of a headache."

Two weeks of incarceration was more than enough for the nurses; at least the doctors had the good fortune to only have rounds. Though not intentional, he drove the nursing staff to distraction, if not murderous thoughts at a bed bound Chris, mad with boredom and cooped up without the option to do what nature intended. His release from the hospital seemed a lifetime - and not only to Chris. As he was wheeled away from the ward, there was little doubt that cheers were silently given as a parting goodbye.

Tony Woodman, his wife Janet, and his daughter Sophie watched, smiling as Derek and Moira walked from the side of the house. "It's good of you to come," they said in greeting as they walked toward the black Jaguar that was parked perfectly at the curb.

Though filed with dread, they met the family with a smile and bated breath.

The first week of Chris's stay in hospital, Mr. Woodman brought up the adoption of Chris. It seemed the whole family had been overwhelmed with the selfless courage of Chris. Being in the fraternity of care in the community, the elderly and the young alike at Social Security had given their blessing to his proposal to adopt Chris Stephen Gould, the name on his birth certificate.

Though never being able to have children of their own, Moira and Derek became foster parents. Having their whole life scrutinised as to their suitability, and their financial status all probed with a fine tooth comb, they being accepted after an open course with other potential adults on the ins and outs of parenting.

This was likely to be the last children they took in, and neither wanted any of their now children to leave; at least not until they were grown enough to look after their selves. And even then, as with all the others, keep in touch ... be that a visit or a post. So with a warm greeting, they would have to accept whatever decision Chris made.

As the Woodman's pulled up to the kerb, they saw a house that sat within the corner boundaries of the street. At first glance, the house was a medium sized property with need of some painting, probably built sometime in the late sixties. All window frames were a clean white and double glazed; the glazing sparkled as the sun shone directly onto them. They were of a bay type window, with the front door, also double glazed, having four small leaded glass windows containing two small roses and parts of the stalk on each of the glass panels. A brass letterbox and handles gave the door a polished look. The garden held no living plants for the season. A twelve by eight foot lawn with a cherry tree in the centre; a picket fence with curved pales between each stump lined the edge of the garden, separating it from the street. An ornamental tree stood on a concrete slab, and the door was wrapped with flashing Christmas lights, giving the house and its surroundings a homely feel; especially, with the decorations that hung from within, Christmas lights surrounding the entire frame, giving rise to the Christmas tree that stood maybe five foot with all the beauty and splendour associated with the festive season.

Though it was time for the decorations to be put away for another year, they were left in place for a certain little man as a surprise ... his presents still under the tree. Shrieks of laughter echoed around the house as presents were given, opened, and tried.

Around the side of the house lay a lawn that though covered by snow held amusements of swings, a seesaw, and a slide that undoubtedly kept the children amused for hours.

A concrete fence merged with wooden panels to make a high boundary shield; no doubt as a safety for the times we live in. The side of the house was separated by the same type of structure.

Chris gazed as the two adults entered through the living room door. He smiled as he was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Woodman. And he gave an excited smile, as little Sophie peeked her head from behind her mother. Young Sophie with no airs or graces ran to Chris with a mile wide grin.

"Please take a seat. Would you like a cup of tea, or would you prefer something stronger? Sophie, would you like a soft drink?"

"Yes, please."

"I think my wife and I will stick to tea." Janet followed Moira into the kitchen, taking all but one of the children.

"Christopher, Mr Woodman would like to talk to you."

"Christopher, I ... we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts..."

"Sir, everyone keeps saying I'm a hero, but I'm not." The two adults watched as Chris stared off into space.

"I heard the bus and saw a little girl lying face down in the road; so I ran. I was scared ... I was so scared." Tears slipped down his cheeks as he glanced around the room seeing nothing.

"They say courageous men never think about their actions, that's why you are a hero, Christopher. You never for one minute thought about what might happen to you, that's ..."

"But anyone would do the same thing."

"Yes, they probably would... but you did!" putting his hand on Christopher's shoulder and squeezing gently.

"I have to tell you, Sophie has never stopped talking about you - Chris this, Chris that, how brave you were." he said smiling, lightening the mood.

"I have to be honest, there's another reason I came today." The room suddenly crowded as Moira and Janet, followed by six talkative children entered. "Christopher, I would be honoured if you would allow me to adopt you." Chris looked up in surprise as his expression changed to a look of sadness.

"Sir, I can't; I don't want to. Thank you for asking ... but I can't. I know you could, if you wanted to, give me a life of a king, but I have a family. Mr. and Mrs. Davies, my foster parents, have been my mum and dad all my life, and I love them. And I have Robin, Cindy, Terry, Gregory, and Rose ... they're my brothers and sisters. Please don't be angry with me, sir." Derek lifted Chris, gently sitting him on his lap.

"God, I'm so proud of you."

"I'm not angry, but surprised; as we all are. But I really shouldn't be. I feel ... no, I know the courage you showed saving my daughter. Saving Sophie wasn't just something you did on the spur of the moment, it was Christopher being himself. I have never lowered myself to anyone in my entire life; but this time I have to bow to the better man," he said as he walked the few steps with a smile, patting Chris on the shoulder with a certain amount of admiration.

"Darling, do you think that cottage could do with some permanent residents?" getting a kiss from his wife for such a thoughtful idea.

"Derek, Moira, if I may, as you know, I live in a cosy fishing village down on the coast. I own the land that my house is built on, though small, maybe 10 or 15 acres, there was a cottage on the land when I purchased the house, which I rent to holiday makers. I can't remember the last time I was tongue-tied ... what I'm trying to say is I wanted this young man to have a family, but I see I was wrong, he already has one, just nobody realised it. What I would like to do is for you to take ownership of the cottage on a ninety-nine year lease; which, if an offer was made, would be accepted as permanent. And in the meantime, I will use every resource I have to give these fine children a permanent family and education."

Moira and Derek sat with hands clasped tightly.

"I forgot to mention that there will be no nasty surprises. What I mean to say is this house you can keep, sell, or rent; as this house has nothing to do with the offer I've made. Moira and Derek sat in complete shock, unable to say a word, and an even more shocked Chris was the only one able to manage his words.

"You would do that for me?"

"Yes and no, I would do that for all of you. Why you may ask? Today I was being selfish; not that I knew that, because believe me I didn't. I've witnessed two things today, a hero and a courageous young man, but I also saw a bond, a bond that a lot of families will never know. I could in no way say I would have given you a better family ... I couldn't. But I will say that I could give you the best that money can buy; but you turned all that down for a family that no one but you knew you already had. I would have been proud to call you Son, but Uncle will be as good, if it's alright with you and your family?"

The End

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