Chapter 5: The Parent Search
Alan watched out the window as the car pulled into the driveway of the house he’d be staying at. After Titus had turned his car off, Alan stepped out of the car and better studied the house that sat in front of him. It was a white two story house with a modest yard in front. In the middle of the yard was a stone walkway that led up to a veranda.
“What do you think Alan? I’ve always found it to be a quaint little place.” Said Sarah as she stepped beside Alan and smiled proudly at her home.
“It’s nice.” Alan replied as he glanced towards Sarah.
“Right? But you haven’t even seen the inside. Come on, we’ve got a room set up for you if you want to see it.” Said Drake cheerfully, hoping that he’d be able to get his new foster brother excited about living with them.
Drake and Sarah headed up the steps while Titus and Jake stood by Alan as they glanced around their house, taking a moment to truly admire the place they called home. It amazed Titus just how long he and his family had lived in their house. Several years before Drake’s birth, Titus and Sarah, after having finished college, rented an apartment together that Ben and Jessie helped them pay for. While the money Sarah had made from managing Angela’s old toy store had contributed a nearly sustainable amount towards their expenses, it still wasn’t enough especially with Titus, at the time, having only a part time job which wasn’t garnering him nearly enough money. After doing a bit of job hunting online, Titus was finally able to find a local company that was looking to hire in the field that he went to school for. With both Titus and Sarah now making livable incomes, the two of them, looking to start a family, began to look online to find a suitable house for their future children. After all, the two of them figured, any children they had would never be able to be confined to a simple, small apartment. And so, eventually Titus was able to find an advertisement for what would end up becoming his home. In the years to follow, both Titus and Sarah worked as hard as they could to make their new home a happy, nurturing environment for their future children to grow up in.
Titus smiled proudly as he thought about all the memories his house held. He glanced over at Alan, patting his foster son on the back and smiled at him.
“Welcome to the family kid. Hope you’ll like it here.” Said Titus welcomingly as he headed up to the veranda where Drake and Sarah stood waiting for him and the others.
Jake was the last to finish admiring his home. He couldn’t believe that he had lived there for four years. It felt much shorter than that. A huge part of him did miss his old home and on many occasions, he even found himself wishing he could go back, even if just for one day. Since his adoption, every time Jake would go through the neighborhood he once lived in, he would always take a moment to observe his old house and would feel a strong sense of longing.
Thankfully for Jake, however, he knew that his old house would be in good hands. Crystal, who had been his neighbor for a short time, met the family who had moved into Jake’s former house. The family consisted of a young father, mother, and their infant son who appeared to be in their late twenties to early thirties. Crystal and her parents had gone to welcome the new family to their neighborhood. Shortly after, the two families had become fast friends and Crystal was even given the chance to babysit the couple’s son on occasion. Since then, the Silvers and the family who had moved into Jake’s old house, the Krugers remained friends and Crystal would still look after their now four year old son John from time to time.
“I think you’ll like it here, Alan. Mom and dad, they’re really good people. They actually saved my life once.” Said Jake with a reassuring smile.
Alan was surprised at the mention of his new foster parents having saved Jake’s life. He wondered what must have happened to Jake for his parents to need to save him.
“C’mon, let’s go.” Jake ushered Alan to the veranda where the rest of Jake’s family was waiting for them.
Stepping into the house, Alan looked around, drinking in his new surroundings. He peered into the kitchen for a second and then walked in, observing everything from the fridge which was placed in the far right corner of the kitchen to the kitchen counter which encompassed the remainder of the wall. He then walked towards the living room. In front of him sat two chairs, a couch, and a recliner all seated in a circle around a small mahogany coffee table. To Alan’s left were two large shelves lined with DVDs and books. A 32 inch flat screen TV hung on the wall next to the shelves. Curious as to what movies and books they had, Alan approached the shelves and looked over all the titles Titus and his family had in their library. The Flamel family watched as Alan continued through the rows of movies and books with Sarah noting to her husband that they may have found out one thing about Alan: he seemed to have an interest in books and movies. Titus concurred but then mentioned how that had to have been a given. After all, who could possibly dislike books or movies?
“So what do you think Alan? We have a pretty nice house, wouldn’t you say?” Titus asked.
“Yeah. You have a lot of cool things.” Complimented Alan with a small smile.
Titus grinned at the boy. “Yeah, well, it can only get better. Why don’t you come up stairs with us? We have something we want to show you.”
Alan followed his foster family upstairs. There, they led him into a room where a blow up bed lay in the center with a desk situated near the doorway. On top of the desk rested a journal. Sarah led Alan over to the desk and showed him the journal.
“Here Alan. This journal is for you. We figured that maybe if you had something to write your thoughts in, then maybe you’d be able to remember something. I mean, you can use it however you want, you don’t just have to write in it. If you want to draw or, write stories or whatever, you can. I just thought that having something to record your thoughts in might help you to get your memory back.” Sarah explained.
Alan gave Sarah a small smile. “Thanks. If I think of anything, I’ll be sure to write it down.” He assured.
“That’s good. I hope it’ll be able to help you, kid.” Said Sarah.
“Well, we’ll let you get comfortable Alan. If there’s anything you need, be sure to let any of us know. We’re here to help you if you need it.” Titus told Alan, hoping that Alan knew they were there to help him.
Alan thanked Titus and the rest of his foster family and went to lay down in his bed. As everybody made their way to the door, Sarah turned back to Alan and informed him that they would be having dinner in a couple of hours. and that she would let him know when it was ready.
Sometime later, the family had a small quiet dinner consisting simply of ham and cheese sandwiches. As they ate, the family watched in utter amazement as Alan wolfed down his sandwiches in little time. Still feeling hungry, Alan asked for a few more slices. Sarah couldn’t believe what she was hearing. With how quickly Alan had consumed his sandwiches, he should have been pretty close to full, she thought. She’d had plenty of experience with large appetites given all the times she had cooked for Titus, Drake, and Jake but she had never seen anything like this before. Still with a sense of awe, she rose from her chair and returned to the kitchen to prepare a second helping for their new guest.
A short moment later, Sarah returned with a plate consisting this time of four slices of ham and cheese sandwiches. Immediately Alan got to work on his second course. He gobbled away at the sandwiches as the Flamels all watched in amazement and consumed their own dinner.
“Well I guess we know another thing about Alan.” Titus noted in a perplexed tone.
“What’s that?” Asked Sarah.
“The kid’s a big eater.” Answered Titus.
“Yeah, no kidding. I’ve seen how much you three can eat but even then, you don’t eat as fast as he can.” Sarah also noted.
“Oh, just the three of us are big eaters? Yeah, okay Sarah.” Said Titus sarcastically as he nudged his wife.
Sarah laughed. She had to admit, she herself also had a rather large appetite. While she wasn’t quite sure hers was as big as her sons and her husband’s, she knew that she could eat quite a lot too if she wanted.
Sometime after dinner, as everybody was winding down for the evening, Alan walked past Jake’s room. He took a quick glance inside to see Jake standing by his closet, his back facing Alan. While Alan wasn’t able to get a clear look at it, it looked as if Jake was holding something. Curious, he stepped into Jake’s room and asked him what he was holding.
“Oh, hey Alan.” Greeted Jake in a somewhat surprised tone, having been caught off guard by Alan.
“Check this out: this is a sword my dad’s friend used to own.”
Jake held the sword out in both of his hands, his right hand holding onto the hilt while his left hand held the blade. Amazed that he was getting to see a real sword, Alan stared down at the blade in amazement. As his eyes scanned every inch of the blade, he saw that something had been carved into it. His focus zoned into the word on the blade, Alan tried to pronounce it but found it difficult to do so.
“Two-er…tore…uh…jay e?” Alan said unsurely.
“Actually, the way I always heard my dad and his friend pronounce it, it’s ‘Two-er-uh-sh-a.” Explained Jake as he slowly sounded out Tourajé’s name for Alan.
Alan repeated the pronunciation Jake had provided him. He did this once more before trying to speak Tourajé’s name without needing to sound it out. Jake nodded in approval, informing Alan that he got it right. Jake then asked Alan if he wanted to hold the sword to which Alan obliged. Jake gripped the sword in his right hand and pointed the blade towards the ground so that the hilt was facing upwards. He held it out in front of him and allowed Alan to take it from him. The other boy held the sword, amazed and in disbelief at what he was holding. The feeling of holding a sword was incredible and Alan felt stronger just gripping the hilt in his hand.
“It’s a pretty cool sword, isn’t it? Believe it or not, that sword’s over two hundred years old!” Jake exclaimed, a wide smile growing on his face.
“Two hundred years old…wait, you said this was your dad’s friend’s sword. Did he buy it somewhere?” Asked Alan.
“No. See, my dad, well, my biological dad, not Titus was actually a dragon who had been alive for a little over 200 years. When he was my age, he and his friends went to this world and the oldest of my dad’s friends, Tourajé, took part in this tournament where he got this sword.” Jake explained.
“A dragon?!” Asked Alan, a look of shock suddenly forming on his face.
Jake confirmed Alan’s question and explained how he himself was a half-dragon who was born to a male dragon and a female human. Feeling as though Alan could be trusted with seeing his secret, Jake was about to switch to his true form when he noticed an uneasy expression on Alan’s face.
“Hey, Alan, are you okay?” Asked Jake as he tried approaching Alan.
Alan jerked away, causing Jake to pull back somewhat. He looked worriedly at Alan, pondering what was happening. Alan held his head low for a minute before looking back at Jake.
“Sorry I…I don’t feel good. I’m…gonna lay down.” Alan said as he hurried out of Jake’s room.
“Hey! Alan!” Jake called out as he followed after Alan.
Stepping out of the bathroom, Drake watched as Alan made his way past him. Drake greeted Alan but was met with no response. He watched as Alan entered his room and closed the door behind him. As Jake came up to where Drake was standing, the two boys stood in the hallway, watching the door to Alan’s room.
“Jake, what happened? Is Alan okay?” Drake asked puzzlingly.
“I don’t know...I mean, all I did was tell him about my dad’s sword and then told him about what we were then he had this really upset look on his face and just left.” Jake tried to explain as best he could.
“That is weird. I wonder what you said made him react like that.” Drake thought out loud.
Together the two half-dragons approached Alan’s room. Jake knocked on Alan’s door asking if he could come in. There was a brief moment of silence before the doorknob turned revealing Alan who stood before the two boys in the middle of the doorway. To Jake’s surprise, Alan appeared to suddenly have gained a more calmer expression than he had just a moment ago.
“Alan, are you okay? What happened?” Asked Jake worriedly.
“Sorry. I just…suddenly had a headache. I feel a little bit better but I still need to lay down. I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Replied Alan hurriedly before once more closing the door.
Drake and Jake stood in front of Alan’s room for a moment. The two half-dragon teens looked at each other as Jake quietly asked his adoptive brother what just happened. Drake gaped open mouth, raising his finger as he was just about to say something but then proceeded to lower his finger and close his mouth. He glanced away from Jake as he tried to contemplate a reasonable explanation. Unable to come up with one, Drake looked back at Jake and shrugged his shoulders.
The next day, Drake, Jake, Crystal, and Sean were having lunch together outside of the pizzeria right across from Sarah’s shop. The four of them sat at a table outside the restaurant enjoying the shade that was casted by the umbrella that had been inserted into the hole in the center of the table whilst trying not to let the scorching hot weather get to them. After swallowing the part of her pizza she had bitten off, Crystal then asked Drake and Jake how Alan’s first day living with them had gone. The two half-dragons looked at one another unsurely.
“Well, for the most part it went fine…but…” Jake replied.
“But what? Did something happen to Alan?” Crystal inquired, taking a sip of her Coke.
“See, last night, I was showing him my dad’s sword, right? Well, he seemed pretty interested in it at first but then after I mentioned that Drake and I were half-dragons…he suddenly seemed uneasy. I know this might sound pretty strange but I wonder if he might have remembered something.” Jake explained, a quizzical look on his face.
“I don’t know. It’s possible but why would hearing about half-dragons trigger a memory if he’s way more than likely never met a half-dragon before?” Sean asked skeptically.
“Well, what I—sorry, I just remembered that what he reacted to wasn’t when I mentioned me and Drake being half-dragons; it was when I said ‘dragon’.” Jake corrected himself.
“Oh?” Replied Crystal with peaked interest, taking another sip of Coca Cola.
“Yeah. When I mentioned how I was the son of a dragon, Alan suddenly had kind of a grimace on his face. Then suddenly he just…left my room. I went to check on him and then all of a sudden, when he opened the door to his room, he seemed fine. Like nothing had happened. That’s why I’ve been wondering if maybe he remembered something.” Jake finished detailing the events of the previous night.
The other three friends went quiet as they mulled over what they had been told by Jake. Indeed, it seemed possible to them that Alan, for possibly even a brief moment, did remember something however, of all the words to trigger something within Alan’s mind, why would it have been the word “dragon”? They highly doubted this meant that Alan’s attackers were dragons. The wounds on his body looked nothing like the wounds that could be caused by a dragon and, they thought, even if a dragon had attacked Alan, why of all places would they leave him in a cemetery?
After taking a sip of his coffee, Sean spoke up and offered his thoughts on what it could mean.
“Ok, so I highly doubt that Alan was attacked by a dragon. I mean, if he was, then why leave him in a cemetery?” Sean asked.
Drake shrugged his shoulders. “Some sick sense of irony?” The boy suggested.
“Even still…why go after Alan? What I think could have happened is that either before or after Alan was attacked, he might have seen a dragon on something like, say a statue of one or a picture somewhere. Maybe if we check the neighborhood where we found Alan or check any stores around, perhaps we could find a clue, maybe somebody who knows who he really is?” Sean suggested.
Drake agreed, feeling that Sean’s plan was a good one. He informed his friends that his parents were busy working on flyers and were going to get everyone together so that they’d have a better chance of finding where Alan came from. Drake also mentioned to his friends that his parents were hoping to have the flyers ready by tomorrow so they could begin searching for Alan’s parents right away.
“Alright. Then tomorrow begins the search.” Sean stated.
As Sean took another sip of his coffee, Crystal snickered to herself. Sean noticed this, asking her what was funny. Crystal assured him it was nothing, just that she found it humorous that Sean had started drinking coffee, especially with how he used to declare it to be “gross grownup stuff” when he was younger.
“Well, I’m growing up. I have to start trying more adult things.” Sean rebutted somewhat defensively as he took a larger gulp of his coffee, his eyes growing wide as the burning sensation brought on by his drink traveled down his throat.
“Uh-huh…” Crystal scoffed, shaking her head afterward. “Sean, you’re fifteen. You’re not that old. Besides, even when I’m an adult, I plan on sticking with good ol’ water and soda.” The teenage girl proudly declared as she took a large gulp of soda.
“I’m good with soda and water too. Some juice as well. Although, I wouldn’t mind trying some champagne when I turn twenty-one. I’ve had sips of it before but I’ve never had a whole bottle.” Said Drake as he took a drink from his cup of water.
“I wouldn’t mind trying some pot when I get older.” Jake said.
Suddenly, all focus turned to Jake who stared back at his friends, holding onto his soda cup and looking at them nervously as if he had done something wrong. With the three of them talking about drinks, they found themselves caught off-guard by Jake’s revelation of wanting to try some marijuana when he was older.
“…What? I mean, I can breathe fire. I’m basically a walking lighter already.” Protested Jake in a half joking manner.
“Yeah that’s true.” Drake laughed. “Well Jake, you can go ahead and smoke all the weed you want…so long as you share some with me.”
The four friends laughed amongst each other at this. Jake told Drake, in between moments of laughter, that he’d hold him to that. Drake retorted by telling Jake that in that case, he better not forget making that promise. Crystal and Sean added to this, informing Jake that that went triple for them.
“Okay, okay, I get it!” Jake exclaimed in an overwhelmed voice, laughing as he held his hands up in front of him.
As their laughter died down, the four teens finished their lunch. As soon as they were done, they returned to Sarah’s shop to help her set up the first set of fliers. The fliers were of Alan. They asked if anybody had seen him and listed his features such as his hair color, eye color, and gave a rough estimate of his age which was listed as being between the ages of thirteen to sixteen. At the very bottom of the fliers was the Flamel family’s landline informing anyone who may have had information regarding Alan to call the number displayed below.
The night prior, while Drake and Jake slept, Titus and Sarah worked on creating fliers in order to help them locate Alan’s parents or, at least someone who may have known him. Just as Alan was about to fall asleep, Titus came up to his room, asking the amnesiac boy to stay up for just a short moment longer. After capturing a picture of Alan on his phone, Titus sent the boy back to bed and uploaded the picture he had taken of Alan onto his laptop. With Sarah’s help, the two of them spent the night creating a flyer that they were sure would have to get the attention of somebody who knew Alan.
Later that day, Titus contacted each of his family and friends explaining the events regarding Alan to them and seeking their help in finding his family. Much to Titus’s surprise, everyone happily obliged to help. However, not everyone would be able to help right away. Rick, Ben, Jessie, and Crystal and her family had either errands or work but informed Titus that as soon as they got the chance, they would be willing to come and help in any way that they could. Thanking them, Titus suggested that if they wanted, he could just email them a copy of the flier and then they could print out some copies to make it easier. Agreeing to this, Titus and Sarah emailed Rick and the others a copy of the flier, attaching to the email a message asking them to either show or distribute the flyers around their areas, Titus’s reason being that even though Alan was found in one neighborhood that didn’t necessarily mean that he lived there.
The next day, it was early in the afternoon when everybody who was able to make it arrived at the Flamel residence. Much to Drake, Sean, and Jake’s surprise and delight, Crystal had shown up as well. She explained to her friends that even though she did need to take care of some things with her parents, they had decided that it was better that she help find Alan’s family instead and that they’d join in the search a little later.
Gathered in the living room were Sarah, Lucas, Kyle, Jackie, Jessie, Laurie, Sean, Tim, Crystal, Jake, and Drake. After Titus had finished speaking with everybody, Jake contacted Sarah and Laurie hoping to get their help in finding Alan’s parents. While Sarah did want to offer her assistance, she informed Jake that she would simply be unable to as she had a lot to take care of at the orphanage but that if they wanted to, they could send her an email with the flyer attached and she’d make some copies to put up around town. Sarah gave Jake her email which Jake had written down and then given to Titus. With the email sent, Jake thanked Sarah for all she and Laurie had done for them. Sarah assured Jake that it was nothing and that she was just happy to help. Laurie told Jake that she should be able to make it and that she would just need to take the train down. Because of this, she arrived slightly later than everyone else but to her relief, found that she hadn’t missed anything. Originally, Jessie had planned to go with Ben who was going to be doing a reading of one of his books at the Barnes and Noble down the road from Sarah’s shop. However, Ben insisted that he’d be okay and that Jessie should go help Titus and everyone else and that he would come help as soon as he was done.
Before the group stood Titus and Alan, the latter of whom looked around at everyone in attendance, noticing some new faces as well as familiar old ones. On the living room table sat a stack of papers. These papers were all the fliers of Alan that Titus and Sarah had worked on. In this pile were more than fifty fliers. While Titus and Sarah had felt that they might have made a few too many, they rationalized that the more fliers they had printed, the better their chances in finding Alan’s family.
“Jessie, Kyle and Jackie, since you weren’t with us then, this is Alan. He’s the boy Drake, Jake, and their friends found and the one whose parents we’re going to be looking for today.” Explained Titus.
For a split second, Alan’s eyes widened and he felt his heart skip a beat at the mention of his parents. But before anyone noticed, his shocked expression switched back to one of blankness.
Jackie, Jessie and Kyle approached Alan and introduced themselves. For a moment, Alan didn’t utter a single word. The trio frowned, wondering if perhaps Alan didn’t like them. Finally, Alan spoke to them, telling them that it was good to meet them and offering a small smile in addition. This caused the three of them to smile back at the boy, taking solace in knowing that they hadn’t scared him and that he was willing to give them a chance.
“He seems like a good kid.” Complimented Kyle.
“I think he is. It’s just been rough for him given all that he’s been through.” Titus said.
“Yeah. Poor kid. I hope we’ll be able to find some way to get your memory back.” Said Jackie sympathetically.
“Well, even if we can’t find his parents, at the very least, finding someone who knows him will go a long way. Which brings me to what I called you guys here for.” Titus noted.
“You want us to put up fliers, right?” Lucas asked as he pointed to the stack of flyers sitting on the table.
“Well, yes and no.” Titus affirmed.
“It would help if some of these went up but you guys should at least hold onto one each. See, I was thinking that just because our kids found Alan in the cemetery, that doesn’t mean he was from the neighborhood the cemetery’s in. I think it could be possible that whoever attacked him could have left him at the cemetery.” Titus explained.
“Sounds like they may have had some sick sense of irony.” Stated Kyle.
“That’s what I said.” Drake responded to his older cousin’s statement.
Titus passed out several fliers to each of his family and friends. He suggested that they split into groups and search around their neighborhoods and around town to try and Alan’s family. Titus, Sarah, and Lucas made up the first group while Jessie, Kyle, and Jackie made up the second. Finally, Drake, Jake, Crystal, Laurie, Sean, and Tim made up the last group and would be accompanied by Alan himself.
As everybody was preparing to head out, Jake mentioned to the adults what he had told his friends about how Alan seemed to have a reaction to the word “dragon” and how he believed that it may have meant that it triggered a memory if even for a brief moment.
“Dragon, huh? Well in that case, we should be sure to keep an eye out for anything dragon related. Keep a lookout for anything with a dragon on it or something like a dragon statue or plushie.” Instructed Sarah.
“Let’s meet back here in three hours. We’ll search around and then report back with whatever we find.” Suggested Jessie as she placed a hand on the doorknob.
Jessie, Kyle, and Jackie made their way to Jessie’s car as Titus, Sarah, and Lucas headed for the backyard where Titus changed into his dragon form and took to the air with Sarah and Lucas sitting on his back, and the younger members of the group headed for the light rail station. Drake and the others decided long before the search had even begun that they would return to the neighborhood where the cemetery that Alex was buried in was located in an attempt to find anything about Alan. The others journeyed down different neighborhoods hanging up fliers and speaking with the people who lived in said neighborhoods asking if they had seen Alan. Each person responded with the same answer: they had never seen Alan before. Remembering what Jake had told them, both Titus’s and Jessie’s groups decided to check the stores within the area. As they browsed around, they made sure to keep an eye out for anything dragon related as they believed that whatever they found may hopefully provide something of a clue for them. After they would find something involving a dragon, the groups would then speak with either the managers or the employees of the stores, handing them a flier with Alan’s information and asking them if he had been in their stores three weeks ago. While many of them were unable to remember whether or not Alan had been a patron, some were able to assure the groups that Alan had not been in their stores.
Meanwhile, the group consisting of Drake and his friends arrived in the neighborhood where they had found Alan. Since they were in such a large group, Sean suggested that it might help if they split into two groups and ask around about Alan.
“Yeah, I think that would work best. We’ll be able to cover more ground then.” Jake agreed.
“I could take Crystal and Alan and look down that way.” Said Laurie as she pointed to the row of houses facing ahead of them. “Why don’t you guys take those houses? After we’ve spoken to some of the people who live here, we’ll go check some of the stores around this neighborhood.” Laurie concluded, pointing to the row of houses behind them.
“’K. That sounds good. See you in a bit.” Said Drake.
“Yep. ‘Til then.” Crystal smiled as she waved to her friends.
Drake, Sean, Jake, and Tim went one way while Laurie, Crystal, and Alan went the other. They hung up fliers around the neighborhood and spoke with the people who resided there, asking if they had seen Alan or anybody who may have been with him three weeks ago. Like with Titus and Jessie’s groups, the kids were all met with the same answer. With the responses all being the same, the kids were starting to feel as though finding somebody who knew Alan was becoming fruitless.
“This is so hopeless!” Crystal exclaimed in frustration, her fingers clutching at her hair in annoyance.
“Crystal, relax. It’s not going to do us or Alan any good to get angry.” Laurie said in a soft, calm voice as she tried to calm Crystal down.
“I know. I just…GUH!!” Crystal spat, her temper subsiding slightly.
Crystal turned to Alan who was walking slightly behind her and Laurie and apologized for getting so frustrated. Alan assured her it was okay and apologized himself for not being helpful but Laurie told him that he had nothing to apologize for and that this wasn’t his fault.
“No matter what, we’ll help you find your family or someone you might know and hopefully that should get you your memory back.” Laurie said, smiling warmly at Alan.
Alan smiled back and thanked her and Crystal for doing all this for him.
After some more houses on the boys’ side, they too had begun to feel as though they’d never manage to find anyone who may have known Alan.
Sean sighed in exasperation. He clutched one of the fliers in his hand and looked squarely at the small rectangular picture of Alan printed in the upper left section of the paper.
“I guess Alan isn’t from this neighborhood.” Said Tim as he cupped his hands behind his head and gazed into the sky.
“It doesn’t seem that way, little bro.” Sean agreed as he broke his attention from the flier.
“Well, should we go check some of the stores around here?” Offered Drake who was sounding almost as fatigued as his best friend.
Sean took in another breath then nodded a few times as he exhaled. “Yeah. Who knows? We might have better luck if we do that.” He said.
As the boys departed from the neighborhood, the girls and Alan tried three more houses before they themselves decided to throw in the towel.
“Well, we haven’t found anything out here. Wanna go check the stores now?” Crystal asked with a sigh of exhaustion.
“Yeah. Who knows? Maybe the stores will give us the luck we need.” Laurie said tiredly.
The three of them made their way through the neighborhood. As they did, Crystal tried to think of something to talk about to pass the time. Suddenly, an idea for what they could discuss crossed Crystal’s mind: since it was just her, Laurie, and Alan right now, she believed that now might be a good time to get to know Laurie a little better.
“Hey Laurie. There was something I was wondering about.” Began Crystal.
“What’s up?” Laurie asked.
“Well, you and Alex grew up at the same orphanage. Do you remember what he was like back then?” Crystal asked.
“Hmm…” Laurie took a moment to think of how best to describe Alex from when she knew him. “Well…Alex had a lot of trouble making friends. The other kids were horrible to him because he had a tail, finned ears, and wings… even some of the grown-ups didn’t care much for him, especially not the mother superior, that horrible old hag.” Laurie explained, a strong sense of bitterness and hatred in her voice when she brought up her former mother superior.
“Mother superior?” Crystal noted, taking intrigue in the way Laurie spoke of her.
“She was horrible. She never spoke of Alex as a person and just looked at him as a thing. I’m glad she left the orphanage. She made that place hell for a lot of us, especially since she loved to play favorites. See, the kids used to pick on me too before Alex came. They’d kick me, hit me, throw things at me, one time a kid even bit me. I still have a scar from it right on my right shoulder.” Laurie explained, a grim, saddened look on her face.
“Jesus…” Said Crystal in complete disbelief at what Laurie was telling her.
“After Alex arrived, the kids torment gravitated towards him and I was left alone. I always hated the way they treated me but the way they picked on Alex was somehow even worse. I had seen kids try to squeeze Alex’s tail as hard as they could until he couldn’t even stand anymore and one time this group of bullies pinned Alex to the ground as one of them sat on his back and tried pulling his wings off.” Laurie continued, a sickened and saddened look washing over her face.
“Oh, God, that…that’s way too cruel…” Said Crystal empathetically, appearing just as saddened as Laurie.
Alan listened silently to the story Laurie was telling them. He wondered if maybe the reason he was found bloodied and beaten was because some bullies decided to hurt him just as how Alex’s bullies had done to him.
“I think that’s part of why I tried to stand up for Alex. Really though, I like to think I would have tried to be there for him even if I hadn’t been bullied myself, y’know? In a weird way, I think that trying to protect Alex actually helped to make me braver. Before I met him, I never would have tried to defend myself the way I came to defend him. I don’t want to say what happened to him was good but I am glad that he was able to give me strength. I just hope that, in the end, I was able to do the same for him.” Laurie concluded, now a small hopeful smile formed on her face.
Crystal smiled back at Laurie and told her that she believed that she had been able to give him strength. Crystal explained that while she didn’t get to know Alex for too long during their first and only confrontation, she did feel that he was a strong willed person albeit a somewhat misguided one. Interested in Crystal’s description of what her best friend from the orphanage became, Laurie asked Crystal to explain to her what had happened after Alex was adopted. For the rest of their journey through the neighborhood, Crystal recounted the last adventure she had embarked on with her friends leading up to Drake’s battle with Alex and finishing at the final confrontation with Saulstrance. As soon as Crystal had concluded, Laurie was left awestruck. Her mouth fell slightly open as she tried to process everything she had been told. Even though the proof had been right in front of her in the form of Alex, Laurie still couldn’t believe that there was really a world where dragons came from and that one of those dragons who ended up being Alex’s adoptive father and Jake’s biological father had tried to turn Earth into his own kingdom. She felt as if she was being told the story to a movie.
At that same moment, Jessie and her grown children had just finished speaking with an older man who had been out walking his dog around the neighborhood. Sighing, Kyle raised his hand up and dropped it back down, shaking his head, unsure of what else they could do.
“I hope the others have been having better luck than us.” Jackie said.
“Yeah. I hate to say it but I don’t think we’re going to find anybody who knows Alan here.” Jessie admitted, sounding defeated.
“Should we maybe just head back and wait for everybody? I mean, we’ve tried the stores, we’ve checked at a ton of different houses, we’ve spoken to some people on the streets, and there’s nobody who knows who Alan is! I think we should just go back to Uncle Titus’s house and wait for everybody.” Kyle suggested, sounding somewhat irate.
“That might not be such a bad idea, Kyle. Besides, it’s been almost three hours anyway. By the time we get back, everyone else should either be there or just be arriving.” Jackie agreed with her younger brother.
With the three in agreement, Jessie and her children returned to the former’s car and drove back to Titus’s house. Along the way, Jessie asked how things had been going for Kyle and Jackie. Kyle informed his mom that he had been enjoying living with his girlfriend, Michelle. When asked why Michelle didn’t join them in looking for Alan’s family, Kyle explained that Michelle was out of town visiting her family in Solana Beach and wouldn’t be back until Wednesday.
“Well I hope she’s having a good time.” Smiled Jessie at her son. “By the way, Kyle, have you been regulating your drinking?” She asked somewhat accusingly.
“Don’t worry, mom. I haven’t fallen off the wagon. Not since…well, you remember.” Kyle answered his mom somewhat nervously.
“Remember what?” Asked Jessie, raising an eyebrow at Kyle.
“Yeah. What are you talking about?” Jackie asked, also not understanding what her brother was talking about.
Kyle, who had been sitting in the backseat of his mom’s car, leaned forward and whispered into his mom’s ear and then into his sister’s.
“Oh yeah. That.” Jessie said in a deadpan tone, an unamused look on her face.
“Yeeeeeeaaaah…John sure wasn’t happy with me after that…” Kyle laughed sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck in nervousness as he did.
“Speaking of John, why wasn’t he with you, sweetie?” Jessie asked her daughter.
“John got called into the office last minute for a meeting. He said that he wanted to help but that it sounded rather urgent.” Explained Jackie.
“Well that’s too bad. I would’ve liked to have seen my future son-in-law…and my future daughter-in-law too.” Jessie teased, a small grin on her face.
Both Jackie and Kyle gasped at the same time, their faces turning bright red. Indeed, the two siblings did want to eventually marry their significant others but both of them worried that that time would still be in the far future. While John and Jackie both had rather nice incomes from their jobs at the office, the two of them were often so preoccupied with their work that they worried that they wouldn’t truly be able to tie the knot or even start a family anytime soon. The same went with Kyle who, unlike his older sister, had been stuck working a dead end part time job at a small convenience store since leaving college. Kyle was only able to retain his apartment with the help of Michelle. Kyle would often say that if it wasn’t for Michelle and her job which, unfortunately for both of them, only paid slightly better than Kyle’s, then he and she would more than likely have had to have moved back into either Kyle’s parents’ house or Michelle’s parents’ house.
“Well, I dunno about that just yet mom. I mean, someday I’d like to start a family with John but…that might not be for a long time yet.” Jackie responded to her mom’s lighthearted teasing somewhat disappointingly.
“Yeah. I’d like to get a career going myself but…all the web design places I’ve applied for just won’t aren’t biting. It’s been the same with Michelle. She’s applied to so many different gaming companies but not one of them accepted her.” Kyle sighed, leaning back in his seat. “I’m tired of this crappy 9-5. I wish there was something I could do.” He said in a melancholic tone.
“Kyle, you’ll get there, sweetie. You just need to keep applying. I know sooner or later you’ll be able to land yourself a career.” Jessie smiled, trying to offer her son some words of encouragement.
“Mom’s right Kyle. You’ll both get there. You just need to keep trying and sooner or later it’ll happen. Besides, trust me, careers aren’t always the most enjoyable things around.” Jackie smiled knowingly.
“That is true.” Jessie chuckled slightly, agreeing wholeheartedly with her daughter.
Sometime later, Titus, Lucas, and Sarah flew through the sky as they made their way home. Just like with the other two groups, they as well had no luck in finding anyone familiar with Alan or his family.
“Well, I hate to say it but I guess that was a bust.” Lucas stated reluctantly.
“Well, you never know Luke. We didn’t find anything today but that doesn’t mean something won’t come up somewhere down the way.” Said Titus, trying to be optimistic and hopeful.
Sarah agreed with her husband, adding that something might very well come up soon but they’ll just have to wait a little longer.
Arriving home, Titus looked below and noticed that Jessie’s car was parked in the driveway and that parked in front of it was Ben’s car. Titus presumed that Ben must have arrived shortly before everyone got back. He also wondered if his sons and their friends were back as well.
Swooping down, Titus touched down in his backyard. He crouched down as he allowed Lucas and Sarah to climb off. As soon as they were, he called out for Ben, Jessie, and the rest of the group, informing them of their return. Titus noticed as Drake came to the sliding glass door and pulled it open as he rushed outside to greet his parents and Lucas followed by Ben, then Laurie, then Jessie, Kyle, Crystal, Tim, Jackie, Jake, Sean, Tim, and finally Alan.
Still in his dragon form, Titus and the rest of his friends and family walked towards each other, meeting halfway. Before Alan could take five steps away from the steps of the porch however, he gasped when he noticed Titus’s dragon form. His eyes grew wide and he began to breathe heavier. His body trembled and his muscles convulsed as slowly he began to back away, whimpering loudly. Both Sean and Jake who were standing the closest to Alan, took notice of this and tried to approach the petrified boy.
“Alan? Hey, what’s the matter?” Sean asked concernedly, trying to extend a hand out to him.
Alan’s heave breathing had turned into hyperventilating. A horrified expression was plastered onto his face. Suddenly, Alan released a loud, ear piercing shriek which startled everyone around him and caused their attention to shift towards him.
“Hey, Alan, what’s wrong?” Titus asked as he changed into his human form and tried to approach Alan.
Still hyperventilating, Alan shook his head in terror. He screamed once more only this time, instead of backing away, he dashed towards Titus, clenching his fists, and sucker punched Titus in the left side of his jaw. Just then, everything went silent as everybody looked on in shock at what they had just seen. Titus was gasping, holding his hand over his cheek that Alan had hit as he stared down stupefied at the frightened boy who was glaring at Titus, his teeth bared and his left fist still clenched tightly.
“You bastard! Give them back! Give them BACK TO ME!!!” Alan screamed fiercely at Titus.