Destiny's Road
Chapter 23

Copyright© 2015 by Lumpy

After Doctor Chang left I was in a funk, lost in my own head. Thankfully, the girls were very understanding. They didn't leave me on my own, but also didn't intrude on my thinking. I sat in one of the more comfortable chairs in Zoe's room and stared off into space. The girls spread across the room, doing quite things to let me have solitude to think but refusing to leave me alone. Tami and Vicki lay on the bed next to each other, doing homework while Zoe sat on the floor, leaning against the wall facing me. She was pretending to read, but I noticed when she thought I wasn't looking she would just stare at me with a look of concern. Even though I had a lot to think about, I did spare a minute to be thankful of how wonderful my girls were.

Most of my concentration was on what Doctor Chang has said. It was clear from her tests that I was a genetic abnormality, but what did that mean. What caused it? Was I born this way? If so were my birth parents also like me? Or did they find out about me and decide to get rid of me because of it? Was I abandoned because I was some genetic freak?

I weighed the possibilities of what this would mean with my life. I could see the clear upside. There was no denying the upside of having some kind of extreme resistance to getting sick and increased physical and mental abilities. But I could see downsides, too. Besides the danger discussed in our little meeting, there were other considerations. What would my genetics passed down to children be like? Also, clearly my abilities were becoming stronger, so what was next? Where would this stop?

Eventually, I gave up worrying. I sighed and announced it was time for bed. Vicki and Tami both had called their parents and received permission to sleep over with Zoe. I am pretty sure no one mentioned that I would also be sleeping with them.

When Vicki reached across to start caressing my chest I put a hand on hers.

"I am sorry sweetheart, but I have too much bouncing through my head. This is going to sound strange, coming from a guy, but I am really not in the mood, tonight."

Tami hugged against my back, "We understand, Cas. You had a big bombshell dropped on you."

I reached around and grabbed her hand while still holding Vicki's, "Thank you for being so wonderful. Just because I don't feel like fooling around, I don't want you to think it means I feel any different towards you girls. I still love you three with all my heart."

Vicki turned around so I could spoon her, and pushed tightly into me while Tami pushed in hard behind me. It almost felt like they were trying to make us into one person. Zoe was now on the front side of Vicki, spooning, and pulled my arm across Vicki so she could hold my hand.

"We love you, too, Cas. Just remember we are here if you need to talk."

"Thanks, Zoe."

I kissed the back of Vicki's neck and we all drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like I was being squished. Vicki had turned around in her sleep, and was pressed against one shoulder with Tami pressed against my side, but under my shoulder so she didn't bother my injury. Zoe had somehow managed to work herself completely over Vicki to lay on top of me, again lower on my body so she didn't push against my chest wound. I was nearly totally covered by the girls.

It was mildly claustrophobic but I didn't make a sound, not wanting to wake the girls and break the loving contact with them. Zoe must have noticed my change in breathing however.

"Am I squishing you?"

"Yes, but I think I like it. However, if you girls don't let me up soon, we are going to have an accident here in the bed."

Zoe scrambled off me, waking up the two girls and I was able to escape to the bathroom. Since everyone was still asleep I went out for a very slow walk. I knew I wasn't up to running yet, but I wanted to get my muscles working again. I had read somewhere that physical activity was important in the recuperation process.

It also gave me more thinking time. I loved our workout group, but I also missed my solo morning runs. We had a busy day ahead of us. Besides a trip to the hospital to get the girls tested, there was also a football game that evening. Tami and Zoe would both have to cheer at it, and I knew Vicki wanted to go and support them. I am not sure why, but she loved watching Zoe, and I guess now Tami, out on the field.

When I got home I was surprised to see another car in the driveway. Walking inside I found Mr. Colleta sitting at the kitchen table with Mrs. Bell and the girls.

"Mr. Colleta, is something wrong?"

He stood up and shook my hand, "No, I am not here about anything bad. You heard that both Tyler and Tony were arrested and charged with attempted murder on you and Zoe?"

"No, I didn't know that, but I have been a little out of the loop. Why on Zoe?"

"She was added to the count, because she was there with you. Even if she wasn't the target, she was in the line of fire. Liability follows the bullet, not the intent of the shooter."

"Huh. Ok, well, I guess I will have to testify at some point, then?"

"Yes, you will, but that is not why I'm here."

"Ok."

"Their attorneys have contacted me about a settlement."

"A settlement to what?"

"Well, besides a criminal case, they are open to a civil lawsuit for the shooting."

"But we haven't sued them."

"No, but you could, and they are worried about it. Both families have money, and are worried you will come for it."

I stopped and thought about that. I didn't want to hurt their families, although I can say I wasn't all that happy with them. These two didn't get the way they were in a vacuum, and their parents had some hand in creating monsters like that. I think I still hated them more for trying to rape Zoe than shooting me, but I hated them all the same.

"So what was the offer?"

"Each is offering to pay $500,000 if you will sign off against ever bringing a civil lawsuit against them for the shooting. They also want you to sign off liability for the fight at school. That of course would be a lot harder for us to win if we sued them, but I think their lawyers are trying to cover all their bases."

"What about when they tried to rape Zoe?"

"They did think of that also. They have offered $25,000 each to her to shut down anything on that and her suffering from the shooting."

"Why so much less?"

"Well, for one a shooting comes with a lot more liability. Also, on the rape there were no independent witnesses. It would be a very hard case to win. If it weren't for the shooting they wouldn't have done anything on this, but as it is they are trying to make a clean sweep of the whole situation."

I looked over at Mrs. Bell and Zoe.

"For my end, I am fine, but what do you think? I feel bad that they are offering you so much less. What happened to you was horrible."

Zoe just smiled at me and took my hand, "Come on, Cas. You were shot. I was almost raped ... not actually raped. Besides, I wasn't hurt in the shooting. I am really getting paid off for being terrified, not actually being hurt. And $50,000 is a lot of money."

"Ok, if Zoe is in on that so am I. What do we have to do?"

"Nothing. I will go over the agreements to make sure they aren't overreaching, and get all that taken care of. Then you just have to get your parents to sign off."

"Umm, that might be a problem. I no longer live with my adopted mother."

"Ohh?"

"I was kicked out for being a trouble maker."

He had a shocked look on his face, "That's ridiculous. You were the victim. She shouldn't have done that."

"It's fine Mr. Colleta. I understand Margret's point of view, even if I don't agree with it. I want to just let things be and Mrs. Bell has been nice enough to take me in."

"I am still not happy with that situation, but you're the client. It will require a conversation with your mother, and Mrs. Bell would have to agree, but I think I can get her assigned temporary guardianship. That will allow her to sign off on any legal documents for you."

"That would be great, Mr. Colleta, though please don't let Margret know about the money. I do intend to pay off all the medical bills so she doesn't have to worry about that, but I don't want the money to make our relationship harder than it already is."

"I understand."

He collected his things back into his briefcase and stood up. Patting me on the uninjured shoulder he said, "I will take care of this for you. You just heal up." With a nod to Mrs. Bell he left to go do his lawyer thing.

Mrs. Bell also stood up and began collecting herself, "Ok, now we have to get to the hospital for those tests. I have no idea how long they are going to take, but there is the game tonight, and the girls have to be early enough to ride the team bus."

It actually wasn't all that bad. The four of them all had to go through getting blood drawn and various x-rays, various MRIs and CAT scans. Doctor Chang had managed to get everything rolled into some research grant she had. I wasn't very clear on the specifics of it, but it felt like she was playing very fast and loose with what she was allowed to do. The net result was that the tests cost us nothing, so that at least helped. We met her in her office after the last scanning was done.

"While you were getting all the scans out of the way I did some quick tests on each of your blood. Angela, Vicki and Tami all show normal responses. I was able to type your blood with no problem and the morphing affects do not appear to be present in your samples."

Mrs. Bell was starting to look concerned, "What about Zoe?"

"That is where it gets interesting. Her blood reacted very similarly to Caspian's. We won't know about anything else until we do further testing, but this will give us a lot to think on. The odds of two people having the same genetic mutation, especially one like this, has such a low probability that we can discount it as being developed independently. Everything else is up in the air, but your tests will help us nail this down."

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