Real Family Part 15

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Things settled down for the next couple of days as the Pierces packed up everything and started the move. Oscar and his best friend Kyle Douglas were put in charge of directing everything while Steven was left to play with Dante, Logan, and the other boys. It wasn't meant to be him being pushed away, the Pierces explained that it was simply felt that he would feel obligated to do everything to earn his keep which he didn't need to do at all.

Kyle's and Oscar's friends and girlfriends were co-opted to help with the move in place of the boys. The younger kids were all whisked away so the 4th and 5th-grade boys were all forced to stick with one another while the adults helped with the move. The boys spent the time in the Kelly home under the watchful eye of Sean Kelly, Junior's grandfather and the one person who could handle six eager boys without batting an eye.

Dante was fascinated by the elderly man who commanded respect from all of the adults and teens while exuding love to Kylie, Reed, Billy, Benny, Francesca, and Junior. The others didn't get the fascination but Junior started to realize that he never had a grandfather and was in awe of having one now. Sean was pleased with that, it was one thing Junior took for granted and he appreciated Dante's reverence.

Before Dante and Steven came over Logan told the 4th graders to listen to the older boys, it was what their parents wanted and needed to be done for the older boys' sake. Junior understood and would do it anyway since his brother was the one doing the leading. Neil was reluctant but Junior whispered to him how he and Dante and Steven were similar causing him to give in without a fight.

Ethan kept quiet about it. He understood both especially Steven. He would do what was needed for his own sake as it brought up bad memories of his old school and the jerks there. Steven was him, only without the money. He needed someone who had been there and done that.

The six played on the game system while they made little small talk. The younger four were egging on the older two turning the game into a battle of wits and jokes. The two didn't take offense to the younger boys badmouthing, it was clear they were doing it to get at them in the game not to upset them.

The boys moved on to the Finn home to ask the adults if they could go to the park. The younger kids heard the word "park" and immediately wanted to go too prompting Diego Vincent and Polly Vega to escort them. Steven and Dante saw Polly for the first time and both were immediately enamored with her, joining Ethan, Neil, and Junior in their little crushes on her while Logan was the only one unaffected by her presence getting her to smile at him for that.

Diego smirked as she endured the six boys following her every word while the five youngest kids followed Diego's orders. The kids happily let the 13-year-old Diego direct them with Polly joking that he had them idolizing him getting a roll of his eyes as his own joke backfired. They just snickered as they were doing it on purpose to make up for his joke at Polly's expense regarding the boys, they loved Polly and knew she would appreciate the little bit of support.

The park was as expected with the boys being surprised to find Nancy, Margaret, Kylie, Nichole, Daisy, and Faith playing under the eye of Todd and Astrid Flynn. The boys allowed the tweens to relax while the girls helped wrangle youngest five for them. The girls joked that only ones not there were the toddlers who were all with their grandparents.

The kids enjoyed an hour in the park with Diego and Polly doing their least to keep an eye on the boys as Steven and Dante kept them in line without thinking about doing it. The foursome did as they were told and followed their lead with neither boy showing the trust was misplaced. Todd and Astrid both watched Logan and the boys following the troubled duo and couldn't help but feel that they were doing more for them just by following Valerie's request than anyone else could have done.

The fun didn't last. Carlos and Adrian entered looking for some fun. Or rather Carlos was, Adrian looked like a broken boy as he was forced inside by Carlos who all but told him to stop being a loser and do what he said or he'd hurt him. Adrian tried to ignore it but Carlos shoved him inside then grabbed his jacket forcing him to go.

The boys didn't see the 10 older kids but did see the eight younger kids. Their target was clear, they went right for Ella while chasing the younger Julio and DJ away from her. The two were unsure what to do but got a soft "go" from her which they used as a signal to run for the adults.

Carlos dragged Ella away from the others and tried to smack her, telling her that her brother hurt him so he was going to show him who was the boss by hurting his sister. Ella was silent and accepted that she was going to get hurt but hoped help would come fast. She looked to Adrian who was trying to fight his hardest but couldn't tell Carlos to stop, his eyes said no but he was petrified in place unable to stop him from doing what he was going to do to her.

Adrian finally pulled himself together and walked away in frustration, Ella didn't do anything to provoke him and hurting her wouldn't prove anything except Carlos was dangerous. He couldn't stand it anymore, he walked away and waited for the inevitable to happen as Ella screamed for help and Carlos yelled multiple obscenities and slurs at her. Diego came running to protect Ella from Carlos and Adrian. He rushed past Adrian to Carlos, leaving Adrian for the others to deal with.

Adrian braced himself for the beating he expected, protecting his head and face while leaving his middle open for blows. Astrid pulled him aside, she had seen Carlos dragging Ella off but Adrian hadn't done anything and looked to be trying to stop him. Nobody was going to hurt him, he didn't deserve it.

Carlos managed to give Diego the slip as he faked a punch causing Diego to duck while he rushed past him. He did something stupid as he fled though, he turned and taunted them as he ran, going right into Ian Bailey's middle bouncing off his coat and bulletproof vest causing him to fall back on his butt and see the towering officer standing over him ready for action.

Carlos punched him in the groin causing Ian to flinch but causing Todd to grab hold of him and detain him for Ian. Ian called in the crime with Todd telling Carlos that now he was going to face real criminal charges. Ian drove the irate Carlos to the station while Todd called Jorge to get in contact with Carlos' parents but the boy was not going to get out for a few hours if at all.

Adrian was scared to death. Astrid tried her best to comfort him but Adrian kept saying that his father would kill him. It was enough to prompt Astrid to tell him he was safe but just to be careful she told Todd to contact Chloe and Mark in case he was telling the truth. She had seen enough abused kids to know that Adrian was not going to last long at home, he needed to be removed.

The kids went back home with the girls going one way and the boys and younger kids going another. The group was met by Mark and Valerie when they got back and told them what happened in the park. Astrid called to talk with Mark who had his suspicions that Adrian was going to be abused if he wasn't already, his reactions were right in line with classic abuse responses as Astrid suspected.

Mark and Chloe made the trip to Adrian's home to check in on him and heard screaming as well as blows landing. Mark immediately called the police while Chloe tried to figure out where she could place Adrian. She couldn't find any available home, in fact, Adrian's reputation was second only to Carlos making it almost impossible to place him anywhere except a group home.

Ian arrived with a backup officer and entered first, Mark's call wasn't the only one but him calling directly from there and giving a direct commentary got them rolling fast. Ian called Mark and Chloe in right away while his partner had Adrian's parents cornered in handcuffs. Adrian was on the floor bloodied and bruised and curled up just as described earlier except his face was badly swollen.

Chloe went with Adrian in an ambulance while Mark had the parents arrested on assault and child abuse. Ian and his fellow officer added charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest for kicks and punches they received. Both sported black eyes and cuts on their faces from the couple with Mark asking how he accepted the abuse. Ian grumbled "not worth the paperwork nightmare to use the Taser on them. He is more important, quicker to subdue them to get him help than taser them both."

After a close examination and x-rays, Adrian had a broken nose as well as fractured cheekbones dozens of bruises. He wouldn't be scarred but he would need surgery that would likely leave him looking different than before. It prompted Chloe to need someone to stand in for Adrian as he was a minor and couldn't make this kind of decision on his own and as he didn't have a placement she was reluctant to make the choice herself.

Mark and Chloe discussed the situation. Mark had found his next of kin and it wasn't pretty. The closest relative was his uncle but he wasn't on good terms with the family. Chloe sighed then told him she'd make the call, he needed to know and act quickly for Adrian's benefit.

Juan hated to become involved but Adrian didn't deserve the treatment his parents gave him. His father was terrible but Juan never dreamed his mother would do the same thing to his nephew. He didn't have the heart to refuse to help, he agreed to go to Boston to help Adrian and be his advocate until he found a permanent placement.

Jorge listened in and gave him a glare. Juan looked down in fear and explained to Jorge "we were duped. She stood up for me in court but it was only to save her own ass. As soon as it was safe for her and she got what she wanted from me she went right back to being our mother's daughter. I never thought she'd hurt Adrian. I screwed up badly, and he got hurt as a result."

Jorge let him vent t hen told him firmly "he needs a real man to show him what to do. You are that man. You need to stop running away from family and embrace your heritage. Your father would want you to do the right thing and that is helping your nephew through this. Man up and be that person for him."

Victoria loomed in the shadows and had a huge grin on her face. Jorge had laid down the law and Juan would abide by it. His great-nephew was in trouble and his uncle was the only person who could help. Juan knew it was the right thing to do, he just needed someone to kick him in the rear to get him going.

An hour later in Boston Juan officially took over for Chloe as Adrian's guardian. She assured him that he was doing the right thing for Adrian, he needed familiarity, not humiliation. She left Juan trying to figure out what to say and do as the two sat silently waiting for the other to say something.

The two danced around talking for a while as Juan signed the necessary paperwork for Adrian's surgery and explained just how much trouble his parents were in. Adrian expected the worst, it was hard not to get out of hurting two officers after nearly beating him unconscious. They were saved from more awkward talk as the doctor arrived and took Adrian down for his surgery.

Over in Winnisimmet, Chloe had to allay any talk about Adrian. Word had gotten around that he was in trouble with the boys assuming the worst. Once it was learned Juan rushed off they realized just how bad it really was especially as Chloe arrived to ask the dads to removed his things from his home.

John, Dan, and Todd went with Chloe to retrieve everything that belonged to Adrian. In his room, they grabbed everything they could and almost missed some important things. Chloe saw them and gasped as she recognized most of what they overlooked- girls' clothing. Adrian didn't have a sister, they had to be his own clothes and the way they were laying about they had to have been discovered by his parents.

The guys looked down and saw just what they had and realized the implications of it. Chloe told them to gather everything, if it really was his things he needed them. It was another big issue but one that Juan would have to address with their help. Adrian or Adrienne, the 11-year-old was getting help from them.

The guys dropped off everything at Juan's house with John telling Hannah and Pete to keep an eye on the house in case anyone comes around. John didn't need to say anything else, they already knew Juan was fostering Adrian and it could get ugly if his relatives came around. They didn't believe anyone would be stupid enough to do that but they had to do it just in case.

The family settled down for the rest of the night as Steven and Dante helped put away things in the Pierce home while the other boys camped out in the Finn entertainment room. Junior has to endure Cat being affectionate which was odd for her, it was only when the others realized it was the first time she had ever been around Junior for more than a few minutes that it dawned that she was doing her best to try to make his stay comfortable earning a smile from John and Valerie for her hospitality.

The boys were kept unaware of the situation brewing regarding Adrian, it was felt that it was too early for anyone to say anything especially as it was a very private matter and he didn't need them gossiping about him. Jaimie had to move talk away from what happened in the park to Adrian especially when it came to them thinking something was off about him. She had trouble biting her tongue but kept the secret about Adrian being in trouble from them with none of the other non-adults knowing yet.

In the morning Juan was told what was found at Adrian's house. Juan sat down and put his hands on his face in defeat, telling Chloe he couldn't do it. He cared about him but he wasn't a parent. He could barely sleep and struggled to keep himself together thinking about what Adrian could have gone through with nobody noticing or even caring.

Chloe asked him if he had any idea what he had just said and smiled at him. She rehashed what he told her and firmly added "every single thing you just said was pure parent. You did exactly what every parent does when their child is hurt. Adrian slipped through the cracks because of your mother, sister, and brother-in-law. You care about him so much so that you did something that went against your very being and took him into your home. You are a good parent and can do it, you just need to see it."

Chloe sat with Juan as Adrian started to stir. Adrian looked up at him and tried to move prompting Juan to beg him to stay still, he still had IVs into his arms that he didn't want to rip out. Adrian gave in, shedding a tear knowing that if he was there he was in deep trouble.

Chloe asked if he was well enough to talk getting a small nod. Chloe sighed and asked about the clothing in his room prompting Adrian to claim they weren't his. He looked at Juan who didn't react, expecting him to deny everything as he did.

Juan realized he had to get his assurances so he told him "they aren't your mother's size and you don't have any sisters. You don't have to lie to me, they are in your new room waiting for you. We just need to know the truth, we can't help you if you don't tell the truth."

He looked to Chloe who encouraged him, to tell the truth. Adrian was backed into a corner so he did the only thing he could do, he closed himself off from them. Juan was unsure what to do next so Chloe took it out of his hands and booked an appointment with Dr. Bell so he could talk with her alone.

Dr. Bell had an opening that morning and was able to coax Adrian to tell her "my cousin Carlos got them for me. He caught me dressed up with Steven a long time ago and made me dress up every chance he got. Steven hated it but I loved it. I would do it every chance I got. Steven lost interest and only did it because he hated being seen as a bad foster kid. He isn't a girl."

Dr. Bell waited for him to calm himself then asked: "are you a girl?" Adrian shed a tear and clammed up. Dr. Bell had her answer but needed him to talk. She changed course and asked why he did what he did with Steven, hoping he'd realize she was trying to help.

He looked like he was trying to forget but explained "three years ago we started to dress up on the weekends when he could get away from his foster parents. We thought we were safe in our hiding spot in the woods but Carlos followed us. He beat me up then made Steven say he was his girlfriend. He kept at it every weekend, making Dante join us when he tried to protect Steven. Dante had to be his bodyguard and made everyone scared of us. We hated doing it but Carlos always threatened us."

She asked about what he did. Adrian zoned out and continued "I kept dressing. If I did it Steven didn't have to. Carlos realized I actually liked it and kept beating me up to get Steven to do it instead. Steven thought I was doing it on purpose but I didn't want him to do it. I hated him doing it, he wasn't a girl. He blamed me for getting him in trouble all the time but that was Carlos telling his foster parents on him. I didn't tell anyone, I couldn't. They'd ask how I knew and my secret would get out."

Adrian was now in tears. He was trying his hardest to keep himself together but failing. He sobbed as he added "Carlos would buy me new clothes to wear. He said I had to do what he wanted or he'd tell everyone about me. He knew mom and dad would hurt me, especially after they found out about Kylie and her family. They hate Kylie and would have hurt her a long time ago if it wasn't for Great Uncle Jorge protecting her. They'd hurt me without a thought."

Dr. Bell asked who Kylie was, unknowingly realizing that she was one of the girls who she had heard about through Trinity Eliza and Deborah Peterson. She asked why they cared so much about someone who didn't want anything to do with them, getting an angry "they think she and her family are stealing their rightful inheritance. They aren't related to Great-Uncle Jorge by blood, it doesn't matter if they are his family through adoption. Kylie and her brothers actually are related but to mom and dad they think they are not family anymore because they were adopted by the Penas."

Dr. Bell let him calm down then asked about his real feelings. He knew he was beaten so he finally confessed "I have tried to battle my feelings for years I am a girl. I hate that I am a boy on the outside. I tried to hide it but I can't fight it. Dad and mom found my clothes after Carlos told them yesterday before we went to the park, they hit me and were going to kill me before the police stopped them. I wanted them to do it, I can't take it anymore. I am tired of being his girlfriend and doing horrible things to everyone because he is bored or he thinks he is better than everyone."

He broke down completely. He would rather die than live as a boy anymore. Carlos had destroyed his life because his own life was garbage. He blamed Adrian for everything and brought him to the park just so his parents could find his clothes. Carlos getting arrested was not planned though, but Adrian's beating was.

Dr. Bell told him that he had to tell Chloe and Juan about what his parents had threatened. Adrian just zoned out, he had accepted that he had nothing to live for. He was going to get shipped off to some mental institution or a group home and beaten to death for what he was inside either place.

Chloe confirmed that what they had threatened was what they had yelled to the police. He had no immediate relatives that would take him in and the closest relative was Juan and he was wavering on caring for Adrian. Dr. Bell asked to speak with Juan which caught her by surprise but was agreed to.

Inside Dr. Bell's office, Juan was asked his feelings about Adrian. Juan tried to deflect and not answer the question but she insisted he answer. She knew he was trying to avoid parenthood in his deflections.

Juan finally answered "he is what he is. I know my sister and brother-in-law are of the belief that you can't change who you are and vowed to hurt him if he dared be different. I just want him to be happy and safe."

She asked if he was prepared to help him, getting a barely audible "he has nobody else. I don't think I can do it but he needs someone to help him. He should have gone to Willie, Ricardo, or Alice but I guess I was appointed by Uncle Jorge to do what nobody else is willing to do."

He wasn't opposed to being the parent Adrian needed, he was scared. She sighed and admitted "it's only one visit but he is leaning heavily towards being transgender. I believe he genuinely needs to be who he is to the point that he could harm himself in the near future. I know the others he was involved with and their stories explain a lot about him. He is a girl inside, he is really your foster daughter."

She paused then continued "I suspect that Carlos is nothing but trouble and blackmailed three severely troubled kids into doing wrong for his own enjoyment. When he realized Adrian enjoyed what he was making them do instead of humiliating him he forced it on another boy making Adrian get the blame for it causing a rift that kept the balance of power squarely in Carlos' hands. Once Carlos lost his power he retaliated causing this whole situation. He miscalculated, he didn't realize that the people who helped him would ensure he was OK so your sister and brother-in-law never finished the job that he wanted them to do. Adrian is safe because of the people who are involved with your uncle's family."

Juan let it sink in. A few minutes later he asked "so Adrian is a girl. What do I do now? I barely handle being his foster father, I wouldn't know how to deal with his new needs."

She grinned and pointed out "you have a lot of help. All you need to do is ask your family. I can rattle off a dozen names of people who would know what to do as they are dealing with it currently. Just be the father he needs. He needs assurances, support, and love. You can give him them."

She led him back to Adrian's room and told Adrian warmly "we have talked about things and have come to agreement that in the best interests of your safety you should be who you really are. You are a girl inside, it is my medical view that you be allowed to live the life of one. You deserve peace of mind and as you have made it clear that you are a danger to yourself if you remain male you are to be treated as female. I think a new name is in order, have you chosen one?"

He looked up at Dr. Bell in shock. Dr. Bell again asked if he had chosen a name for his female self, causing him to think hard. He shed a tear as he announced "Mia. I am Mia."

Dr. Bell made a note to call the newly minted girl as Mia. Juan asked if she needed anything from home, getting a soft "my cat." He called Hannah and asked her to get it, telling her not to make an issue over what she sees in the bedroom. He had a strong feeling that the guys had put her things in Ella's old room in anticipation that it was the room she would want.

An hour later Hannah arrived with Mia's cat and some clothes. She looked at them and none of them were hers. Juan asked her who dropped off the clothes, getting a sly grin and swift "did you really think they wouldn't do something for her? It's bad enough you told them to stay away."

Juan shook his head in frustration. Hannah added "they wouldn't let her do without. The stuff she had wasn't right, it was worse than the things Steven had. That little bastard has a sick sense of humor."

Mia tensed at hearing that. She didn't realize the problem she had caused, Juan told her "the girls demanded to know what was going on with Steven and Dante and were shown their stash. They didn't tell them anything about you, the only ones who know are Dan Lopez, John Finn, and Todd Flynn. John paid for the clothes, despite what your parents claim he is family to us and won't let family do without so he bought you what you need not what your cousin thought you would look funny in."

Hannah asked what she should tell the others. He knew Mia would have visitors, he thought about it for a minute and told her "tell them to give her time. She isn't 100% yet and will need a couple of days to get situated. She still has to put up with school but I think she will have to do that from home for the rest of the year with Valerie overseeing."

Hannah left to tell the others. Juan wasn't sure it was wise to do that to Valerie but felt that it was best to do it right away to get the others to back away while Mia recovered. She would have to be involved at some point but Mia needed time away from people before the family right now.

Mia was released that afternoon with Juan driving her straight home after filling her prescriptions for antibiotics and pain relievers. She had to avoid crying as she took off her gown and placed her boy clothes in a bag as she dressed in her new blouse and jeans. Juan told her to hurry up, mumbling under his breath "women" getting her to shed a tear in happiness at the unintentional comment.

Valerie, Todd, and Astrid met them at the house with Hannah and Pete looming off in the background with Nancy trying hard to not get noticed but trying to see Mia. The two led her inside, telling her that it was too early to talk. She asked why Adrian was wearing a blouse and girls jeans, to which Pete and Hannah both authoritatively told her "later."

Mia was led to her room and shown her new clothes and the other items she'd need. She was in tears as she saw the little things that meant nothing to girls but meant the world to her. Brushes, headbands, scrunchies, even some nail polish were causing her to cry for joy at being allowed to have them.

Astrid and Valerie helped her get situated while Todd and Juan discussed things in his office. Juan sat down and told Todd firmly "I asked you to do this for me because I can't do it. She needs a father and mother and I can't do it if I am going to be fighting for my life for the next few years. I got stuck with the worst luck, I got stuck with the same genetic disorder that killed my dad. She doesn't need more heartbreak, she needs parents. I can't give her that."

Todd tried to get him to reconsider but he told him "Uncle Jorge means well but I am not stupid. I would have done this in a heartbeat if I was healthy. Hell, I would have married and had kids already if I didn't start showing signs of the disorder after law school. I look like I am normal but the damn thing is growing larger and larger. It's inoperable. It won't kill me right away but she doesn't deserve the heartbreak in her life knowing I will die in a few years. Please, do this for her."

He tried to reason with Juan but Juan's mind was made up. Downstairs Astrid looked at Valerie then back at Mia and sat her down to tell her the bad news. Valerie prepared for the inevitable fallout but hoped that she understood.

Astrid began by explaining "we know he agreed to be your foster father but Juan got some terrible news this afternoon while you were talking with Dr. Bell a second time. He has a health issue that he feels means he can't care for you. It's an inherited condition that causes certain cancers to develop in his body. He inherited it from his father, you were saved from this horrible situation by your own father's genes. He will eventually die from it in a few years. He wants you to go to people who can help you too. That is if you let us help you."

Mia started to cry. Valerie stepped in and explained "Astrid and her husband were asked to care for you because they want to. They don't care about your other relatives, they only want what is best for you and that is being who you are meant to be. Nancy will come along to you being her sister, and you will get to be a big sister as well in another month. Juan is stubborn but he is doing this out of love, he wouldn't want you to go with Todd and Astrid unless it was the perfect place for you. Please, let them care for you."

She shed more tears then hugged Astrid. Astrid hugged her back, telling her warmly she would be happy to adopt her if she wanted it. Mia nodded, she didn't want to be reminded of who she used to be and even though her uncle would be part of her life her relatives were no longer her family.

The ladies led Mia up to Juan who was enveloped in a hug from her. She kept repeating "thank you" to him, crying as she did so. Juan let her cry herself out, her emotions were running on high and she was doing her best to hold herself together despite a major disappointment coupled with big news.

Todd asked if she was sure that was what she wanted, getting a silent nod. Valerie added a soft "she doesn't have to like it but she accepts that you are doing this because Juan wanted what was best for her." She nodded again, hugging Todd now to show that it was true.

Valerie went next door to get Nancy then Astrid sat her down to tell her what they had just told Mia. She asked who Mia was, getting a tearful "I'm Mia" from Mia. Nancy asked for an explanation, getting a groan from Astrid then being told "she is like Kylie and Nichole. She will be your new sister once Mark and Chloe approve the transfer to our care."

She gasped as she realized what was happening. She kept looking at her then at Astrid at Valerie hoping for an explanation to which Valerie explained "she did what she did because she was forced to do it by Carlos. He blackmailed her, threatening to tell her parents who as you can see are animals which is why she tried so hard to keep the secret. It's why Steven and Dante were brought in, they had the same done to them but he added the twist of forcing Steven to be a girl because he knew Mia was really a girl inside. I know Adrian was horrible to you and the others but please give Mia the chance to be a different person. That was Adrian who did all of that, not Mia. Mia is nothing like Adrian."

Nancy needed time to think. She had been the victim of some of their antics back when her birth mother separated from her father. She could forgive Mia but it was hard to forget just what she had done as Adrian. It would take time, she wasn't sure anyone could trust or forgive her.

To Valerie, it was a good sign. She didn't refuse to be the sister Mia needed, but she didn't try to help right away. It was expected, Adrian had a long history that Mia had to overcome.

The four walked up to the Flynn home with Hannah and Pete packing up Mia's things while Juan was told to rest. The two figured that they'd field a lot of questions soon from their sister and cousin but it was easier to let Valerie explain to them instead of her. She may lose her temper with them, even if Nichole was her sister she still didn't have the right to trash Mia for what Adrian did.

The Flynns, unfortunately, were met by Kylie, Nichole, and Margaret waiting for them to return home. They immediately asked about Mia but were met by Valerie telling them to hold off questioning for a while. It wasn't a request, it was a rare order to them that the girls knew to abide by.

Nancy helped Pete and Hannah carry in Mia's things while having to tell the girls to back away. It was a rare moment when the girls were in a disagreement but Nancy wasn't going to let Mia get hurt yet. The girls were directed to the Smith home until they were ready to talk, with Hannah telling she'd gladly ship them home if they didn't get in line quickly.

Mia holed up in her new room, with Nancy unable to get her to even look at her. She was in tears, it was the worst time for the trio to come by and with Nancy not fully accepting the situation Mia was on the verge of a breakdown and escape. The four could make her life a living nightmare if they wanted to, they already held sway over the elementary schools they would continue this on in the middle schools with the 7th graders joining them.

Nichole thought there was something off about Mia that the others didn't quite catch. Margaret was the first to joke that Mia acted like she was scared of them which caused Nichole to realize just why Mia was that way. They were about to go back and forth talking about Mia when Nichole blurted out "she's like us! She's like me and Kylie!"

That got the girls to stop immediately. Kylie vocalized "I wonder who she was." Margaret added "I hope it's not someone like Carlos or Adrian. It's bad enough that he didn't go to jail, but having them around Nancy? That's terrible."

Nichole gasped at the suggestion. It explained what was going on, Mia was Adrian! She boldly told them "she was Adrian! Uncle Todd and Aunt Astrid are housing him for a reason. He can't go back home, they hate people who are different. Uncle Juan didn't know they were acting like they cared about him but only wanted to in his house. She is your cousin, Kylie!"

Kylie shook her head, angrily saying "she isn't my cousin. They hate us and don't want us as family. Adrian said I should be beaten for even being seen in public."

Pete listened to the girls go back and forth with Nichole wanting to help while Kylie vehemently refused to do a thing. Margaret was caught in the middle was unsure what to do. Pete called her parents to pick her up, adding that they should have a long talk with her about Mia when they got home.

The girls kept talking unaware that Valerie had entered with Juan. Hannah told them what they were arguing about to which Valerie added "they have a right to argue. What Adrian did was unforgivable. Mia is going to pay the price for it and does so knowing she is all alone now.

Nichole came out and asked to go home. She tried and failed to get Kylie to listen to her. She complained about Kylie being stubborn and refusing to listen to reason which Hannah had to hide her smirk at. Nichole was the same way, she just hid it better than Kylie.

In the car, Hannah asked why she wanted to help Mia. Hannah could see the pain in her eyes and winced when she told her "she will hurt herself. She has nobody to help her and has to stay with Nancy because nobody wants her. You won't understand not having anyone, you always had mom and Bryan and Uncle John. She doesn't have anyone, not even Juan wanted her and he likes everyone."

Hannah held her tongue at that. It wasn't entirely true but it wasn't for her to explain Juan's health. When they got to the Smith home she hugged Nichole and told her to give Kylie time. Kylie had too much-unresolved baggage with the Castillos especially the Perez/Hernandez branch. They were the most vocal of the Castillos against her birth family which caused everyone to abandon them when she and her brother needed family most.

Nichole kept quiet but Ethan wouldn't let her wiggle out of talking about what happened when she was out. She couldn't lie to him no matter what she said, her stroking of her favorite stuffed animal gave it away. She finally admitted "Nancy has a foster sister. She is like Kylie and I and I am afraid she might do something because of the girls."

He asked who she was, getting a somber "she was Adrian Hernandez. She was beaten after she got home from the park and Juan had to take her in. Something happened to cause him to move her to Uncle Todd and Aunt Astrid's care. It's worse for her, Kylie is refusing to even consider doing anything for her, she even got into an argument with Nancy over Mia. She hates Mia."

He was quiet as he tried to think. He loved Nichole but maybe it wasn't for the best that she befriended Mia. The others would take sides against her on it, Steven and Dante had good reasons for doing so as does Kylie. Nancy made her choice, the only one who was undecided was Margaret.

Over at the Pena home Reed saw Kylie angry and asked what was going on. Kylie screamed at him about Mia, breaking down as she did so. She hated it but it was eating at her that Mia was no different than her, only Mia didn't have the luxury of getting help before she was forced to do something horrible to others as her mother had wanted her to do three years before.

She saw Mia and she saw what could have been. She saw all of the marks on her face and remembered the harm her birth mother caused her. She hated reliving the memories but Mia really was what Kylie could have been if not for the fire.

Reed hugged her tight, she needed to cry herself out while she thought about what was going on. She needed to accept that her fortunes had changed and she was now the one who needed to help someone who was in the same place she was, only she had the means to help her now. Kylie needed to accept that fate had decided to give her the chance to bury the past once and for all.

Their little brother Billy walked in looking for the two and seeing Kylie crying. Reed tried to shoo him away but only got him to hug her. He knew his brother was up to something but it was what Kylie needed then. He softly assured her that she'd figure out what to do, she always did the right thing.

His mother Kennedy asked what was going on, getting the digest version of events prompting her to call Todd about the situation. If Kylie and Nancy were having issues then this was a major situation as the two were the closest of the four girls. Todd asked that she not come over until Mia gave her the OK, they were still fearful that she may do something if the wrong thing was said to her.

Kennedy sat with Kylie, later on, to talk about Mia. Kylie was in tears again, asking her "why would he do it? Why would he play the bully against everyone?" Kennedy had to steel herself and didn't want to answer the question but Kylie's pleading look forced her to explain.

She took in a deep breath and explained "Steven and Adrian were caught dressed a few years ago by Carlos. Carlos used this information to get them to do whatever he wanted for his own perverse pleasure. He loved humiliating them, especially as he saw they hated doing it. When he started to notice that Adrian liked being a girl he turned to Steven and made him do worse things, allowing Adrian to take the blame prompting fights and forcing Dante to try to protect Steven. He could afford to lose Dante and Steven but Adrian had to keep doing things for him to the point that he had complete control over Adrian. When they were expelled they were going to be split up and forced apart. He no longer had control over Adrian, he lost everything he had built up."

Kylie had heard much of this already but didn't know that Adrian was forced as well. Kennedy continued "Carlos got his revenge against Adrian by telling Adrian's parents about his clothes and his secret. When he went home yesterday after the incident in the park Adrian was beaten badly. He had to have surgery and when your uncles saw his girl clothes they told Juan and Chloe who got him help. She had to have surgery on her face to repair the broken bones. She was forced to be a bully, she was tormented and tortured by a psychopath who only cared about himself and his pleasure. Mia's deepest desire was to live as a girl and unfortunately, it took getting hurt and being removed and placed with people who can help her that let Adrian fade away and allow Mia to live."

She didn't understand something. She asked why Juan wasn't fostering him anymore. Kennedy tried to avoid the question, offering a solemn "he got bad news about his health. It is part of why he never had a wife or children. He will tell the family at some point but he has his reasons for giving up Mia to Astrid and Todd."

Kylie went to bed with tears in her eyes. She'd help Mia but she couldn't help Adrian. Adrian was dead to her, Mia was alive. Mia needed family and Kylie was family no matter what anyone said.



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