Collin brought Alden back to the gymnasium for the first time a month after Molly's death.
"Before we resume training, I just wanted to tell you thank you. For taking care of Delia, thank you."
Alden shook his head.
"It was all I could do," Alden didn't think he should be thanked for that.
"I was upset, at first, when you two started your courtship," he said. "You know that. But, if anything were to happen to me, I'm glad she'll be with someone I trust. Keep taking care of each other. No ,after what."
"Of course," was all he could say.
"I love you, kid," Collin said.
"Yeah, same here, Collin," Alden swallowed.
"Ready to begin?"
They started with him trying to lift items without touching them on purpose. He could do it when protecting someone he cared for, but he hadn't been able to do it on command. Until today.
He was taking a break and saw Collin writing on a clipboard. Out of frustration, he pulled the pencil out of Collin's hand. They stared at each other, then Collin smiled.
After another week of practice, he'd gotten pretty decent at picking things up. During games with Lu and Delia, he'd move his pieces around the board with his mind. At night, with Delia still refusing to sleep in her own room, he'd move her hair out of her face and lift the blankets higher up over her shoulder without having to remove his hold from around her waist.
His aim needed work. He could place things wherever he wanted, if he wanted it emotionally. But, he couldn't seem to be intentional when it came to hitting a target. Collin assured him that he'd get the hang of it eventually.
"That still freaks me out," Delia said one night when Alden fixed the blankets around them, but she cuddled up closer to him nonetheless.
"I just don't want to let you go," he said.
"No, you're just fascinated with your abilities," she smiled against his chest, then looked up at him. "But, that's okay. Just, if you want to play with my hair, use your hands. When it comes to me, I want you to actually touch me. Deal?"
"Deal," he smiled and brushed the hair out of her eyes with his fingertips.
She grabbed his hand, brought it to her lips and kissed it, then laid her head back down and closed her eyes. He held her tighter and closed his eyes as well.
"You guys haven't done anything, right?" Lu asked Alden one day.
What was it that made people talk about things without actually talking about them? It frustrated Alden to no end.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I know that Delia sneaks into your bedroom every night. I'm sure Collin knows it, too. But, Alden, be careful with her. Please."
"I still don't know what you're asking," Alden said.
Lu stabbed his cheese knife into the block of cheese he was trying to slice and looked at Alden with scrutiny.
"I'm asking if you've done anything with her beyond sleeping in there," he pointed towards Alden's room.
"I mean, we talk," Alden said. "She cries sometimes, if she's thinking of Molly."
Lu laughed. The boy was eighteen. Lu really had sheltered him a bit too much. He put a hand on his shoulder.
"Just, promise me you'll come an talk to me about her," Lu said. "If you feel like you're in over your head, I'm here."
Alden nodded, confused.
Collin stormed in from the hallway, having come from the gymnasium.
"She's been sleeping in your room?" Collin grabbed Alden by the shirt collar. "Since when?"
"Since Molly," Alden said.
Collin let him go and dropped his head.
"I ought to hit you, kid. And ground her," he said. "But, I'm scared."
He looked towards Lu.
"What's wrong?" Alden asked.
"There's reason to believe that our old company is looking for us."
"What?" Alden asked.
"I think you kids need to get out of here," Collin said. "I want to entrust you with Delia, and Lilly. Can you protect them both?"
"I'll try my best," Alden said.
"That isn't good enough, kid," Collin grabbed him by the shirt again. "Those girls are all I have left. I need to know you will keep them safe."
"I promise," Alden said steadily. "I'll keep them safe."
"Then it's settled," Collin said. "You're leaving tonight, and you're taking them with you."
Delia and Lilly were brought into the house. Lu had on leather gloves when he handed documents to Alden. Alden looked through them with Delia. His last name had been changed to Luhrmann and he had been aged to twenty-one. Delia shared a name with him and had been aged to eighteen. Lilly was her sister, whom they had adopted when her mother died.
"While birth certificates are forged, the social security cards and passports are real. The marriage license and adoption certificate are real, too. They just need your signatures."
Delia looked to her father, then to Alden. She quickly signed the papers, then passed them to Alden, who signed them, too. The witness signatures were already filled in and dated.
"Delia, lick the envelopes and stamp them. Put them in the mail on your way to this address," he said and handed her a third envelope. "Now, pack your things and go."
She nodded and ran back to her room with Lilly to pack. Alden went to his room and packed his clothes. When he came back into the living room, the girls were already there. They were huddled with Collin, who was holding Lilly and kissing her cheek.
Lu walked towards Alden and handed him the rule book from their game.
"In the end, you won," Lu said. "I added up all of the points last night."
Alden shook his head.
"We'll resume our game someday," Delia chimed in.
Lu nodded. He hugged Alden tightly. They hadn't been affectionate, nor had they been close. But, they had been the closest thing to father and son that either of them had known.
They loaded into a car they didn't recognize.
"This is paid for in cash and registered to your new name, Alden," Collin told him as he started the engine. "The house is in Delia's name. There's also an account in both of your names that had enough money in it to the care of you all for a long time. Take care."
"You, too," Alden said and rolled the window up.
He put his foot on the gas and they headed toward the road.