Where is My Grandson?

Greggory Quill was fifty-six when his daughter died and his grandson vanished.

Meredith had been only twenty-seven when she died of a tumor that had been affecting her for most of her son's life. She had died in a hospice in Belgrade on 27th October 1988.

Greggory had held her son – his grandson – when Meredith had died. Peter had cried, screaming, then had run from the room.

A nurse stopped Greggory from running out after him, saying, "Just leave him to calm down. He'll be fine."

Greggory called his next decision the worst moment of his life. He stayed by his daughter's body, holding her hand, as his children and his wife and his grandchildren all cried by her. He remembered a small glimpse of light from the nearby window, from the hospice gardens.

But he didn't pay it attention.

According to the police, he left his daughter's side at 10.48pm to look for his grandson. Meredith had been dead for fifteen minutes. Greggory had asked nurses and aides for Peter, but none of them could find him.

They searched all over the hospice, as well as the hospice's grounds. Calling out for Peter.

They finally phoned the police at 11.10pm. They had looked over the grounds, as well as the small forest adjacent.

But there was no sign of Peter.

Greggory told the same story to the police. Peter had run away from him. The security cameras by the back door had caught that as well. As well as a bright light, estimated from the vicinity of the forest and the highway.

They said it might be the high beam from a car or van. But they said they didn't know if it had anything to do with Peter's disappearance, although they were examining all possibilities.

The newspapers licked it up like a cat at a milkcan. A beautiful woman, dead of a fatal tumor, her gorgeous, eight-year-old son missing. It made headlines as far away as St. Louis and Little Rock. Within a week, Greggory and his wife Ella went on America's Most Wanted.

The whole area of the small village of Belgrade, Missouri and the local fields and the road were all searched. The Brock Creek and the Big River had been drenched, but there was no sign.

Greggory had held a small teddy from Peter's bedroom, although he never remembered the boy taking it anywhere. No, he preferred his Walkman. But that had vanished with him. Throughout the whole segment, he held Ella's hand tight. Just as he had done every night since Peter had gone missing.

The host had asked, "And what did it look like?"

Greggory explained, "I don't recall – what tape he had with him. But I do know that he only had the one on him."

A picture of a similar Walkman and Peter's backpack appeared on the screen behind them. The host turned to the camera and said, "Well, thank you for that information and remember, if you have any information that may lead to Peter's whereabouts, call our hotline on the number below, or your nearest police department. Please help us bring this little boy back to the loving arms of his family."

The days turned into weeks. They had to bury Meredith's body now. The whole family had wanted to wait for Peter, but they had to bury her. She was buried on 6th December 1988.

That Christmas was a lonely Christmas. They'd been preparing themselves for the fact, ever since the doctors said that summer that Meredith's tumor had become terminal, that their Christmas would be a lonely one.

But none of them – any could have, to be frank – could have expected a Christmas without Peter.

Greggory had still entered a routine. Each Christmas, he would have gotten a present for Peter and one for Meredith, before driving over to their house in Park Hills. He would then stay for Christmas lunch and go back to his house for dinner with Ella.

But now, although he had brought another cassette tape for Peter, whenever he would come home – not if, as everyone around him, including the FBI, seemed to say but never did – he just stayed at home.

His other daughter and his son both came around, as did Peter's cousins. His friends had all sent condolences. But without Meredith and Peter, that Christmas was as quiet as the grave.

Of course, he had, on his darkest days, visited a psychic. Most of them were trash, but one that stuck out in his mind was one woman from outside Wichita, who read tarot cards.

Greggory decided to go there on a day trip shortly after Easter. She had selected nine cards from a deck on the table that they had sat at in her living room, under low-hanging purple drapes and with a purple cloth on the table.

The first three she had selected from her deck were the Star, the Chariot and the Nine of Wands. She had been picking the first card from the deck when she realized she had taken the second out at the same time, Greggory noticed.

"You see," she had pointed a dark purple-colored fingernail at the Star, "this means a loss, abandonment. However, it can also mean hope, so don't give up yet. The Chariot is reversed, which means there is a quarrel, a dispute. The Nine of Wands, however, means that if a person is attacked, possibly with a formidable enemy. Is there anyone that bore you harm before Peter vanished?"

Greggory shook his head. He was not feeling happy with this. But, he told himself, you decided to find the answers.

She carried on. The next three were the Empress, the Knight of Wands and Seven of Cups.

"The Empress means a strong woman, one who cares."

Greggory's mind immediately went to Meredith and a chill ran down his spine.

"The Knight of Wands suggests flight, or perhaps absence. A change of residence. It can also mean a friendly young man. The Seven of Cups suggests nothing permanent, so I'd say this is a sign that Peter will 'return', but I can't say how."

Whether he's alive or dead, you mean, Greggory thought to himself.

The final deck was cast. The Knight of Cups, the Queen of Cups and the Ace of Pentacles.

"Ah, this is interesting," she said as she leant over them, "The Knight of Cups is reversed. This means that there is trickery and fraud. As this row represents the future, it means that sometime in Peter's future, there will be a trick. It can also mean an arrival. This card shows a dreamer, but he is haunted.

"The Queen of Cups can mean a good woman, again, this is in Peter's future. Success, happiness and pleasure. So, it seems that wherever he is, he will be happy. Now, the Ace of Pentacles shows a pentacle being offered from the sky. This is also the most favorable of the cards. I guess this all means that Peter will return, but whatever the outcome, he will be happy."

The months turned into years. On his birthday each year, Greggory would go to Peter's house and into his bedroom. On Meredith's birthday, he would place two flowers on her grave. One for her, one that Peter should have lain.

Soon, the FBI had come to tell Greggory about some other disappearances in the neighboring counties.

"All disappeared from hospitals or hospices, just like Peter." The officer had explained.

"How can a child disappear from inside a hospital?" Greggory asked before he could stop himself.

The officer told him, "We think the culprit may be disguising himself as a doctor or a nurse. The main difference is that some children that vanished were patients, rather than visitors."

Greggory had looked at the pictures of missing children over the next few days. He had recorded a segment on the news and on America's Most Wanted. He also brought a statewide newspaper. The four cases all revolted him, but it was one that stuck out the most for him.

Derek Brent Robinson had been only six years old when he disappeared three years before Peter, just eleven miles north-east of the hospice. The child had been visiting his dying grandmother on New Year's Eve and was last seen in the waiting room. He was currently missing.

Derek was small, blond and had wonky front teeth. It was uncanny how much he resembled Peter.

A year before Peter had gone missing, an eleven-year-old boy named Brandon Bradley had been taken from a hospital garden in Caledonia. The town in question was only four and a half miles from where Peter had last been seen. Not only that, but it was the next town along the highway.

Like Peter and Derek, Brandon was also missing. A man named 'Dr. Rogers' had supposedly asked the boy to come inside to get away from the cold, completely ignoring a ten-year-old female witness in a wheelchair right next to them.

There hadn't been a Dr. Rogers at the hospital.

Greggory had been shown a picture of this man, by the FBI. He examined the man's wavy blond hair, his long, thin nose and his pierced ear.

"No," he sighed, handing back the paper to the agent, "I don't recall anything."

He knew if he'd remember, because Meredith had died right in the same room.

He remembered everything that day.

Three months later, Greggory went to a talk-show with parents from the four other boys' families.

Greggory had been third. He had listened to the stories by the mother of ten-year-old Nathan Wilde, who had vanished from Park Hills just weeks earlier, in September 1989. Greggory tried to remember if he recognized Nathan, but he'd gone to a school on the other side of Park Hills.

Greggory had seen the video of little Derek Brent Robinson and the video of Terry Nelson, a seven-year-old who had gone missing from Sullivan, Missouri, up on Highway 44, back in 1984. Terry had been the only one of the children to have been found. He had been discovered five days after he disappeared, by the roadside near Black, just eighteen miles south-west of Belgrade.

After the segment, Nathan's mother had taken Greggory aside. "I saw you on America's Most Wanted when your boy disappeared," she had said, with a heavy heart, "and I remember thinking 'how can any parent go through that?' I know you're not his real parent, but from what I've heard, you were the closest thing he had to a dad."

Greggory remembered Meredith saying Peter's father had come from the stars. Everyone believed it was the tumor talking. He'd lost count of how many times the police and FBI asked about Peter's father, but everyone said no-one knew about Peter's father. Greggory didn't even know what he looked like.

On what would have been Peter's tenth birthday, the FBI came with news. They sat him and Ella down on the couch before they explained.

The whole time, Greggory had been sweating nervously, anticipating the news.

One officer told him, slowly and carefully, "We found a man, from the Mark Twain National Forest. He worked at a golf course near Virburnum. He's – our main suspect."

Greggory had to be taken to a police station to see some photographs.

He felt like puking up his lunch every time he saw one. He forced himself to look at one twice, wondering if that was Peter after all.

But he shook his head.

Peter didn't have wonky teeth.

He looked at belongings that were kept by that – that monster. But no. No sign of the backpack or the Walkman.

Nevertheless, in August 1990, he heard from the FBI that the man – Richard James 'R.J' Rogers of Virburnum, aged twenty-eight – had confessed to Peter's murder.

"I shouldn't get your hopes up," the officer on Peter's case, Agent Vasquez, had told Greggory, "he's confessed to others we know he didn't do. He's claimed to have murdered two hundred victims, a hundred and fifty of them men. But some would have died when he was just seven, some from states he never visited and some when he was doing time as a juvenile."

Five bodies were recovered from the golf course.

Greggory had been fixated with the TV, waiting by the phone for that call. One of the bodies had been lying there for almost a decade. Greggory spent nights lying awake in his bed, having the most awful nightmares.

One by one, the bodies were identified.

Derek Brent Robinson was found in a fetal position by the thirty-third hole. Brandon Bradley was next, near the patio by the main building. Herman Wright-Garcia, a seventh-grader from Cuba, Missouri at the beginning of 1983, was only fifty yards from Brandon.

Rogers' first victim, nine-year-old Scott Lewis, had been found in the north-west area of the course. The boy had been taken from outside a hotel, where his mother had worked.

Nathan Wilde was discovered in the south-west section, close to the bridge. He had been buried with his GI Joe doll and his tag from the hospice.

But there was no sign of Peter.

Rogers was linked to two more murders. Terry Nelson was one. The other was a boy from Ironton, a fifteen-year-old on a paper route on an early morning in July 1987. He had been discovered by a trucker in Enough, Missouri just hours later, by the side of the road. The paperboy had been small for his age and it was believed he was killed in a fit when R.J found out his real age.

But it was R.J did next that disgusted Greggory. He had gone along to a Boy Scouts campfire, to 'stop feeling angry'.

Greggory hoped with all his heart that the FBI had been right and Peter had not ended up at the hands of this man.

There were two and a half long years before the trial. It was mostly to do with Rogers blabbing about killing people in Maine and Oregon, when the FBI said they knew this was a complete lie.

It was torture for Greggory. Only a tiny bit of him thought Rogers had taken his grandson. That part was the logical part of his brain. After all, he had disappeared in the same county as some of the other boys. One of his victims was just down the road. Peter was the right age, from the right sort of building, under similar circumstances.

But the other part couldn't help but think about the psychic. She'd solved a cold case from the sixties. It had been amazingly accurate.

But then again, she had said that Peter was happy wherever he was. That could mean either way.

The newspapers had Peter's face plastered over them again. This time, however, they were next to Richard James Rogers, also known as the Huckleberry Killer. The mugshot of him showed a small, angry man with a bristly mustache and beady eyes complete with dark brown, wavy hair.

By the time R.J Rogers was found guilty of seven murders on 2nd December 1992, Greggory had still not given up on Peter coming home.

Greggory still kept Peter's room immaculate, just as it had been on the night he disappeared. There was one main difference; there was a picture of Meredith holding her son, on his eighth birthday.

Vasquez had come by a few times after the trial, saying they were trying to find connections with Rogers.

"I told you, I'm not sure he did it," Greggory had said, after the sixth visit, sometime in June 1994.

Vasquez had just sighed and looked at Greggory with sad eyes. "Rogers had a lie-detector back in March. He said he once took a boy as a birthday present for himself. His birthday's Halloween –"

Greggory snorted.

Perfect for a monster.

"– and Peter disappeared on 27th October."

Greggory had folded his arms. "So? That's four days' difference. Not close enough. For all we know, he could be some other poor boy. I don't believe he took my grandson."

Vasquez simply sighed and peered down at his papers. "We just – we have to examine every avenue." He explained, before getting up and saying goodbye.

More time passed.

Greggory kept thinking about what he had missed, as they went by. Peter reaching high school. His graduation. Going to college, meeting a girl, driving a car.

Was Peter doing any of those things, wherever he was?

Greggory also missed out on Meredith's achievements, as well. Meredith turning thirty, getting married, getting a job. She had been so young when she got sick, she'd had to graduate college a year early. A housekeeper had taken care of Peter on those darkest days, but Greggory didn't even know where she was now.

Frequently, he'd get reporters calling up, or psychics claiming that Peter was in Maine or in a ditch by the Arkansas border or – and this was the most bizarre one – with a talking raccoon.

When the Internet became popular, people talked about him online. Half of them were speculating about R.J and the other half were giving their love and thoughts and prayers and gossiping.

Some cruel gossip suggested that Greggory and his family had paid someone to take Peter in case his father turned up. That was not just horrible, but it made no sense. Even if Peter's father knew Meredith had been ill, how on Earth would he have found out? Surely reporting the kid's disappearance would make it more likely that his father found out?

But Ella had tried comforting him.

"You shouldn't look this up; you'll get paranoid. In any case, some people are just stupid. Or some just see conspiracies wherever they go. Just don't look up any of this."

On what would have been Peter's twenty-first birthday, on 25th July 2001, Greggory and his family released balloons at the hospice grounds.

His son and his own kids released four balloons, all bright red. Greggory's other daughter and her five children – one of them born after Peter disappeared – released six yellow and blue balloons. Then Greggory and Ella released two pink ones. Meredith's favorite color.

The both of them had small scrolls of paper attached to them.

Ella had written Meredith, I hope you are looking after Peter, wherever he is. We all miss you and think of you every day.

Greggory had written Peter, I hope that you are happy, wherever you are. I just imagine you as a young man, being free and exploring, just as your mother said you would. I love you. Granddad.

In 2002, Vasquez – now nearly the age Greggory was when Peter had vanished – came by to tell them R.J had given a plea bargain.

"He's trying to put off the death penalty as long as he can," Vasquez explained, "and he's making up the most ludicrous stories. He knows we can't prove it, but he's saying he did. We're only fifty percent sure he took Peter, though."

Greggory nodded. "I never believed it, either."

But even so, he couldn't help reading the newspapers, with R.J's mugshot adjacent to Peter's yearbook picture. Peter wore a dark blue t-shirt and was smiling with his mouth open, showing his little teeth.

He still had three baby teeth, Greggory remembered.

Greggory felt drawn to reading about R.J. The man who claimed to know where Peter was. About how R.J had lived in a foster home in Salem, Missouri and played doctors and nurses with the other children. R.J had been visiting a fellow orphan in a hospital (the boy was treated for leukemia) and a doctor had abused both of them, but no-one believed them.

R.J's friend had died two years later, when R.J was only eleven and the boy not much older, still being hurt by the doctor and never receiving justice.

R.J had stolen a doctor's uniform when he was just eighteen years old. This was the uniform he used to trick boys into going with him.

But none of this mattered to Greggory. All that mattered was finding his grandson.

His other grandchildren grew up, had boyfriends and girlfriends (sometimes the same gender as them), got married, got jobs, voted. And all the time, Greggory was wondering whether Peter was doing any of this.

On Peter's twenty-fifth birthday, Greggory went to Meredith's graveside. He often did this on their birthdays, but not just for the reasons everyone else did. He kept expecting a young man to appear with a bouquet of flowers and say he loved his mom.

He'd almost given up on this, but now he sat on a bench and sighed. Then his phone rang.

Answering it, he asked, "Ella, what is it?"

"Greggory, you need to come home, quick." She sounded a little panicked.

Greggory asked her, in a calming voice, "Just – just tell me what it is."

"They think they found Peter's backpack," she said, letting Greggory's hairs stand up on end, "in a charity shop in Arkansas."

Apparently, a store owner had been emptying his inventory when he had discovered a backpack he had received in 1991. He'd seen the name Peter written on the inside and said he'd remembered something about a kid who vanished in the 1980s in Missouri.

The police showed a picture of the backpack to Greggory and Ella. But Greggory shook his head. "It's the wrong color. Sorry." He told them.

He knew he shouldn't get his hopes up, but it was difficult when things like this happened.

In early 2006, Greggory gave Peter's hairbrush to the police. The hairbrush had been locked away in a drawer, with some of Peter's other things. The police took five of the hairs and said they would call them if they found anything.

That way, if Peter was discovered (dead or alive, Greggory told himself), he would be identified quickly.

About six months later, the FBI told Greggory about a body found by a lake in California.

"We're not certain as of yet," Vasquez reminded Greggory, "but some people online have told us that the picture drawn by our artist, of what he may have looked like when he was alive, resembles Peter."

Vasquez showed them a picture. It was a young man with blondish hair and a high nose and slightly sticking-out ears.

Greggory raised an eyebrow. "You really think that's Peter?" he scoffed, "That kid's obviously a teenager."

Vasquez looked at Greggory and spoke with a heavy heart, "The body was found under some bushes in Lake Alamnor on 8th October 1997."

Vasquez went on to explain that the boy was estimated to have been for just a few days and had been aged between roughly thirteen and seventeen years old.

Greggory had put his hand up. "Wait, wait. You're – saying that Peter was – kept," he almost spat the word, "alive?"

This was the first time he'd ever dared think about that. Sure, he'd imagined Peter being alive, but with someone caring for him.

Thankfully, this fear was slightly softened when a DNA test revealed this wasn't Peter.

On a fall day in 2008, almost twenty years after Peter had vanished, one of his other grandchildren came round on a visit from Kansas.

"Granddad," she had told her, "this man's been arrested in Illinois. The people at college said that they think he took Peter."

Greggory was not surprised when Vasquez came around to talk to him.

The man, Joseph Barnes, was aged forty-one and lived in Valmeyer, near the Mississippi River. The FBI had found the bodies of men and boys in his crawlspace under the house. Fourteen of them. Some of them had been offered work by Barnes, only to have him strangle them.

"So far," Vasquez told Greggory, in an attempt to reassure him, "none of the bodies – boys or men – have been identified as Peter. We just thought we needed to tell you."

"Why?" Greggory had asked, almost snapping. "He's in Illinois. To get here, he'd have to drive up to St. Louis."

Vasquez had sighed and looked at Greggory with miserable eyes. "One of his victims was a twelve-year-old boy from Bismarck, back in 2000."

Only twelve miles away.

Greggory still said, "It's a very loose connection. I don't think so."

Vasquez told Greggory, "I'm sorry Greggory, but we're going to have to come to the conclusion that Peter is very likely to be…"

"He isn't!" Greggory got up, shouting. "I've never believed it! Rogers or Barnes or anyone else, I don't believe he's dead!"

Vasquez nodded, pursing his lip. "Well, just keep an open mind."

Greggory was still convinced eight months later, when Barnes led police to a grove in Ste. Genevieve, where the bodies of ten more victims, nearly all of them under the age of eighteen, were buried. Some were from as far back as 1985.

Three bodies from the crawlspace were still unidentified. So was one of the bodies from the grove. Greggory saw all four of them.

The crawlspace bodies were all grown men. Greggory still didn't recognize any of them.

The one from the grove was just a little boy, estimated at between eight and eleven years old. Greggory didn't recognize him, either.

He later learnt that he was identified as a boy from Illinois in 2001. Greggory couldn't help but feel jealous. At least that family knew where their son was.

Over the next few months, Greggory started using the computer a lot more. He'd partially started using it way back in the mid-nineties, hoping that Peter would use this new machine to communicate. Now, he used it to find out who may be responsible.

He spent hours scouring cold case websites, reading up on killers. Not just child-killers, but people who lived in Missouri or had connections to Missouri, who had gone crazy and killed an associate or a spree shooting.

He got nowhere.

One day he'd been looking through a cold case website when he'd read something about conspiracies. It was about alien abductions. Someone was saying Peter's abduction fitted all the hallmarks of alien origins.

Greggory would have laughed if it hadn't been so serious.

In May 2010, he got a call from Vasquez. By now, Vasquez was retired, but he still kept an eye on the case.

"Someone came to the FBI. He says he's Peter."

"He did?" Greggory stood up from his chair, daring to let himself think.

"Well, we're not entirely sure. He says his early years are sketchy and he used to be on medication a lot throughout his life. But he thinks he's Peter."

When Greggory was shown a picture of the lanky young man, he raised an eyebrow. "I'm not certain," he told Vasquez, "I don't know."

Then he asked, "Where did he come from?"

Vasquez said something about a mass murderer up by Kansas City and that when the guy's house was searched, they found a dopey young man, with the mental age of a much younger child, living in the basement. And that the man had called him Peter.

The DNA results came back after a sleepless, endless night.

Vasquez shook his head. "He's not Peter. Not your Peter, anyway."

Greggory had asked, simply, "So, who do you think he is?" he didn't actually care. He just wanted answers.

Twenty years of longing for answers.

Vasquez mumbled something about him probably being the murderer's seven-year-old son, who had gone missing with his mother in 1989. Neither had been reported missing.

Greggory just hoped this kid had a home to go back to.

When an FBI agent took the young man past the office that Greggory and Vasquez were in, he knocked on the door. The agent tried to pull him along, but Vasquez had motioned for them to come in.

The thin and ill-looking boy had simply stared at Greggory, almost as if staring into space. "I'm sorry I'm not your grandson, man," he shrugged, hopelessly, "I wish you find him."

Greggory nodded his head, before slowly replying with a, "Thank you. You too."

Another dead end.

Even after all this time, the FBI were sure that Peter's father could have something to do with it. They'd asked Greggory if he remembered Meredith's boyfriend.

"No idea," Greggory had said, for what seemed the thousandth time, "Meredith was at college down in Poplar Bluff back in the late seventies. She came up here with him in the early stages of her pregnancy and said that the two of them made love behind a diner south of here. That's the closest he's over got to home."

For the next four years, Greggory just lived his life as he had done.

As he had done on average every six months since Peter had vanished, he got called to a coroner's. About a body having been found in a garden or in an alley or fished from a lake or the Mississippi.

They were never Peter.

Wrong height, wrong race, they'd even got wrong gender, once.

Little boys, older boys, men. None of them Peter.

He barely paid attention to reporters saying that R.J had been convicted of three more murders and what were his thoughts?

Greggory wanted to slap them stupid. So what if Rogers had been convicted of three more kids, one of whom was still missing? It was his Peter he cared about.

The next tragedy came in his life when Ella died, just a day short of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Peter's disappearance.

She was buried in the plot next to Meredith.

Greggory's daughter and son and their children all visited the grave with him.

Greggory felt jealous of all those other families, whose kids had been found. At least they knew where their children were.

About the same time, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released a picture of what Peter would look like at the age of thirty-three. It was little help.

But whenever Greggory watched TV and turned his attention to the background, or saw a young man at the tills in a store or read any story online or in a book that came from someone named Peter and was the right age.

He'd wonder, is that you?

Around a year after Ella's passing, something happened out near Belgrade. A massive grey blob-rock-thing had expanded and engulfed the surrounding area. Thankfully, only a few people died, but Greggory had been in a car that had been pushed off its back wheels and sat up.

He'd heard that the Avengers from the East Coast had taken some samples and it was cleaned up, but for now, the place looked like Chernobyl. Even the hospice where Meredith had died was contaminated.

It was Halloween a few years later when he was sitting outside on his front porch. He couldn't help thinking Peter would be a parent himself now. His other grandchildren had children of their own. Surely Peter would be.

He smiled as he saw a family walk past his house. A man dressed in a leather outfit, a woman with green make-up and two kids dressed as a tree and a raccoon.

Then the man stopped right in front of Greggory.

"Hi, Granddad." He spoke.

Greggory had never believed this day would come.

"Peter?" he asked, standing up.

Then he looked. Meredith's smile, those ears, that long nose. He remembered the picture released two years ago, an update of the other.

Peter…

"Peter, is that your granddad?" the woman asked.

"Yeah," Peter murmured, the beginnings of a smile appearing on his face.

Greggory turned to look at the other three, for just a second. The tree seemed too real and the raccoon was very animalistic.

"Peter…" he started, afraid.

Peter just laughed quickly and then held Greggory's hand. "Oh, these are my friends. Gamora, Rocket, Groot."

"I am Groot," the tree-thing said with a smile.

Greggory felt he might faint.

"Those…it's like that stuff with the Avengers."

"Just visited them," Peter grimaced, "it was not nice. Anyway, you read all about it, so let me fill you in."

Greggory listened as the five of them sat around the kitchen table. The raccoon was jumping over the crockery in the cabinet, the tree was shaking hands with a potted plant and the woman was examining herself in a spoon.

The aliens bit was the one he thought about immediately.

The Star and the Chariot.

He heard about what Peter had said. What he'd been through. All the amazing things.

If Greggory hadn't looked at the palm of his hand, he wouldn't have believed it either. He'd read somewhere that if you saw the lines properly on the palm of your hand, you weren't dreaming.

"Ah, could you please let go of that?" his eyes turned to the raccoon, "It's expensive."

"What is it?" the raccoon asked, popping his snout in the end of a leaf-blower.

Peter told Greggory, "I – I haven't thought about them in years. I can't even remember what Uncle Lenny's kids were called. How is everyone? Considering," he added, as an afterthought.

Greggory sighed. "Getting on with their lives."

"And Grandma?"

Greggory lowered his head. "She died in 2013."

Peter swallowed. "I – guessed the both of you might. But Mr. Stark looked online and found you were still alive. I also –" his voice faltered, "– I also read about that guy everyone said killed me. I found that my aunt thought it was certain."

Greggory asked, "Oh, Peter? You read that?"

"Sounded like a right git to me," the raccoon was saying, as he shifted through the stuff in the garage down the hallway.

Greggory asked Peter, "Why is a raccoon speaking?"

"He's not really a raccoon," Peter told him.

Greggory nodded. Made as much sense as everything else.

He sighed. Finally. He'd found his answer. He'd found Peter. But something just wasn't right.

"The stuff with the Avengers was in the summer. Why did you wait until Halloween to visit?"

Peter looked back at Gamora, who was leaving through a book, trying to understand it, and the tree with headphones on, relaxing on Greggory's armchair.

"I stand corrected," he murmured, as he reached out for Peter's hand.

"Peter, you have to understand me," he told the younger man, "there was not one day I didn't give up searching for you."

The two of them stood and they let themselves cry when they hugged.

A/N: Peter's Earth family was always something that niggled at me when I watched the first movie. With the second movie and some FanFiction here and on Archive Of Our Own, I decided this would probably work if I wrote it the right way.

The FanFiction on Archive Of Our Own named 'If He Had Just Stayed' seemed to inspire me the most when I wrote this. The places are all pretty accurate, but I have no connection to Missouri. The only things I made different were putting a forest and diner near Belgrade, as well as the hospice (I thought it would be more likely Peter's mother was in a hospice, rather than a hospital) and putting a golf course near Virburnum.

I do not mean to offend anyone from Virburnum or any of the other places mentioned in this story.

I decided magic could exist in this universe since they have Doctor Strange and I thought, 'If not him, why not Tarot cards?'

Unfortunately, people like R.J do exist and I have to write about them every day.

I hope you enjoyed this story. Thank you for reading.

If you wanted a sequel (I didn't plan one, but a lot of people seem to like this story), what do you think it should include?