It was dark and quiet but neither the darkness nor the silence that surrounded him had anything scary to them. He hadn't felt this much at peace in a long time, maybe ever! And the longer he thought about it the more he decided this was a good place to be. This was why the voices that started to drift over like from a far away place weren't really welcome. 'Go away!' he wanted to scream at them as they slowly came closer bringing with them a feeling of heaviness and uneasiness. Yet either they couldn't hear him or they just didn't want to understand because they just wouldn't stop. Desperate to quiet them he tried to move away just to suddenly find himself overwhelmed by a stabbing pain that seemed to race up and down his lower back and into his legs. His eyes flew open at the same time as he heard the scream. It took him a moment to become of the fact that it had come from his own throat. His eyes moved back and forth, finally fixing unto a still fuzzy, yet not unfriendly looking face just above him. At the same time he could feel hands trying to hold him down and he saw the mouth of the person move. It took some concentration before he finally could understand the words. "Gabe, listen to me, you need to lie still!" As the voice and the face became clearer he finally recognized them as belonging to Dr. Lowry. Taking a breath of relief he relaxed slightly and found that almost instantly the pain became more bearable.

The doctor gave him a few moments to recover before he spoke again. "Gabe, the surgery went well and the pain you are experiencing is a good sign right now. I will give you something against it but first I need to do a few tests!" Ensuring himself that his patient understood, he went on, "I will prick your legs and feet with this needle" he held up a sterile cannula, "and you tell me if you can feel anything!"

Gabe nodded, still slightly dazed from the anesthesia.

"Okay, here it goes!"

The prick of the needle in the lower part of his left leg, felt more like a knife stabbing him and he couldn't hold a moan back nor help the involuntary jerk that went through both of his legs. Yet with it also cleared the haze from his brain and he suddenly understood the meaning of it. He could feel his legs. No longer were they useless things just dangling from the lower half of his body.

"I can feel them; I can feel my legs and they move!" he said in amazement, not conscious of the fact that he had spoken out loud until he heard the doctor laugh.

"Indeed, they do!"

Suddenly panic seemed to take over, "What about the pain?"

"Right now your nerves are overreacting. After being out for so long they are just not able to process the information right. That's why the pain is so intense. I told you before there is a chance you might have to live with pain but what you are experiencing right now isn't it!" Dr. Lowry assured him, "I will inject some pain medication into your IV, which should help!"

"How long will it be until I can start to walk?"

Dr. Lowry couldn't help but laugh about the enthusiasm of his young patient.

"Well, how about you rest today and tomorrow we do an MRI and check how everything looks?"

"Why tomorrow? Why not today?" Gabe said with obvious disappointment in his voice.

"Gabe, you just came out of surgery, you got to give it a little time!"

"But it's been so long already!" His voice now sounded more like a little boy begging for a toy.

Once again Dr. Lowry smiled, "Tomorrow will be here before you know! How about I let in your friends, they can hardly stand the wait anymore either!"

He walked away and opened the door, "You can come in now!"

++++++

Mac was the first one at Gabe's side, anxiety clearly written on her face. Expecting her friend still to be drowsy from the effects of the anesthesia, she was surprised by the sparkle in his eyes.

"Gabe….," she started but was instantaneously interrupted by his outburst, "They hurt, Mac!"

"I'm sorry, Gabe, do you want me to tell Dr. Lowry?" she asked, not grasping what he was trying to say.

"No, Mac, you don't understand, I can feel pain in my legs, it feels terrible right now but it is the best pain I ever had!" He paused for a moment and a grin appeared on his face, "Can you believe it, I never thought I ever would enjoy being in pain!"

"This is great Gabe; I don't know what to say!" Mac squeezed his hand, for once unable to express her emotions. There were tears in her eyes when she locked them with Judson, who now was standing beside her.

"I told you, that you had everything to gain!" Judson said out loud, while he silently sent a prayer of thanks to heaven. Although he didn't like to, he had to admit that even he had some doubts about the success of the surgery. He was glad he had been wrong.

"Yes, you did tell me!" Gabe answered in a more quiet voice, again taking a break, before he continued, "Thanks for sticking with me!"

++++++

November 7th, 1991

Katherine Patterson quietly pulled the door to her daughter's room shut. It was late, almost 1130 and she hadn't been surprised to find Constance already asleep although it had been only 10 minutes since she had disappeared into her room. She knew her daughter had most likely not brushed her teeth and probably was fully dressed underneath her blanket but for once she decided it wasn't worth waking her up again. It had been a long excitement filled day for both her and her brother. After all you didn't have a birthday everyday, especially not a 13th birthday. It had meant so much to Constance to finally be a teenager; she had hardly been able to contain her anticipation during the last week. Her twin brother on the other side didn't seem to care about the upcoming event at all. At least not until today but even then it had been more the presents and the company of his friends that excited him than the entry into the "pre-adult years". Maybe it was just the difference between boys and girls in general or the difference between Constance and Gabriel in particular.

Katherine's thoughts were interrupted when she entered her son's room. She found him still awake, dressed in his pajamas and obviously waiting for her. As she sat down on his bed his arms wrapped around her and he planted a big kiss on her cheek before he hugged her tight.

 "Thanks mom, this was the best birthday ever. I love the computer, boy it is absolutely cool. Do you know, it even has the brand new windows system! Man, it is just totally unbelievable!" His voice almost broke as he had to take a breath.

She smiled, happy about his joy yet unsure what to make of it. Computers and all these other new electronic gadgets didn't mean a thing to her. She had trouble to even make the VCR work.

Gabe saw the look on her face and let out an exacerbated gasp, "Mom, computers are the thing of the future. I am telling you, 10 years from now, everyone will have at least one in their house. Just think about the endless possibilities!"

Not quiet believing her son; yet unwilling to curb his enthusiasm, she just smiled. "It's time for you to go to sleep, it is late and although tomorrow is a Saturday, you know your dad has set up the photo shoot with Peoples Magazine in the morning!"

Gabe pulled his nose up, "Typical, he couldn't even be here for our birthday but we have to be there for his stupid photo shoot!"

"Now Gabe, you know your father wanted to be here but he had to be at this meeting with several other Senators and it isn't his fault that they wouldn't postpone the meeting!"

"He should have been here!" Gabe's voice had suddenly taken on a very sad note.

Unsure on how to comfort him, she just held him tight and let her hand glide through his dark curly hair. She pressed a kiss on his forehead before she gently let him sink onto the pillow. "You really need to sleep now sweetheart!"

She stood up and walked to the door. Once more she turned around and looked at him, "Mommy loves you super much!" she said, remembering the bedtime routine they had when Gabe was little. Not really expecting a response, she was surprised to hear a whispered "And I love you super much, you are the bestest mommy in the whole world!" There were tears in her eyes when she closed the door and walked down the hall to her own bedroom.

++++++

Katherine couldn't find any sleep that night. Her husband had returned home around 2 o'clock but like always, when he came home this late, had used one of the guest rooms. She had a long time ago accepted that he lived his own life in which she was just the price to be shown off. She knew he didn't have an affair. No, her husband was way to busy and self involved to have room for another woman in his life. She even believed that he loved her, in his own way at least. It hadn't always been easy to be the wife of someone as ambitious as William but eventually she had found a way to fill out the role. Her fulfillment was in her role as a mother. Watching her children grow up and be able to be part of their lives was what had kept her going.

 Isaiah and Thaddeus had always been so much like their father, not just in looks but also in their personalities. Both had been very goal oriented ever since they been little and it had become very clear that they would follow in their father's foot steps. Both had graduated High School first of their class and had gone off to study at Harvard. The only difference between them was that 23 year old Isaiah had no interest in politics and was totally devoted to his goal to become a criminal lawyer, while 21 year old Thaddeus had already decided that becoming a lawyer would be only a jumping board for his future political career. Katherine realized she had never had much influence over her two elder sons but was happy that both of them still openly showed their affection for her.

Her thoughts went on to Constance, her only daughter, who was in many ways like her. She showed a lot of compassion for others and had already decided, she never would become a lawyer. No, she would tell everyone who wanted to know and also those who didn't, that she would become a doctor. Katherine didn't doubt for a minute that she would go through with it. Although only 13, she was in this very much like her father and her two older brothers. Still, she was much easier to guide and just during the last few months she had grown so much closer to her mother, asking for help with the many little problems a girl her age would experience. She loved her older brothers very much but the large age difference had never allowed them to become very close. Gabe on the other hand had always been her best friend and they seemed to be connected in a very special way. Constance would follow him anywhere and Gabe had on more than one occasion saved her from trouble.

Gabriel - Katherine hated to admit it, and it wasn't like anyone of her other children or even her husband would have ever seen it, but he was the one closest to her heart. How he hated to be called by his full name, he always maintained his name was Gabe, not Gabriel. Maybe it was just because his father insisted on the use of his proper name more than he had ever done with his siblings. But Gabe had managed to have even the servants call him by his nick name. There was just something about him that no one could resist. She could even see her husband at times waiver in his resolve. None of the other children had ever managed to do this to him. She wondered if it had something to do with him being not their flesh and blood but threw out the thought immediately. She had never thought of Gabe as anything but her own. And anyone who looked at him would have never doubted his relationship to the rest of the family. He had the same dark curly hair as his brothers; even his features were similar, the only difference being that he always had been a little slighter than them. But that could easily be accounted for as her heritage.  But from the very beginning it had been clear that his personality was very different. He had been a very happy child, easy going but also very stubborn. Always ready to openly defy his father, if he didn't belief in his orders but always loving and obedient to her. She remembered many occasions when he had followed his father's commands just to make her happy. Yet she was sure he would never out of his free will be part of the family law firm. She knew him too well, knew he wasn't cut out to be a lawyer. He was crazy about anything electronic and seemed to have a real gift for fixing things. Besides that he was spending a lot of time in his books, books about adventures, history, archeology, anthropology and other things that most 13 year old boys had never heard about. And still he found time to spend with his many friends, being part of more mischief than even she would ever know about.

Turning around in her bed once more, she smiled and sent a silent thanks to heaven. She would never be able to understand how any mother could give up her own child but she would forever be grateful to Gabe's mother. By giving him up she had made her family complete.

I know you had to wait for a long time for this part and I apologize for it. Real life sometimes just gets in the way of art (well, that is if you want to call my scribbling art). Thank you for all your patience and especially to all my reviewers. You guys are just wonderful and very encouraging!