CB looked around, as Carolina watched Garrett leave. Two boyish shouts of joy rang out, and two identical green cabooses tackled her.

"Carson! Chuckie!"

Two adult cabooses, the male blue and the female gray, each pulled one twin off of their daughter. The female looked up, seeing the look of fear and discomfort CB wore. She nudged her Carolina, as she stood up, and smiled.

"Introduce us to your friend, dear."

"Oh, right! Mom, Dad, this is CB. CB, these are my parents. My mom's Camille, and my dad's Chang."

"Oh, really? Does he have a brother named Eng?"

"We get that all the time." Carolina groaned. "No, he doesn't."

Carson and Chuckie rolled up to CB. Carson poked his arm, making him jump. He looked at Carolina, pleadingly.

"Guys, you can't bother CB, okay? He doesn't like being near a lot of people."

"You'll have to deal with it, kiddo, they're only four. They've always wanted a big brother."

CB glared a bit, fighting back his anger.

"Don't call me kiddo."

"Okay. At least tell me your."

"No, Dad!"

".Real name."

CB felt the panicky feeling surge within him, and he backed away. Carolina moved past her family, and placed a comforting arm around him. He tried to pull away, but she held on tighter.

"It's all right, CB. He didn't mean anything by it. Please, just come home, with us. I'm here, I won't let anything happen."

The family headed home, Carolina staying next to CB the whole time. She stared at the building her family called home, and sighed, happily. CB backed up, as her brothers pulled her through the door. Chang followed, carrying their duffel bags, but Camille turned toward him.

"Why don't you come in? That's what you're here for, you know, to visit."

CB looked at the ground, rubbing the back of his neck. Camille rolled over to him, and placed a hand on his shoulder. He instinctively jerked away, moving his arm up, to protect his face from a blow that wouldn't come. Camille put her hands up in a gesture of peace.

"It's all right. Really. I won't hurt you."

Camille slowly reached out, and grasped CB's hand. He tensed up, then slowly began to relax, and allowed her to put an arm around him, and lead him inside. The building was bright and cheery, and made CB feel really out of place, and nervous. Carolina smiled, from the main room, where she was pulling her wrestling brothers away from her. Carson and Chuckie looked up, and exchanged a glance, as Camille led CB into the living room, and left him there. Before Carolina could stop them, the twins dashed toward CB, and tackled him, thinking he'd join in their game. CB was caught off guard, and fell backward. He hit the floor, his head hitting it rather hard, and his face went blank. Carolina pulled the boys away, and sent them to get their parents.

"CB? CB, answer me! Are you okay? CB!"

CB heard Carolina's panicked cries, but he couldn't answer them. He was flashing back to a time during his childhood, a time during which he was constantly running away from Greaseball and his gang. They'd gotten hold of him, and were beating on him, even while Poppa had been rushing to his rescue. They'd beat him about the head, and shoved him about, hurting his ankle rather badly.

He felt himself being moved, vaguely, and started struggling. He heard Carolina's voice in his ear, trying to calm him down. He felt hands grasp his arms tightly, and screamed. He welcomed the blackness and numbness that came when he lost consciousness.

"CB.? CB! Come on, I know you can hear me! Now, open your eyes!"

The caboose groaned, as Carolina awakened him, the next morning. When he'd awakened, she'd dragged in the eight-year-old twins to apologize to him. He'd taken one look at her pleading eyes, and accepted their apology. Then, he found out he'd share a room with them. He'd been upset, to say the least, especially when one of them had a nightmare, and insisted on sleeping next to him.

Carolina had snapped a photograph, the next morning, and he'd nearly died of embarrassment, when she'd gone to call her parents in, to see "how cute CB looks, with Carson next to him!" He'd gone back to sleep, as the boys got up, and now Carolina was dragging him out of bed, and down to breakfast. He didn't really look forward to having breakfast with a family near him, but the smell of pancakes, eggs, and bacon made his stomach rumble rather loudly.

"Well, I know you must be hungry." Carolina whispered, as they entered the kitchen.

"Well, now, what are you two whispering about?" Camille asked, sounding cheerful.

"Probably planning on sneaking off, soon, and doing things I wouldn't approve of." Chang replied.

"Daddy! CB and I are just friends!"

"Sure, sweetheart."

CB sat at the table, and Camille set a plate in front of him. He stared, a bit, and watched, as everyone else started eating. Carolina stopped, and looked at him.

"Aren't you hungry, CB?"

"Well. Yes."

"Well, go ahead, eat. This isn't like some of the trainyards I've heard you were in, here you can eat without waiting until everyone's finished."

CB smiled, a bit, and Carolina squeezed his shoulder. He felt a lot more relaxed, and more at home, all of a sudden. Seeing what family life was really like, he could actually realize that Poppa, Belle, and Rusty, even though they weren't his parents or brother, were his family. He felt something in him start to crumble away, and he knew, deep down, that things weren't going to bother him, much longer. After eating, he excused himself, to go for a short trip. He stopped, in the middle of a trestle, and looked over the side, clinging tightly to the guardrails.


He turned, and saw Carolina. She rolled over to him, and placed her arms around him, trying to read his expression.

"This trestle means something to you, doesn't it?"


"Care to tell me?"

"It was the place I first killed."

"That was a long time ago, wasn't it."

"Ten years. I was eight."

"I was ten, when I killed. I almost killed myself, a bunch of times, afterward. That's how I ended up with Micki and Garrett."

CB looked at Carolina, as she rested her head on his shoulder. He couldn't really tell, how he felt about her, anymore. He wanted nothing more than to be friends with her, but having her there with him, he couldn't help feeling that there was something more, between them.

"Hey, Carolina.?"


As she looked up, CB hesitated, then kissed her. She smiled, inwardly, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she almost screamed. CB felt a hand come down on his shoulder, and spin him around, pulling him away from her. It was her father.

"And just what the hell do you think you're doing with my daughter, boy?"


Chang shoved CB into the guardrail, and glowered down at him. CB's hat fell off, and hit the stones below.

"Daddy, stop it!"

Chang leaned forward, glaring straight into CB's eyes.

"Listen here, boy." Chang said, so quietly that Carolina couldn't hear him. "I swear. If you hurt my daughter. If you even think of hurting her. I shall rip of your head, write derogotory statements all over it, and mock it, before throwing it into the Mississippi River! Got that?"



"Yes, s-sir."


Chang moved back, and Carolina threw her arms around CB, clinging to him like a child would cling to its mother. He stared, amazed at how much this family cared about Carolina. And how much she cared about him. He wrapped his arms around her, and placed his cheek against the top of her head.

"Hush, now. I'm all right. I'm all right."

CB felt himself getting ready to collapse, as they entered the building, some hours later. He felt strange. Not sick, only strange. Carolina stayed right by his side, until he felt well enough to stand. When he did, Carolina brought him the phone, and sat next to him.

"It's your mom." Camille called.


"Hey, kiddo, it's Belle."

"Belle! Hi!"

"Just wanted to get some news on you."

"There's a lot."

"Such as.?"

CB looked at Carolina, and grasped her hand.

"Well, Belle. I'm in love."