John Anderson had just completed a long and arduous meeting, and after walking his guests to the elevators he returned to the boardroom, leaving the door open. While gathering the files and paperwork that remained in the room, he overheard his personal assistant announcing, "Stephenson, from security, just called, the police have arrived, should I inform your son?"
"No, don't bother. I will get the boy myself." John heard his father respond.
His thoughts still running over the results of the meeting, it took him a few moments to take into account what had been said. Police? … Boy? With his face pulled into a mystified frown John stepped to the door and queried, "Paula what was that about? The police are downstairs? Why?"
"I am sorry Sir. I didn't know you could hear, your father was in the room or I would have informed you. It's about your son." Paula declared and then she stammered as she saw pain etch itself on John's face, "I … Sir, I'm sorry. I had assumed your father had told you." And then she continued in a rush, "The police found Mark early this afternoon. Security just called to say he is downstairs with them."
Upon hearing this, John's legs weakened and his knees gave way, lurching him sideways against a wall where he slid down to sit in a heap on the floor. Then John heard a shout, sounding like it was coming down a tunnel, "Sir … Sir, are you okay? Cindy, get him a glass of water!" Paula directed to his father's assistant, before repeating, in what seemed a much cleared and closer voice, "Are you alright? Can you stand, Sir?"
John nodded his head in assent before opening his eyes and whispering, "They found Mark? The police have had him all day. And no one could be bothered to let me know?"
Paula softly assured "Yes Sir. I am sorry. I thought you had been told. I didn't know you hadn't. Or me telling you would affect you in this way. When the police called earlier, your father told me he would notify you. He said that your meeting was more important than you knowing Mark had been found."
John's eyes flashed and he snapped vehemently, "Nothing has been more important to me than finding Mark, do you understand?"
"Again, all I can say is I am sorry. I wont let something like this happen again. I should have known to get a message to you with this information. I am YOUR assistant, not your father's. I should have reported to you."
Nodding and using Paula's hand for support, John pushed himself to standing. When he was on his feet he looked at his assistant and whispered, "Mark's downstairs?" and was shocked by the longing he heard in his voice.
This time it was Paula who nodded before responding, "Security Agent, Peter Stephenson called to say Mark was at his station with two officers. They should be here shortly."
And as they heard the ding signaling the arrival of an elevator, they both turned and looked out the receiving room door.
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As the Police car pulled into the curved parking area in front of the Phoenix Foundation, Mark took a deep breath and looked warily at the structure. After parking their vehicle, the officers exited, one of them opening the rear door to let Mark out. The two officers continued their conversation as they escorted Mark into the building and past a group of men, dressed in business suits, who were exiting the building. When they reached the security desk in the main foyer, they waited for a guard to call the administrative offices.
"Someone will be down shortly." Stephenson said to the Officers, as he hung up the phone and then added, "You are welcome to leave Mark here, I will ensure he gets to his father."
"I'm sorry, we can't. We were given instructions to hand this letter directly to his caregiver." One of the Officers stated while displaying an envelope, and then returned it to his jacket pocket.
"Very well." Stephenson declared and then turning to Mark greeting him by saying, "I am happy to be the first to welcome you back, young sir. You are looking well."
Mark gave a smile and a slight nod of his head, in recognition of the man's words, "Thank you, Peter. I …"
Mark would have continued, but the chime from the elevators in the unusually quiet lobby, interrupted him and, wanting to see if it was someone to escort him upstairs, Mark turned. As the door opened and the man stepped out, Mark stiffened, and briefly closed his eyes.
"No, not HIM." Mark thought to himself, and then mentally reminded himself, "You have no emotions. You're not afraid. HE hurts you worse, when he knows you are afraid. You feel nothing and then he can't hurt you."
Samuel Anderson stepped out of the elevator and, wearing a false smile of greeting, he walked towards the quartet at the security desk. But his dark, cold eyes were focused on Mark.
"Well boy, we are glad you've returned." He said, hoping the three listening would not hear his insincerity. "I case you didn't realise, while you were away, many resources were used to find you. I hope you appreciate the effort."
The man reached out and took Mark by the shoulders, pulling him against his body in the pretense of a hug and continued his charade by stating, "You appear to have grown."
Pushing Mark back a step, Samuel turned the boy to face the two Officers and then, gripping each of Mark's shoulders, the man focused on the men and said "My son, John, and I are very appreciative of everything you have done to find the boy. I had almost given up hope of his safe return. Please let Captain Parks know how much we appreciate you returning him to us."
"Thank you, Sir. We were only doing our jobs, but we will ensure your kind words are passed along to our Captain." One of the officers replied, giving a bob of the head, before continuing, "She asked us to relay some information to you. First, Mark did not provide us with any information about his abductor. Instead he is insisting that he ran away. Dr. Wong, our department Psychiatrist, has spent some time speaking with the boy, to assess his state of mind, and he has written a letter recommending continued sessions with a mental health professional. All the information is here."
The Officer pulled the sealed envelope out of a pocket and handed it to Samuel before finishing with, "Dr. Wong insisted he would be checking on the boy in a month, to see if his recommendations have been followed and to discover if the lad has remembered anything new."
Samuel Anderson gave a grunt, and while sliding the envelope into the inner pocket of his suit he commented, "I would think the doctor would be too busy to have the time to concern himself with one silly boy. Please inform him he does not need to concern himself with the matter. We do have a Psychiatrist on staff, here in the building, and the boy can visit with her. We will ensure she knows to contact your Doctor to keep him updated. Now, if there is nothing more, I will let you return to your duties. Once again gentlemen, I thank you for your time."
As the Officers were turning to leave, Samuel tightened his grip on Mark's shoulders and gave a slight shake, "I think you should thank the men for all their effort, boy?"
Mark gave a stiff nod and responded woodenly, "Thank you for returning me to the Foundation. I am sorry your department had to waste so much time."
Wearing a feigned smile, Samuel Anderson watched as the Officers left the building, his fingers slowly curling and digging deeper into Mark's shoulders. Finally, as the Officers departed the lobby and walked down the exterior stairs to their waiting vehicle, Samuel turned, said a few parting words to Stephenson, and marched Mark to the elevators, where he punched the button to go up.
After the two stepped into the lift and as the doors were closing Samuel slammed Mark against the back of the elevator and snarled, "So you have returned have you, Mongrel? Don't think for a moment, that your running away has changed anything between us. You are still worthless, and as soon as my son realizes that, I will have you as mine, to use, as one of your status deserves to be treated. Don't ever forget that. I hope I will not have to remind you of the rules I demand you follow."
"No, Sir!" Automatically dropped from Mark's mouth, while trying to keep the quiver from his voice.
As the elevator jerked to a halt Samuel reached out to grab Mark's shoulder, but fear made the boy pull away. Realizing what he had done, Mark glanced at the man, where he saw satisfaction and victory gleaming in his eyes. HE knew Mark was afraid.
"Just wait until I can get you to MY home, you will regret this. You will pay for distracting my son from his work." The man snarled, before the door opened. And then, rearranging his features to display a pleasant smile, Samuel pushed the boy out and across the hall into the reception area of the administrative offices where he announced, "Look who has returned."
John Anderson stared at the boy for a moment, before uttering in a ragged whisper, "Mark?"
The Chief then closed the gap between himself and Mark, before dropping to his knees in front of the boy. John tentatively reached out and touched Mark's arm, reassuring himself that the boy was really there. And when he was certain it really was his son standing in front of him, tears rolled down his cheeks as he pulled Mark to his chest and wrapped his arms around the boy in a tight hug. "Oh God! It's really you! You're really here! You're back!"
John suddenly pushed Mark away, mostly to look at him but also wanting to yell at him. He wanted to tell Mark how it had hurt him when he had left. He wanted to ask Mark why? But seeing the boy's face, the Chief became overwhelmed with emotions, so he ended up pulling his son against himself and wrapping him in a hug, before he finally whispered, "Don't EVER do that again. Promise me you will never run away again."
Anderson was not aware that his father had moved about the room and was now standing a few feet behind him, but Mark's eyes had tracked Samuel as he moved. What John did notice was Mark had not relax; the boy remained rigid. The Chief also did not see, like Mark's did, Samuel's eyes narrow as John continued to hug his son.
As the Chief was about to question Mark about his stiffness, Samuel Anderson cleared his throat and spoke, "John I don't think making a scene out here is a good idea, everyone can see. Nor is holding the boy so close. You do not know what bugs or diseases he picked up while he was living on the streets."
"Father, let it be, bugs can be gotten rid of."
Leaning back John examined Mark, running hands up the boy's arms, brushing his cheek and then hair before saying, "Besides he looks good to me." And then he directed to Mark. "You have grown. About 4 inches I would say. Whatever you were doing this past year, you have done a lot of growing."
"You should get him over to medical to make sure he is … clean. Oh, and by the way John," Samuel waited until his son pulled his eyes from Mark to look at him, "The Police are recommending you have him seen by a Psychiatrist. Here is a letter from their offices. I will leave you to deal with it."
Samuel stood holding the letter, waiting for John to rise to his feet and step towards him. After handing the letter to his son, the man turned and walked into his office where he quietly, but forcefully, closed the door behind him.
The Chief took the letter, and while folding it and placing it in his suit pocket, turned back to Mark. As he reached out to brush a lock of hair from his son's forehead, John absently noticed that Mark looked more relaxed, his eyes appearing less anxious. He then whispered, "Welcome back Mark. You do look healthy, but I think you need a haircut."
Then it crossed John's mind to wonder if Mark's apprehension was because John himself had not gone to pick his son up from the Police Station. So bending to kneel again he explained, "I am sorry I did not pick you up from the Station. Your Grandfather did not tell me you had been found. I only knew about it a few moments before you arrived."
As he spoke, the Chief saw tension ripple across Mark's face at the mentioned of his father, and he made a mental note to speak with Samuel about the matter. John then threw his arms around his son once more and squeezed hard, observing that this time Mark returned his hug.
They remained that way until the boy began to struggle and said, "I can't breathe."
Laughing, John released Mark and knelt back only to reached out to rumple Mark's hair, making his son pull away in pretend anger. At the reaction the Chief lightheartedly commented, "You are going to have to get used to me doing this, son. I have missed having you around. Until I get used to you physically being here, and not thinking you are some figment of my imagination, I will be wanting to touch you a lot."
And true to his word Chief Anderson did keep Mark close to hand. Throughout Mark's examination in the Medical Wing, and again during their ride home to the mansion, John kept reaching out to reassure himself that the boy's presence was not an illusion. As they were driven home, John Anderson was content to let Mark leaned against his body and doze. Tomorrow would be soon enough to question the boy on why he had run away.