On the last Friday before the start of school we had a pizza party to celebrate how well the mentor experience turned out. My dad bought pizza for the entire group home and both sides had parties. Pizza was normally not allowed because it was not healthy enough, but my dad ordered special pizza made out of real food. Apparently there was a very expensive pizza restaurant that catered to the all-natural crowd and still made pizza out of wheat dough, tomato based sauce, and a product derived from the secretions of a lactating goat, just like it was done in the olden days. And as long as Dad only ordered the low-fat goat product variety, the home would let him serve it to the kids here.
The cafeteria area, where the pizza was, was way too crowded with too many pulsating heart beats, so I grabbed Robby's hand and led him out back to sit on the grass. Jackson, Scryan, Aiden, and Adriel followed us out with their mentees Josh, Draco, Brent, and Kyle. We had a party of our own and we did not even have to eat pizza, because all of our mentees knew that we hated the stuff.
"Will you all be coming back to visit us once school starts?" Kyle, Adriel's mentee, asked.
Kyle was only eleven, but he had some pretty intense thoughts sometimes. He was one of the kids that were taken away from their parents because of neglect. Both his parents worked, so they left him at home with a robot sitter all day and they were too busy to deal with him when they came home, so they left him with the robot then too. Robot sitters do an okay job of watching your kid and preventing possible injuries, but they are only approved for short term use; most parents leave their kids for only two or three hours at a time, not for days and weeks on end.
Robot sitters were no substitute for human interaction and kids who were left with them too long would become antisocial, stop talking, and even become depressed. Kyle's teacher realized that he was a robot kid when his parents took him to Kindergarten for the first time. Starting school with Kindergarten and skipping the two years of free preschool that were offered by the state was unusual, so Kyle had already been red-flagged before the teacher ever even met him.
Kyle's parents thought leaving the robot on the preschool setting during the day was good enough and they did not want to deal with the hassle of taking him to school every day, so he had not gone to preschool. And by the time he was old enough for Kindergarten, he had already been left with the robot for five years with barely any human interaction. He had RSS, Robot Sitting Syndrome, so bad that he curled himself into a ball and refused to speak when his Kindergarten teacher tried to question him about his home preschooling.
The kindergarten teacher called the police, who came immediately and took Kyle to the RSS ward of the local pediatric psychiatric hospital. He spent two years in intense treatment with actual humans, because robots are not allowed in the RSS ward, and then he was moved to a group home. He talks now and seems mostly normal on the outside, but his thought patterns were way off.
Kyle seemed to think in binary and everything was a string of zeros and ones. He was also extremely analytical and logical and could not handle spontaneity at all. He needed to know what was going to happen at least a week in advance so that he could plan for all eventualities. Adriel was very spontaneous, so Mrs. Smith thought that they were a good match for each other, because Kyle could learn to be more spontaneous from Adriel and Adriel could learn to be more methodical from Kyle.
"Not often. We might come back like once a month," Adriel answered. "But we're in the same grade, so we can see each other every day at school."
"Are you still going to be friends with me at school?" Kyle asked, unsure if we would willingly damage our social status by associating with kids from the group. His speech was still stiff like a robot's.
"Yeah, why wouldn't I?" Adriel asked.
"You're really cool; you could make friends with the other cool kids and become popular," Kyle replied.
"I don't have any other male friends in my grade, because we're new here. I certainly don't expect to be popular and you're plenty cool yourself," Adriel replied.
"Will you guys still talk to us once we're in school?" Aiden asked, turning the question around on them. "We don't wanna show up and not have any friends."
All of the Classics, except for Aiden's, agreed. Aiden was paired with Brent, who remained silent and thought, 'Only if I have to; I'd rather keep to myself.'
Brent was one of the many humans here who were abused before being taken away from their parents. He showed up to school with one too many bruises from his father's drunken rages and his teacher decided to start an investigation. Brent had two older brothers, Blare and Blake, and their parents had always said that the bruises were from the three boys wrestling and fighting. But when questioned by the school, Blare and Blake did not remember that they had supposedly beat Brent up the night before. Social services were called, an investigation began, and now Blare, Blake, and Brent all live here.
Brent was the most messed up out of our humans, at least over here on the boy's side, if not out of all of them. He had serious mental health issues from all the years of abuse, including frequent mood swings. He would be happy that we got pizza one minute, mad that it was cheese the next, and then he would be sullen because he did not think he was good enough to hang out with us, and that was on a good day. On a bad day, he would have thoughts of suicide, although he was not ready to attempt anything yet.
Aiden was a good match for Brent, because he calmed his mentee down and evened out his emotions, but Brent was the type of human that Aunt Alice had warned us about. His past was unpleasant and Jackson had seen several horrible visions to prove it. His future was disturbing and Scryan had seen a suicide or three. And his memories were so bad that Eliza still was not used to the onslaught of being around him, even after a month of visiting here.
'Aiden, tell Brent we mean him too. His thoughts are depressing again,' I projected, but only to the vampires. If Brent's memories bothered Eliza, then I was all for keeping him around more.
'Why'd you have to go and project that Masen?' Jackson thought.
'We don't want Brent around; his suicidal tendencies are sickening,' Scryan thought at me.
"Brent, that means you too," Aiden said, not having heard Jackson or Scryan's inner grumbling.
"Yeah Brent," Adriel agree and the other humans and I nodded.
"Come on Brent, you have to hang with us this year. We group kids gotta stick together," Robby said.
"Fine, whatever," Brent said, thinking, 'Maybe they really do like me.'
I shared Brent's thoughts with Aiden, who replied, "Brent, I have to say I thought this mentard stuff was gonna majorly blow, but you're pretty cool. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I had a lot of fun here this summer, just don't tell my uncles. Kay?" Brent had come up with the word mentard to both make fun of the mentee mentor relationship and shorten its name. Nobody ever said depressed kids could not be funny too.
"Al'ight man," Brent replied putting his fist out to be bumped and Aiden bumped it.
It was already getting close to the time I had to leave and I wanted to say farewell to Robby privately, so I stood up and walked to our tree. He followed after me, just like I knew he would, and we climbed the tree in silence. When we got to our spot, I turned on my translator program.
"I'm really glad I got to know you," my translator said.
"Me too," Robby replied.
"I want you to come over to my house sometime after school. My dad said it's alright with him; we just have to get permission from your home."
"That'd be way cool!" he replied thinking about all of the cool video games I told him about that I have at home.
"But I still have speech therapy every afternoon, so you can only come over on days when it's canceled."
"When will it be canceled?" he asked hopefully.
"Whenever my therapist gets sick or goes on vacation. It's bound to happen sometime." I smiled.
"Awesome! I'll get Mr. Williamson to approve me for visits to your house so I can come over whenever you're free. Are the others coming too?"
"My dad said that only the mentees that are defectives are allowed over, because of Brandon's twin sister. She'll probably freak with whoever we bring over, but she is even worse with people who have emotional problems." The defectives tend to be the more emotionally stable kids when compared to the abused and neglected ones.
"Brandon has a twin too? How is it that there are three sets of twins and two belong to the same family?"
"Eliza and I happened by chance, but Jackson and Brandon's parents did it on purpose. They had to use fertility meds to get pregnant. Each pregnancy was multiplies and they reduced them down to twins, because they wanted two at a time."
"Why would anyone want two sets of twins in a row?" Robby wondered out loud.
"Three. They have three sets of twins in a row. There is another set of twin girls after Brandon and Ashley."
Now that Kair and Kare were going to school with us, our human mentees would have to be aware of them, because it would not do for two more of us to materialize out of thin air. Scryan and Jackson had already mentioned to their mentees that they had two little sisters who were at home with Scryan's twin, but I had never found reason to mention it to Robby before today.
"Wow, six kids must drive your aunt and uncle crazy," he said thinking that they must have a lot of sitter bots in their house. He shuddered at the thought, thinking about Kyle's story.
"Yes and they don't even have a sitter robot. That's why Uncle Jasper always has to stay home and take care of his kids."
"How long do you have until you have to leave?" he asked me, hoping to show me off to some of the older, cooler kids. Everyone was envious of us and if this was the last time we would be here, he wanted it known that he was one of the lucky mentees. There were a lot of other kids with mentors, but because of our wealth, everyone wanted one of the Cullen kids as their mentor.
"Half an hour. Do you want to go back to the party?" I was not opposed to doing Robby a favor and helping him look cool in front of his friends.
"Yeah. Could we?"
I nodded and slowly climbed down the tree. He followed me back into the party and grabbed another slice of pizza, before leading me around the room and introducing me to all of the other boys. He had introduced me to his friends before, but that only amounted to the other eight boys who were in his year. There were four boy's bedrooms here and each had three triple decker bunk beds, for a total of nine boys in each room. All the boys in the same room were the same age, so this home held four years' worth of boys. There were four years' worth of girls on the other side.
Robby was friends with all of the boys in his room, so now he was mostly introducing me to boys in other rooms. There was one room of younger boys Kyle's age and another room for boys Josh's age; Josh was Jackson's mentee. Jackson looked to be a year older than us, so he was in the next grade up and got an appropriately aged mentee. And then there was one last room full of boys two years older than Robby and these were the kids he really wanted to impress; these boys were freshmen in high school.
Robby was introducing me to a fourteen year old boy named Jerry when I first noticed another boy thinking about him. The other boy was looking at Jerry and trying to make sure he stayed out of his line of sight at all times. They were in the same room and Jerry would bother and threatened him after lights out and probably would do it during the day too, which was why he was trying to remain unseen. He had not been to the party earlier, having hid out in the game room. But since the party was almost over, he had been hoping Jerry would have cleared out and that it would be safe to get some pizza. Now that he knew he was wrong, he was grabbing pizza and trying to escape without being seen.
My dad was nearby, cleaning up used cups and plates from the party, so I projected, 'Dad, did you know that Jerry hurts other boys?'
'There are many children in here that bully other kids; that is one of the many things that bother Jackson, Scryan, and Eliza. I'm surprised this is the first time you're noticing,' Dad thought in reply.
'Well I'm only here half as long as the others and I always spend all of my time outside with Robby. Are you really just going to let the bullying continue?'
'No, I have already passed along information regarding several other children, many of whom are worse than Jerry. Two were kicked out of this home before Eliza would come in. But Jerry was not as bad as the others so he was let off with a warning.'
'Well it's not working.'
'I will tell Mrs. Smith that Jerry is bothering the other children again. It may not solve the problem though.'
'Will she get suspicious that you know?'
'No, I tell her that you kids tell me these things and that your mentees tell them to you.'
'Your mom's here.'
'I don't hear her.'
'I don't either, but I heard her car just now,' he thought and sure enough I heard my mom's mind unshield seconds later. 'You better go.'
'See you at home,' I projected before going to find Robby. I looked him in the eyes and waved, so that he would know that I was leaving.
"See you in class Masen," he said extending his hand. I shook his hand and then went out to meet my mom and go to speech therapy.
Author's Note: Jasper will be getting out of that wormhole next chapter! Woohoo! Reviews please?