Hetty pulled up at her home, with G in the back of the car, all the way home he had marveled at the sights he saw as her car drove through the streets.
His eyes widened like saucers as they stopped at a stop light and he saw children running around alone and laughing. He looked to see where there Masters were and couldn't see them anywhere.
He wanted to ask this small strange woman where the children's masters were but as he hadn't been given permission to speak, he said nothing.
He wasn't sure yet who he belonged to, Hetty hadn't put a chain on him and neither had the large dark man.
He blinked back a few tears as he thought about how much he missed his master, he couldn't for the life of him think what he had done wrong, that very morning he had been laying in his masters arms, feeling loved and now, he was with strangers.
He hoped that these strangers would tell him his duties and that they wouldn't be like the Masters some of the slaves he had met talked about; Some Masters were cruel and would beat their property for fun or sexual kicks. Yoska had only beaten G when he misbehaved or screamed during sex when his master was rough. But he had learned over the years that all he had to do was not talk back, or do anything that made his master displeased with him.
He shivered, he was still in his cotton shorts and nothing else, he hadn't asked for clothes as they were only given to him at the discretion of the master, but Los Angeles was colder than the Mediterranean. He saw a large house behind a wrought iron gate and too what he knew would be his last look at the outside world again for a while, his eyes seeking the white clouds in the blue sky for a moment and he composed himself for his new life.
He hoped he could pick up more of the strange words that his new masters spoke; it would be so much easier for him to follow instructions and not make mistakes if he understood what he was being asked.
But until then, he supposed he would have to suffer the beatings as he made his mistakes and hoped he would catch on soon.
Hetty turned and looked at the boy; he had Clara's profile and Amy's eyes which had shocked her the most. He hadn't said a word the whole ride back and she had hoped he would try and talk to her.
"We are at my home." She said as they pulled up to the house.
G wanted to ask if she was his master, he wanted to ask so many things but still, she hadn't given him permission to speak. His last orders had been to find her and give her the letter, now he was bereft of ideas as to what he was to do.
"Come on in." Hetty smiled kindly as she opened the car door.
He scrambled out cutting his feet on the gravel as he did so, he hadn't asked for shoes and Hetty in her surprise at the boy's appearance hadn't realized he didn't have any.
"Oh my…I am sorry, I didn't find you any shoes." She said shocked, "Wait here!" she walked inside and picked up some slippers that were inside the door. She walked back to find he hadn't moved and a small pool of blood had formed by his feet.
"Pop these on they will be a bit small, but your feet can hang over the end, we'll get you inside and tend to your wounds," she said as Sam pulled up behind them.
"Sorry Hetty, got waylaid, I had to pick up some things." Sam said as he walked over to them, "What happened to the kids' feet?" he asked concerned.
"I didn't notice he had no shoes." Hetty said admonishing herself.
"I did," Sam smiled, "I got him a few things to tide him over till we can go shopping." Sam reached in the car and took out six bags. G waited until they were all in front of him and he limped slowly into the house behind them.
He followed the required steps behind and stopped at the door as they entered, "Come here kid." Sam said.
G looked at him, he didn't understand and wasn't sure if the man was talking to him.
Hetty smiled, "We would like it if you would hop up onto the table so we can fix your feet." She said to him.
G nodded, "Yes Mistress." He replied and did as requested.
A look of sadness crossed Hetty's face at his answer but she didn't admonish him.
Sam took the first aid kit out and set to cleaning his feet and putting band-aids on the cuts. He noticed old burn marks and lines on the boy's body going up past the leg of the shorts he was wearing.
G noticed the man's eyes and gave a coy smile, the master had liked it when he smiled, but the man looked angry so his smile slipped.
"Hetty do you see these, it looked like whip marks to the legs, they beat this kid." Sam said in English knowing G couldn't understand. He was angry that his Amy's little brother could have been treated this way, he and Amy had been trying for a child and this boy could have been their child, the fact that someone had treated him so badly grated at Sam's nerves.
"I know Sam, but he's away from that now, he's safe."
"Hetty you have to find a way for me to keep him, I can't let him go, he's a part of Amy, he deserves so much more than what he's had so far, he deserves to be a kid." Sam begged.
Hetty smiled, "I was hoping you'd think that way."
Sam patted G's leg and smiled at him.
G hoped that he was his new master because for some strange reason he felt safe with him, but he pushed down that feeling, he was not allowed to choose he knew that.
"Hetty can you tell him we have some clothes for him to wear." Sam asked.
Hetty translated Sam's message and G looked confused.
"You have a question?" she asked.
G nodded. "Why would the master want me to wear clothes I am wearing the required outfit, have I done wrong?" he asked.
Hetty shook her head, "No…but you need more than one pair of shorts."
"The Master required that I wear shorts in public but nothing in private, I am sorry if I broke your rules and I will change to them." He offered quickly.
Hetty looked at him; "G, you are not a slave…" she started.
G's eyes filled with tears and Sam looked at Hetty.
"what did you say to him?" he snapped.
"I told him he wasn't a slave." Hetty said.
"So why is he crying?" Sam asked, "Shouldn't he be happy?"
G pulled his knees to his chest and hugged himself, He had heard what happened to slaves who were sold by their masters and not wanted by the new ones.
He had buried one or two himself on his masters' orders.
He wasn't good enough for them; they were going to kill him.
Sam took the clothes out of the bag and placed them in front of the boy, "For you." He said pointing to the clothes and then to G.
G blinked in confusion, he knew they were clothes, but he wasn't sure how to wear them, but the master wanted him to put them on. His hands shaking he took the clothes; he stood up gingerly putting his sore foot on the floor.
He pulled his shorts off and stood there naked as Hetty turned her back, "Oh my!" she exclaimed.
He pulled the pants on first, they were familiar. He looked at the other stuff, he pulled the boxers on next and the t-shirt he got confused with and lastly he put the socks on his hands leaving his feet bare.
He looked over at them as Hetty let out a small laugh. "Well, Mr. Callen…that's a new way to wear clothes."
Sam looked at him and G smiled sheepishly hoping he had done it right.
They seemed happy, maybe he had finally done something right.
Sam's heart broke he looked like a small child who had dressed himself for the first time, again thoughts of the children he had planned to have with Amy flitted through his mind, and for the first time he was angry with her because she wasn't here to help her brother.
Sam smiled encouragingly and the boy's grin grew. "Hetty tell him that he is to come with me and I'll help him put his clothes on properly."
Hetty passed on the message and G's head nodded once.
He followed the large man up the stairs to a room at the end of the hall. He waited as the man opened the door for him and allowed him to enter. G saw the bed and he understood what he needed to do.
He started taking all the clothes off and folding them to show he was grateful for the gift. As soon as he took his pants off Sam reached to hand him the boxers and stopped as G's hands went to the waistband of Sam's trousers.
"NO!" Sam snapped and G scrambled back at the tone.
"No kid…" Sam said softer, "That's not what you're here for," he handed G the boxers holding them out and making stepping motions so G could understand he needed to step into them.
G looked confused, his new master didn't want him…he sighed, well he was new and maybe his master would love him later, so he moved to do as he was asked.
He stepped into the boxers and then Sam showed him his socks and handed them to him.
G went to put them back on his hands. "Not there." Sam said calmly and carefully put a sock over G's wounded foot and then G put the other one on.
Next came the pants, G could do those by himself and he showed Sam, Sam smiling at the boy's efforts.
Sam held up the T-shirt and rolled it to encourage G to put his head through and helped him slip his arms in the right holes.
Then he picked up a hair brush, "Ok lets brush that hair." He smiled.
G looked afraid at the thing in the man's hand, it looked like a paddle. He sighed and bent over waiting for the beating to start.
Sam looked at the brush and again dampened down a feeling of anger; he gently placed a hand on G's shoulder and started softly brushing through the boy's hair.
G whimpered slightly as the feeling of comfort washed over him, he missed being touched gently, his master didn't do it often but when he did he felt nice.
"I'm so gonna look after you, I'll teach you baseball, English, I'll help you be the kind of little brother Amy would have been proud of." Sam said as he brushed.
"Help?" G said focusing on the word he knew.
Sam smiled "Yeah kid Help."
"Hetty Lange Help me please?" G asked.
"Yeah kid, Hetty will help too."
Sam stood up and headed for the door, "Come on you look starved, you need some food." He beckoned with his hand and G nodded in understanding and followed.
As they headed into the kitchen Hetty turned around and looked at G, "That's much better, you look very handsome. Are you hungry?" she asked in Romani.
G looked confused, "Hungry?" he asked.
Hetty looked at him, "Does your stomach rumble," she patted his stomach, "Here."
G nodded, "A lot, but that is a test of strength, I should be grateful for my food."
Hetty smiled, "I am sure you are my dear, it is Dinner time so if your will take a seat, I will serve up dinner." She said.
G looked for a cushion like his master would give him, but there was none.
So he did as he was wont to do when the master was out, he walked over to Sam and sat at his feet his forehead resting against Sam's leg waiting to be fed, he hoped that by trying to talk in the master's language he would be pleased with him and allow him to have a scrap or two. His stomach rumbled and he hoped the master hadn't heard it.
Sam looked down at the boy, "Hetty?" he asked.
"Have patience Mr. Hanna, it will take time, but Mr. Callen will learn." She promised.
She placed two plates of food on the table and she told G to sit at the table.
He sat in the chair indicated and watched as the others started their meal, Sam looked over a few times and noticed G hadn't picked up his fork.
"Eat…" Sam said to him making gestures with his hand.
G looked at him, it was obvious that he was to eat, but he didn't know what those things next to the plate were for so he put his hand straight in the bowl and pulled some spaghetti into his mouth.
"Oh…" Hetty said, "You need to use a fork Mr. Callen." She told him.
He looked at the table, what on earth was a fork?
Sam lifted his fork to show him and G picked up the matching utensil. He watched as Sam put his fork in the spaghetti turned it around and pulled a forkful and sucked it off the fork with a loud pop and a grin.
G tried the same thing but he couldn't get more than a strand of spaghetti to sit on his fork and halfway to his mouth it fell off.
He tried again and the same thing happened. He teared up but tried not to let his discomfort show. It was obviously a game by his new masters to tease him with food but not let him have any. And his stomach was so hungry, it had in fact been a week since he'd been allowed to eat, since his master heard the name Amy Callen.
He stopped eating and put the fork down and placed his hands by his side.
Sam looked and realized that the kid couldn't do it, he looked at Hetty and sensing what Sam was about to do she nodded her agreement. They both placed their forks down and G looked up worried.
Sam reached out with his hand and placed it straight in his bowl, grabbing a handful of spaghetti and put it in his mouth and started chewing. He nodded to G who smiled and pulled his bowl towards him and hastily gobbled down the rest of his food just in case his new masters changed their minds.
Hetty passed him a hunk of bread and G ripped it hungrily chewing as fast as he could.
Eventually they had all eaten and Hetty had passed napkins around.
G stood up and started taking the dishes to the sink to wash them as had always been his duty.
He washed, wiped up and dried, Hetty and Sam watching to see what he would do next.
Next as soon as everything was clean, he took the greasy water and cupped a hand in it to get a drink.
"NO!" Hetty said.
G dropped the water and dropped to his knees in supplication.
"No…" Hetty said walking past him and filling a cup with clean water and handing it to him, "Drink this."
He looked at the glass and then at her. As quick as a flash he grabbed the cup and swallowed the water, "Slowly my boy." She said gently, "You may drink and eat whenever you wish, there will always be enough."
"I have permission?" he asked amazed at the generosity of these people.
Hetty nodded, "Always, you will never be truly hungry again, we will teach you all you need to know, you are not a slave."
G looked at them both, they both looked kind, so he chanced asking the one question that had been bugging him since she had first said he was not a slave.
"Then what am I?" he asked.