When John Sheppard was twelve, his father left California and took his brother with him. John had insisted on remaining where he was loved, and there had been a fight that had ended with his father backhanding him.
That had been the point where John's life had changed irrevocably. He stayed with the four men and two women who had shown him kindness.
Today was John's thirteenth birthday, and his new family had a surprise for him. He could barely focus in school that day, he was so excited. He'd told Peter and Valerie and Mike – the three who took care of him the most – that he wanted to fly for his birthday.
Maybe the surprise was a helicopter ride. Or a ride in a fighter jet. Or even a trip in a small plane!
John got home and found a family meeting being called – and no gift there. He felt disappointment well up in him so bad that it choked him. Why did he think they'd be any different? No presents. No flight.
No love here, either.
Peter opened his mouth to say something, but John didn't want to hear it. All he could hear was that they'd lied, that they were just like his real father, that he wasn't loved, that there was nothing, that they'd broken their promise! He wasn't even aware that he was screaming it until his throat went raw.
He whirled, humiliated, and ran up to his room. He flung himself on his bed, wondering what was happening to him. Why he was acting like a spoiled brat.
When would they send him away?
The door opened and he felt the bed dip. "I'll be packed in the morning," he sobbed.
Peter's deep voice answered. "You're not going anywhere." It was so kind it brought more tears to his eyes. "We were going to surprise you, but you surprised us!"
John rolled over and Peter was smiling gently at him. "I didn't know your father had done that to you. We'll never not love you, John."
"But you said there'd be a great surprise....and there was nothing there!"
"That's because we're the surprise, John."
John frowned. "That --- that doesn't make sense."
"You know about superheroes, John?"
"I've heard of them – they're just make-believe, though, right?"
"They're very real, John. The four of us --- and Micky's Mel – we're superheroes."
John sat up. "Seriously?"
Peter nodded. "My gift is telekinesis. I can move things with my mind." He pointed at his eyes. "My eyes change when I do. Do you wanna see?"
Peter smiled and looked over at the model of the B-29 sitting on John's dresser. Suddenly the whites of his eyes turned black as night and the part that had been dark blue was now glowing a soft, light blue.
John gasped. Then he gasped again as the B-29 lifted straight up and flew by itself around the room. "Are you doing that?"
"I am." The airplane settled down onto the dresser and Peter stood up. "There's more. Get your jacket on and come out to the balcony." He turned on his heel and walked out onto the balcony that ringed the upstairs, waiting for John to follow.
Curious, John followed and found Peter – eyes still altered – smiling at him. "I'm here."
"I know. Are you ready for the other part of your present?"
Peter rose onto his toes and then shoved with his legs – and propelled himself into the sky. John let out a wordless cry of shocked delight as his new father soared two stories up, then lowered himself back down and hovered in front of him.
"You can move yourself with your mind, too!" John gasped. "You can fly!"
"I can fly," Peter confirmed. And then, with a smile, he held out both his hands. "And so long as you hold onto me – so can you. If you want. You wanted to fly for your birthday – so let's."
John stared for about a second,. Then he laughed and put his hands into Peter's waiting ones.
And together, they flew.
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