by Sivan Shemesh

Disclaimer: They are not mine, except one minor OC.
Thanks: Thanks to Helen for beta-reading and advice.
Author's Note: Josiah 21, Chris and Buck 19, Nathan 18, Vin 10, JD 8, Ezra 6. Vin & JD attend one school, Ezra another.

It had been five minutes since he had checked his watch, but it felt like forever. Ezra was losing patience as he waited for his big brothers to pick him up from school.

Speculations had started running through his mind, excuses for why they had failed to come for him. Bad traffic, a broken-down vehicle, or maybe there had been an emergency.

Ezra frowned, not wanting to think about that last one because it could only be bad. Mind skirting away from bad things, he began to daydream, never noticing that the sky had begun to darken.


"Ezra?" the principal said, surprise in his voice as he noticed the small boy sitting on the stairs, staring blankly into space. "What are you still doing here? Where are your brothers?"

Ezra started as he realized that he was no longer alone. "I don't know, Mr. Enrick."

"School ended more than an hour ago, son." The principal saw the worried frown on the child's face and offered, "Would you like me to give you a lift home?"

"Thank you, sir, but I'll wait for them. They must be busy with something."

Enrick shook his head, disapproval in his tone as he said, "They shouldn't be so busy that they leave their little brother alone here when he should be safe at home." He noted the boy's reaction, wondering what he was thinking as he noted the surprised look on his face. He held out a hand. "Come on, Ezra. I'll take you home. You can't stay here all night."

Scanning the street and still not seeing his brothers' cars, the boy nodded and followed the principal to his car.


When they arrived at Ezra's family home, he thanked Mr. Enrick for the ride, politely refusing his offer to come inside and have a word with Ezra's brothers.

Ezra knocked on the front door, knowing it was usually locked at this time.

When the door opened, Josiah looked down at his baby brother, surprised to see him there. "Ezra? What are you doing out here?"

Hearing the angry tone of his brother's voice, Ezra pushed past him, hurrying down the hall toward his room as he struggled not to let the tears fall. He did not stop, even when he heard his family calling for him.

Why was Josiah mad at him? He hadn't been late on purpose! He'd have been home on time if everybody hadn't forgotten him.

As he reached his room, Ezra slammed the door behind him, breath hitching with sobs as the tears began to fall. He felt angry at his brothers, but also scared. What if the principal was right and everybody had just been too busy to think of him? Maybe they didn't love him anymore.

What if they were like everybody else and didn't want him around at all?

TBC ... in "Burden"

Family Index On to: Burden

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