After six years, Jack still had occasion to wonder if he was a bad parent. There were moments where he even wondered if he was a bad person. Those always brought back memories of his closeted youth. No boy should have to live in fear and shame. Thomas would learn that.
The boy returned home crying. He was surrounded by other boys. Somehow he always seemed to attract these other children. Boys flocked to him and accepted the slightly undersized young man as a leader. The caliber of Thomas's friends worried Jack. Their character was exemplified by their costume choices. There was a Manson, a couple of Nazis, and a questionable ghost amongst others. Thomas stood in the middle of them dressed as Lincoln.
"What's the problem?"
Jack asked the question despite his detective nature answering half of it. The other boys look upset and nobody had any bags. They had been trick or treating, so they should have candy. The lack spoke of bullies. Jack hated bullies, but he was determined to teach his stolen son to grow up to be a man who took care of himself. To hell with modern sensitivity.
"A girl!" Thomas let it out between sobs. "Dressed as Eve. She came along and stole all our candy."
Jack looked between the boys. One girl? He wondered if she was a monster. Though, the thought of her dressed as Eve, other than sending a cold shiver down his spine for the correlation, made him think it might have been a stunned by seven year old puppy love thing. Great. He was raising a little heterosexual. Where had he gone wrong?
"Well, what have I taught you?" Jack ignored the other boys.
Thomas took calming breathes and squared his shoulders as his tears tapered off. He stood taller and met his father's eyes.
"A man stand's up for himself."
"Correct, but he also thinks things through. What do you want to do?"
"Beat her up!" One of the Nazi's chimed in.
"Is that right?" Jack asked.
"No, sir." Thomas dropped his eyes and spoke quietly.
"Good, there is never a reason to hit a girl." Jack hoped it was a lesson the boy would take with him. However, Jack himself did not know if he could follow the advice if he ever met the boy's mother again. "There are other options though. How do you think around problems and get your property back?"
The other boys looked to their leader, their president, their future dictator. Their eyes held wonder and hope. Thomas's brow furrowed and he chewed his lip for long moments. Finally he smiled and it was one of the darkest things Jack had ever seen. Then the voice was even worse.
"She has a little brother."
Jack knew the lesson had to come in its own way. He sighed as they turned towards the door as one. He had to say something though, just to be sure.
"Don't kill him."
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