{A/N: This is the revised version of Fraternal, it's still not fully complete…Well it is but it's not publishable yet.  This is my favorite short story that I've written.  Yay!  So read and enjoy!}

Fraternal

I haven't seen my sister in nearly ten years.  It seems strange to me how unrealistic our situation really is.  We were only eleven when she was taken.  Her father took her away from us by force.  She wanted to stay with Mother and my father.  She asked me to protect her…but I couldn't protect her from logistics, politics, and worse, I couldn't protect her from genetics.

I found out two weeks ago from our mother that we attend the same university.  She just transferred from somewhere in Texas and contacted mom.  It was our first contact with her for years, but not for lack of trying.  Now we're both 21, we missed out on so much, twins separated at such a young age.  I barely remember her face.  So here I sit at a local coffee shop called "Lokita".  When we spoke on the phone the other night, she didn't sound how I remembered.  I wonder does she look so different now that I won't recognize her? 

When we were young, Mother said that we looked more like identical twins than the fraternal pair we are.  Of course, it's impossible to have identical twins that are different genders, but we looked alike just the same.  We had the same blond hair and fair skin.  Her eyes are different; she has brown eyes, very odd for her coloring.  I have blue eyes like my mother; father has green.  She also has a deep dimple in each cheek.  I don't have dimples.  Neither does my mother and father.

I remember very vividly when it began.  Looking back is like watching a movie, and this kind of thing only happens in movies anyway.  We were so young and didn't understand until it was too late.  A man came to our house in early August, two weeks after our eleventh birthday.  He had light brown hair, brown eyes and two dimples.

***

Two young children lay on a small grassy hill just behind an average-sized suburban home.  The children, a boy and a girl looking strikingly similar, lying on their backs, randomly point to the fluffy white clouds as they magically turn into whimsical animals.  The children are fraternal twins, 11 years and two weeks old.  They are inseparable, the kind of twins that do everything together.  Their neighbors constantly see them walking down the street holding hands or playing basketball at the neighborhood playground together.  The houses are out of view from where they lay on the hill, and the children pretend they are in a mythical land far away.

That particular day, as cars whizzed by unseen beyond the line of trees just in front of the hill, a man dressed in a brown suit and tie approached the twins from the street opposite the houses.  He was a tall man, with brown hair and brown eyes.  He looked tired and worn out; a furrow creased his forehead, and his shoulders were slightly slumped as if in defeat.  He stopped walking as he spotted the children, and a slow smile spread on his lips revealing a deep dimple in each cheek.  They look like their mother, he thought. 

The man's name was Walker, he moved back to Hannibal after an absence of nearly twelve years.  He left when he was 22 because he felt the need to travel the world and discover himself, that same useless journey many young people take in their lives.  He toured Western Europe during the first five years, spending the most time in Italy.  He moved back to the States after that, living in Burbank for almost two years during an ill-fated attempt to make a living writing screenplays.  He then settled in Texas at a horse ranch near Austin while he worked his way through law school.  After he finally graduated, he decided it was time to go back home to Hannibal, Missouri. 

It wasn't until he moved into an apartment above the in which he set up his law practice, that he heard about Jean.  Jean was his high school sweetheart; they even went to community college together.  She had kids, twins.  According to local gossip, the children were Casey Lohan's but they were married after she had the children.  This made Walker think; he did the math and knew that he was still dating Jean when the children were conceived.  However, he also knew that the reason he left town to begin with was because Jean was cheating on him with Casey. 

He watched the two children laughing as they pointed out the various animals floating in the sky wondering if they were his.  He didn't see his coloring in their hair in skin; the angle wasn't right for him to see their faces.  He heard a man's distant voice calling for a Syren and Hector to come inside.  The two children reluctantly got up from their positions on the grass and turned towards the line of houses on the other side of the hill.  As they passed Walker, the young girl looked up at the man and smiled showing off her two dimples and sparkling brown eyes.  Walker smiled back, his heart in throat wondering what if.  He waited until the children were out of sight before following them to their house. 

He stood outside the front door of a moderate sized, well-maintained blue house.  He swallowed hard as he studied the lighted doorbell and the grain of the wooden siding on the house.  After what felt like an hour he brought his shaking hands up to ring the doorbell. 

***

Ding Dong!  Ding Dong!  The doorbell rang loudly throughout our house.  Me and Syren were playing a game of checkers in the living room; she was losing real bad.  She looked up at the sound of someone at the door and grinned at me.  Then she jumped up and accidentally on purpose knocked over the checkerboard.  I pretended to pout, only pretended of course, I'm too old to really pout; she just grinned at me more.  She was sticking her tongue out at me when we heard a crash from the entryway.  Syren looked at me, I got up, and we ran down the hall together to where we heard the crash.  I stopped at the end of the hallway seeing Mom standing in front of the open door, a broken plate at her feet.  She was staring with her mouth open at the person on the other side of the screen door completely forgetting the broken plate.  I frowned; Mom always made me clean up plates right away, after I broke them. 

Syren nudged me from the side whispering "hey, wasn't that the man we saw on The Turtle?"  We called the hill behind our house The Turtle because if you looked at it from the attic window it looked like a turtle, especially in the spring when the grass was greenest. 

I looked from the broken plate to the man on the other side of the door as I heard him clear his throat.  "Yeah Ren, I think it is" I whispered back.  I noticed the man look at me and Ren and I reached out to hold her hand, only to make her feel better of course. 

"What do you think he wants?" she asked

I opened my mouth to tell her I didn't know when Dad walked in from the dining room.  "Everything all right honey?  Who's at the…" he didn't finish his sentence once he got to Mom's side.  He put his arm around Mom's shoulders.  "Hello Walker, haven't seen you around in years, what can we do for you."  This seemed to wake Mom up 'cuz she shook her head and put her own arm around Dad's waist.

Mom glanced back at me and Ren; she was biting her lower lip and her forehead was creased.  She only looked like that when she was worried.  She turned back to the man and did a sort of half smile I've seen her give only to old ladies in church on Sundays.  "It's good to see you Walker, although I must say it is a surprise." 

"Well…" the man began.  I pushed Ren to the side a little so we could get a better view of him.  He was looking down at his shoes.  "I heard that you had children and I was just…" He looked up, straight at Ren and me and smiled at us.  When he smiled, I noticed he had dimples like Ren. 

I poked her side "Ren" I whispered, "he smiles like you" she looked at me funny, her mouth kind of crooked in a half-smile only showing one of her dimples and she rolled her eyes.

"As I was saying" the man cleared his throat again, "I've come about them," he said while gesturing with his hand toward us "you know what I'm talking about Jean". 

I looked at mom; her face was paler then it had been a few minutes ago.  "There's nothing to talk about Walker" Dad said harshly.  "You know very well that…"

"Yes you're right, we do need to talk" Mom interrupted.  "If you'll follow me to the kitchen?"  She turned to walk to the kitchen as the man entered our house.  "Kids" she said over her shoulder; "why don't you go play outside some more, we'll call you when dinner's ready." 

"Sure Mom" Syren said with a smile, she always has liked to be outside more then anything else.  She ran to the back door and I heard her yell "Come on Hec!" as the door slammed shut behind her.  I stood there looking between my dad and the man who came today wondering what he meant about 'the children'.  "HECTOR!!!" I heard her yell.  I looked at the man once more before running after my sister out the back. 

***

Jean put a teakettle on to boil, her hands pale and trembling as she turned on the stovetop burner.  "Jean" Casey said warily.  She turned and attempted a friendly smile.

"I thought it would be nice to have some tea as we…discuss things."  At that moment, she looked older then her 33 years; there was tightness at the corners of her mouth and a crease on the bridge of her nose.  Her blond hair was tied back in a ponytail with several strands hanging lose on the base of her neck and framing her face.  She motioned with her right hand for the two men to sit down at the kitchen table; both obediently obliged.  No one spoke as they waited for the whistle of the teakettle.  Jean stared at her distorted reflection in the metal of the silver kettle; Casey glared at Walker while Walker traced imaginary patterns on the wood of the table with his finger.

Once the water boiled Jean poured it over teabags into small teacups, handed them to both men, and placed one in front of a vacant seat.  She sat down, pale hands clutching at the cup.  She looked into the slowly darkening water chewing on her bottom lip as if looking into a crystal ball and hoping to find answers to questions left unasked for years.  "Syren is left-handed" her tone was quiet and unsteady as she spoke, her eyes never leaving the tea in front of her. 

Walker looked at Jean, his mouth in a silent 'O' shape, his left hand curled around the teacup.  "I…I can do math Jean" he glanced at Casey warily.  "We were together when they were…when they were conceived.  Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?"

"You left before I found out" she spat out angrily.  "You left without telling anyone!  What was I supposed to do, go running after you!  I didn't love you anymore, you knew that!"  She looked at Casey, pain etched on her face. 

"It wouldn't have mattered anyway" Casey jumped in. "She was with me, she had been with me for nearly a year before you found out about us." He sneered.  "They are my children." He spoke defiantly, but there was a hint of fear in his voice.

"I left because I saw you Jean!"  He sneered at Casey; "I walked in on you two sleeping together less then a day after you were with me!  What kind of a slut does that!  We were together for 4 Goddamn years and you took all the love that I gave you and trashed it like the trash you are."  Walker felt the pain he thought he buried a long time ago bubble up inside his stomach; he wanted to throw up.

   "I was afraid of leaving you, I should have years before it happened, Casey was my sole comfort from the fear you set in my heart."  Jean looked small, almost childlike in the large; high backed chair and tall kitchen table.  She seemed saturated with emotions, her face a mixture of hurt and anger.

"What the hell Jean, I never hurt you!  Not once did I hit you or even threaten to hit you, I would never.  What the hell do you mean, I scared you?  What the fuck Jean!" 

Casey stood up quickly knocking the table chair to the ground, "that's why she was afraid Walker!  The way you talk and yell, it's consistent with how you live everyday!  Before she and I even had our first kiss she would call me crying or come over because she needed someone to be there for her, to be kind to her and not yell and scream at her.  Unlike you I provided that safety for her, a haven away from you" Casey bitterly spat out.  Jean was the love of his life and had been since the first time he had ever met her.  He had wanted to protect her from all that was wrong in the world.  A the time, what was wrong in her life was Walker, now here he was again sewing the seeds of discord in her life once again.  Casey would damn himself to Hell before he allowed walker to hurt Jean again.

Walker clenched his jaw; "Regardless of how long Jean was cheating on me with you" he said contemptuously "I want a paternity test."

"Absolutely out of the question I will not allow it!"  Casey pounded his fist on the table rattling the teacups. 

The hot liquid splashed over Jean's hand but she hardly noticed.  "Syren has his smile, his dimples, his eyes."  Her voice lacked emotion, "We'll go to the hospital first thing Monday morning".  She looked defiantly into Casey's eyes, "I've always suspected…You know that we were still…He was my boyfriend, you should have wondered too."     

"How can you not fight for them Jean!  These are our children!  Of course I wondered, how could I not with you being the…being the way you were back then.  But I don't give a damn who's genes they have, they are MY children and I refuse to give in to this." 

            "I'm tired of wondering, tired of looking at my children and seeing his features!  I regret every decision I have made from when I was young.  I will take them myself if I have too." 

***

Two days after the man, he told us to call him Walker, came to our house, all 5 of us went to the hospital.  Mom said that me and Syren needed to have our blood type checked to update our records.  I thought it strange that Mom, Dad and Walker had their blood tested too.  I sat in the hallway of the hospital swinging my legs back and fourth underneath the chair.  I heard Syren start to cry in the room behind me; and I heard Mom comfort her.  They made me stay out of the room 'cuz I got sick when they took my blood; I must have the flu.  Dad sat next to me and Walker stood leaning against the opposite wall.  A nurse came out of the room leading Mom and Ren; she looked between me and Ren and smiled at us sadly. 

"The results will be back in about an hour until we find out if you have matching blood types, the DNA results won't be in for another two weeks.  If you would like to wait here there is a waiting room down the hall and to the left"

"Match what?" Syren was frowning, "what is our blood supposed to match mom?"  Syren was always the smart one, though I'd never admit that to her.  She could think about things more clearly and was a lot less 'hot headed'.  Least that's what dad said.

Mom kneeled down in front of Ren and held onto her arm, "Sweetie" mom was crying, which was weird because she didn't usually cry in public, except in sappy girl movies.  "I know your strong sweetie, and you and your brother should know that we're here to test your blood for a match with this man" She nodded her head to Walker without really looking at him.

"I don't understand mom, you mean that this guy could be our daddy?" Syren looked at me and I rushed over to take her hand in mine.  Through our unspoken bond I knew that she was afraid and needed me there.  "They won't make us leave will they?"  I didn't know who she meant by 'they' but I knew that she needed me to reassure her.

"Ren, you know that nothing will be able to take us apart.  We're two halves of a whole."  I smiled at her and she smiled back, though I could still see she was confused.  We went home shortly after that to await the results.  I mostly forgot about them and continued to play like normal, but sometimes I would catch Ren looking at herself funny in the mirror and spending more time by herself. 

The man Walker came by at least once a day during the time we were waiting.  He didn't really talk to us much, but watched us play.  I know he made Ren feel weird, he made me feel weird too but I tried to not let it bother me except once.  This one day Ren and me were playing catch on the Turtle and Walker came up to us and told me to go inside because he wanted to play with Ren alone.  She gave me this look that said 'don't you dare leave me'.  He went and tried to hug her and she screamed so loud I thought that the glass in the windows was going to shatter.  I ran up to him and kicked his leg as hard as I could and yelled at Ren to run.  She didn't run far because daddy came outside after he heard her scream and hugged her.  Walker gave Daddy a mean look and I saw Ren stick her tongue out at him.  I winked at her and she giggled before running back inside.  As I followed her I heard Walker tell Daddy "I know she's mine and she WILL stay with me".  I should have paid more attention, but I just didn't understand that he would take her from me.

We came back to the hospital the next day because the blood types didn't match anyone but moms.  It was boring waiting; I think it was longer then an hour when the same nurse from before came in followed by a tall doctor in a white lab coat carrying a clipboard.  He looked at me and Ren then at Dad and Walker. 

"Can I speak to you for a moment?  All three of you?" he said to the adults.  The walked a little ways away, but I could still hear most of what they said.  "Well, as strange as this is going to sound, the children are both of yours" he indicated between Walker and Dad

"I don't understand" Mom said, raising her hand to her lips.

The doctor looked at her and gave her a tolerant smile, "What I mean is that Syren is fathered by Walker whereas Hector's father is Casey" There was silence among the adults. 

I looked at Syren, she was staring at our parents; her lips a little apart looking confused.  I didn't understand what he meant either.  We're twins; didn't he know that?  I instinctively reached out for her hand and squeezed it.  She squeezed back and started chewing on her bottom lip the way Mom does when she's scared.

"What does he mean?" she whispered, her eyes as wide as they could go as she looked at me.

"I don't know Ren, I think he's confused."  I smiled at her in what I thought was a very reassuring way, "but don't worry, I'll protect you, nothing bad will happen".

"You promise?"

"Yeah I promise".  I squeezed her hand again. 

"How is that possible?  They're twins for Christ's sake!"  I heard Dad's voice break the silence between the adults.  "They have to be one or the other!"  his hands were shaking pretty badly and his face had turned red.  Walker just looked in shock at the doctor.  Mom stood a little ways away from the three men with her hand covering her mouth.  I could see tears in her eyes and I bit my lip to keep tears from mine.  Boys don't cry just because their mom is.

The doctor sighed and rubbed his forehead.  "DNA doesn't lie Mr. Lohan.  I admit it is very rare, but in the case of fraternal twins it is possible."  He looked among the adults for a few moments.  "You see, unlike identical twins, fraternal twins are not formed from the same egg.  When two eggs are released from the Ovaries and both are fertilized then fraternal twins occur.  In this case, they happened to be fertilized by two different men, you two.  Fertilization must occur within twenty-four hours of Ovulation, which is why a case such as yours is so rare."  Mom had begun to cry now.

"What does this mean for the children?"  Walker pushed in; it was the first word he had said all day long. 

The doctor sighed, "it means they are truly half-siblings and not full fledged twins as originally thought".

"I refuse to give up my children, I don't care what some dammed test says, I raised them, and they are my children, both of them."  Dad said, his hands clenched into fists.

"No one will take anyone always, Casey" Mom put a hand on dad's forearm and he relaxed somewhat, but his eyes remained focused on Walker who seemed to be deep in thought.

"Don't be ridiculous Jean, Syren is my daughter and she will stay with me."  Walker demanded.

"My ass she'll stay with you!  "  Walker demanded.

"My ass she'll stay with you!  You will not take her away from her brother or her rightful family; I don't care what some stupid blood test says!  She is still my daughter!'  Daddy yelled back at Walker.

As they were yelling I turned to look at Ren, she was starting to cry.  "Don't worry Ren, I won't let anyone take you away from me."  No one was paying any attention to us, so I took off running down the closest hallway I could find with Ren running after me hanging on tightly to my hand.

"Where are we going!"  She panted after me; "You're hurting my hand Hec!"

I pulled her into an empty room; "We're running!"  I should back at her, though I didn't know where we were running.  It wasn't long before Walker and Daddy caught up with us though and we were taken back home.  I felt like I failed Ren because I couldn't get her away fast enough.  But she said she understood.  She knew that I really needed her, maybe more then she needed me.  I didn't know what I would do if someone took her away from me.  I didn't know if I could take it.  She was my other half, and mom was right, she was strong.  A lot stronger then me.

***

Several weeks after Walker found out Syren was his daughter he hired a lawyer to try and gain custody of her.  About a month after he first hired the lawyer, a judge ruled that he would not separate children and that he was being ridiculous for attempting to break up a happy family.  He appealed the case twice over the next six months and lost each time, no judge would give a father custody over a child he had just recently met; especially one in which both parents were loving and providing with no issues of child abuse.

The day after the last appeal, Walker came by the house to see Syren again.  He explained that he wished to move back to Texas and wanted to put this mess behind him.  He promised to visit often and to always send regular gifts and cards to Syren.  When asked for some alone time with his daughter to explain to her one-on-one why he was going away, Jean and Casey reluctantly complied.  It wasn't until they heard the screech of speeding tires that they realized Syren was gone. 

As Walker drove away from the house, he saw the family run out to the front yard, screaming at him.  Syren was pounding on the back windows crying and trying to get away.  For the first time in his life he was thankful for child safety locks.  Syren was his daughter, and he would raise her as such, regardless of what anyone else said.  Jean had grabbed Hector from running out into the street after them, he was crying at beating at his mother to be let go.  He felt momentary regret at separating the two siblings, but he would make sure they saw each other again someday.  As he turned a corner, he saw Casey quickly dialing what Walker assumed to be the police on a cell phone, with tears in his eyes.

***

I sneaked out of the house everyday to look for her, but I never did find her.  I found out three weeks later, after loads of police and other important looking people all around our house, that Walker and she went to Texas and crossed the border into Mexico.  I never got over losing my sister; it wasn't fair for us to be punished because of our parent's mistakes.  And now I'm waiting, waiting for Ren to walk through that door so we can be a family again. 

I sit staring into my café mocha, my hands wrapped around the mug letting the warmth seep into my fingers trying to calm the nerves in my stomach.  I look up as I hear the jingle of the bell above the door to the coffeehouse.  A woman stands just inside the door chewing on her bottom lip.  Her brown eyes catch mine and she tosses her honey blond hair over one shoulder and smiles.  I see two dimples and I know. 

"Ren" I'm surprised at how unsteady my voice is and how much my hands are shaking as I stand up to greet her. 

Her smile widened and I noticed tears in her eyes.  My vision blurs as she comes closer and wraps her arms around me.  "I've missed you Hec" she whispers.

She sat down across from me and I suddenly found it hard to breathe.  It seemed impossible that my kidnapped sister was back in the states, more then that, back to me. 

"Once I turned eighteen I ran away from him.  He was always kind to me, he never hurt me at all and always promised that we would come back.  But we never did.  I knew that as soon as I was old enough I would leave.  I would have come straight home, but I couldn't remember where we lived exactly.  I stole all the money I could from him and took on a new name because I knew he would try to find me.  Eventually I did go back to Mexico to find him again.  I told him that if he didn't move back into the US, or let me do so and go to school then I would contact the police and tell them everything I knew.  And he let me.  I found out that you go here; once I did I transferred and contacted Mom.  I want to come home.  Can we visit Mom and…and dad?"  She asked her voice quiet after such a long tale.

I smiled at her, "of course we can, and we should press charges, he stole you away from us Ren, he can't get away with it."

"I know I already called the proper authorities.  I feel bad though, all he wanted was me as a daughter, he just didn't realize that it was impossible."

I hugged her again as we left the café together.  I knew that everything would be okay now.  We both got into my car and without stopping by our respective apartments to get clothes or such, we drove directly home.  A family again.