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over something that had seemed to have tremendous importance at the time: namely that Alex wanted to hang out with his friends, Leo wanted to tag along, and Alex wouldn't hear of it. "Hang out with your own friends!" Alex had told him, and Leo had cried and snarled and complained because the truth was that he had no friends, and they both knew it. And he'd expressed his frustration physically when all else failed, which wasn't the brightest of moves because Alex was a head taller and much stronger. But Leo had given a surprisingly good accounting of himself, and besides, it helped that he was a biter.

Their father had separated them, and Alex remembered Leo standing there, huffing away, anger in his eyes, his fists still balled as if waiting for his brother to launch another assault. Alex, for his part, was rubbing the area on his forearm where the still-fresh teeth marks were visible.

And their father had taken them both firmly by the hand and said to them, "The friends you have now, you think they're so important, they take up so much of your time-----Let me tell you something. Years from now, try as you might, you probably won't even be able to remember their names. If you do, the chances are even greater that you'll have no idea where they are or what they're up to. Friends come and go. But brothers are forever, and after we're long gone you will still have each other."

So there stood Alex, in a space station that was, to him, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, studying his younger brother who was clearly in pain and psychic distress.

But Alex did not suffer fools gladly. He was a teacher by trade, and had been all his life. He had instructed any number of young minds in all manner of disciplines. It had been an outstanding source of irritation to him
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