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Title: Breakfast - The Brooks Family

Extra Scene: Breakfast. This chapter is set between chapters 2 and 3. Scott is suspecting someone's been watching him, while the rest of the family is trying to adjust to his presence and the changes in their lives. But of course, being a family is much more than daily routines.

Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, and for merfolk—especially teenage merfolk—that couldn’t be truer.

A year ago, Matt had perfected the art of getting ready to go to school while not missing his first meal of the day in a perfect choreography with the Squid. His little brother knew exactly where to be—and where not to be—in the rush hour before their driver picked them up. If Julian was driving, then it meant the chaos was multiplied by ten, but thankfully for everyone involved that didn’t happen often.

Correction, it didn’t use to happen often.

Ever since they had returned to their routine after Chris had been able to shift back into legs, Julian had made a point of spending more time with them, and that meant that their routine had gone down the drain. Add to that Scott’s unsunny disposition every morning—which was just getting worse as months went by—and it was a wonder how the penthouse survived each day.

“What the hell? Who drank my juice?!”

Slurping, Scott stared at him while he finished Matt’s juice, not an ounce of guilt in his face. “It didn’t have your name on it,” he said, shrugging.

“Oh, you want to see where I’m going to write my name next?”

“Kids,” Julian said, coming down the stairs, his phone in one hand and the newspaper in the other. “There’s more juice in the fridge.”

“No, there isn’t,” both Scott and Matt answered at the same time.

“Then drink something else. Alex, no devices on the table.”

“You're talking on the phone!” Alex’s indignant protest went unheard as Julian passed him by, lightly tapping the newspaper on Alex’s head. “How am I supposed to stay awake if I can’t be doing anything?” the Squid murmured while he put his phone away. If he had something in common with Scott, it was that neither appreciated being up at 7:00 a.m.

“Here, take mine,” Chris said as he came out of the kitchen.

“It’s not one of those things Andrew makes you drink, right?” Matt asked, looking at the innocent orange juice as if it was going to poison him.

“Not a chance. I only drink those at his place.”

Matt moved to take his seat but tripped over Scott’s backpack. The orange juice splashed over the table and Julian barely saved his newspaper.

“I’m gonna kill that kid,” Matt said as he stood up. He was promptly caught by Christopher.

“Scott, don’t leave your stuff in the way. It’s dangerous,” Chris told his youngest brother with a sweet smile while trying to hold Matt at bay.

“Scott,” Julian said, hanging up. “Clean this up, please.”

“But I didn’t—”

Both Alex and Chris shook their heads slightly so, enough to stop a bad situation from becoming something worse. Julian was lax about many things, but requests at the table were a big no-no.

Sighing in defeat, Scott went to fetch something to clean up the mess. Unlike most rich families, maids and butlers were not part of everyday life at the Brook’s household. A cleaning crew came three times a week, and their personal chef came to prepare lunch and meals. Breakfast—and any mess in between—was the boys’ chore.

Matt didn’t mind. He’d grown up cleaning much worse messes, and he did find a certain amount of peace while cleaning up his room.

If you weren’t blind to begin with… Scott sent his way while starting to clean the juice, efficiently and speedily. Sometimes Matt forgot that Scott had had his share of foster homes and cleaning duties as well. Most days, it was easy to get along with the brat. Well, most days and non-breakfasts, anyway.

I’ll give you blind any day of the week, Matt sent back, earning a disapproving look from Julian.

Scott had the annoying skill to be able to send his thoughts strictly to one mind, while the rest of the Brooks siblings could only do wide telepathic speech. Which in turn led to these awkward moments when everyone heard Matthew but not Scott.

“Be ready in ten,” Julian warned, finishing his coffee and standing up to gather his things for the office.

“I can’t believe you keep falling for it,” Scott said, coming back from the kitchen with an apple in hand.

“Guys,” Chris said tiredly.

“I’m not saying it just to bait you,” Scott said, sitting down opposite Matt. “I’m genuinely baffled at how little you guys use your skills.”

If you were doing it all the time, it would be much easier to teach you stuff.

Alex groaned. It was one thing that the kid could do stuff even Chris had difficulty mastering. It was downright annoying that he would brag about it. Constantly. At every turn.

Including at breakfast.

“If you’re so advanced, show us something really impressive,” Matt challenged, while Alex glanced at his watch. Being late was the other big no-no in Julian’s life.

Scott bit his apple lazily, thinking. And then, he was gone.

Matt saw him, sitting right there, but Scott’s mind was gone. Where his brothers’ colors shone in his mind, Scott’s light was completely absent.

“Whoa,” Alex said.

All merfolk could shield themselves to telepathy, but it would take Matt minutes and a lot of concentration to do so, and he would never be able to keep it up in front of someone else. Proximity would most definitely ruin any attempt. Scott’s emerald light came back again, along with Scott’s smug face.

“I’m telling you,” the little brat said, “you’re weak. If you don’t practice, if you don’t even care about it, you’ll never get good at it.”


* * *


Julian stopped the car outside Saavan Academy. Alex and Matt went out, but before Scott could also leave, Julian placed his hand on his shoulder.

“May I talk with you for a minute?”

Scott stopped gathering his backpack and looked at Julian.

“I know you don’t approve that I withhold information about us to your brothers.”

Scott looked him straight in the eye, neither surprised nor guilty. Such young eyes that said so many things.

“But I have my reasons to keep this from them. Telepathy is a doubled-edge sword. I prefer that once they have use of it, once they decide to go to the City where telepathy is the norm, then it would be the time to let them know how to manage it at its full capacity.”

“You don’t owe me any explanations,” Scott said, getting ready to leave.

“I do if you’re suddenly disappearing on me to show off.”

Now the kid looked surprised.

“It’s my duty, and my honor, to guard all of you. But I don’t want you to feel so superior to your brothers, and I really don’t appreciate the scare you gave me when you suddenly went off my radar, especially in times like these.”

“So, you want me to dumb myself down?”

“Scott, you’re a smart kid. What you can do is impressive, even for the City’s standards it would be quite advanced. I’m just saying don’t start teaching them things they’re not ready for, okay?”


“You people are so weird,” Scott murmured as he opened the door and practically fled from the car.

Scott? Julian pressed, easily following the current of Scott’s mind, emerald and silvery in a dark sea of silent minds.

Okay, sure. I’ll keep my mouth shut.

Thank you.

* * *

“Question four: Name three socioeconomic consequences of the discovery of America.”

Scott read the question for the fifth time, his eyes almost closing on their own. He knew this. Alex had explained to him in great deal what to expect of the history test, and they had spent the last week covering the material.

Would I get away with claiming PTSD?

Probably, Matt answered in his mind, startling Scott. But then you’ll get Julian on your case. Or, worse, you’ll get Chris. And good luck with surviving that onslaught of care and attention.

Or, Alex interrupted, I could guide you through this so you won’t have to claim anything.

What the hell? Get out of my head!

You’re the one who keeps telling us how behind we are and how much you wish we would live like real merfolk and not human wannabes, right Alex?

Um…I’m just here to help out. Scott, you know this. I know you do.

Scott put his head against the desk for a moment, too sleep deprived to think clearly between the decision of failing the test or accepting Alex’s help.

Well that should be a no-brainer, Matt commented. For a moment, Scott was swept into his brother’s mind, seeing the bottom of the swimming pool and a million air bubbles around him. Matt pushed him out in a second.

“Sorry,” Scott murmured, feeling more alert now than he had the entire weekend. With Matt in the water, their connection was clearer.

Just—pass the damn test and give Julian one less reason to worry, Matt said, effectively shutting him out.

He also felt Alex’s presence receding, though he remained close enough in case Scott needed his help. It was weird to be around other merfolk, and weirder still that they were essentially letting him cheat.

“Question four: Name three—”

Something pricked his mind. Scott stopped reading and tried to follow the trail, just to have Alex asking him if he needed a refresher.

“Mr. Brooks? Any problems?” his teacher asked. With so many people in and out of his head, no wonder he was feeling watched.


He took his pen, concentrated, and wrote 1. The Spaniards gained the means to—

This time, the pricking was more insistent. It was like someone was knocking on the door thee floors below: faint, but definitely there.

In his mind, he saw himself in the middle of the ocean. Around him, Alex’s green and yellow scales shone with the light of the surface, along with Matt’s reds and oranges further away. But below them, in the dark depths of the sea, a shark seemed to be getting ready to attack.

Scott? This time, the voice in his head was Julian’s. Scott’s eyes went round and he froze in place, the ocean disappearing, leaving his history test clear and central in his field vision.

I—I—I’m taking a test, he answered, feeling caught but not knowing on what.

It’s just a test, okay? Take a deep breath, and take it easy.

He hadn’t seen Julian coming, and he certainly wasn’t sure if he was gone. Reading the question one last time, he got busy answering, having no problem recalling Alex’s words now that his total attention was on it.


He took it back: he’d rather Julian treated them like humans instead of being so attuned to their every anxiety attack.

Title: Assignment - Matt, Alex, Scott

Extra Scene: Assignment. This scene is set at the end of chapter 3. It goes into detail about Alex and the merfolk assignment for his History class. It also introduces Gill in a different way, and gives a glimpse of how Scott is not exactly adapting to his life as a Brooks.

Since the day the United Nation had admitted that the merman story was real, everyone in the world had vocalized an opinion about it. Alexander Brooks, hacker extraordinaire, was ready to follow every lead, search for any threat, and protect against any attack that a human might be talking about—or so he’d told himself four months ago.

There was no way he could do this alone.

He’d tried to enlist his brothers’ help in this crusade, but Matt had told him Drake had all of this under control, and Chris had told him he was too young to be holding the weight of the merfolk world on his shoulders.

Scott had been interested for about a week, and then had collapsed under school pressure, something his new brother hadn’t had to deal with in his entire life.

Of course, he’d never cared about human school, Alex thought as he yawned at the same time the first bell rang. If he heard one more time how Scott had all this glorified merfolk knowledge that Julian hadn’t shared, he was going to strangle the kid.

He was paranoid enough to be unable to leave the internet alone, but worried enough about his grades to pay attention at school. He’d missed almost the entire last semester while Chris had been recuperating at their summer house, and he was more than ready to make up for lost time. Besides, he needed to keep his mind away from Roy Wallace and murdered merfolk for a while. It was the only reason why Julian had sent them to school, so they didn’t have to breathe the toxic fear of the unknown in every corner of their home.

Plus, the worst thing that could happen to them here was an F.

He yawned once more as History started. In big, thin letters, Mr. Green wrote Greek Mythology.

“Okay, class. In light of recent world events, I think it’s time we understand how myths come to be, and how our mermaid friends went from being real, to being myths, to becoming real once more.”

Alex groaned so loud in his mind he was sure merfolk in The City heard him.

I take it back. There’s so much worse than an F here!

* * *

Lunch always baffled Scott. Too many people trying to stay in groups without touching the other groups, as if an invisible viral infection was waiting to spread any second now.

Fortunately, he had a guaranteed table of his own with Alex and Matt, but even they elicited fleeting looks and some veiled disdain.

“I can’t believe Mr. Green would think that was a good idea!” Alex was saying when Scott finally sat down. Untrusting by nature, Scott felt way too many eyes on him to feel comfortable even at school.

“Chill. It’s not like he knows.”

“What?” Scott asked, alarmed.

“History’s assignment is a research on merfolk,” Alex said, as if it were the end of the world.


“So? So? I’ve been ‘researching’ merfolk for five months straight now. I kinda want a break here at school. That’s the tragedy of it all.”

“You should already have the assignment done, then,” Scott said, frowning. “I doubt there’s anybody on this entire school who knows more about what’s being said about merfolk than you.”

“The kid has a point,” Matt said, tearing through half of his lunch.

“Don’t call me ‘kid’,” Scott muttered, without much hope of being respected.

“That’s not the point,” Alex said, sulking. “Everyone talks about us in this weird, downright bizarre ways all the time, and we have to swallow it all. But now I have to write a paper on all these lies and present it as fact. The whole thing is so unfair.”

Matt chewed silently, staring at Alex, almost as if saying what else is new.

“What’s with all the staring?” Scott asked before Alex could go on yet another tirade. Furtive and subtle, Scott could still feel the cafeteria’s eyes on him.

“They know we’re different,” Matt said, shrugging.


“They know we’re adopted,” Alex explained, while Matt shrugged. “Matt can be the swimming team star, and I’m one of their best students, but they know we’re not Julian’s blood sons.”

“They’re stuck,” Matt said. “They can’t shun us because you don’t shun a Brooks.”

“But they can’t fully embrace us because we’re not real Brooks,” Alex finished.

“That’s stupid,” Scott said, the currents of social behavior—of rich teenagers’ social behavior—way beyond his grasp.

“We know,” his brothers said at the same time.

“It’ll get better once you’re no longer a shiny new Brooks,” Matt said. “It’s like with the reporters, you’ll become old news and they’ll drop you.”

Scott opened his mouth to get a more detailed answer when he felt a shadow behind him.

“Alexander,” a girl said, tall and with a mess of reddish curly hair. “We need to start making a schedule to get the mermaid assignment going,” she pointed out while nodding, as if encouraging Alex to say yes.

Matt raised his eyebrows, “You didn’t say it was with a partner.”

“Would that make a difference?” Alex said, before standing up. “Sure, Gill. Let’s get this thing done.”

Matt stared with a devilish grin as both sophomores left the cafeteria.

“What?” Scott asked again. He seemed to be perpetually stuck in that question, and it was getting old.

“I suspect that Gill McKenzie has had a crush on me for two years now. No wonder the Squid thinks the universe is out to get him. I think I’m going to enjoy this assignment a whole lot more than he will.”

“You’re all so weird,” was all Scott muttered as he finished his lunch.

Title: Revenge - Chris and Scott

Extra Scene: Revenge. This scene is set after Chapter 8, the day after Wallace met with Scott at the restaurant. Trying to find Wallace and justice is all consuming to Scott, and not even Chris seems to be able to break through these thoughts.

No matter how much he tried, Scott couldn’t sleep. It was mid-afternoon, and although he hadn’t slept since yesterday, he couldn’t stop his brain from obsessing about Wallace, about his childhood memories, and about some dead merman who had been caught in this tangled mess.

Every time he started to drift, he was back at his house in Florida, the clear sky of early morning reflecting over his bed. He’d been an early riser back then, and he’d been awake and down at the kitchen when Wallace had thrown the door open, and had stood there, right there, with that knife—that impossibly long knife that dripped blood all over his dreams.

He woke up once more, his body tired of this restless routine of micro-nightmares.

He lay sideways on his bed and stared at the wall. His room was scarcely decorated, maybe a statement of how uncommitted he was about staying here. He’d had a room once, but it was hard to believe this place could be home when there was a murderer trying to kidnap him if not worse.

“Hey Scott,” Chris said from the door. In a house full of telepaths—muted and untrained as they were—it was hard to keep anxiety hidden. “I brought you something to eat.”

“I’m not hungry,” he murmured evasively, still looking at the wall.

“I know. But it might help you sleep better.”

“It won’t,” he deadpanned. If he looked a little to his left, he could see through the window the gray skies of winter, a contrast with his memories of blue days in Florida.

Undeterred, Christopher came in anyway. Before the accident—before his attempted murder, really—Chris had been living on his own apartment, some six blocks away from here. But with the order of no young merfolk allowed alone, he’d moved back to his home, which meant he was around a lot. Sure, he spent half the day at the gym trying to get his muscles back into shape, and all the younger Brooks still attended school, but the thing with Chris was that he wouldn’t go away if he thought he could help.

Like now.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Scott said, resigned to the fact that his oldest brother was a pain to live with. Alex and Matt wouldn’t even dare to come into the room, much less drag him into conversation.

“I know you’re not used to having anyone to trust or to talk about what bothers you, but Scott, you’re part of this family now. You’re a Brooks forever and always.”

“Aren’t you going to leave for The City and never come back?” Scott shot back, which came out all muffled anyway because he really had no energy to talk.

“And I’d still be a Brooks down there. I’m here right now, though.”

He walked into Scott’s room and sat beside him on the bed. The smell of pizza reached him. If he couldn’t fall asleep, maybe eating something wasn’t such a bad idea.

Moving slowly, he sat up against the wall and took one slice off of Chris’s plate.

“I’ve already told you everything that happened yesterday,” Scott said, chewing without any cheer. New York could say all it wanted about the best pizza in the world, it would never taste as good as his mom’s.

“Yeah, I’m not talking about yesterday. I mean, if you want to talk about it, that’s cool. Anything that’s keeping you awake… Anything you want to say, really.”

“What are you going to do if you can’t swim back to the City?”

Stunned silence followed that. Good, maybe you’ll leave now.

“You don’t hold back, do you?” Chris said after a minute went by. Scott shrugged. “If I can’t swim back then you’ll be stuck with me forever and ever.”

Scott choked on that.

“But, we’re still looking at a five or six hundred year lifespan, then chances are, I will find a way to make it down there. Unless they find a way of coming up here. I doubt very much my parents would accept defeat that easily.”

The pizza slice was gone, and Scott went for the next.

“What about you? Would you like to see the City som—?”

“He called me S’kot,” he interrupted Chris. “I hadn’t heard anyone calling me that since I left my home.”

“Oh. Do you—”

“Everyone always assumed I was Scott. When I was growing up, that they would mispronounce it was a given, so it was a home thing. And Wallace knew that. He said it right. Why would my parents trust him?”


“No, hear me out here. I always knew him as my parents’ partner. I never knew he was one of us. My parents didn’t want me to know he was one of us. He didn’t want me to know. I mean, what were they doing that they didn’t want me to know?”

Chris put his hand on his shoulder. “Listen, you were the one who told me Julian holds us back. That he keeps things from us—”

“—he does—”

“—but that’s not a Julian-thing. That’s a parent-thing. I know your parents mean a lot to you, the same way mine do. But maybe you’re looking into this too hard. Maybe your parents had a good reason for keeping you out of the loop. Maybe they didn’t even realize you weren’t aware Wallace was one of us.”


“My parents would never—” Scott started, and then chocked unexpectedly on his own words. “They told me so many things about us, and the City, and freedom.” Tears filled his eyes, and he blinked them away. “It makes absolutely no sense they wouldn’t tell me. What if—what if I’ve been wrong all this time about them? About what happened?”

Chris looked at him for a moment, taking him seriously. He could be a pain, sure, but the best thing about Christopher was that he listened.

“Scott, it doesn’t matter. They were your parents and you loved them and they loved you back. That’s the only memory worth remembering.”

Scott shook his head. “I need to know what he did, Chris. I need to know what he wants with me.”

“Look, the Council is after the same answers. So don’t worry, okay? You’ll get justice.”

Slowly, Scott nodded, his thoughts lost in ten different ways to find Wallace. He hadn’t been able to do that before, but Christopher had a point: he was a Brooks now. Suddenly, he had all the resources he could need in a lifetime or two.

Wherever you are, I’m coming for you.

Exclusive content section



Get to know the Brooks family through moments in time

Extra Scenes

Read some moments in Underground that didn't make the final cut


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