Shaw Island © Matt Caper
Goodwill, Game Plans & Grandpa
When Liam and Colin emerged from the bedroom in Colin's old house, dressed but disheveled, Matthew merely stared at them with an amused expression. "What?" said Colin sharply, face completely flushed.
"You guys are loud," Matthew stated, and Liam giggled. "So did you like it?"
"Colin thought swallowing tasted weird, but he went crazy when he started making love to me," said Liam plainly.
"Damn, Liam! Just tell everything, why don't you!" Colin yelled. The other two could clearly see he was embarrassed.
"Sorry," Liam said genuinely, sidling up to Colin. "I'm used to telling Matthew everything. I wasn't thinking. Sorry."
Colin rolled his eyes. "Never mind. Matthew's okay."
"I sort of called Jer while you guys were doing it," Matthew admitted. "Not so he could hear or anything, just so I wouldn't be bored. He could hear things, though."
"Geez," Colin sighed.
"He had a lot of questions, but I couldn't really answer them."
"He's too young," Colin stressed.
But Liam shook his head. "Maybe he's too young to understand some of it, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have his questions answered."
"Are you an expert on kids now?" Colin lifted an eyebrow.
"It's just my opinion," Liam lifted his chin in defiance. "I hate being ignored or told I'm too young to know things, but my parents and brothers don't tell me stuff just because it embarrasses them, or they don't wanna take the time to explain it. So they say I'm too young."
"My mom says that a lot," Matthew added. "She says I ask too many questions."
Colin grinned. "That's probably true." He laughed when Matthew stuck out his tongue. "Hey, let's take all the trash out to the trash bin, while we still have some daylight. Then meet me in the livingroom, `cause we have more plans to make."
"Yes, sir!" the others chorused and went straight to work gathering the trash they'd piled up and filling up the bins outside. When they reconvened in the livingroom, Matthew and Liam sat together on the couch, watching as Colin paced back and forth in front of them thoughtfully. Liam was a little amused, though rather proud too, to see how Colin was taking charge; it was as if losing his virginity was changing him already. Though he had no idea what Colin had in store for them. They waited silently for Colin to start speaking.
"Okay, Liam, grab a pen and notebook from the drawer in that table," he pointed to the side table next to the couch. "I'm gonna list the things we need to do, and you write them down."
Liam smiled as he settled back in his seat, ready to write. "Ready."
"Okay," Colin said again. "We don't have to do things in this order necessarily. Number one: we should cover all the windows with curtains you can't see through, or shades or something. We need to be able to look out somehow without being noticed."
"Cover windows. Got it," said Liam.
"Maybe I'm too paranoid, but I don't want anyone being able to get into the house without being detected. Like Dickhead Aerhart." The younger boys giggled. "He might be out on bail until his trial, so we have to fortify the place."
"What if we saved up money to buy webcams that we can put in every window?" Liam suggested. "We could see anyone coming from our computer."
"Ooh, hi-tech. Good idea, babe," Colin acknowledged, making Liam beam with pride – mostly because of the term of endearment. "Why don't we make my old bedroom our work room; we'll put whatever equipment we have in there and keep all our plans and secrets in there. Like a lab or secret lair."
"Neat!" Matthew exclaimed.
"That gives me an idea for number two on the list," Colin directed Liam to start writing again. "Rearranging all the furniture. We'll make my old bedroom our workroom and sleep in the master bedroom, since we like to sleep in the same room anyway."
"Yes!" Matthew yelled, bouncing on his seat. Colin winked at him and continued.
"We'll think of something to do with the extra bedroom. Also, I want the big screen TV in here put in the master bedroom and the smaller one that's in there put in our workroom."
"You couldn't be more sexy right now," Liam interrupted. "I nominate you as the president of our club."
"Me, too!" Matthew added. "But what's our club called?"
"And what are we going to do in it?" Liam asked.
"What do you mean?" Colin murmured, blushing uncontrollably.
"Well, we've got this clubhouse, we're gonna have a lab, spy cams, and everything. But what are we going to do here, besides watch TV and sleep together?" Colin turned his deeply crimson face away. "You know what I mean," Liam smirked. "We should have a reason for our club, like fighting crime."
"Or solve mysteries, like Spy Kids!" Matthew said excitedly.
Colin pondered silently for a moment, then shook his head. "I kinda had enough crime fighting when we went against Gage and his crew. I have an idea, though. What if we did good deeds for people on the island? Whenever we find someone who needs something that we can do, we'll do it. For free."
"That's so cool," Matthew grinned.
Liam thought so, too. He tossed the notebook aside and practically attacked his boyfriend with kisses. "That's the best idea ever! Everyone would see what a great kid you are, then."
"I wasn't thinking about that," Colin's response was bashful. "I just thought I could make up for all the bad stuff I've ever done."
"Well, I know what we should do first. This isn't exactly for someone on the island, though," Liam began. "I think we should get Trey and his brother back together, somehow."
"Oh, sure," Colin snorted. "Easy as pie."
"That would be really cool, though," Matthew agreed. "I bet we could get Dad to help us. He could invite both of them here."
"Yeah!" Liam rushed to Matthew's side again. "Great idea! Once they're both on the island together again, and they see how happy Colin and I are together, they'd have to realize how much they really love each other!"
"But remember?" said Colin. "They'd lose their inheritance if their dad knew they were gay."
"He'd never have to know!" Liam insisted. "They don't have to move in together! I think it's stupid to live so far apart, just because they're afraid their dad would find out about them."
"Yeah," Matthew frowned. "Stupid. They were cute together."
Liam couldn't help giggling at Matthew's observation. "But how are we going to get them to agree to visit?"
"I know, I know!" Matthew bounced again, causing Liam to bounce in his wake. "We'll tell Dad to invite them to Colin's birthday party!"
Colin offered a beaming grin. "Perfect, Matty. That'll give us time to plan our actions. Liam, you're in charge of keeping records. You can write it all in your computer, since that'll probably be easier. Whenever we have a meeting, take notes of what we plan, keep track of all the good deeds we do, with all the dates and details. And anything else you think is important. Is that cool?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. President!"
"What's my job?" asked Matthew, staring intently at Colin.
"Don't know yet, little bro. I'll think of something, though." Colin took a quick peek outside, then at the time on his cell phone. "Listen, we should get to work before we have to go home. I have to go to the bathroom. Then we'll start organizing the master bedroom." Everyone started to move toward the back of the house, when Colin stopped. "Matty? Your first job is to come up with a cool name for our club. We also need a code word for this place, something other than `the clubhouse'. Think about it while we work. Can you handle that?"
"Yes, I can!" Matthew hollered joyfully.
For six weeks the boys, including Jeremiah, worked tirelessly on the clubhouse. Or, as Matthew had named it, Headquarters. "Is it stupid?" he had asked worriedly. "I couldn't think of anything cool."
"I think it's way cool," Colin told him. "How about HQ for short?"
By the end of that six weeks, HQ had thick curtains over every window – material supplied by Jenny Reilly – though only one of those windows had a webcam for security. From their workroom – Colin's old bedroom – they could see the largest area of the woods toward the road, and that's where Colin decided the webcam should be placed. "The front door faces the bay," he said. "Less of a security breach threat in that direction."
Their master bedroom, or "The Bunk" as Colin had dubbed it, contained the large bed previously used by the Aerharts, as well as Colin's old single bed. They'd left the double bed in the guest bedroom, for the times when Liam and Colin wanted a few moments to themselves. Though in the entire six weeks since Colin lost his virginity to Liam, they hadn't used it. They'd worked so hard on the house and spent every waking minute with Matthew and Jeremiah, all they'd been able to capture was a couple of showers together, during which they merely jerked each other off. However, they were both quite content with that.
Colin's birthday, the eighteenth of May, also happened to mark the last day of the school year. Though keenly aware that Colin would be going to high school off the island that next fall, neither wanted to discuss it. The only thing that mattered was the present, and presently they had the whole summer together.
Liam, Colin, Matthew and Jeremiah planned to stay at HQ overnight, but first they had to stop at Jeremiah's on the way home from their last school day, where he retrieved his overnight bag. His mom cornered them before they set off toward the Lopers' and caught Colin by surprise when she hugged him.
"Happy birthday, Colin. I'm so proud of you."
The color of Colin's skin darkened as he ducked his head. "Thanks, Mrs. Wright."
"Thank you for being a friend to my son. From the way he talks, it sounds like you're a good influence on all these boys. I just wanted you to know you're appreciated," she gushed.
Colin had no reply; he could only smile and blush deeper. When they were finally released to continue their walk, he merely ruffled Jeremiah's hair to show his own appreciation. As if that weren't enough emotion for him to handle, he received a bigger surprise at home. As they approached the Loper house, their eyes were drawn to a large plastic banner strung from the eaves of the house; it was only letters all connected to each other, spelling out "Happy Birthday Colin", but they were multi-colored, and they had an obvious effect on Colin.
"Wow," he breathed. He stopped at the edge of the lot just to look at his message, and the others stopped with him. "I've never had anything like this before." He just shook his head slowly, with a strange smile on his face. "I'm, like, the luckiest kid ever. This is gonna be the best birthday I ever had."
"You bet it is!" Liam proclaimed. "We're gonna make sure of it!"
Linda came out to greet them on the lawn, where she gave Colin a great bear hug. "I hope you like your banner. Your dad and I both thought it would be cool if it was rainbow."
"I love it, Mom," Colin gushed proudly. "I feel pretty special right now."
"You're a Loper," she said with a smile. "Of course you're special. Come have a snack before you boys go off to HQ." Even their parents had come to using the new name for the clubhouse. "And I have some news for you," she continued, as she ushered them inside. "Your dad talked to both Trey and Toran. Toran's number wasn't hard to find, which was a good thing."
"Wouldn't Trey know it, though?" Liam interjected.
"Yes, but," Linda grinned wickedly. "Both of them said they'll come to Colin's party tomorrow, but Trey doesn't know Toran is coming, and Toran doesn't know Trey will be here. We weren't sure if they would come otherwise, so we kind of fibbed a little."
"Brilliant!" exclaimed Colin. "Now all we have to do is convince them to get back together!"
"Well, we'll leave that part up to you boys." Linda made four plates of orange slices, soda and homemade oatmeal cookies.
After a quick change of clothes, the boys hurried toward HQ, but not before promising to make an appearance for dinner. Charles had his own birthday affection to lavish on his newest son when they returned. And after a hearty meal and happy conversation, the boys returned to HQ for the night. Liam had never seen Colin quite so giddy and relaxed as he was that night. He was so joyous, in fact, he continued to flirt with Liam even in front of the other two boys, holding Liam's hand, pinching his butt a couple of times, and pulling him onto his lap when they sat in the workroom idly surfing the net.
Matthew spoke Liam's thoughts as the couple doted on each other in the next chair. "It's neat to see you happy, Col. I've never seen you smile so much."
Colin grinned before lavishing kisses on Liam's neck. "I have a whole new life, Matty. Parents who love me, the best brother in the world, a great friend," he ruffled Jeremiah's hair, "And a boyfriend who I love very much. I'm seriously happy for the first time in my life. Life is good."
Liam turned his head and kissed Colin full on the mouth, intending to pull back a few seconds later. Instead, Colin moaned and deepened the kiss, making it last several seconds longer. Upon pulling back, Colin whispered in Liam's ear. "Let's go to the guest bedroom."
"You must be in a really good mood," Liam snickered. "I'm definitely ready." He scrambled off Colin's lap and gave the youngest two a sheepish grin. "Um. We'll be back in a little bit. Colin needs his birthday present." No sooner had they left the room, there was a loud knock on the front door. They froze completely in the hallway. "Crap. I forgot," Liam muttered.
"Forgot what?" Colin narrowed his eyes.
"I sort of asked Daniel and Patrick over. Daniel can't be at your party tomorrow, so I wanted to give you your birthday present tonight. The one from all of us," he added the last part with a giggle.
"Well, they have shitty timing," said Colin.
"Hellooooo," Daniel called, and it was clear they were coming in and through the house. "Oh. Hey" Daniel stopped short, and Patrick peered around him with a raised brow.
"What's up?" Patrick murmured.
"Nothing," Colin sighed, though he made no effort to hide his irritability, crossing his arms over his chest and shifting his weight to one side.
Patrick's eyes shot directly toward the boys' midsections. "At least someone's getting some," he sighed wistfully.
"I'm sure Daniel can accommodate you," said Liam, noting Patrick's gaze.
"He broke up with me," Daniel stated succinctly.
"Oh no!" Liam answered.
"Yeah, after he called me `Will' while we were doing it," said Patrick darkly.
"Oops," said Colin.
"He's in love with a straight boy," Patrick pushed his way around Daniel, eyes glued to Liam's body.
"We wouldn't mind watching you guys, though," Daniel ignored Patrick's comment.
"Do I get my present first?" asked Colin, nodding to the package in Daniel's hand.
Daniel smiled. "This is from all of us."
With another sigh, Colin turned around, turned Liam's body to face the workroom, and they rejoined Matthew and Jeremiah. Colin sat down, while the guests greeted the younger boys.
"Everyone pitched in," Liam added. "Jeremiah, too. Daniel probably put in the most, though. And he picked it up for us."
"Happy birthday, man," Daniel placed the package in Colin's lap.
Colin unceremoniously began tearing into the wrapping paper, finding a nondescript box underneath. He opened that more carefully, but hurriedly, and gasped when he finally raised the top. "Oh, shit! No way!" He cradled the laptop in his hands and lifted it up, brushed the box onto the floor, and placed the computer on his legs. He examined every detail with wonder and awe.
"I've set it up for you," said Daniel. "Just plug and play, as it were."
"Thanks, guys. All of you. This is so terrific."
"It was Liam's idea," said Matthew.
"Now I don't feel guilty anymore about having yours," Liam smiled. "I mean, not that it matters, I guess. Not anymore. What's mine is yours, anyway."
"I love it," Colin stood and placed the computer on the desk, then leaned to kiss Liam tenderly.
"Here we go," Daniel said eagerly. "Sex time."
"God, you're such a perv," Patrick accused Daniel.
"Nah, I'm just horny," Daniel sighed and swatted Patrick's butt.
Patrick blushed and tried not to smile under Daniel's bright gaze. "Hey, has Colin gotten his birthday swats yet?" He did smile, then.
"No, and I'm not getting any," Colin declared. "Maybe I'll give my swats to Liam."
"Kinky," Patrick grinned slyly.
"When you guys leave," Colin added.
"Damn," said Daniel.
"You wanna come to my place for a while?" Patrick asked Daniel in a low voice.
"I thought you broke up?" asked Liam.
"Yeah, but we still need to get off," Daniel inched toward Patrick and conspicuously fondled the boy's package.
Colin turned to the two youngest. "This is what you don't want to be like when you grow up. Or even when you're a teenager."
"What's wrong with us?" Daniel frowned. "Not everyone can have the perfect relationship like you two."
"Why not?" asked Colin tersely. "Why can't you make a commitment and stick to it, instead of sleeping with whoever you feel like?
"There's nothing wrong with sex between consenting adults," Daniel narrowed his eyes. "Don't be such a holier-than-thou."
"Patrick's a minor, actually," Liam pointed out.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Big deal. He's old enough to make his own decisions about sex. And it's fun. So what if we haven't found our ideal match yet? We see the same people every day, so we make the best of it. We make each other feel good, and it hasn't ruined our friendship."
Colin merely shrugged. "Fine, I won't judge. I know I'm pretty lucky to have Liam. I hope you guys find someone special, too."
Patrick smiled warmly. "Thanks. We'll let you get on with...whatever. Let's hurry, Daniel."
"Yes, sir," Daniel grinned and followed Patrick out.
Colin and Liam disappeared once again and returned less than an hour later, quite satisfied, where they found Matthew and Jeremiah watching gay porn on Liam's computer. Matthew looked up with wide, fearful eyes when Colin touched his shoulder.
"Jer wanted to know what you two were doing in there. It was easier to show him than try to explain," Matthew said quickly.
"Jeremiah, don't ever tell anyone we let you watch porn," Colin commanded. "Maybe I'm not a good influence after all."
"I won't!" Jeremiah promised eagerly. "Daddy don't wanna talk about sex. He said I'm too young. But I wanted to know!"
"Well, I guess you got the gist of it now," Colin murmured.
"It looks kinda weird," said Jeremiah hesitantly.
Liam smiled. "It'll make more sense when you go through puberty."
"Matty, we should go home now for dinner," Colin stated, and Matthew began to shut down the computer.
"Can I come, too?" Jeremiah asked meekly.
Colin rolled his eyes. "Duh. You think we'd let you go hungry? Get your ass in gear."
Giggles followed Colin out of the room, and happy noises followed them all the way to the Lopers', where they had pre-party cake and ice cream after dinner. Games and conversation with the adults kept them there late into the night.
"Soooo, we have a little news," Charles began. It was intermission after a few DVD games of "Scene It" and "Let's Make A Deal". "Our family lawyer, Mr. Roberts, contacted Mr. Aerhart while he's out on bail. He's not allowed to come back to the island, don't worry," he said quickly. "But Mr. Roberts drafted custody papers for him, papers that would discontinue his parental rights permanently if he signed them."
"And did he?" Colin asked, rising slightly from his seat.
Charles nodded, and he smiled when Colin gasped excitedly. "He did. Without hesitation."
"Go figure," Colin muttered. "Guess he couldn't wait to get rid of me."
Linda was within arm's reach of Colin and placed a loving hand on his shoulder. "I know that's terrible of him, but... Well, we were glad. That means you're rid of him, too. And it's one step closer to you being a Loper. Legally, I mean."
"The problem is," Charles continued, "No one knows where Diane Aerhart is. Of course, if she doesn't show up soon, a judge can terminate her rights for her. Either way, we'll have to wait. We just thought you would want to know we're going all the way with the adoption."
"Awesome," Colin smiled, relaxing. "I don't ever wanna leave this family. Not ever."
Remaining there throughout the night, the boys returned to HQ only for a brief time in the morning. They retrieved Colin's new computer and headed back to the Lopers'. "Do we have a game plan for today?" asked Liam.
"For Trey and Toran?" Colin responded.
Liam nodded. "What are we gonna say or do to convince them to get back together?"
"I hadn't thought of that," Colin murmured.
"Maybe when they see each other, they won't want to leave by themselves again," Matthew suggested, a hopeful look on his face.
"We can only hope," sighed Liam.
Of the brothers in question, Trey was the first to arrive. There was the expected joyous reunion, after which Colin was eager to share what had developed since Trey's last visit.
"Thanks for the invite," said Trey warmly. "It's good to know you're getting older, having a life with a great family...all of that. You know...instead of stuck in that other place."
"Yep," agreed Colin. "I'm pretty happy, I gotta say. Part of it's because of my boyfriend," a hint of a smile played on his lips.
"Great!" Trey exclaimed, visibly surprised. "I didn't expect that. Where is he?" Colin jerked his head toward Liam beside him, and Trey laughed aloud. "But of course! It's perfect, now that you mention it. Good for you, guys."
In that moment, Dr. Nate approached the group, addressing Trey directly. "I understand you were acquainted with Kip," he said softly.
Trey offered a warm handshake and sympathetic look, since he knew of Kip's connection to Dr. Nate. They discussed their mutual friend, and the boys left them to it. Now they were gearing up for Toran's arrival. However, lunch was served, then sweets, and Colin opened all his presents, but still there was no Toran. By then, they began to lose hope of his coming at all.
"This was all for nothing," Colin lamented.
"Nuh-uh, not for nothing," said Matthew. "You had a good party, right?"
"Yeah," Colin agreed. "Yeah, it was great. I just wish he could've come."
"You wish who could've come?" asked Trey, walking in on the conversation.
"Nobody," Liam said quickly. "Hey, do you have time to come see our Headquarters?"
"I have all the time in the world," Trey smiled. "I'll probably stay here overnight. But what's Headquarters?"
"It's actually where I used to live," Colin informed him. "But now it's our clubhouse."
"Good grief, you have a whole house as your clubhouse?"
"Yes, and it's awesome," said Matthew.
"It's just a short walk from here," added Liam."
Trey frowned, and Liam sensed some hesitation. "Through the woods?" Trey asked quietly.
"Not too far," Liam answered with a furrowed brow. "Why? What's the matter?"
Trey inhaled sharply and let it out slowly. "Tor and I never walked through the woods again after..." His voice trailed off, but the boys understood.
"You're grown up now," Liam stated. "There weren't any grown-ups there, remember? Anyhow, Colin will keep us safe, no matter what happens."
Colin threw a look of surprise at Liam, but Trey just chuckled lightly. "All right, let's go. But I'm depending on you, Colin."
"Great," Colin mumbled.
After Colin said all his thank-yous to the remaining guests, which only consisted of Liam's family and Jeremiah's family, the four boys and Trey left the house, trailed by William and Patrick.
"I've heard how cool this place is," said William. "I wanna see it for myself."
"We have a security camera on the place, just so you know," said Liam.
"And I got two more webcams for my birthday," said Colin, nodding toward the box of stuff he was carrying. "And I have some ideas for rigging traps. If anyone tries to break in, we'll know it."
"Chill out," laughed William. "I won't mess with your domain. I just wanna see it, that's all."
"We trust you," Liam smiled. "We're saying it mostly for Patrick's benefit." He giggled and dodged Patrick's swing.
"Very funny, jerko," muttered Patrick.
"You guys are funny," laughed Trey. "You know, I'll probably be around more now. Monday after next, I start a new job with Charles. He finally talked me into it."
"Yay!" cried the younger four in unison.
"Now you know what you should do?" Liam began with a sly smile. "Get Toran a job there, too." He thought he saw a light blush creep up Trey's neck.
"I think he's happy where he is," Trey stated darkly.
"Doubt it," said Liam, followed by a light punch in the shoulder from Colin.
"We miss him," Matthew added during an awkward silence.
"Me too," Trey confessed. "It's not like we didn't learn anything during the time we were in that...place. But real life has its limits, too."
"What do you mean?" asked Matthew.
Trey sighed and slowed his steps. "The whole reason we ended up in that place was because we both had lost the will to live here. Even our love for each other was lost somewhere; things at home were terrible with our dad, and life just plain sucked. When we ended up there, we became comfortable even in the misery we experienced there, because at least we had each other. After you guys came and went, we started to get the desire back to live real life again. I don't know why, except when you disappeared, we decided we couldn't live there anymore. Somehow we made it back home and helped each other through until we made it out on our own."
"But why would you leave each other after that?" Liam asked desperately. "You need each other!"
"We still see each other," said Trey. "Mostly at holidays. But I decided we needed to live our lives, instead of being dependent on each other."
"I thought you were only staying apart because of your dad and your inheritance?" Liam asked, confused.
"There's that, too," Trey answered. "It's easier when our dad isn't trying to make our lives miserable. But that was only part of it. A gay man's life is difficult enough. Living with my brother would just make it that much harder."
"So," Colin spoke up. "Toran didn't have a say in this? You decided everything for him?"
Trey's jaw tightened for a moment. All of them stopped on the edge of the clearing where HQ sat; The oldest two boys and the youngest two all watched with intense curiosity, as Colin and Liam hashed it out with Trey.
"Tor wanted to stay with me. I wouldn't let him. I think he knows, though, it was the best thing for both of us."
"Bullshit," said Colin, to the surprise of everyone. He didn't seem about to apologize for his language, either. "You're just running away again, only you're not in some magical land this time. If you love someone, really love them, you do whatever you have to do to stay with them. Even if I was still living with the Aerharts and being beat up all the time, I'd go through that hell to still be with Liam. At least be man enough to admit you're just a coward."
Overcome by emotion, Liam clung to Colin's side, and Colin held Liam close to himself. Trey, meanwhile, seemed duly abashed but didn't respond. He looked around thoughtfully for a moment, and when he did speak, it was to change the subject. "I remember this place. Aerhart... Yeah... They had this little bitty kid; quietest kid I ever saw."
"Yeah, that was me," Colin muttered.
Trey offered a warm smile. "You turned out to be pretty smart. Cute, too."
"Back off, he's mine," Liam scowled in jest.
Trey laughed. "I'm glad you found each other. At least someone's happy. You deserve it. So, let's see this awesome place."
Trey and William got a tour of the place, then helped with the setting up of the two additional webcams. Once that was done, everyone left again, with the youngest four intending to return that night.
William and Patrick went their own ways, both citing unnamed things they had to do. Trey and the boys chatted casually on the way back to the Lopers', and the subject of Toran wasn't brought up again. Liam felt terribly disappointed for failing to get his friends back together, but he knew it would do no good to run it into the ground with Trey. He was already working up another scheme they could execute in the future.
Upon the return to the house, however, Liam looked up when Trey gasped out loud. All of them stopped dead in their tracks, seeing a blond haired beauty talking to Charles on the porch. "Is that who I think it is?" Liam asked excitedly.
"Toran," Trey murmured. He squinted darkly at Colin. "You invited him to your party, didn't you? Slip your mind to mention it to me, did it?"
Colin looked right proud of himself. "It wasn't my idea. You can blame Liam."
"So spank me," Liam stuck out his tongue. "But first go hug and kiss your brother."
With a sigh, Trey approached the blond, whose blazing blue eyes seemed to penetrate the boys as they all moved closer.
"What the devil?" Toran said, eyes latching onto Trey.
"I'm as surprised as you," said Trey. They merely stood staring at each other.
"Toran, these are my sons, Colin and Matthew, and their friends, Liam and Jeremiah. But I think you know the older three already," Charles smirked.
Toran's confusion was plain as he turned toward the boys. "I do?"
"Are you kidding me?" said Liam, hands on his hips. "I seem to remember pulling you out of a hole with a rope made of vines."
Toran's expression fell immediately to nothing other than pure shock, and apparently he was rendered speechless.
"You didn't tell him about us?" Liam said to Trey.
"We...don't talk about that part of our lives," said Trey in a low voice.
"Well, you should," said Colin. "Trust me, it's better when you do."
"I can't believe it!" Toran exclaimed.
"Wait `til you hear about Kip," said Liam. "Can we all go inside and talk about it? It'll make you feel better. Then you and Trey can kiss and make up. Then make love. And live happily ever after."
"Liam," Charles chastised. "They're adults, they can make their own decisions."
"Sorry," Liam offered genuinely. "I wish they'd make better decisions, though."
"Uh-huh, me too," Toran muttered, glancing at Trey.
"Can we just go in, please?" Trey sighed.
Before anyone got anywhere, Jeremiah's voice captured their attention. "Hey, there's Patrick."
Liam turned around and saw Patrick walking toward them. Or rather, stomping toward them. The closer Patrick got, the more Liam could see rage dripping off of him, his body trembling. "Oh no, what did I do?" Liam squeaked.
"Nothing," Patrick spat, halting in front of his brother. "Can I stay at HQ tonight? I told Mom I was going to Daniel's, but he's not home. I don't want anyone knowing where I am."
Relieved he wasn't in trouble, Liam breathed a little easier. "Yeah, of course. The extra bedroom is all yours. Here's my key," he fished it out of his pocket and handed it over, earning a raised eyebrow from Colin. "You okay?"
"No. Grandpa Reilly is here. I'm not going back home until his sorry ass leaves." Patrick left Liam in a state of shock, spinning on his toes and marching away again.
Liam could only shrug in response to the questioning faces around him. As much as he didn't want to at that moment, he felt obliged to go home. "I'll be back, guys, as soon as I can." Sadly, he waved goodbye and trotted home, wondering what atrocity had occurred there.