Copyright 2003 by

This is a fictional story of loving between friends, young and old. If you don't like friendship, don't read it. If you don't like love, I'm sorry for you. If you are not old enough to legally read this, find your friend and have him read it to you.


Stocking Stuffer - Spring Break Part 15

"Looks like nap time gentlemen!" I announced and headed back to the chair on the balcony in the sun.

The guys all joined me and we sat and enjoyed the beer, the view and the companionship. Gene was talking to Brian about the day's events and the way the boys had seemed to blossom and grow as every minute passed. Seems as if they had graduated from first needing the adults directly to needing them just after a ride to finally needing them not at all and dashing from the end of Splash Mountain back to the line again without even a questioning glance.

"Did you see Scotty though that once?" Brian asked.

"Yeah, I did. It was like a moment we've gone through before, but it was so brief." At my inquiring glance he went on. "We were passing near the restrooms near the Frontier Shootin' Arcade and Scotty just stopped dead. He didn't say anything or seem like he was hurt or anything but he stopped dead in his tracks. Then Stephy went back to him and said something. They talked for just a minute and then Steph took his hand and I could see Scotty take a deep breath and then they were with us again. Neither one of them said a word and we all went into the Country Bear Jamboree. By the time we came out, Scotty was laughing and smiling again. I was so thankful it was over so quick I didn't think much about it."

"Well it sounds like everyone had a great time," WKE said. "I wish we could have been there, but Nick certainly paid the bills today. I don't think the company has ever had a first release signing that sold so many copies."

"All to the genius of Wonder Kid Editor!" I toasted with my beer. Remind me to sing his praises loud and long sometime to the old fart of a publisher. Hmm, maybe that contract clause should insist he be assigned to my account permanently.

The boys never did stir from their nap. We checked on them later and if anything they had tied the knot of arms and legs more firmly around poor Tommy. WKE gave us startled looks when we consigned him to the other bed, wished him luck and gently kissing as many heads as we could reach we headed for our own beds and to sleep.

I admit I had forgotten what it was like to sleep in an otherwise empty bed and I had a little trouble at first, but soon the stresses of the day took their toll and I was asleep too. I dreamed sometime during the night of voices and a conversation, it was really strange, but I couldn't force myself up and out of sleep to make it go away. One voice said, "It was him. I know it was him. He was doing it again!" and then the other said, "We'll look again, but..." then back to the first very steely and hard, "If I'm right we have to do something. He can't do it ever again. He can't!" and then the second again, very tenderly, "Shhhh, it's all right. We'll do something. It's okay, go to sleep, come on go to sleep."

I woke to the heaven of Stephy draped across my chest and as I tried to reach my right arm up and cuddle and pet my boy I couldn't make it move! I groaned that the signing had killed every muscle, but then suddenly my arm was crushed as something, no, someone wiggled around and got more comfy. I peeked over towards that side and there was Scotty plastered up against my arm and Mikey almost glued against his back. I chuckled and wondered if Tommy had thrown them out to get at WKE or if this was just the beginning of a round robin bed exchange like they had been doing with the showers.

Regardless I managed to extricate myself without waking them and finished with the bathroom chores. I was first at the coffee pot this morning and got it up and running just as Brian came wandering in. We all must have been on a similar schedule because Gene and then WKE with Tommy draped languorously across his shoulders stumbled in shortly behind. Tommy was in the cutest pair of Mickey Mouse silk boxers and Brian beamed over at him and said, "Well Champ, did you survive the little muggers last night?"

WKE and Tommy jumped apart and then Tommy began blushing about ten shades deep and then his mouth started opening and closing like a goldfish looking out at the world from inside his bowl, I laughed and said, "Tommy, tell him none of his business! Brian, you better go look in my bedroom before you get yourself in too deep!"

Brian was the one to blush when he returned and looked at Tommy. Walking over to both Tommy and WKE, he scooped them up and hugged them both and told them he was sorry, he never meant to pry. He kissed Tommy on the forehead and left him standing there, touching WKE once again and clearly with his permission to be whatever kind of friends they wanted it to be. I marveled again at what a few words of praise from this man seemed to do for those around him. I was thinking Mikey was a pretty lucky little boy and with Brian as a friend, maybe I was pretty lucky too.

There was a knocking at the door and WKE blushed again and said, "Uh, that would be breakfast, I hope you guys don't mind?"

Tommy opened the door and let the room service waiter in. I watched as the waiter's eyes raked Tommy's athletic body in those oh-so-sexy boxers. WKE must have seen it too, because pretty darn quick the poor waiter was hustled back out again, I don't think he had even had time to ask for a tip!

Opening the various bowls and serving dishes, the room was completely permeated with the scent of a wonderful apple and cinnamon crisp. "That should do it pretty quick!" I laughed and as the other guys gave me a quizzical look, sure enough Stephy came sniffing his way out of morning fog, bedwebs still in control of his mind if not his nose and little peter.

"Love you Nick," he managed to mumble at the room service trolley before I could swat his little butt back towards the bathroom.

"Love you too Steph, go get the boys, it's breakfast time."

"'K," he mumbled and although his nose wanted to drag him left, his little woody won and he followed it back towards the bathroom. Soon the squeals and splashing sounds announced that we had better get our breakfast before the school of sharks attacked. I noticed Tommy had already filled a giant plate and retired to the balcony.

No one was in any great hurry this beautiful Monday morning and the boys first dashed through breakfast, but then began a more stately and, if possible, concerted graze. They'd alternate between sitting at the table chowing down or sitting in a lap and nibbling on a danish of just standing at the balcony rail looking across at Heaven and drinking milk or orange juice. Eventually the talk came round to what we would do that day and Stephy spoke for the boys.

"We want to do Splash Mountain again first! Then the riverboat and then the Haunted Mansion and then Splash Mountain and then the castle and then Splash Mountain and then...."

I was cracking up! "Okay, Okay!!!! You guys can lead the way! Just let us old guys find a place to sit sometime? Okay?"

"Yeah, well, we will have to have lunch!" he grinned from ear to ear and took a giant bite of danish!

I thought we would laugh ourselves into convulsions. He of course just radiated that "Who me?" look of childish innocence.

We managed finally to dress, this time the boys chose shorts, I guess they found they didn't need their magic pants. With Tommy leading our young cohort we set off to conquer another day in Paradise.

The walk through Main Street was not so awe struck on this morning and as they led us past the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade there was a little huddle of the boys as if they needed to vote on stopping or not. Then suddenly we were going by and past and on to the summit of Splash Mountain. I admit I had a blast, this first ride the boys stayed with us older folks, I guess they felt sorry for such a decrepit bunch, but as soon as the ride was over they were firmly hand in hand with each other and with a shout of "Again!" they headed back in line. I saw a bench and decided that was the place for me. When WKE was undecided, Brian pointed at the mountain and yelled at him "GO!" and he was off like the little boy he surely was inside.

This time we had a bunch of slightly wet and laughing boys attack us on our bench as soon as they were done. Then Stephy took the lead again and we were marching back from whence we came. Another huddle near the Arcade, this time very brief and we turned the corner to the Liberty Belle Riverboat. Now this was more my kind of ride and we laughed and hugged and generally relaxed our way around the lake. Then a wild ride through the Haunted Mansion where the boys condescended to allow us to have our own seats while they piled together into theirs. Back now again under the orders of our Duke of York, back up the hill again, yes back to Splash Mountain for another fix of adrenaline rush.

Then back down the hill again toward Cinderella's Castle. This time as we crossed in front of the Frontierland Arcade Scotty did his absolute stop. Then suddenly he just sat down, sat down right in the middle of the road, sat there like a stone. Stephy was all over it and obviously ordered Mikey, Tommy and WKE back to where we lagged behind and then he sat down almost on top of Scotty. Gene was just beginning to get a panicked look when WKE arrived and told us. "Stephy says its okay! Don't panic, Scotty just doesn't feel so good. Probably too much breakfast and then too much excitement. Steph says we should sit over there and they'll be here in a minute." I watched Gene gather up the shreds of his courage and turn away from Steph and Scotty and go over to the benches.

"This is just like the other times," he whispered. "There is nothing I can do. He'll pull himself together in a minute and then he'll be all right. God these things tear me up, I wonder what they do to him!"

"They make him know you love him," Brian interjected. "Every time it's over and you are there he knows he's loved, right Tommy?"

Tommy flew to Brian's arms and the magnetism of his obvious love pulled Mikey right behind. I knew there must be a story here and I hoped Brian or Tommy would be able to share with us someday.

We watched as Steph talked with Scotty and Scotty began to shake it off. Then Steph was helping him up and they were walking slowly and straight back to us. I heard the end of the conversation, Steph saying, "Okay, you're right. We will. Now go hug your Dad!" and he gave Scotty a little push and Scotty ran to Gene.

We sat a while and then Tommy led us all back on the path and we managed to get to Cinderella's Castle. We were a pretty quiet group, more like the group of yesterday morning than the group we'd been at the start of today. Mikey said he was hungry and we realized it really was about noon. So finding another restaurant we got in line for burgers, fries and pop. There wasn't a big enough table, so the little guys took a table all their own a little away from us. Soon the restorative power of food seemed to help because they were giggling and poking and then huddled up and glancing over at us and seeming thick as thieves. I wondered who was going to get the shower and bedroom treatment tonight! Or did they have some other plan up their sleeves?

After lunch Stephy announced they had done Splash Mountain enough today and could they ride Dumbo and the Carousel? Of course who were we to deny and the afternoon was spent among the gentler rides of Fantasyland. Tommy was quickly obviously bored and WKE told us they were heading over to Tomorrowland and they'd meet us at the gift shop at five.

Several times throughout the afternoon our little trio had huddled up and whispered and conspired. I pitied the one they chose tonight.

We had just arrived at the gift shop and were picking shirts and caps and other essential paraphernalia when Tommy and WKE arrived. They looked like the teenager Tommy was and WKE was almost. They were glowing and excited and out of breath and bubbling to tell the little boys all about Space Mountain and the Buzz Lightyear Spin. Steph made me finish our purchases first, I was surprised that he wanted one green and two red t shirts, I don't think he'd wanted anything red in all our visits to Gene's boys department.

Loading me up like the pack mule that I am, Steph led me from the store and we headed back to the hotel. The monorail lulled them once again and we could barely steer them through the lobby and to our suites. I think they were asleep, again in and on Tommy in WKE's room before I even got the packages laid down. Somehow though they had all once more lost their clothes.

"They're beautiful!" WKE sighed as we looked in.

"Yes, but remember, they'll pick the meat from your bones if you get between them and the food!" I laughed.

"I wish I'd known that pants came off as well as on when I was a kid!" he said and then realizing what he might have said he blushed his trademark crimson red. "I mean I hate wearing clothes all the time."

I clasped him on the shoulder and laughed, "Well you youngsters can still get away with it. Us old guys would just scare the begeezsus out of anyone who happened to walk by!"

This time we grownups sat on the balcony of Brian and WKE's suite looking out and over the lake. WKE kindly did the beer runs to our fridge.

I knew the little ones were not down forever this time, after all we hadn't had anything resembling supper yet, and sure enough an hour or so later, there were giggles and then splashing and then hoots and hollers and then more giggles coming from the bedroom. "Poor Tommy!" I thought and sighed relief that they had spared me.

Suddenly Stephy's voice yelled, "DAD! Help!" and I was rocketing off the balcony and to the bedroom. Getting there I saw Tommy and Mikey standing naked at the door to the bathroom clearly afraid. Barging past and in I found Steph holding Scotty's hand above the tub. Underneath the hand and at the drain there was a little trickle of blood.

"What happened!" I growled, as I grabbed a washcloth and quickly soaked it in the sink.

"He cut himself!" Stephy answered matter of fact and let go as I took the bloodied hand and squeezed it in the cloth.

Scotty had a little tear running down a cheek and sniffled, "Don't be mad at Steph. I just cut it somehow, I don't even know how!" and he turned imploring eyes on me and then across the door at Gene.

"I'm not mad, Scotty, Steph. I was just scared. Now let me open this up and see how bad it is." I slowly opened the washcloth and was glad to see it wasn't soaked in blood. In fact the cut was very small, little bigger than a paper cut and I think that the cold compress had completely staunched the flow.

"Gene, look, it's pretty small," I said and when he came forward to his boy I passed him the cloth and hand. Standing and squeezing Stephy's shoulder I told them I'd go down to the desk and see if there was a bandage in the hotel first aid kit, I didn't think it needed more than that.

Gene sighed his thanks and scooped up his boy and they were back on the couch cuddled up together a few minutes later when I got back.

In fact it really only needed a Band-Aid and true to Disney form, the hotel had a ready pack of children's Aladdin or Jasmine Band-Aids. Scotty chose Aladdin.

About this time Tommy finally broke down and asked, "What's for supper guys?"

This certainly broke the ice and Gene and I looked at each other and simultaneously shouted, "Boy!" and we both dove in with nibbles on our kid. Brian and WKE weren't far behind and soon everyboy was laughing and giggling and squealing and hollering for us to "Stop!" "Don't Stop!" "Oh, God!" "I'm gonna PEE!"

Relenting we let them get their breath and just as I started to ask what they might want, there was a knocking at the door. We all turned to look at WKE and giving us his demure little blush he said, "Well, I thought fried chicken sounded pretty good!" Then rolling off his pinning position on Tommy, he slapped the naked butt and laughed, "Now let me let him in! You boys SHOO!" and they were all four up and streaking for the bedroom.

This time WKE didn't even let the room service waiter in, he just took the trolley from him in the hall and wheeled it in himself. I could tell he wasn't about to share, well, maybe the chicken.

I don't know how many chickens were sacrificed that night, but I was right. Our boys would have cared less if it was a chicken leg bone or a human finger bone, they licked them clean and tossed them on the bone pile. I counted my fingers several times just to keep track.

Then full tummies and greasy fingers and faces led to the inevitable and Stephy came to me and asked me to take him to the shower and bed. I watched as Scotty went to Gene and Mikey to Brian and Tommy to WKE. The little co-conspirators had their plan all worked out and yet they still surprised me with the ease and simplicity of its execution, or was that our execution?

I awoke in the morning still in the afterglow of Stephy totally washing me. I couldn't believe how soft and gentle his little hands were when he gifted me like that. Now here he was breathing softly on my chest, just where I knew that he had always belonged. I cursed myself again for not seeing what had been going on next door, but then hugged him and thanked the blizzard gods for bringing that terrible, wonderful Christmas snow.

As I stumbled from the bathroom to the coffee pot, I wondered what WKE might have in store for breakfast. I discovered that I was the last to the party and everyone else, yes everyone else was already on the balcony inhaling danish and orange juice. When the little ones saw me, it must have been the signal they were released because they nearly bowled me over on their way to root Stephy out of bed.

We heard giggles and then the trademark squeals and suddenly a loud "Wait! I GOTTA PEE!" and then just tons of giggles once again.

"Thanks guys," I mumbled through the coffee and my fog.

"Least we could do Gramps!" giggled WKE.

Growl! I'm pretty sure was my reply.

The boys were quiet from the bedroom for a while, but I was into caffeine and danish so I didn't really worry, then suddenly a wail of "Nooooo! I can't! They'll take me! NOOOOOO!" and Mikey was tearing past me and into Brian's arms and sobbing and crying and shaking!

Steph was right behind and slammed into them both with a quick, "No, They won't Mikey. Come on you've got to, tell him Brian!" and looking up first at Brian and then at me he pleaded, "Please? Tell him they won't take him and he has to help!"

"Come here son." I said and putting down my coffee made room for Steph to come across. "Now, what's going on, what does he have to do to help and who's going to take him?"

Steph told the story more to Brian and Gene than to me, "We were scared yesterday when Scotty didn't feel good and then when he cut his hand last night. We were talking about how if something happened sometime Mikey or I might have to go for help. You know? Maybe get the police? But Mikey says they'll take him! That he can't help! Tell him he has too! He just has too!"

Steph kind of melted into my embrace at that point looking fearfully and hopefully up at Brian.

Brian was rocking Mikey and soothing and comforting him. He petted his check and soothed his hair and we heard him gently say, "Mikey, nobody's going to take you. Why are you so afraid? You haven't done anything to make them take you away."

"I did, though," Mikey kind of choked out between sobs. "She made me! I did bad and they'll take me!"

"No they will never take you while I'm here, right Tommy?" and he called Tommy over to their side.

"That's right Mikey, Brian won't let them take you. Tell us what happened so we can help."

Mikey shifted one arm from Brian's neck to touch Tommy's cheek and then he kind of sobbed out his story.

"She was doing drugs and stuff again Tommy. She stopped for a while when you left, be then she started again. Tommy I was scared! Then he came to stay and we never had enough money for the drugs. They were always yelling and screaming and then getting doped up and crazy. She made me go with him, she made me Tommy and I couldn't say no. I didn't want to Tommy, but she made me! He'd break a window and shove me inside and make me go all around the houses and bring him stuff. He made me steal and he told me the police would lock me up if they ever found out and he'd just laugh because I was stealing, not him. I don't want to go to jail Tommy? I didn't mean to steal Tommy, I really didn't, but they made me! Now the police will take me away and Tommy I'll never see you or Brian again!" and he dissolved into tears and sobs again.

I could feel Stephy exhale a long sigh into my chest. "He had to tell us, I knew he was so scared, I had to get him to tell!"

I could hardly believe it. Steph had seen the fear and seen the uniform aversion and now he had set this up somehow so Mikey could tell and be absolved. My Tiger was not only a general with his troops and a detective determined to bring in his boy, but a doctor for lost souls. I hugged him to my heart.

"They'll never take you Mikey," Brian was rocking and cooing, "You didn't steal, it was him, he made you. You're a good boy, we know, we see you and we know, right Tommy? Right Gene, Scotty? WKE? Nick and Steph? See we know you are a good boy and would never steal. Now calm down, calm down son, we love you and we'll never let something bad like that happen again."

Again the praise and the timbre of Brian's voice struck that chord that brought such a rush of pride. In Mikey it was thin, but there and he responded to the goodness of what Brian was saying, "Yeah, I didn't steal, he did. Thank you daddy, thank you Tommy. I love you!" and he drifted from quaking in fear to shivering in the love of Brian and Tommy.

Steph grabbed me round the neck and kissed me and nuzzled into my cheek.

I saw Scotty was in Gene's arms too and seeing the odd man out, I motioned WKE and he came over beside my chair and Steph automatically pulled him in and shared with him our embrace.


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