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.

Thanks again for the wonderful messages of support. I'm particularly honored that several of the readers have shared stories from their lives. I think you for your story, I think you for your openness, I thank you for your trust.


Stocking Stuffer Part 15 Spring Break Part 5

To Brian's enduring credit, he got past the shock quickly and sticking out a hand to Mike he said, "Well, welcome Mike, welcome home!" and when Mike shyly stuck out his hand to shake, Brian pulled him into an embrace and all three of them were hugging and the crying was starting again. It was way different this time. This time I knew that Tommy's might be dragon tears, but they were the tears of an avenging dragon rescuing the waif, not trying to destroy him.

Stephy looked up at me through his own renewed hug and whined, "Dad, we didn't get to eat! I'm hungry!"

So much for the emotions of the moment. Scotty began squirming in Gene's lap and pretty soon the two of them were in perfect sync. "Donatello's!" they cried together and this time there was high fiving amidst the pinky hooking.

Remind me to talk to my accountant about food charges as a business expense!

Even with the boy's excitement about the obvious success of our detective mission and their inherent excitement at an impending Donatello's visit, they were still a little subdued with the emotions of the BK catastrophe. I didn't think that either Gene or I was ever going to be able to completely pry them off our laps to get started. We did eventually, though neither Steph or Scotty was willing to let go of our hands.

Mike on the other hand was having none of either Tommy's or Brian's attempt to set him down. Clinging to Brian's neck this time, Tommy finally laughed and said, "See Dad, I told you you'd never be without a hugger!" Brian just beamed at Tommy and caressing Mike's back he followed us toward the parking lot. We all piled in to Brian's minivan and I took the keys because Brian was just not getting loose.

At Donatello's, the boys were still subdued enough that they joined us at the table without much demand to run directly to the video games. We quickly ordered pop, beer and pizzas. Looking at Scotty across the table, I put my best serious face on and said, "Uh, Scotty? Gene and I are a little poor today, do you think you could loan us enough to buy the pizza and pop?"

Scotty looked back at me wide-eyed and incredulous. "Me? But I don't have any money!"

"Are you sure?" Gene asked with an evil little grin. "What about in that pocket there?"

Scotty started to protest, but as Gene encouraged him, he stuffed a hand down in the pocket and came up with several twenties. Again, his eyes were wider than before as he held it shyly out to me. "Hmm, I don't think that's enough. Will you look in your other pocket too?"

Again, a shy look, a little hand stuffed in pocket and out came two more twenties.

We slowly plucked him, pocket by pocket and he was finally relieved of over $200.

Tommy and Mike were now the wide-eyed observers and their jaws about dropped when Stephy laughed and said, "But Dad! That's not enough to buy you beer, here let me help too!" He hopped up and began rummaging in his clothes, pocket by pocket until he also coughed up about a $150.

Tommy just whistled at the pile of money on the table. I beamed my thanks at both boys and handed Steph a ten and told him to go get change and he and Scotty could show Mike the games. He snatched the money and Scotty grabbed Mike and all three boys were rocketing away.

Brian looked at the money left and said, "Wow, you sure outfitted those little guys well for their fishing trip!"

"We didn't want any issues anywhere!" I laughed and seeing Tommy's confused look, I told him the story of my meeting Mike and our detective adventure.

"You did all that for my little brother?" Tommy asked in awe.

"Well, yes and no," Brian answered for us. "They didn't know who the boy was or that he was your brother, they just had a belief that something was wrong and that he needed help. I didn't know you had a little brother either. I'm not mad, but didn't you trust me enough to tell me?"

"Oh God, NO!" Tommy choked out. "I didn't know he was here. I didn't know he was even away from my old home! I trust you with everything Brian. I just didn't want to make trouble for you or him. When I left home I was twelve and Mikey was five or six. He was just a baby. Remember the vacation we took a couple of years ago? We spent a week? You went golfing with some friends one day and I told you I didn't feel really good and stayed at the hotel? That was the town I used to live in and when you were gone I went out to the bus stop and took the bus to my old neighborhood. I wasn't looking for any old friends, I didn't have any, but I wanted to see Mike and see that he was okay and everything. When I got there I went by the school and it was recess. I stood at the fence and watched and I couldn't figure out which kid was Mikey. Then suddenly he was slamming into me and shouting Tommy, Tommy, Tommy! We hugged a minute and then we ducked around behind the parking lot. I told him I was fine and that he sure had grown a lot. He was all happy and everything. He said it wasn't bad at home, but that he missed me. I told him I couldn't come back, but that he should know I loved him and I missed him too. Then the bell rang and I shooed him back inside before he got in any trouble."

"Oh Tommy, I would have taken you to visit. If I'd known I could have maybe let you too have some time together," Brian said.

"NO! You couldn't! Nobody could! I couldn't go back, I couldn't face that. He said he was safe, he said he was okay. That's all I could do. Oh God, what do I do now?"

"No Tommy, he's your brother and that makes him my son, if he wants. The question is what do WE do now." Brian said reaching an arm around Tommy's shoulders.

"No Brian," Gene said. "We're family too, the question is what do all of us do!"

Just then the boys arrived at the same time as the pizza. "Hey!" Steph yelled. "Can we eat?"

"Ah," I sagely added to the table. "The REAL question is now before us."

Steph just gave me a sideways look and began devastating the pizza in front of him. It didn't take long and all four boys were elbow deep in pizza sauce and stringy cheese. Gene, Brian and I had to protect our dinner with dirty looks, slapped hands and hurried chewing on our own. As the devastation drew to a close, Mike, sandwiched between Scotty and Steph looked between them both and reaching an arm around either boy, he announced, "Thanks Stephy, Thanks Scotty. I think this is the best dinner anyone ever bought me."

Everyone was in giggles and while I grabbed Scotty and began hugging and thanking him, Gene grabbed Steph doing the same. Suddenly Mike was alone on the bench, but quickly looked across and then maneuvered himself into Brian's lap, but hugging Tommy's neck. "Thanks Tommy, thanks Dad!" This time it was Tommy beaming with pride and Brian with the dragon tears.

The boys were soon squirming around and the siren call of the video games was clearly audible. Ordering another pitcher of beer and an extra glass, we released the little monsters toward the saving of the universe and we four guys lapsed into nursing beer and sharing stories of our boy's lives, Tommy was stunned when Brian poured his beer.

Winding down ourselves, I went to pay the bill and Gene and Tommy went to round up the youngsters. Soon Stephy was at my side and as I paid the bill he whispered. "Thanks Nick. I love you! Mike is so happy now!" It was evident too as we climbed back in the van and headed back to our cars at the mall. The little scared Mike was completely gone and the happy, laughing, poking pile of boys in the back seat made all of us smile the entire way back.

Arriving at the mall, Brian looked at Gene and said, "You suppose that department of yours has anything that will fit my new boy?"

"YES!" screamed Scotty and Steph, "Let's go shopping!"

The havoc we created in the boys department was only slightly less than we had created at BK. There were people running to get away and other people coming to watch the commotion. I say several family's hugging kids and kids smiling up at parents and even hugging older brothers and sisters as the contagion of the happiness rubbed off all around.

Steph had insisted on checking out the swimsuits and he and Scotty were intent on reviewing every pair available while excitedly talking about what they would get to do in Orlando. Finally dismissing all the possibilities on the rack, Steph turned to Gene and gave him that winning I'm-so-adorable look. "Gene don't you have any of those racing ones? I want to be really fast in case there's sharks in the ocean."

I thought Gene was going to die laughing as he led the boys over to a counter where the speedos and swim team uniforms were. They quickly went through the entire rack of speedos with Steph picking a bright yellow pair, Scotty choosing one with a bright geometric print. Steph had retrieved Mike and had him picking one too. Mike just kind of blurted out, "Wow, Steph I bet you'll look HOT in those yellow ones."

Steph blushed and then looked around to see who might have heard. "Yeah!" he announced loudly, "They'll make me so fast I'll be so hot I can cook any sharks getting close!" and he punched Mike softly in the arm.

"Can I get these?" Mike asked Brian. "If we're going to the ocean I want to be fast too?"

"Well Mike, Tommy and I hadn't really talked about what we were going to do during spring break. Do you think you might like to go to Orlando Tommy? Nick, could we tag along too?"

Steph and Scotty were stopped dead holding hands and I could feel the mental vibrations slamming into my head, "YES! Say YES! NICK SAY YES!!!"

Putting on my evil little grin I said, "Well, I don't know Brian. What do you think Steph? Should we let them come?"

"YES! YES! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Steph and Scotty were screaming and the 'going-to-Disney World-dance' was soon spinning throughout the boys department.


As we eventually got home and Steph and I were winding down and cuddling in our chair, Steph asked if I could make the angels sing tonight. "Sure," I beamed. "Which ones?"

"Blue Bird," he quickly responded. "I want to hear the lullaby."

I quickly found the Blue Bird CD and put it on programming it to start with track one, The Blue Bird and then finish right away with track 10, Sleepsong, and then to cycle through the entire CD. As the beautiful voice of Edward Burrowes soared above his choristers I could feel Steph just totally relax in my lap. It seemed the tensions of the world were just sloughed off into the music and I could feel his love settle through my chest and body. I was sure he was asleep and when the last of McGlynn's Irish lullaby rolled through I started to lift my boy and take him to bed.

Just as I had gotten up and was walking toward the bedroom, Steph whispered up at me, "I think Mike is going to sleep good tonight for the first time in a long time!"


Monday Steph almost pestered me beyond bearing before he headed for school to be sure and call my Wonder Kid Editor and change the arrangements to include everyone. I called at 9 am assuming I'd get voice mail, but surprisingly he answered. A few pleasantries and then he jumped right in. "Now, Nick. I know you hate these things, but you really can't get out of this trip."

"No," I laughed. "I'm actually calling to add some on to the trip!" I explained my new son had spring break and what we wanted to do. I gave him the names of everyone and the approximate ages of the kids.

He took good notes because he read it all back and then whistled. "I sure can't wait to meet this crowd. I'll order a large limo and they'll pick you all up at the airport. I'll be in on Friday afternoon, so give me a call when you are in and settled and I can review the weekend meetings and any last minute changes. You know of course that the extra charges will ..."

"...come out of royalties!" I groaned. "Of course. Well my Stephen is worth it and that's now what I'm writing for." We chatted a little more and he promised to fax me the new itinerary and hotel info later in the day.

I glanced over and saw my 'schedule' and realized I better get writing, my little task master wouldn't be happy if I ended up not writing anything or even worse, forgetting his snack again!


BLUE BIRD is a Justin Time release, catalog JTR 8486-2. It's by the Boys Air Choir a production choir from several English cathedrals. There are only seven choristers and a teen choir master, yet it sounds like ranks of seraphim and angels. Much more info is at

A new group of Stephy's school mates are at

Be sure and click the MORE button. Comments to