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            The Guardian

Installment 35


by Erastes
Copyright 2015 by Erastes
Chapter 69 - Holiday Memories

I was thrilled when the workday ended on Friday, because I was looking forward to being with the boys and decorating the house for Christmas.  I felt this would help to get us all in the mood for the holiday, but it would also give us something to do together, as well as letting the boys know that things were pretty much still the same. 

On the way home, my cell phone rang and I wondered who was calling.  When I answered, since I had a hands-free option, I was surprised to hear whose voice replied. 

"Hi, Blake.  It's Sally," she began.  "I was wondering if you'd mind if Andrew and I came over and spent the weekend with you?  Cherie seems to need to talk things out, so I felt this might be the best way to do it.  Besides, Andrew wants to be with all of you too." 

"That's fine and we're going to be decorating the house for Christmas, so you can help with that too," I replied, drawing a chuckle from her. 

"We've been doing a little of that at home too, so sure," she agreed.  "It sounds like fun and it will be a total family effort." 

"I like that," I quipped back.  "So I'll see you later." 

I made the call short, since I was driving home at the time, but I thought we'd covered everything necessary and we'd be able to discuss anything else after they arrived.  When I got to the house, I filled Cherie in too, but it seemed that Sally had called her in between so she already knew.  Cherie informed me that Sally and Andrew wouldn't be arriving until after dinner, since they didn't want to impose any more than they'd already be doing.  I didn't look at it that way, but it was Sally's choice. 

After I'd picked up Dylan and Tyler from their practice, we rushed home and ate dinner together.  During the meal, I told all the boys that Sally and Andrew were coming over, but I also told them we'd be decorating the house too.  Tyler immediately offered to show me where his parents kept their Christmas stuff, so I told him we'd do that as soon as we'd finished eating. 

Once we'd rinsed off our dishes and put them away, Tyler took me upstairs and we pulled down the folding stairs that led up to the attic.  Once there, Tyler pointed out the area where the boxes with Christmas decorations were kept, but I noticed there was much more than those things up there too.  I'd have to come up here again and investigate what was in those other boxes later, but only when the boys weren't around.  I wasn't sure if they might contain items that could trigger unwanted memories and I didn't want to take that chance. 

Dylan and Tyler helped me carry everything downstairs and we piled all of the boxes in the living room for now, so we could see what was in them.  The box containing the artificial tree was obvious, but I asked the boys if they wanted to use that or get a real tree instead. 

"That's the tree mommy and daddy put up, so I want to use that one," Marcus quickly stated and I saw Ethan and Tyler nod to let me know they agreed. 

"Ok, then let's start putting it together," I concurred. 

As we were doing that, Sally and Andrew showed up, so we stopped briefly to greet them.  Since we didn't need everyone to help with this, I let the younger boys go off to do what they wanted and Sally and Cherie went out to the dining room to talk.  Dylan and Tyler stayed to help me put the tree together and then we tested the lights, before stringing them on the tree too. 

When we were done with that, Tyler took me out to the garage and led me to the storage area above it, which I didn't previously realize was there.  He told me that it was where his dad had kept the outdoor lights and decorations, so we went up to pull those down next. 

I was surprised by how many items were there, but we hauled each carton down so we could check out what was inside.  I also noticed that there was plenty of available storage space above the garage, so we could move some of the items from below up there too.  We would do it later though, but not until after the holiday, possibly when we were packing away the Christmas decorations again. 

After we'd done that much, I decided we'd stop there for the night.  Dylan and Tyler opted to head to the family room to see if they could find a basketball game to watch, while I went out to the dining room see what Cherie and Sally were doing.  If they weren't discussing something personal, then maybe I would join their conversation. 

"Blake, we were just talking about you," Sally stated when I walked into the area. 

"Oh, no!  I hope it was something good," I joked as I watched their faces. 

"Of course it was," Cherie replied with a giggle.  "Sit down and I'll get you a cup of coffee before we start." 

"You don't have to do that.  I am capable of getting my own coffee," I countered, since I didn't want her to think she had to wait on me while she was here.

"Sit!" she shot back, as she strolled out to the kitchen. 

"Yes, ma'am, or is it sergeant?" I teased in response. 

"Either will work, as long as you do what I tell you," she quipped back before she and Sally began to laugh. 

"Damn!  I'm not used to having women in the house to boss me around," I stated with a grin.  "My mother was last one to fill that role." 

"You'll get used to it," Cherie joked as she set the cup on the table in front of me.  "Since it looks like I'm going to be here until after the first of the year, Sally and I thought it would be nice to have Christmas together too.  We wanted to run the idea by you first though, to see what you thought." 

"I think it's a wonderful idea," I quickly agreed.  "I understand that Don probably won't be invited, but we must include Ann." 

"Of course!  That's a given," Sally shot back.  "We just felt it might be good for the boys." 

"Especially my three.  This will be their first Christmas without their parents and it will be just a month before the anniversary of their deaths," I confirmed, while pointing out a couple of facts that neither of the women had really considered. 

"Oh my God!" Cherie mumbled.  "I hadn't even thought of that.  I was just thinking about how it might keep my two from thinking about us not being at home with their father." 

"I'm just as guilty," Sally added.  "I was merely thinking that Andrew would enjoy himself more if he had the other boys to share it with." 

"Whether you considered it or not, it will definitely be good for all of the boys, especially my gang," I confirmed.  "Having their best buddy around might prevent them from thinking about other things and getting bogged down in darker thoughts." 

"Yes, this could work out for all of us," Cherie concluded, as we continued to sip our coffee. 

Once that had been agreed to, we talked about how we were going to work everything out to do this.  We even discussed whether Andrew and Sally would stay over on Christmas Eve and if Sally should bring all of their gifts to our house, so they could open them with the rest of us Christmas morning.  We also discussed what we were going to have for Christmas dinner and sought everyone's input, before we switched topics and discussed Cherie's current situation for a while.  We spent quite a bit of time talking about these things before I finally had to excuse myself, because it was time to start the shower routine. 

I found all six boys together watching the basketball game in the family room.  When I asked who was going first, Andrew and Ethan volunteered, since they weren't quite as into the game as the other four.  Marcus and Justin promised they'd come up by the time I finished with the younger pair, so I wouldn't have to come down to get them.  That's when I told Dylan and Tyler they should plan on coming upstairs when Andrew and Ethan came down in their pajamas, if they wanted me to wash them too.  They said they would, so I went up with the first pair. 

Andrew was thrilled to be with us again and could hardly stand still as I washed him.  I was scrubbing him as I usually did, but this time when I washed his midsection, Andrew popped a boner.  His face lit up when it happened and he squealed with joy.  "My wiener got stiff too.  Just like the other boys!" 

"It sure did," I agreed.  "You're growing up just like all the rest of them." 

Ethan took the opportunity to explain to Andrew that he'd been getting 'rections' too.  Then, when I was washing him, his penis stiffened up as well, so he turned toward Andrew and swiveled his hips to make it sway from side to side.  "I got one too!" he stated simply. 

As soon as I finished with that pair, I dried them off and sent them off to brush their teeth and put on their PJs.  Marcus and Justin were waiting for me in my bedroom, so I took them into the shower next.  I washed them quickly and without incident, well except that they both sprouted erections too, and then I sent them off as well.  I was about ready to turn off the shower when Dylan and Tyler walked in to join me. 

"I thought maybe you two got distracted doing something else, so I was just about ready to give up waiting for you," I stated as I looked at them. 

"We were really into the game and almost didn't notice Ethan and Andrew had come back downstairs," Tyler admitted.  "I'm glad we caught you in time though, because I'm hoping you'll suck us off again." 

"Yeah, me too!" Dylan chimed in. 

"Oh, I think I might be able to do that for you," I confirmed, as they stepped into the shower stall with me. 

After we did the rounds with me sucking off each one after I'd washed him and then having the two of them return the favor, we went back downstairs to join the others.  The boys all stayed in the family room, while I went out to the dining room to spend time with Cherie and Sally again.  Before I sat down this time, I went to the kitchen and poured my own cup of coffee first. 

"So did you get the boys squeaky clean?" Sally teased as I pulled out the chair beside her. 

"They're clean, but they only squeak when I poke them," I joked in return. 

I then talked to them about how we'd handle the decorating the follow day.  "The tree is put together and the lights are on it, but I'll leave the rest of the inside decorating to you two.  I'll let you go through the boxes of items we brought downstairs and you can trim the tree and do whatever else you think is appropriate to decorate the rest of the house.  You can even use the four youngest to help you and Marcus can probably give you ideas about what his mother put where, but you can do it however you think best. 

"Before you get started," I continued, "I suggest that you have the boys dust and run the vacuum first.  I'll take Dylan and Tyler to help me outside, because I want them brace the ladder for me while I'm hanging the lights.  They can also help me with the other items too, since it seems that Matt and Kelly managed to collect a lot of different things over the years." 

"Your suggestion sounds fine to me," Cherie readily agreed with a smile.  "I'm looking forward to decorating something different for a change." 

"And I'm interested to see what types of things there are to use in the boxes you brought down," Sally added and I could tell she was eager to do this as well.  "We don't have a lot to put up at home, so this will be totally new for me and I look forward to the challenge." 

"I'm glad to hear that and it will help me out too," I confessed, looking between the two of them.  "I'm not sure how I would have managed everything if you weren't here to help." 

"I'm sure you'd have worked something out and I know the boys would have been happy to do more too," Cherie countered as she gave me a wink. 

We talked for a while longer as we finished our coffee and then I told them it was time for me to take the youngest boys up to bed.  They said they'd go with me, since they wanted to say goodnight to their sons too, so we went to fetch the boys from the family room.  Once we got there, we agreed to wait for a few minutes so they could finish watching the game. 

Once that ended, we took them upstairs, but I let the women tuck the boys in and do their thing first.  Then, I followed after they were done, kissed each boy on the forehead and wished him sweet dreams.  As soon as I'd said goodnight to each of them, Cherie and Sally decided to turn in too, while I headed back downstairs to the family room.  I watched a show with Dylan and Tyler, and explained what I'd planned for tomorrow during the commercials.  When that show ended, we went up to turn in too. 

The women were up before the rest of us on Saturday morning and were prepared to fix us breakfast when we came down to join them.  After we'd all eaten, Tyler and Dylan grabbed their duffle bags and we all loaded in the Outback to go to their game.  It was an away game, but it was still fairly close by, which made it a little easier on us.  We drove to the school and dropped the boys off so they could ride on the bus with their team and then we followed behind the bus to the school. 

Once we arrived where they'd be playing, the team was greeted by the opposing coach and led to the visitor's locker room to change.  We went to find seats in the bleachers as the other team came out to start their warm ups.  A short time later, our team came trotting out to do the same thing, so we sat back and watched both teams go through their paces.  Finally, the refs came out and spoke with both coaches briefly, and then a few minutes later, the coaches were calling both teams over to their benches, as they got ready to start the game. 

Dylan and Tyler didn't start, but they both came in about halfway through the first quarter.  Their team was dong fairly well, but their opponents seemed to be doing a little better, so they were down 4 points by halftime.  The teams then went into the locker rooms again, so their coaches could talk to them and possibly make some changes. 

The starters took the court to begin the second half too, but Dylan and Tyler didn't get in the game until a couple of minutes before the end of the third quarter.  They stayed in to start the fourth quarter too, but then came back out before the end of the game.  They had done fairly well and their team was only down 2 points when they went to the bench again, but in the end their team lost by a half-dozen points.  It was a tough defeat and the boys looked dejected as they headed toward the locker room to shower and change. 

The rest of us got in the Outback and drove back to the school, without following the bus this time.  I had only done that in the first place to make sure we went to the correct school building, but I didn't need to do it now.  Needless to say, we were all a little down too, especially the other boys, as we waited at the school for the bus to arrive. 

When Dylan and Tyler got back and climbed into the Outback with us, the boys started to commiserate with them.  "Sorry you lost," Justin began, "but you both looked good when you were playing." 

"Yeah, the coach should have played you more," Marcus agreed. 

"The one boy on the other team was way bigger than you guys," Ethan chipped in.  "He looked a lot older than you."

"I think I heard someone say he'd failed a grade once, but he was just taller and not that good," Tyler responded, sounding slightly depressed. 

"But he got in the way and changed a bunch of shots," Dylan added, making his point.  "He might not have been their best player, but he did enough to help his team win."  

"Maybe, but we didn't play our best game either," Tyler countered.  "The offense didn't run as smoothly as usual and we made a bunch more mistakes than in the other games."  

"I think some of that had to do with how they played defense," Dylan observed.  "They switched a lot on the picks and they even double-teamed us when they could.  That's what screwed up the offense." 

"Yes, I think Coach Jackson needs to work with your team and show you how to react when the other team does things like that," I added, hoping to help.  "There were a few times when a pick and roll would have worked, but your team seemed to be too focused on running the offense the way you'd been taught.  You almost looked like robots at times and weren't ready to make changes or take advantage of what they were giving you." 

"Yeah, you might be right about that," Tyler agreed.  "Those of us just learning the offense are a little afraid to try things like that, because we're not sure if we should or if it would get us benched."

"I understand and it's why Coach Jackson needs to explain to you that it's ok to do things like that on occasion," I agreed.  "I also saw some places where a backdoor cut would have worked too, since they were overplaying the boy you were trying to pass to.  Just remember that when a team is pressing or double-teaming you, it's more effective to pass over or around them, rather than dribbling out of it.  You just need to learn that there are times when you have to freelance a little and go with what the defense gives you."  Dylan and Tyler then began discussing some ideas with each other during the remainder of the ride.

When we got home, the women whipped up a quick lunch for all of us and then we split into two groups so we could put up the decorations.  Cherie had Marcus and Justin help her trim the tree and put the candles in each of the front windows, while Sally had the other pair help her unpack the Victorian village pieces and arrange them on the counter above the cabinets and in front of the bookcases in the family room.  She also arranged the lovely ceramic nativity pieces on the mantle of the fireplace. 

While they were doing those things, the older duo helped me check out the strings of outdoor lights to make sure they all worked first, before I climbed the ladder and began to hang them.  The boys then helped to steady the ladder so it wouldn't fall and handed me the strands of lights so I could put them in place.  In addition to the lights, Matt and Kelly had a few other items to decorate the outside, but I was afraid people in the neighborhood, mainly younger ones, might mess with them or even try to steal the items.  Therefore, I had to come up with a way to eliminate that possibility, yet still be able to display them.  That's when I had an idea. 

There was a slight overhang that ran across the front of the house above the lower level and extended over to the garage, which jutted out a few feet forward of the rest of the house.  I decided that would be the perfect place to show off these items.  There was a three-piece lighted nativity, with Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus lying in a cradle, as well as Santa in his sleigh, which was pulled by a single reindeer.  I placed the nativity on the overhang above one side of the front entrance and then I put the Santa and reindeer on the side closest to the garage.  Once I had each piece where I wanted, I temporarily secured it into place so it wouldn't blow over or slide off. 

Once those things were arranged and connected to an electrical outlet, the boys and I added the final decoration.  It was a large wreath with a red bow that we hung on the front door.  I had to admit the outside looked quite festive and I couldn't wait to see how it appeared when it was lit up after dark. 

After we finished all of that and had put the storage containers back in the garage, we went inside.  We quickly discovered the women had been playing Christmas music while they worked and the interior of the house appeared just as festive as the exterior.  The women and younger boys had done a fantastic job getting the inside looking good too, so we merely walked around as a group and check everything out, both inside and out.  After we'd done that, we decided to forgo watching any sporting events on TV and sat down to watch a Christmas movie instead.  After some discussion, we finally agreed to watch the musical, Scrooge, starring Albert Finney, so I went to get the DVD. 

We spent the next two hours enjoying the movie and it put us all in a really good mood.  I think each of us walked away afterward either singing or humming one of the tunes from the show.  I caught Cherie singing 'I Like Life' and Sally humming 'December the 25th', while 'Thank You Very Much' was stuck in my brain.  I think the boys were all humming or singing 'Father Christmas' instead, but I thought it was cute how we each had our favorite song. 

After dinner and once it got dark, we plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree, along with the candles in the windows and all of the outdoor decorations, and then we went outdoors to soak up the effect. 

"Wow!  It looks really great!" Tyler observed, as he looked at our handiwork. 

"Yeah, and most of the other houses don't have their stuff up yet," Ethan observed as he looked up and down the street. 

"I like Santa in his sleigh," Andrew followed, as he focused on that particular decoration. 

"I think the nativity scene looks nice up there too," Dylan observed, bringing everyone's attention to the other end of the overhang. 

"The tree looks really nice in the front window too," Justin added, since he'd helped to decorate that particular item. 

"I think it all looks wonderful and I'm glad we're going to be celebrating Christmas together this year," Sally chimed in. 

"Are you all going to stay over with us then?" Marcus asked, trying to figure out how this would work. 

"Dylan, Justin and I will, since it looks as if we'll be staying here with you until sometime in January," Cherie replied, with her sons looking at her and taking in everything she said.  "I don't really see that changing, so we'll be with you the entire time." 

"Andrew, Auntie Ann and I will be here Christmas Eve for a while, but then we'll might go home for the night.  I really haven't decided yet," Sally added, as we all shifted our attention over to her.  "If we don't stay overnight, we'll come back Christmas Day and spend it with you too, but we'll most likely go home after Christmas dinner as well." 

"Can't I stay with Ethan?" Andrew asked his mother.  "All the other boys will be here." 

"We'll talk about that later and we'll discuss it with Uncle Blake too, so we'll see what happens," Sally countered, letting him know it might be possible, without making any firm commitment. 

When we finally went back inside, the boys reminded me that UGA had a night game, so I went with them to the family room to watch it.  The ladies decided they weren't interested in doing that, so they went to find something else to occupy their time. 

At halftime, I decided to take the younger boys up for their showers.  I washed the youngest pair first and then sent them off to put on their pajamas.  When Marcus and Justin came in, I noticed that Marcus didn't look very happy and this puzzled me. 

"Hey!  What's up, sport?  Did something upset you?" I asked and he slowly lifted his head and looked at me with the saddest expression I'd ever seen. 

"After we went outside and looked at the decorations, it got me thinking," he admitted, looking even sadder.  "Seeing the house all lit up made me remember how mommy and daddy did stuff like that last Christmas and then it made me sad, because they won't be here with us this year."  After saying this, he burst into tears and his body began to visibly tremble.  It broke my heart to see and hear his reaction, so I pulled him to me and hugged him tightly. 

I'd been afraid Christmas might suddenly evoke these feelings in the boys, although I was hoping we might be able to avoid it.  I had been prepared for something like this to happen at their birthday parties, but it never occurred.   I guess the boys must have been distracted making their plans for how they were going to get to see other boys naked instead.  Since they had been so preoccupied, the fact that their parents weren't around obviously hadn't fazed them.  Now, however, it appeared as if I was going to have to deal with this, starting with Marcus. 

"I know how sad it must make you feel, sport, because I have been thinking about your mom and dad a lot too," I confessed as I knelt down beside him and continued to hold him against me.  "Your dad was my best friend and I adored your mother too, so I miss them a great deal as well.  It's going to be rough having a good time without them here with us, but I'm certain they would want us to enjoy ourselves.  We'll get through this somehow and Justin will be here to help you too.  Won't you, Justin?"

"Yeah, of course," Justin quickly answered.  "My dad won't be around either, so I kind of know how Marcus feels, although what he's going through is way worse.  Marcus is my best friend, so I'll do whatever I can to make him feel better."  Justin then joined us in a group hug, which seemed to last for quite a while. 

"Thanks," Marcus finally mumbled, bringing us all back to our senses.  "I just miss them both so much." 

"I know you do, but please do me a favor," I stated, as I pulled away from Marcus slightly, so I could look him in the eye.  "Don't say anything about this in front of Ethan, because I don't want him thinking about your parents and getting sad too, if we can possibly help it." 

"Ok, I'll try," Marcus agreed. 

I then gave him another hug, before I hurriedly washed him and Justin.  We had already taken more time than usual and I didn't want to face a lot of questions when we got back downstairs, since I had a fair idea about what the older two were probably thinking.  After we dried off and returned to the family room, we lucked out and no one said anything about how long it had taken us.  Instead, we all focused on the game, because it was pretty exciting.  Marcus spent the rest of the game on my lap, but had fun just like the others. 

When it ended, I took the four youngest upstairs and put them to bed.  Cherie and Sally went up with us, so I let them tuck the boys in and I just kissed each one on the forehead and wished him sweet dreams.  When the three of us got downstairs again, we went out to the kitchen and poured ourselves a cup of coffee, before we sat down at the dining room table to chat.  That's when I told Cherie and Sally about what had happened with Marcus while we were showering. 

"Oh the poor dear," Cherie stated when she looked at me after I'd finished speaking.  "But now what happened earlier makes more sense.  While he was helping me decorate the tree, Marcus was very insistent about where we hung some of the ornaments and was adamant about what would go where.  I didn't think too much about it at the time and just thought he had his own idea about what the tree should look like, but now I understand.  It must be that he wanted the various ornaments in the exact same place his mother had hung them last year." 

"That was probably what he was doing," I agreed.  "I just hope I can help to keep him from getting too depressed between now and the end of the year." 

"We'll help too," Sally added.  "Maybe since you and Cherie will both be here the entire time, it might soften the experience a little.  It would probably be far worse if you were the only one with him throughout the holidays though.  At least with both of you in the house, it might almost make the boys feel like they still have both a mom and dad around." 

"I hope so, because I don't want Ethan to start thinking about this too," I confessed while shaking my head.  "I have a feeling Tyler has been dealing with some of his own memories about his parents this weekend, because he'd mentioned them a few times while we were together.  He said something about his mother while we were putting the tree together, but then later he told me where his father had put the various decorations last year.  He also said he didn't remember doing so much to help his dad either, but that was it.  There were times when I could read the pained expression on his face when this happened, but I think he tried to hide as much as he could from me.  I'm not sure if I'll have to deal with him about things like this later or if he will continue trying to handle it on his own."

"I hope he talks to you before it gets to be too much for him to handle on his own, if something is bothering him," Sally stated looking concerned.  "It won't be good if he lets it build up and doesn't deal with his feelings." 

"I know, but I'll give him some time before I say anything to him about it," I agreed.  "I'm just hoping he comes to me first." 

After we'd finished our chat and coffee, we decided it was time for us to go to bed too.  We went in and told Tyler and Dylan it was time to turn in, but they wanted to finish the show they were watching first.  Once I agreed, the boys said goodnight to Sally and Cherie and the two women went upstairs without us.  About twenty minutes later we were climbing the stairs heading to our bedroom too. 

When the boys and I got to the top of the stairs, Cherie came out of her room and asked if I had a couple of minutes to discuss something.  After I agreed, I sent the other two on ahead to our room and then I led Cherie down to the living room where we could chat in private.  After we sat down, she looked at me and I could tell she was anxious about something, but she didn't speak right away, so I decided to break the ice. 

"Ok, what's bothering you?" I asked as I looked directly into her eyes. 

"Blake there's something I've been meaning to ask you about, but I didn't want to do it in front of the boys.  Since we're seldom alone, it keeps slipping my mind, but I suddenly thought about it again as I was getting ready for bed.  Do you remember when you advised Dylan to talk to his dad about having a lump on his... you know, on his... ummm testicle?" 

"Yes, of course I do, although I didn't bring it up again after he went to the doctor and had it checked out," I admitted, while glancing at her perplexed.  "I thought that took care of it."

"Well it's always bothered me, because I'm not sure Don took care of things properly or not," she confessed, appearing worried. 

"I don't understand," I replied confused.  "Dylan told me his father took him to see the doctor, so what's still troubling you about it?"

"Don wasn't going to do anything at first, but then I pestered him into making an appointment with the doctor," she continued.  "Don went with Dylan, but with the way he acts about sexual matters, I'm not sure the situation was explained properly to the doctor, so I'm not sure Dylan was examined properly." 

"Cherie, even if Don had trouble expressing the problem to the doctor, I'm sure Dylan told him everything he needed to know," I told her sincerely.  "Dylan's not shy, so I have no doubts he told the doctor everything he needed to know.  Besides, once the doctor examined the area, he would have discovered if there was a problem, whether they'd mentioned it or not." 

"I hope so, but I have my doubts," Cherie confessed, looking troubled again.  "Don assured me it was just a fatty deposit and told me not to worry, about it but there was never any follow up.  I was just wondering if the problem had cleared up or if I still needed to be concerned about it.  I don't want anything to go wrong and cause Dylan to lose one or both of his... uh, testicles, so I was wondering if you'd do a worried mother a favor and check him out for me?  It would definitely put my mind at ease if I knew all was well in that regard." 

I smiled and took both of her hands in mine while I looking into her eyes again.  "Of course I will," I confirmed.  "Dylan is very special to me too and I don't want him to have any problems of that nature either, so I'd be happy to check it out.  I'll let you know what I find after I examine him, but I will do it coyly so we don't embarrass Dylan in the process." 

Cherie smiled, released a sigh of relief and then thanked me.  As soon as I was sure he concerns had been addressed, we headed upstairs again and entered our bedrooms.   




            The Guardian

by Erastes
Copyright 2015 by Erastes
Chapter 70 - Some Ups and Downs

When I got back to the bedroom, the boys looked at me oddly when I entered the room.  "What's up?" I asked, decided to confront whatever this was head on. 

"What did my mother want?" Dylan wanted to know.  "Why did she want to talk to you alone?" 

"It is Christmastime and there are certain things we adult talk about that we don't let you kids in on," I replied, hoping that would throw him off the track. 

"So it was just about Christmas," Tyler followed, looking as if he really didn't accept my answer. 

"Yes.  Is that so hard to believe?" I countered, cracking a smile and trying to appear relaxed. 

"It's just that my mom looked like something was bothering her," Dylan responded, studying my face.  "It looked like there was a problem or something was wrong." 

"Yes, when the women plan things for Christmas they do tend to get upset when things don't go exactly as planned," I informed them.  "You're mother just thought we'd forgotten something, but I had taken care of it already.  She's also worried about the meal, especially after you boys indicated you preferred to have ham, instead of another turkey.  I think she was planning on a meal similar to Thanksgiving, but then you boys threw her a curveball." 

Suddenly, both boys looked relieved and began smiling again.  "Yeah, I guess women do get upset about silly things," Dylan agreed.  "I thought it might have something to do with my dad or how stuff was going with him." 

"No, I think your mother is handling that situation quite well and nothing new has come up where that's concerned," I replied, as I glanced at their faces.  "Now it's time we take care of other matters."   

Dylan and Tyler hadn't taken their showers yet, so I guided them into the master bath and we did that next.  It was pretty much a repeat of every other night that we'd done this together, and once we'd finished washing and sucking each other off, we dried off, brushed our teeth and went out to the other room.  Before we hopped in bed, though, I decided to ask the boys about the situation Dylan's mother had brought up. 

"I'm just curious, but have you two been checking yourself for lumps like I taught you?" I asked, trying to play it cool.  "I just want to make sure your not letting that slip, now that spend so much time doing other sex stuff." 

"No, we still do that too, but maybe you should check me out again and make sure that thing hasn't got any bigger," Dylan suggested, removing the burden from me.  Since he was the one that asked, he shouldn't associate it with my conversation with his mother. 

"I can do that, if you want," i agreed, so Dylan moved closer so I could examine his scrotum. 

After I'd examined Dylan carefully and assured him that the fatty deposit appeared to be the same size and I could find no change in it, I asked Tyler if he'd like me to check him too.  He did, so after I gave him a clean bill of health as well, they both thanked me and we hopped in bed.  The boys then cuddled with me as usual and we soon fell asleep.  

I'm not sure how long we'd been sleeping, but all of the sudden I heard Tyler scream "NO!" and he bolted upright in bed next to me.  To say he had scared the crap out of me would be putting it mildly, but I turned toward him to see what was wrong.  There was just enough moonlight filtering into the room so I was able to see the terror etched upon his face.  I quickly wrapped my arms around him and could feel his body trembling, like a leaf in a strong breeze, and he was totally drenched in sweat. 

"Tyler, what's wrong?  What's the matter?" I asked in rapid succession, but I didn't get an immediate answer.  "What happened?  Why did you scream?" 

It took a couple more minutes before he said anything else, and during that time his body slowly stopped shaking.  "I just had a really bad dream," he finally told me and then he began to sob.  It wasn't difficult to figure out what his dream had been about, so I hugged him even tighter. 

"Do you want to tell me about it?" I asked, but he merely continued to sob in response.  I gave him some more time to work his way through whatever was troubling him until he eventually spoke again. 

"I was dreaming that I was with my mom and dad," he began, with a slight tremor in his voice.  "It was last Christmas and we were all opening presents.  It was a really nice dream and I was having a really great time with them when all of the sudden I was at the funeral home with you, standing next to their caskets and staring down at their bodies.  That's when I woke up.  I guess I must have screamed out, because I didn't want to believe they were gone again.  I'm sorry I woke you up." 

"Don't worry about it," I told him as calmly as I could, and then I gave his body another squeeze. 

"Are you alright?" Dylan asked in a very meek voice from the other side.  I guess Tyler's shout had awakened him too. 

"Yeah, I'm ok now," Tyler assured him.  "It was just that I was having such a good time with my parents and then I saw they were dead.  I just couldn't stand to see that happening again." 

"I think decorating the house for Christmas must have provoked those memories and then they were responsible for the dream," I stated as I pulled Dylan against me with my other arm.  "I'm afraid Marcus had his own incident in the shower earlier." 

"Why?  What happened with him?" Tyler wanted to know, as he looked at me concerned. 

"I guess decorating the house had reminded him about doing those same things with your mom and dad and it made him really sad," I explained.  "We talked about it a little and I got him calmed down again, but I told him not to say anything about what had happened in front of Ethan.  I didn't want to have him suddenly thinking about your parents too." 

"Yeah, because they aren't all good thoughts," Tyler agreed.

After sitting next to him for a while, as well as hugging and kissing him repeatedly, he finally started to calm down.  That's when I talked him into going to the bathroom with me, so I could wipe him down with a damp washcloth and then towel him off.  Then we each got a drink of water before going back to bed. 

Dylan had followed us in there too, but he merely took a leak and got a drink while I was trying to cool Tyler off and calming him down.  When we got back into bed, I had Tyler get in between Dylan and me, so we were on either side of him.  When he was laying down again, I wrapped my arms around him and held him more tightly than I normally would have.  I could feel Dylan cuddling with him from the other side and we both did this until I felt Tyler's body relax and could hear his gentle breathing.  That let me know he had fallen asleep again. 

I stayed awake a little longer, in case there was a repetition of the earlier incident, but it never happened.  Luckily, he slept soundly for the rest of the night, although I couldn't say the same for myself.  I was on pins and needles and only dozed off from time to time, since I wanted to be there for him if Tyler had another problem.

Sunday morning, after we'd all got up and had breakfast, I asked Cherie and Sally if they wanted to go shopping at the mall with me.  After discussing it briefly, I assured them that Dylan and Tyler were capable of watching the younger boys while we were gone, so they finally agreed. 

During the trip, I mentioned the other reason I had wanted to get them both alone.  "Yesterday I told you about what happened with Marcus, but what you aren't aware of yet is that Tyler had a similar experience.  He woke up last night in a cold sweat and began sobbing after having a bad dream." 

"Did he tell you what his dream was about?" Sally asked, staring at me with concern. 

"Yes, he said he'd been dreaming about being with his parents last Christmas and then he was suddenly at the funeral home staring at their bodies," I answered, as both women shook their heads to indicate they were troubled that this had happened. 

"I can see why he woke up in a cold sweat, sobbing then," Cherie stated and I could tell she was worried about Tyler.  "What did you do?" 

"I hugged him tightly and kissed him of the forehead in an attempt to make him feel better and get him to calm down," I responded.  "I told him it was just a bad dream and then I let him know about what had happened with Marcus too, but I asked him not to say anything about these two events to Ethan.  I want to keep him from having those types of thoughts for as long as possible." 

"I hope it works, but I'm pretty sure Ethan hasn't experienced anything like that yet," Sally added hoping to reassure me.  "If he had, I think Andrew would have known about it and then he would have mentioned something to either you or me." 

"You're probably right about that," I quickly agreed.  "At least I hope that's how things will work out, because I won't be able to help Ethan unless I know what he's going through." 

When we reached the mall, I quickly found a place to park and we went inside to look around.  We discussed what we wanted to get the boys and tried to work it so no one would get more than the others, because they would all be together when they opened the presents and we didn't want anyone to feel he had been gypped.  After we had purchased several things each, we decided to call it a day and Sally suggested we should swing by Ann's place on the way home, so we could leave everything there.  That way the boys wouldn't be able to snoop around and discover what they were going to get.  She said she had done this with Andrew's gifts every year, so she knew Ann wouldn't mind. 

Ann was happy to see us and was more than eager to let us use her place to keep the presents hidden from the boys.  After we'd brought everything inside, Ann offered us coffee, so we thought that would be great.  As she and Sally went out to get it for us, I decided to use the time to address the situation with Cherie that we'd talked about the previous evening. 

"Dylan let me check him out last night and everything is fine," I explained.  "The fatty deposit is still there, but none of us expected it would just disappear, but it hasn't seemed to get bigger and it's just under the skin and not attached to the testicle itself."  Cherie audibly exhaled, before she smiled and talked. 

"Thank you for doing that for me," she confessed, appearing relieved.  "I hope Dylan didn't suspect I was involved in it." 

"No, but the boys did want to know why you wanted to talk to me alone," I confirmed.  "I just told them it was about Christmas stuff, especially Christmas dinner.  I told them you had planned on having a turkey, so when they agreed they wanted to have ham instead, it kind of messed up what you were going to do." 

"Dang, that was good thinking," Cherie stated, slapping my knee.  "I'm glad you were able to handle that without letting Dylan know it was my idea." 

"It all went well, so don't worry," I added, just before Ann and Sally entered, each carrying a cup in both hands. 

After we'd chatted with Ann for a while and finished our coffee, we thanked her for helping us out.  Then, we told her we had to get back home, since we'd left the boys alone.  She said she understood and told us to stop by again sometime. 

When we got home, the boys were all outside working on their basketball skills and I was pleased to see that Dylan and Tyler were actually tutoring the younger boys and helping them to get better.  The women noticed it too and each one turned to smile at me, as if I'd had something to do with it. 

"Hey, I didn't know they were going to work on basketball today and I certainly didn't suggest what they should do while we were gone," I confessed, while glancing from one woman to the other. 

"Maybe not directly," Cherie countered, "but they had a very good teacher who set a wonderful example for them." 

"They were good kids long before I showed up," I shot back.  "Their parents set them on the right path." 

"Maybe in Tyler's case, but Dylan had Don for an example and this doesn't look like anything Don taught him," Cherie quipped while giving me that knowing look. 

"But Dylan had you too," I pointed out, hoping she would accept some of the credit. 

"I'd like to think I had something to do with him turning out so well, but I know he didn't really start to blossom until he began coming over here," she stated with a quick nod of her head. 

I knew it was useless to continue trying to convince her, so I parked the car on the street and we got out to go into the house. 

"You went to the mall and didn't buy anything?" Tyler asked while staring at the three of us as we moved toward the front door.

"We were just trying to get some ideas today, but there's still a long time until Christmas," I replied.  "Besides, we felt we should wait to see if you boys were going to end up on Santa's naughty or nice list first." 

"You mean you haven't figured that out yet," Dylan groaned.  "If we get any nicer we're going to sprout wings." 

"Yeah, right!" Cherie countered rolling her eyes. 

"Didn't you notice our halos?" Justin followed after catching on to what his brother was alluding to. 

"Do you mean the halos that are held place by your devil horns?" his mother offered in return.  That remark caused all of the boys to groan. 

"You just don't know how lucky you are to have us for sons," Tyler quipped, not letting her comment go unchallenged. 

"Yeah, you should have to put up with some of the other kids that go to our school," Marcus added.  "Just ask our teachers and you'll find out we aren't so bad." 

"We know," I finally chimed in to put an end to this discussion.  "We were only teasing you, but it was also a reminder to let you know that you can't slip up now either." 

"But you came back without any presents," Andrew noted, as he looked at his mother. 

"We know how nosy you boys can be, so if we wait until the last minute before we get your presents, then you won't have time to snoop around to see what you're getting," Sally stated, while trying not to laugh. 

"But then the good stuff might already be gone," Ethan pointed out, thinking we had overlooked that fact. 

"Don't worry, you'll all get presents unless you mess up really bad now," I stated, as they all shook their heads in disgust.  Then, they resumed what they'd been doing. 

"Hmmm, I don't think they're happy with us," Sally observed as we walked into the house. 

"It's only because we didn't come back with armloads full of presents," Cherie quipped with a giggle. 

"I think they all know they don't have to worry," I chipped in, "but they still like to have physical evidence to support that belief.  I'm sure we'll drive them crazy if we don't bring their presents here before Christmas Day." 

"Actually, it might be fun if they don't see anything before going to bed on Christmas Eve," Sally added as she looked at me.  "I know Andrew still kind of believes in Santa Claus and I think Ethan might too, so this way they will be totally surprised when they come downstairs on Christmas morning." 

"I wish there was some way we could get things to the house without them knowing," I offered, as I tried to think of a way we could do it.  "We could have it all wrapped and ready to put under the tree on Christmas Eve, but the boys don't give me enough time alone where I could do something like that." 

"Actually they do, when they're at basketball practice," Cherie pointed out.  "If you want, I can take Ethan with me to run an errand one afternoon when the others are all at practice.  Even if he complains and doesn't want to go, he will have to, since he can't be left home alone.  That would give you time to swing by Ann's house to pick up everything.  If you have a place where we can keep it, I could wrap the presents during the day while I'm home alone." 

"That might actually work," I concurred.  "I can go pick up the things we left at Ann's house and put it in boxes to bring it back here.  I can then swap those boxes for some of the cartons we currently have stored in the garage.  I can move those things up to the storage space above the garage and the boys shouldn't even notice the switch.  The new boxes will look pretty much like the things that were previously there, so the boys shouldn't catch on to what we're doing." 

"That would be perfect, because they probably wouldn't think of looking in the boxes we'd stored things in," Cherie agreed.  "I can wrap the items during the day and then put everything back in the boxes before the boys get home from school."

"I don't want you to have to wrap all of my presents too," Sally countered, feeling guilty. 

"Why not?  You both work and I don't, so I have time to do it," Cherie stated to let Sally know she didn't mind and it wasn't a big deal.  "Just make sure there's plenty of wrapping paper, but I also want you to attach a note to each of your packages, so I'll know who it's for and who it's from.  It means you have to let me know if the present is from you, the boys or Santa, if you're going to do that." 

"Yes, I think all of the boys should get presents from Santa too," I agreed.  "I'll make sure there is different wrapping paper and tags to use for the gifts that are from him." 

"Do we really need to wrap Santa's presents?" Sally asked looking unsure.  I had a feeling she was thinking about the additional expense as well. 

"I think it helps to keep the mystery about what they're getting," I replied.  "We won't wrap those things as well as the gifts from us, but well enough so they won't know what it is right away.  They'll still have to unwrap it to see what they got." 

"Ok.  I can live with that," Sally agreed.  "I'll arrange it with Ann and mark my packages in advance, but you'll still need to let me know when you want to pick things up.  If she's working when you want to do this, then I'll meet you there and use the spare key I have for her place so I can let you in to get everything." 

Since that had been taken care of, we sat and talked about other things until Sally announced that it was time for Andrew and her to return home.  He wasn't exactly thrilled about having to leave, but he went upstairs with his mother and collected his things.  Then, we all said goodbye to them before they left. 

Once they had driven away, I made sure the boys had their homework done and were prepared to return to school in the morning.  After that had been taken care of, we sat down to watch TV together until it was time to go to bed. 

Monday morning, after we got the boys off to school, Cherie let me know she wanted to speak to me briefly before I left for work.  "I'm going to call the lawyer today and get things started.  I just wanted to let you know in case Don goes off the deep end when this goes down.  I doubt much will happen over the next couple of days, but I thought it would be best for you to be aware of what was going on." 

"Thanks for the heads up and we'll weather that storm when it hits," I responded, using a meteorological analogy. 

After we had finished our discussion, I hopped in the car and took off for work.  During the drive I couldn't help but wonder if Don might actually show up at the house after the lawyer had contacted him about the divorce.  I was sure if he did it would be an intentional response and not just a knee-jerk reaction to what was happening.  If he came by, I was convinced it would be for a specific purpose and there would probably be a considerable amount of shouting, if not worse.  I didn't believe Don was a particularly dangerous person, but I was worried that he might show up when the boys were at the house.  First and foremost, I didn't want any of them to witness a confrontation between Don and Cherie, but even more than that, I didn't want them to get sucked into the middle of an argument and become active participants.  However, I wasn't sure how we could prevent it. 

Since Don worked, I felt it was unlikely that he would show up earlier in the day, unless he took some time off from his job just for that purpose.  I would certainly ask Cherie if Don might be angry enough to do something like that, but if not then I doubted anything would occur before I got home.  It would be more likely that Don would show up one evening after I'd returned from work or he would wait until the weekend to drop by, so the boys would be here then too. 

These considerations also prompted me to tell my boss about the situation at home and explain that Cherie and the boys were staying with us.  I did this in case I got an emergency phone call one afternoon and had to leave early, because this way he would know what the problem was and it wouldn't come as a surprise.  I didn't want something like this to create any trouble for me at work, so this way I'd be covered in the unlikely event something unforeseen happened. 

When I arrived at home later, Cherie told me the lawyer said he would take care of preparing the temporary custody and support agreements first, before having Don served.  Therefore, Don wouldn't be given the eviction notice or restraining order until after those issues had been taken care of and signed.  It meant that neither of the latter issues were likely to be addressed this week, and possibly not even next week either, so it would be closer to Christmas before that happened. 

When I thought about what she'd just told me, it made me worry that the timing of these events might evoke an even stronger reaction from Don.  After thinking about it for a while, I decided to suggest to Cherie that she call her attorney and recommend that any further actions beyond the temporary agreements should be left until after the first of the year.  She agreed with my logic, once I filled her in about the reasons behind my proposal, and said she'd advise her lawyer about this change the first thing in the morning. 

Once that had been cleared up, I went to pick up Dylan and Tyler from their practice and then we spent the rest of the evening carrying on like a typical family.  Although none of the boys had said anything about it, I had the feeling they all liked how this was working out so far.  Not only were they constantly with their friends, but Ethan and Marcus also liked being able to stay home when they got off the bus.  They even seemed to like spending the evenings with Cherie and me, because they had started to become affectionate with Cherie as well. 

After excusing myself under the pretext of having to use the toilet, I took the opportunity to call Sally and arranged to meet her at Ann's house the following afternoon.  After she agreed, I went back to the family room with the others and no one seemed to suspect a thing.

When we went to bed later, I suggested to Tyler that he should sleep in the middle again, but he was reluctant to do that at first.  It wasn't until Dylan told Tyler that he liked cuddling with him too that Tyler decided it wasn't such a big deal.  After Tyler relented, Dylan and I cuddled up against him on either side, and luckily that led to a very peaceful night. 

Tuesday, before I left for work, I asked Cherie if she would take Ethan with her for a while in the afternoon so I could move some of the presents to the house.  She readily agreed and said she'd make sure not to return home until after I'd picked up the other boys from practice.  I thanked her and said it should give me plenty of time to take care of everything. 

Before I met up with Sally later, I stopped at the grocery to get a bunch of boxes and some packing tape first.  When I got to the house, she helped me packed up everything we'd purchased so far and I put a black 'x' in the upper right-hand corner of each box so Cherie would know which ones contained the presents.  When we were done, I thanked Sally for her help and loaded everything into the Outback. 

When I got to the house, I unloaded the boxes and carried them into the garage.  After closing the garage door to keep others from seeing what I was doing, I began to take some of the boxes that were already there up to the storage area.  Then I placed the boxes I'd just bought back where those had been, so everything would appear to be the same.  On top of those items, I added an empty box that I had marked with an 'xx' in the corner, which I would use to store the wrapping paper, tags, tape and a couple of special markers to label the gifts from Santa.  As soon as I'd finished doing all of that, I examined the area carefully to make sure it didn't look any different than before, and then I went to pick up the four oldest boys from their practices. 

Cherie and Ethan were home by the time I returned with the other boys.  They had done some grocery shopping and Cherie winked at me when I walked through the door to indicate that Ethan was totally oblivious to what had gone on.  I would let her know later about the special 'codes' I'd used to mark the boxes, so she would know which ones contained the Christmas items. 

As we were eating dinner, the boys filled us in about their upcoming activities.  Dylan and Tyler mentioned they had an away game the next afternoon and told us where it would be played.  Marcus and Justin reminded us that they both had a game on Thursday, but then the three youngest boys told us about the Christmas concerts being held at their schools the following week. 

It turned out that Ethan's concert would be held one week from today, while the middle school's concert would be a week from tomorrow.  Marcus and Justin would be taking part with their classes at that time, but Dylan and Tyler wouldn't be involved.  Unlike the younger grades where they all performed as a group, the 7th-8th graders were only involved if they were a member of the band, orchestra or chorus.  Since Dylan and Tyler weren't involved in any of those groups, they wouldn't be participating in the concert, but they didn't seem to mind.  They were just going with us both nights to watch their brothers perform. 

Later, when we went to bed, Tyler decided he didn't want to be in the middle again.  He said he slept better when he was on his side cuddling up to me, rather than on his back while Dylan and I were cuddling with him.  He said it was because he slept better when he was on his side, rather than on his back, so we gave in to him.  We just prayed he didn't have another bad dream. 

A couple of hours later, I was sleeping peacefully when I felt someone or something grab a hold of my chest and then start to squeeze it violently.  Shortly after that, I felt fingernails or claws digging into my flesh and the pain caused me to instinctively react.  With reflexes like a cat, I reached down and pried the offending digits off of my body, only to discover it was Tyler who had been doing this.  To my surprise, he was still sound asleep, but his body was flopping around on the mattress as he struggled with me.  Obviously, he was having another bad dream. 

"It's ok.  I'm here with you and nothing's going to hurt you," I told him in a gentle voice, hoping it would help to soothe his fears and get him to calm down a little.  I didn't want to startle him awake and felt it would be best if he woke up on his own.  I did, however, hold him tightly against my body and kissed him repeatedly on the forehead. 

"Is he having another one of those dream?" a voice asked and I realized Dylan was awake too. 

"It seems so, but he's still asleep," I answered, although Tyler was groaning now as well.  "Tyler, it's just a dream and you're all right.  I'm here with you and nothing is going to harm you." 

Shortly after I'd said that, Tyler's eyes began to flutter open and before long two moist orbs were staring up at me.  His breathing was still rapid and shallow, and his body was trembling, as he glanced around and attempted to figure out where he was. 

"What's wrong?  Are you alright?" Dylan asked as he stared at Tyler, deeply concerned. 

"I just had another bad dream," Tyler answered after a slight pause. 

"Was it the same as the other one?" I asked, hoping that talking about it would help to make him feel better. 

"No, it was different," he answered, without explaining. 

"What was this one about then?" I followed, so I'd better understand what he'd gone through and how he was feeling.

"I was sitting with my parents at Ethan and Marcus' concert last year, since they went to the same school then," Tyler answered in short, halting breaths. 

"That doesn't sound so bad," Dylan stated when Tyler paused. 

"I think the conversation we had at the dinner table must have reminded you about that, since this year's concerts are next week" I added, holding him tightly. 

"But that's not what woke me up," Tyler eventually continued.  "We were all in the car going home when all of the sudden there was a horrible crash.  Me, Marcus and Ethan were all sitting in the back and were thrown against our seatbelts, before we were slammed back in our seats.  The three of us were ok and just had some bumps and bruises, but when I yelled out to see how Mom and Dad were, they didn't answer.  That's when I saw their bodies were slumped over and they weren't moving.  They were covered in blood too, so I knew right away that they were dead.  They were killed in an accident again, but this time I was with them and saw it all happen." 

"But you weren't there when it really happened," Dylan pointed out, which caused Tyler to turn in his direction and give him a strange look. 

"Of course I wasn't in the car with them when they were killed or I'd probably be dead too," he replied, still trembling.  "But what I saw in my dream still made me feel like I was with them when they died.  It was awful." 

"I know it made you feel terrible, but it was just a bad dream and none of it was real," I assured him once again.  "Come on with me to the bathroom and I'll wipe you down again.  You're all sweaty and we should take care of that before you go back to sleep." 

The three of us then got out of bed and went to the bathroom to perform a similar routine to what we'd done the previous time he had a nightmare.  When we got back in bed a few minutes later, I made Tyler get in the middle, but I let him cuddle against me as he usually would have and then Dylan spooned up behind him.  We had a fairly peaceful and uneventful night after we fell asleep again and things appeared to be back to normal by morning. 



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I wish to extend my thanks to Donny for editing these chapters for me and offering his suggestions. 


E-mail responses to the stories, story suggestions, or other 'constructive' comments or advice may be sent to:  ErastesTouch@aol.com  - but please put the story title in the subject line, so it doesn't get deleted as junk mail. 


My other stories:




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Although the boys in these stories sometimes have unprotected sex, I strongly urge all of you out there to be smart and protect yourselves from various sexually transmitted diseases by using taking appropriate precautions before engaging in sex.