This story may occasionally include explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adult males.  If you are underage or it is illegal to view this for any reason, consider yourself warned.  If you find this material offensive, please leave.


This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entire a coincidence. As the author, I retain all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me.  This work is copyright © 2016 by Steven Wells.


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John's Journey Forward



"One last question for you to ponder: Are kids in our future?" Noel asked.


"I think so," I replied. "Why?"


"I was introduced to a new organization today who handles adoption of potentially HIV positive newborn babies whose parent or parents are considering putting them up for adoption," Noel explained. "The organization's executive director visited our office this afternoon to talk with Gavin and me about possibly using our services—pro bono, of course."


"So, I believe you might be saying we should consider adopting an HIV positive child because we are HIV positive and understand the health ramifications," I summarized.


"How did you know?" Noel asked with a smile.


"We finish each other's sentences, right?" I asked.


"Yup," Noel replied. "I think it is one of the reasons I love you so much."


Chapter 18: Realization Sets In


When we pulled in front of the cottage in Provincetown, Noel first spoke as he stared at the front of the house. "Shit, John! This place is fucking beautiful."


"It's a lot nicer than I remember," I said as I sat in the driver's seat of Noel's BMW. "Of course, I haven't seen it for, like, 15 years at least. And, we haven't seen the inside."


"Should we wait for Anthony and Timothy to get here before we go inside?" Noel asked.


"Nope," I said. "I'm five minutes older than Anthony. So, I get to go inside first."


As I fumbled with the key in the lock, I took a deep breath. Then, I opened the door.


"When your mother said the house was on the water, I thought she meant you could see the bay from the upstairs bedrooms," Noel almost whispered. "But, Cape Cod Bay is right there... outside... sliders to the deck outside...!"


I walked to the sliders and unlocked them. When I slid the doors open, the smell of the sea drifted into the somewhat musty air of the cottage. As we walked onto the deck, I heard Noel gasp.


"I may never leave," Noel whispered.


"Magical, isn't it?" I asked also in a whisper.


"And then some," Noel said as I slid my arm around his waist. "I can't believe we actually own a part of this."


"I know!" I replied. "Remember what my Dad said. `My grandmother at least knew how to inherit property well!'"


"Anybody home?" we heard Anthony yell from the front door.


"Out here," I yelled back.


When Anthony and Timothy finally joined us on the deck, my brother Anthony whispered "This is fucking unbelievable!"


"Anthony," Timothy finally said. "I know where we should get married."


"I know," Anthony replied.


"Is there something we need to know about, A?" I asked.


"Timothy said yes last night after I proposed to him," Anthony said with a smile.


"Congratulations, guys!" I almost screamed as I pulled Anthony and Timothy in for a hug. Noel joined us.


"Who would ever have thought we would be standing on our deck looking at Cape Cod Bay and contemplating the rest of our lives as old married farts?" Anthony said into my ear.


"Nice feeling, isn't it?" I replied.


"Naw," Anthony added. "Terrific feeling!"


"Before we get all teary eyed," Timothy spoke up. "I want to see the rest of this place."


As we walked inside again, all four of us headed toward the kitchen.


"This is in way better condition than I thought it would be!" I exclaimed.


"Mom said it was redone in the eighties," Anthony continued. "The tenants must have done something to this space. It looks fairly new."


"The whole first floor is pretty nice," Timothy said as he looked around.


"I had visions of creaky, sagging floors," Noel said. "Let's take a look upstairs."


"Carpet on the stairs needs to go," I announced on our way up.


We surveyed the upstairs quietly. No one said anything until we had been in all four bedrooms.


"Someday, we should consider turning one of the bedrooms into more closet space and another bathroom," Anthony suggested. "We have four small bedrooms with very little closet space. However, I could be happy spending a summer here just as it is."


"Deck chairs and table," I said as we returned to the first floor. "We could use them inside and outside until we figure out how to furnish this place."


"Television, cable, and Internet service," Anthony added. "At least we brought two blow up air mattresses and sheets."


"And champagne," Noel continued. "We also brought plastic champagne flutes. We not only have ownership of a Provincetown cottage to celebrate but also the upcoming wedding of my only brother-in-law."


"Is anyone beside me hungry?" I asked. "It is 12:30 in the afternoon.


"We saw this cute place on Commercial Street as we were coming in," Timothy suggested. "Bubala's by the Bay. It's not far from here. We could walk."


"Did the restaurant choice have anything to do with the four muscle hunks hanging out in front?" Anthony asked his future husband.


"I can still look, can't I?" Timothy asked.


"You can look, but you cannot touch!" Anthony said with a smile as I locked up the house.


We talked about the cottage as we walked to the restaurant.


"When Mom and Dad were telling us about the place, I had visions of a nightmare renovation," I explained. "And, we are doing a major renovation on the house starting in July. It will probably continue into the fall. So, I am not eager to have two renovation projects going simultaneously. What do you guys think?"


"I agree with you, John," Anthony replied. "If we are just using the cottage for a weekend occasionally, why do we need to remodel it? It seems fine to me right now. Besides, I suspect we might be on the deck more than in the house."


"I agree," Noel replied. "We will know more about what we want if we use it as is for a summer or two."


"I would love to do Christmas here sometime," I suggested. "But, hopefully we will be in the house next Christmas and we can spend our first Christmas in the house hosting the family. The cottage here can wait for a year or two. See something you like, Noel?"


"Muscle boy," Noel whispered as he nodded to his right.


"Maybe we should both go to the gym more often," I whispered back.


"Nope," Noel said with a smile across his face. "I love you just the way you are!"




Noel and I were sitting in our living room surveying the renovation plans for the house when his phone rang.


"It's Jorge," Noel said to me as he put his phone on speaker phone. "Hello, bro! What gives?"


"Ah... Do you and John have anytime to talk with George and me this week?" Jorge asked. "Are you free Thursday evening?"


"Yup," I replied.


"How about Thursday evening at our place for dinner? We can show you the plans for the house and we can talk about whatever it is you want to talk about. What is it you want to talk about?" Noel asked.


"George and me and our mother," Jorge explained.


"What does our mother have to do with you and George?" Noel asked cautiously.


"Remember the epiphany our mother had when she attended your wedding?" Jorge asked.


"Yup," Noel replied.


"Our question is as follows: What are the odds she will be okay with George and me getting married?" Jorge asked.


"Be here Thursday evening for dinner," Noel replied. "It will give me a little time to think this through. Should we have Manuel and Kerry in on this?"


"Probably wouldn't hurt," Jorge replied.


"And, Jorge," Noel continued. "Congratulations!"


"Thanks, bro," Jorge added. "He just asked me and I just said `yes.' So, you are the first to know. We are going out to dinner to celebrate!"


Noel ended the call and turned to me. "So, John! We have another wedding to attend."


"What about your mother?" I asked.


"She likes George," Noel replied. "But, she likes him as Jorge's boyfriend... not as Jorge's husband."


"Unless George changes his last name to Ramirez," I suggested.


"His parents would probably be shithouse," Noel added.


"They will be anyway. George is marrying a guy. He will have a husband. From what George has said, they will not be happy campers with the news their star son is gay." I explained.


"Drama queens," Noel whispered. "We have become drama queens!"


"Speak for yourself, lover boy!" I added. "I need to stop at the balloon store before work tomorrow."


"Balloon store?" Noel asked quietly. "Why a balloon store?"


"Congratulations balloon for George," I said with a huge grin on my face. "I am going to attach it to George's workspace. He bought me a balloon when he heard we decided to get married. Payback it going to be so, so much fun!"




I slipped into the office before everyone arrived, and I attached the string of the balloon to George's stapler. I had just settled into my own workspace.


Sandy and Ralph were the first to arrive.


"What's George done now?" Sandy asked.


"Ask George," I replied.


Most of the others, including Chris, arrived before George. We all watched as he made his way to his workspace.


"What's this?" George asked as he pulled on the string of the balloon.


"We were going to ask you the exact same question," Chris interjected.


"John! Why did you do this to me?" George asked.


"Payback time, George," I said quietly.


"Well?" Sandy asked.


"Can't I have a little privacy?" George asked.


"We are one big, happy family here," Chris added.


"Ahm...," George began as we saw the red flush his face. "It seems I asked my boyfriend, Jorge—who is John's brother-in-law—to marry me. He said yes. We haven't set a date yet."


Cheers roared from the group. Congratulations were added.


Once the festivities died down, we all settled into work.


"May I please have your attention, team members," Chris's voice came out of the paging system. "I have a major announcement to make. Please take time to congratulate George Hassan for his engagement to Jorge Ramirez. Congratulations, George. Now, Squares, get back to work!"


I worked with my team for several, nonstop hours until I noticed George standing beside me. I looked up at him. "How's it going, George?"


"What would it take to convince you to go out to lunch with me?" George asked.


"To celebrate?" I asked.


"Not really," George explained. "There are a couple of issues you should know about before you get together with everyone on Thursday."


"Sure," I replied as I glanced at my phone. "Shit! I didn't realize it was 12:30 already. Let's head out, George."


We decided to try the new Thai place around the corner. When we were seated George began to look a little nervous.


"You're not having cold feet, are you, George?" I asked.


"No," George said with a smile across his face. "There is probably only one thing in my life right now I am certain of. Jorge is the one for me. God! I love the guy!"


"Good!" I added. "At least Noel and I don't need to plan on beating you up because you broke Jorge's heart!"


"Never going to happen," George replied. "I wanted to run something by you before we have the family meeting to discuss Noel's and Jorge's mother's reaction to the news he is marrying a Muslim."


"Sounds ominous," I added.


"I think Mrs. Ramirez's reaction will be a piece of cake compared to my parents' reaction," George explained. "At least she already knows her son is gay. Mine don't. They are going to be shit faced!"


"Ahm...," I began. "I thought there has been a shift in the positions some younger Muslims take, especially in response to the devastation in the Orlando nightclub."


"Yes," George explained. "Younger American Muslims tend to be more tolerant. Some even take the position those in the Muslim faith undergo the same hostilities usually attributed to the LGBTQ community. But, my parents are from the old school of the faith. Homosexuality is a sin. No questions asked. No comments otherwise made. It is written in stone. I am afraid, not for myself, but for Jorge. He wants to get along with everyone, including my parents. It will not happen. I will be disowned by my parents. My brother and sister are good with me being gay and with me in a relationship with Jorge. They will, I am certain, be at our wedding. Not my parents."


George paused as he pulled out a newspaper column from Sunday after the attack in Orlando:


"Reflecting on the moments and movements of solidarity over the years between Muslims and LGBTQ communities ... I reflect on the many times we discovered that the same groups and legislatures that try to pass laws to restrict the rights of Muslims to worship freely are also the same groups and legislatures that push anti-LGBTQ laws," prominent Muslim and civil rights activist Linda Sarsour wrote Sunday. "We will not be divided. We have worked too hard for too long together."


"Things are looking up. Will you remain a Muslim?" I asked.


"I am not really a practicing Muslim," George added. "I drink, I am gay, I eat pork, I celebrate Christmas... I haven't given it much thought about if I am going to continue calling myself a Muslim. Probably, but I haven't decided."


"Have you talked with Jorge about this issue?" I asked.


"Yes," George explained. "We have discussed some of the issues I have. But, typical of Jorge, he wants to know more about Muslim holidays, traditions, and beliefs. He wants to wrap some of our separate religious cultures and mix them up like a cake batter and pour them altogether to make our lives more attuned to each of us. Does it make sense to you?"


"Yes," I replied. "Noel and Jorge are similar in many ways. Frankly, I believe life will be much more interesting if we mix some of our religious heritages so we understand each other better from a history standpoint. If we know more about each other's beliefs, we won't need to have people like the billionaire running for President to shake things up. People will know he is spewing lies and falsehoods."


"Thank you for talking with me, John," George said. "I need to talk with my parents. Jorge wants to come with me, but I don't want him involved in a lot of family fighting."


"He will survive," I said. "Just to let you know, I would be honored to be your sounding board in the future. I may not have answers, but I will listen."


"You're a great friend, John!" George said as he hugged me on the way out of the restaurant.




"Are we ready for our planning meeting?" I asked Noel before his brothers arrived.


"As ready as we will ever be," Noel responded. "I can't believe my brother is getting married. Hell, I can't believe we are married. I also can't believe we will start renovating OUR house. And, the place in Provincetown! Shit!"


"It is awesome, isn't it?" I whispered to Noel and I pulled him toward me and kissed him.


"You are my lucky charm," Noel replied.


"You're my wonderful husband," I said just before the buzzer sounded announcing the arrival of our guests.


After several hours of eating and discussing George and Jorge's upcoming wedding, Kerry decided to summarize. "So, it has been decided. We will build a wall."


"A wall? To keep out the Mexicans? How does a wall help with George and Jorge's situation?" Manuel asked.


"No silly," Kerry responded. "We will build a wall to keep your mother, Manuel, and George's parents inside so they don't interrupt George and Jorge's wedding. By the time we are finished, it will be too late for them to do anything to hurt anyone with their lame pronouncements."


"The idea has merit," George replied. "But my parents have been known to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Can we build a wall tall enough?"


"This is beginning to sound like a Superman comic book," I added.


"You haven't met my parents yet," George added with a smile.


"I am going with George to let them know we will be getting married," Jorge added. "I am going for moral support."


"We will need armed guards if we plan on getting out alive," George continued. At least he was smiling.


"I'll protect you, George," Jorge added as he gave George a kiss. "Fear not! Superman is here."


"Jorge is the only person I know who vomited when he first saw a hand gun in a display case," Noel explained. "If I were you, George, I would wear a bullet proof vest and have a bag for Jorge."


"Thanks for the advice," George said. "I probably will be a nervous wreck."


"Where will you live after you are married?" Manuel asked.


"We will stay at my condo until we find something we like," George replied. "Maybe we can buy a house next door to John and Noel."


"No way!" Noel replied. "My brother will not be living next door to me!"




After a fairly pleasant week at work for both Noel and me, we sat on the sofa with sections of the Sunday Globe spread hither and thither.


Noel's phone rang. He switched it to speaker phone and answered, "Hey, bro! How was the coming out party?"


"It came off better than George had expected," Jorge replied. "When George first announced he was engaged to be married, the whole family were thrilled... His mother knew something was brewing... Everyone wanted to know `who is the lucky girl...' His mother by this time was in squinty eye mode, and she was fucking looking at me... When George announced I was a lucky guy, the house came to a very quiet stillness... We had the usual comments about the lack of grandchildren, embarrassment to the family, sin against the Muslim faith, and so forth... Finally, another silent moment ascended over the house until George's mother broke the ice... She asked George why he didn't tell them before... Show stopper for certain..."


"So, everything went well in the long-term?" Noel asked."


"I no longer fear for my life," George answered Noel's question. "But, you must understand one bit of information about my family. They are fucking nuts. I don't know how they will react during the wedding or the reception. I don't know how they will react when Jorge and I buy our first house together. I don't know how they will react when the snow hits the ground in January. They could blame me for the bad weather. They usually find someone or something to blame."


"Will you be celebrating tonight?" I asked.


"We are going to wait until next Saturday to celebrate," Jorge replied. "He is taking me somewhere very special, or so he says."




My personal phone rang while I tried to sort out some details of a new project my team would be working on. It was my father. "Dad! What's up?" I asked in my happy voice.


"You sound happy," my father replied.


"We had a good weekend," I replied. "Noel's brother, Jorge, is getting married to my coworker George."


"Wish them well for us," my father replied. He seemed a little off. "I was hoping you and Noel and Anthony and Timothy would be able to join us tomorrow evening for dinner at the condo."


"I will need to check with Noel, but I believe we can make it," I replied. I decided not to ask questions.


"Terrific," my father replied. "I'll let you get back to work. I know you are busy."


"Thanks, Dad," I said. "I will call you as soon as I can talk to Noel."


"I will look forward to hearing from you," my father said as he hung up.


I immediately called Noel. "Noel," I said as he answered the phone.


"What's up, hubby?" Noel asked.


"I just received a phone call from my father," I explained. "He asked if we could join them at the condo for dinner tomorrow at 7 pm."


"Works for me," Noel replied. "Any ideas why the urgent invitation for dinner?"


"None I want to think about right now," I replied. "I hope Mom is alright."


"I do, too, John," Noel added. "How would you like to have company for lunch today? I have a client meeting in Cambridge at 2 pm. We could go to the Thai place."


"Are you trying to make certain I am not going off the deep end?" I asked.


"Yes," Noel replied. "But, I do have a client meeting at 2 pm. So, having lunch with my husband is a bonus. I'll be at your office at 12 noon."


"I'll be waiting," I replied. I paused before I continued, "And, Noel, thanks. I am somewhat worried."


"I could tell the moment you greeted me," Noel added. "We finish each other's sentences, remember."


"Yup," I said. "I'll see you soon. Love you."


"Love you, too!" Noel replied as we both ended the call.


Five minutes after I ended the call with Noel, my phone buzzed again. It was Anthony. "Hey, bro! What's up?"

"Did you get a call from Dad?" Anthony asked.


"Yes," I replied. "You?"


"Yes," Anthony replied. "I tried to drag information out of him. No luck. I have an awful feeling it is about Mom."


"Me, too," I replied. "Noel is taking me to lunch. Do you want to join us?"


"I wish I could, but I am up to my ass in alligators with some projects," Anthony explained. "This will be two very, very long days."


"Yup," I replied. "How are the wedding plans coming along?"


"Slowly," Anthony replied. "It may depend on the news we receive tomorrow evening."


"Don't overthink this, A," I replied. "It may be nothing... Or it may be a kick in the ass. Whichever it is, we will get through this together, okay, A?"


"Yup," Anthony replied. "I need to run. I have an emergency meeting with my team who has really fucked things up. Later."


"Later," I replied as I ended the call.


I pretended to work on some projects. I looked up and George stood in front of me.


"What's up, John?" George asked. "You look a little distracted."


"Anthony and I, along with our significant others, have been summoned for a dinner engagement at my parents' condo tomorrow night," I replied.


"Your mother?" George asked.


"We think it is about my mother, yes," I replied. "Noel is taking me out to lunch today. I think he is worried I will go nuts on him before we get the house finished. He wants to protect his investment, I am certain."


"Yea," George said with smile. "He's a money grabbing SOB who only cares for himself."


I threw a wadded piece of paper at him. "Get back to work, George," I replied.


When Noel stepped off the elevator, I was ready for lunch. The others, not so much.


"Hello, Noel," George said.


"Hi, George, Sandy," Noel replied. "Where is everyone else?"


"Lunch," I replied. "George and Sandy are on diets, so they can't eat."


"Fuck you, John," George and Sandy said in unison.


"We can leave these two uncouth bastards here to stew in their juices," I said to Noel as I grabbed his hand and led him to the elevator.




Noel and I picked up Anthony and Timothy before heading to my parents' condo.


"This will be a tough night if Mom and Dad want to talk about what I think they want to talk about," Anthony said from the back seat.


"Let's hope they want to announce they are going on a world cruise," I replied.


"How's the advertising business, Noel?" Timothy asked.


"Terrific," Noel replied. "I have had the great fortune of working with an adoption agency who works with HIV positive kids or who have HIV positive mothers and fathers. We are doing the work pro-bono, but it is exciting organization. The people are wonderful and totally unselfish."


"He's plotting so I will agree to adopt a kid," I said with a smile. "Right Noel?"


"Yup," Noel replied. "I'm not saying we need to do it now, but it is my plan to badger John until he says yes. I even have a few photos which will rattle his chains."


"You have a devious husband, John," Anthony said. "And, I think little bro he has you wrapped around his finger."


"Watch it A," I replied. "We share decisions equally, right Noel?"


"Of course we do," Noel said with a big shit eating grin on his face.


Our mood turned a corner as we pulled into the parking area for the condo. The doorman announced us and we rode the elevator in silence to the 25th floor.


Our parents greeted us at the door.


My mother grabbed Noel and me first, "I'm so glad you were able to join us on such short notice," my mother said to us.


"Thanks for asking," I said. "You look terrific, Mom!"


"Thank you dear," my mother replied. "How are the renovations coming?"


"They actually start two weeks ago," I replied. "So, if you want to see your house as it used to be, stop by on the weekend. Noel and I will be checking the plans before they start demolition. When I say the word `demolition' I get nervous."


"I remember when we redid the house, I was certain it would never be put back together again in any fashion," my mother replied. "I would just take a deep breath and have a scotch on the rocks handy."


"You're looking good, Mom," Anthony exclaimed.


My father fixed drinks as we settled in the living room. Once he returned, Anthony decided to go for broke.


"John and Noel were talking about adopting kids on the way over here," Anthony said.


"Really?" my mother asked.


"Yea," I replied. "Noel is doing some pro-bono work for an adoption agency which specializes in placing kids who are HIV positive. We are only in the thinking stage at this point."


"I think the two of you would be terrific fathers," my mother said. "Why kids who are HIV positive? Are there really many kids born with HIV?"


"Unfortunately, yes," Noel explained. "For whatever reason, there are way too many kids with HIV and not enough people to adopt them. Some of these kids' stories are really, really sad. One three-year-old boy was found in the bushes not far from here. He was waiting for his mother to return with food. She was found dead the next day in an alley with a needle in her arm. I think Gavin put me on this project because he knew I was a sap for kids in distress. I am working on a campaign which will hopefully tug at some heart strings and add a little educational information."


"So is just one of you HIV positive or are you both positive?" my mother asked. She was sitting perched on the sofa like the cat who just ate the canary.


"Ah...," I began. "Both of us, actually. How did you know?"


"I watched the two of you while Noel was explaining the campaign," my mother replied. "You don't often fool your mother, so don't try. Why didn't you tell us?"


"We didn't want to worry you, Mom," I replied. "We are both on meds. It is almost like we aren't HIV positive except we take these huge pills. Besides, if I hadn't had HIV, I would never have gone to the support group where I met Noel... And, please don't repeat this to my boss, Chris. We were all at the same support group. Noel's boss, Gavin, is Chris's husband."


"Do you have anything you would like to tell us, Anthony?" my mother asked.


"Nope," Anthony replied. "Unlike my brother, I am an open book. And, if you want my opinion, any kid John and Noel adopt will be one lucky person. So, what is your news?"


We all sat quietly until my father quietly began telling us his and my mother's news.


"Your mother and I went to see her Oncologist on Friday," my father explained. "It seems the treatments aren't making a difference in the long-term quality of life for your mother. So, with the doctor's guidance, we have decided she will stop the treatment."


"I don't want to fight anymore," my mother said. "I want to enjoy the time I have here with all of you. I don't want to go through with more treatments and feel horrible. I want to have a good time as long as I can."


"How much time?" I whispered.


"No one has a crystal ball, but the doctors believe I could have at least six months, if not a year," my mother explained. "It could be less. It could be more. I am just going to take this one day at a time. Every day will be a gift."


"Then, Timothy and I have an announcement to make," Anthony quietly said after my mother had finished. "We are engaged. We haven't set a date."


"I am so happy for you both!" my mother exclaimed as she moved to hug her son and his future husband.




"So, John," Noel said as we snuggled in bed after the dinner with my parents. "Are you okay? This must be so hard for you and Anthony."


"You know what, Noel," I began. "When I sat in the living room, it came to me. All of a sudden I understood something I've never even thought about. Our mother is a gift to all of us. Every day of our lives she will still be a gift."


"You are an amazing guy, John," Noel said. "You sit here. You know your mother is in the process of dying. Yet, you have the idea your mother will be a gift for the rest of our lives. I don't know of many people who could make the statement you just did on the night you discovered your mother was not going to win this battle with cancer."


"It also makes me want to adopt a kid from the agency you are working with," I replied.


"Really?" Noel asked.


"Yes, really," I said as we cuddled closer.


"You know the three-year-old boy I told everyone about?" Noel asked.


"Yes," I replied.


"He is still not adopted," Noel said. "I met him today. He is with a foster parent temporarily. He needs someone, John."


"When can we meet him?" I asked.


"Tomorrow?" Noel replied phrasing his answer as a question.


"Name the time," I said. "I will be where ever it is I need to be."


"You won't be sorry, John," Noel said. "He's a bright kid. And, he's so fucking cute. He does have some issues with keeping the HIV in check, but he has problems because his mother didn't understand the medication schedule. We could probably get temporary custody if we started the process of becoming foster parents. We would need to be certified foster parents before we can begin the process of legally adopting him."


"You are a gift to this world, too, Noel," I said. "It's why I married you. To use a cliché, you are a gift that keeps on giving."


"Our lives will never be the same," Noel pointed out.


"I think we will enjoy having a new reason for living," I said as I kissed my man and turned out the lights.




"You are doing what?" George said as we sat alone at lunch in the bagel shop in the lobby of our building.


"We are meeting the kid we are hoping to adopt this afternoon at 3 pm," I explained. "He's three. He is HIV positive. His mother left him in some bushes while she went out to find food. It turned out she found more than food. She was lying dead in an alley with a needle in her arm. The kid would have still been in the bushes waiting for his mother is someone else hadn't found him. His name is Eagan."


"What made you two to decide this was the one?" George asked.


"Noel, Anthony, Timothy, and I went to my parents' condo for dinner last night," I explained. "My mother is stopping treatment for her cancer. She wants to live her life—however long it may be—with dignity. She is a gift to this world. We are hoping to share her gift to us with one lonely three-year-old boy who lost his mother too early in his life."


George wiped a tear from his eyes as I did the same.


"I need to go back upstairs and tell Chris I will be out for the afternoon," I said to George. "Thanks for letting me vent. I needed someone's shoulder to cry on."


"Just make certain Eagan knows he can call us Uncle George and Uncle Jorge," George said as he put his hand on my shoulder as we walked to the elevator.


George and I parted company as I knocked on Chris's open door.


"John! What can I do for you this afternoon?" Chris asked.


"Noel and I are meeting a three-year-old boy at 3 this afternoon," I explained. "We are hoping we will be able to adopt him."


Chris sat in his chair and looked at me. "You are really serious, aren't you?"


"Yup," I replied. "We couldn't be more serious. We both know this will change our lives forever, but we are very eager to see where the change leads us. It will be a new adventure."


"You two will make terrific fathers," Chris said. "I am actually envious of you. You are doing what Gavin and I should have done a few years ago."


"You still have lots of time," I said to Chris. "We are actually on a fast track here. Noel fell in love with the kid when he met him a few days ago. This is also for my mother. She's stopping her cancer treatment. She wanted to live what's left of her life in comfort, not taking chemo and radiation treatments. Noel and I wanted her to know her grandson and for our son to know his grandmother."


"I'm sorry about your mother, John," Chris said. "I remember meeting her at your wedding. She was such an energetic and optimistic person. And, if you need time off to be with her, don't even ask. Just do it and let me know later. Also, I've been thinking about a `bring your kid to work' policy. Maybe even day care here in the office. Until we have day care, bring Eagan with you whenever you want."


"Thanks, Chris," I replied. "My mother surmised one of us was HIV positive after we talked about adopting this boy. I told her I was grateful for contracting HIV. Otherwise, I wouldn't have met Noel. I also would not have met you. It is funny in a way how facing what seems to be a death threat turns into the best thing in your life. I'll see you tomorrow, Chris."


"Good luck, John," Chris said as I walked out his office door and to the elevator.


Noel was waiting for me outside. I hopped into his car, and we made our way across the river to the adoption agency's office in the Fenway.


"Are you ready for this?" Noel asked.


"More than ready," I replied. "You?"


"Same," Noel replied. "I talked to Trevor at the agency before I came to pick you up. Eagan is eager to meet you. Trevor said he was almost jumping off walls."


"We should take him to Dunkin' Donuts and give him a sugar high," I said with a smile. "I'm almost jumping off walls, too. We are really doing this, aren't we?"


"Yup," Noel replied as he pulled into the parking lot across the street from the agency. "We are. For the price of parking here this afternoon, we could furnish one of the rooms in the new house."


"Oh! I almost forgot," I began to explain to Noel. "Chris told me to bring Eagan to work with me whenever I needed or wanted to. He's also thinking about setting up day care for the kids of the employees."


"You've gotta love Chris," Noel replied as we walked to the building which housed the adoption agency. "He and Gavin are probably two of the most empathetic supervisors in the world."


"Hello, Mr. Sanchez-Rodriquez," the receptionist said as we walked through the door of the agency. "Trevor will be here momentarily to take you to Eagan. He is so excited."


"So are we," Noel said to the receptionist. "This is my husband John. John, this is Marie. It seems she runs the place."


Trevor appeared in the reception area. "Noel, good to see you again. And, you must be John. John, I'm Trevor."


"Nice to meet you, Trevor," I said. "I must say I'm a little nervous all of a sudden. What if he doesn't like me?"


"He's been talking about you and Noel all day long," Trevor replied. "The caseworker for DCFS has reviewed your application. She said everything seemed to be in order. But, first, you need to meet Eagan."


As we walked through the door of Trevor's office, I was looking at one of the cutest kids I have seen. His blond hair curled slightly. His blue eyes sparkled.


Noel and I bent down to be at Eagan's level, "Eagan, this is my husband, John. John, this is Eagan."


"Are you going to be my daddies?" Eagan asked.


"We are planning on being your daddies," I said to Eagan. His 50-thousand-watt smile lit up the room.


"What's your favorite thing to do, Eagan?" I asked.


"I like to read," Eagan replied. "And, I like to draw pictures. Mostly of animals. I like to draw doggies. Do you have a doggie?"


"No," I replied. "But, once we are in the new house, we might consider getting a doggie."


"Really!" Eagan asked as he looked at Noel and then me. Back and forth.


"Yes, Eagan," Noel reassured him. "You can help us pick out the doggie."


This smile could have lit up the city of Boston.


"Eagan," Trevor said softly. "Noel and John need to speak with Ms. Cardoza about a few things. We will be back as quickly as possible."


His smile faded into a frown.


"Can he come with us?" I asked. Truthfully, I didn't want to leave him as much as he didn't want us to leave him.


Trevor looked at Eagan and then Noel and me. "Yes, he can come with us."


Que the smile again.


Trevor led us into a conference room. I carried Eagan. His arm around my neck hung on for dear life.


"Good afternoon," a cheery and perky lady said as we entered the room. "I'm Ms. Cardoza. You must be John and Noel. Please have a seat."


"Thank you Ms. Cardoza," Noel replied.


"Now, I have reviewed your application to become foster parents with the intent of adoption," Ms. Cardoza explained. "I still need to interview some of your references, but I just finished talking with both of your employers. Both of them sang your praises. I have a few questions before we start the rest of the paperwork. First off, the two of you make an unusually large amount of money for people of your experience level. And, I am impressed you are about to finish your undergrad degree, John."


"Yes," I replied. "I managed to have some of my work experiences used as credit. I am putting the finishing touches on a presentation I am making to the faculty advisors and a few colleagues in about two months. If all goes as planned, I will graduate in May."


"I saw the title of your thesis and presentation," Ms. Cardoza said with a smile. "I have absolutely no idea what you will be talking about, but it does SOUND impressive. Now, I also saw you are renovating a home on Brattle Street in Cambridge."


"Yes," Noel began. "John's parents wanted to downsize, and they offered the family home to us. We officially own it now. Renovations should start next week."


"Excellent," Ms. Cardoza continued. "Was this a mistake? The mortgage you have seems small compared with the assessed value of the home."


"It is not a mistake," I explained. "The circumstances are a little complicated, but we owned the house before we bought it from my parents. It is in a trust. The attorneys understand the transaction better than we do."


"So the apartment you will be living in until you are able to move into the renovated house is a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment?"


"Yes," Noel replied. "About 1,200 square feet. A real find in Cambridge."


"Good," Ms. Cardoza continued. "I am giving you temporary custody of Eagan until the complete investigation is finished. You can expect a home inspection sometime within the next week. And, if all things are completed as I anticipate, you should be ready to petition the court of permanent custody and formal adoption before December. I know it is a long process, but we will make it as easy for you as possible. Do either of you have any questions?"


"No," we both said in unison.


"Good!" Ms. Cardoza said. "Now let's sign the paperwork. And, don't get too nervous. This is probably more paperwork than when you officially bought your house."


Two hours later, Noel, Eagan, and I were on our way to the car. We somehow managed to get Eagan's car seat installed.


As Noel pulled out of the parking lot, I turned around so I could talk to Eagan.


"Eagan," I began. "We'd like to take you to meet my mom and dad before we go to our home. Are you okay with this?"


"Will your mom and dad be my grandma and grandpa?" Eagan asked.


"Yup," I replied. "They will be your grandma and grandpa. Tomorrow, we will take you to meet your other grandma and your aunts and uncles."


"I will have two grandmas?" Eagan asked with a little surprise in his voice.


"Yes, you have two grandmas," I explained. "And, you have five uncles and one aunt."


"And I have two daddies," Eagan said proudly.


"Yes, Eagan," I continued. And, yes, I had to hold back some tears. "You have two very PROUD daddies."


Noel pulled in front of my parents' condo. The valet took the car and we went upstairs. I didn't need to knock on the door. Mom and dad stood outside their front door. I carried Eagan down the hallway from the elevator.


"Mom, Dad," I said as I let Eagan stand in front of my parents. "I'd like you to meet Eagan. Our son. Eagan, this is your grandmother and grandfather Sanchez."


My mother struggled, but made it down to Eagan's level. "I am so, so happy to meet you Eagan."


"I'm happy to meet you, too, Grandma," Eagan said as he put his arms around my mother's neck. "I've never had a grandma or grandpa before."


My father picked Eagan up and carried him into the living room.



To be continued...


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This is my 18th posting of my third story on Please also see:


Sam and Chris in the College section.


Jeffery Comes Home also in the Beginnings section.


Life With Tim in the Authoritarian section (Please note, this story is not for everyone because there are several scenes depicting Master/slave and BDSM relationships. So, if you are not interested in this activity, please, please do not read this story.)


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John Sanchez