Chapter Ten: TO ACT AS ONE

a story by: Solace Lenity

This is a story about, well,  love and chance.  It is for the most part, a work of pure fiction, though some of the situations discussed are drawn from life experiences (particularly the romantic ones).  Though not in the beginning, this story will eventually contain sexual acts between consenting adults.  Gay characters have gay sex, so if this bothers you, or if it is illegal to read such materials due to your age or where you live, then please do not read further.  All copyrights are held by the author, so please do not duplicate, print, alter, or resubmit (or anything else I may have missed ) this story without first obtaining written permission from the author. 

Further notes:  This story will address several social issues in a perspective in which you may or may not agree.  It is also a story centered around life and love between friends, family, and partners, along with romance, and it is not intended to be a jerk-off story.  There are spiritual and paranormal themes which affect the lives of the characters.  Finally, the story is told in the various points of view of the characters involved.  (To make this process easier, each character's story is distinguished by a specific color and font style dedicated to that character.)

A SPECIAL THANKS to Tob for giving me a few inspiring ideas, and to Paul for all his help.

This is my first attempt at writing fiction of any kind.  If you have any comments, ideas, suggestions, etc., I would love to hear them. I have greatly enjoyed the comments I have received thus far and wish to thank you all for taking the time to send them.    Please contact me via


Sorrow n' me spent Tuesday with Pops, just havin' us lots of fun gettin' to know him better 'n we did 'fore then.  I knowd my big ol' angel was likin' havin' time with 'im, and I knows I sure was.  Pops treated me just like he did Sorrow, and I could tell he loved us both lots.  He loved our dads a good bit too.  Whether he was a wantin' to be or not, ol' Pops was part of our family.  As I's thinkin' that, I was smilin' real big like.

"What are you all smiles about, Angel?"  Sorrow asked me.  He was sittin' in one of 'em big ol' leather chairs in Pops' office with his feet up on the desk. 

Pops had brought us by his work after we had ate us some breakfast and spent a good bit of the mornin' just goofin' off.  Sorrow 'n me was lookin' through the paper when Pops told me he worked there at that newspaper place.  Course, I thought that was somethin' real neat, and Pops asked me if I's a wantin' to see how they put that ol' paper together n' all that stuff.  That's how we ended up in his office like we was.

"I reckon I's just thinkin' 'bout Pops.  He sure is an awful nice fella, least I's thinkin' so." 

Sorrow took his feet off the desk 'n raised his hands for me to come to 'im, so I got up n' walked over his way.  He pulled me on his lap, snugglin' up real close to me.  "I suppose he is, Angel."  Sorrow smiled.  Then, he kissed me all soft like, causin' me to get all jittery in my back n' belly.  "If it weren't for you, though, I don't think we would have ever really taken the time to get to know one another."  He looked real deep into my eyes.  "I owe you for that, Chance.  Whether you believe me or not, you made all this possible for us, and I can't thank you enough."

I got a big ol' lump in my throat, thinkin' 'bout how much Sorrow was meanin what he's a sayin' to me.  Then, I got me a sly grin 'cross my face, lookin' back at 'im.  "I reckon a few more of 'em kisses you was just givin' me would be a mighty good way to start."

Sorrow got all red, but he kissed me again, regardless.  This time, though, we was usin' our tongues, which made my knees go all jelly like.  I ain't none to sure how long we's kissin' like that, but sometime later, we started 'havin' ourselfs when we heard Pops comin' back to his office.

Pops was what he called an editor at that ol' paper, but when he 'xplained it, I knowd he was the boss there.  Some ol' girl had come in  n' told 'im 'bout some problem they's havin', so he told us he'd be back soon as he took care of whatever it was he was gonna go do.  I don't reckon I really knowd 'nough 'bout the paper place to understand what he was talkin' 'bout doin' noways, so I didn't ask too much 'bout it.

After he got back, he took us 'round his work, showin' us all kinds of computers n' people workin' at 'em.  We got to talk to lots of 'em people, and most of 'em seemed like they was likin' workin' there.  Then, Pops took us in this place that had all kinds of big machines in it where they run off lots of 'em papers we got at the house ever day.  That room was awful noisy, but that thing ran off 'em papers real fast like.  You could hardly even see what was goin' on it was so fast.  I gotta say I's likin' that room cause it was real neat watchin all that stuff move 'round like it was n' spit out 'em papers.  Pops even give us one of 'em papers 'hot off the press', he called it.  I don't really reckon it was all that hot like it would burn ya or nothin', but it was a might warm still. 

After we was done lookin' 'round everwhere, Pops took us back to his office n' called Dad to ask 'im if he wanted to come eat lunch with us guys.  Pops talked to 'im for a bit, laughin' and carryin' on, but when he hung up the phone, he was smilin' real big.  I knowd then that Dad was meetin' us for lunch. 

He called Daddy, n' I guess he was on his break or somethin', cause he answered his pocket phone.  Pops talked to Daddy a minute or two, then told Daddy he better hurry up n' call Dad while he had the time.  Then, he told 'im they would meet for dinner or somethin' sometime soon.  I guessed then that Daddy wasn't gonna get to come eat with us.  Pops was smilin' when he hung up the phone, sayin' somethin' bout how funny Daddy was.

We left his work n' drove down the street to this real fancy eatin' place.  Dad pulled up near us just a second or two later.  All three of us was 'cited to see Dad, but Pops gave him a real big hug.  Yep, I just knowd Pops loved Dad lots.

I wasn't none to sure what to order, so I looked at Sorrow.  He knowd what I's thinkin' real quick n' ordered for both of us.  Honest, I could read what stuff was on that ol' menu just fine, but I didn't know what none of 'at stuff I's readin' was.  I's glad I had Sorrow with me, cause I reckon I wouldn't fit in nowheres if it wasn't for him.  Bein' an ol' street rat made me lots different n' most people.  I figured most of 'em would've laughed at me or somethin', not knowin' how to order like that.  But, my big ol' angel just smiled at me, rubbin' my hand all gentle like.  I leaned over n' kissed 'im on the cheek.  "See, you do lots of stuff for me, n' I'd be all lost without you, Sorrow.  Whether you's believin' it or not, I's real thankful for you." 
I tried to smile, but I was feelin' like a real big loser or somethin'.  "Sorrow, I's never wantin' to embarrass you or nothin', so what are we gonna do if we go out with Jake or any of 'em other guys to some place real fancy?   They's all gonna think I's stupid or somethin' cause I don't know none of this stuff like you do."

His eyes was glistenin' like sunshine on a clear puddle of water.  "It will be all right, Angel.  You just have to learn the names of things is all."  He kissed my hand then smiled at me.  "I guess we will have to go out on quite a few dates, so you can learn what each dish is and whether or not you like it."

"Yeah, but who's we gonna go out with?  We can't go by ourselfs or nothin' you know."  I said, feelin' kinda sad like.

"Well, there is Dad and Daddy, Ethan and Shaft, Jena and Jew, Cole and Allen, Grams and Nana, not to mention the rest of the family.  Besides, I really don't think the other guys would think much of it, Angel."  Sorrow said, tryin' his best to make me feel all better like.  Then, he smiled real big.  "If it bothers you that much, though, Chance, I have an idea.  Just trust me, Angel."

Him sayin' that made me smile.  "Always Sorrow.  I's always got my trust in you."  I ain't real sure what it was 'xactly, but I felt lots better 'bout it.  Sorrow n' me just rubbed one 'nother's hand while we listened to Dad n' Pops talk 'bout the weddin'.  Pops seemed like he was just as 'cited 'bout it as Dad n' Daddy was, and me n' Sorrow just smiled at each other. 

When we got our food, me 'n Sorrow got cut up chicken on these noodles that looked a lot like spaghetti with this white stuff on top of it.  I reckon that must be why they named all that food, cause I guess it wasn't all that fancy like if you said you's wantin' flat spaghetti noodles with cut up chicken covered up in that ol' white stuff.  I kinda laughed when I thought 'bout that. 

Sorrow started gigglin' too.  "Yeah, Angel, and I don't think it would sound very appetizing to read something worded quite that way on a menu, either."  I grinned real big like at 'im, n' he was all smilin' once he knowd what had happened.  "Wow!  Did that just happen?"

"I reckon so."  I laughed, kinda surprised by it happenin' like it did n' all.  "I told ya 'fore, we's special together, you n' me."  Then, I shook my head, laughin' at 'im.  "You knows I ain't really no kinda angel.  'Sides, we both 'd have to be angels if that was true.  We's just different I guess, like Dad n' Daddy n' Valerie."

Sorrow was grinnin' even more 'bout this.  "I tell you, Angel, you definitely make life interesting."

We giggled 'bout that then listened to Dad n' Pops some more.  Ever time Sorrow n' me would look at one 'nother, we would laugh cause we didn't really need to say much of nothin' for the other n' to know what was goin' on in our own head.  I knowd neither of us doubted it 'fore then, but we really knowd we's made real special for one 'nother after that.

After lunch was over, Pops took Dad to a few places to look at clothes n' stuff for the weddin'.  
At this one place, they got some books that was special for guy n' guy couple weddin's.   They's lookin' at all kinds of stuff I guess, n' Dad said he would have to talk with Daddy to see what he wanted and how much they's gonna spend on gettin' committed to one 'nother. 

Pops must've been one of 'em kinda fella's that keep everthin' all neat n' tidy like, cause he wrote everthin' down Dad liked n' what store it was at.  I was kinda glad for that, cause we all knowd poor ol' Dad just wasn't thinkin' right.  He was way to 'cited for that.  We all kinda giggled at 'im a few times cause he was gettin' all antsy like one 'em ol' tom cats up on a tar roof in the middle of the summer heat.  He just couldn't stand still for too long or nothin' like that.  Sorrow called it spastic, but I just called it funny.

"Well, Sonny, I guess we will have to try this again with Kanawha and see what we can determine.  At least now, we have some idea what will be needed."  Pops said, smilin' at Dad.  "The two of you need to plan out your dream wedding, because I am certain this will only happen once for each of you."  He patted Dad on the cheek.  "He's a wonderful man, Sonny, and I could not dream of anyone better for you than he.  I know you two will be together your entire lives."

Dad hugged 'im real tight like, "Thank you, Derek.  I really appreciate you looking with me today."  Then, Dad smiled all big.  "I don't know about you, but I had a blast!   It just feels natural spending time with you like this."  Dad got kinda quiet for a minute.  "My father has been gone twenty years now, so today was very special to me.  It felt like I had a father again, and I cannot thank you enough for that."

Pops smiled at Sorrow n' me, then looked back at Dad.  "The boys and I had a long discussion about David last night, and it helped me sort through a great many things.  Honestly, though, spending time with you and Kanawha...  but especially you... well, I guess it has opened me up in some way.  See, you remind me so much of him.  I know you are not  David, but you..."  Then, Pops got all quiet.

"Help fill some of the loneliness?"  Dad asked real quiet like n' Pops shook his head.  Dad was all grins.  "That is exactly how I feel about you!  I honestly thought I had dealt with all the issues of losing my parents long ago, but now I am not so sure.  I do know that I find comfort in thinking of you, well, like my father."

Pops smiled.  "Well, then Sonny, I guess we have settled that issue."

Dad hugged him real tight again.  "I guess we have, Pop."  Pops got all teary n' held on to Dad for a while.  Dad leaned back, lookin' at 'im.  "I believe this was part of our destiny, a way for us to help each other heal."

Sorrow rubbed on my hand n' I turned to see one little ol' tear fallin' down his cheek.  All soft like, he whispered, "Angel, I know this might sound funny, but I am so glad to know that Pop isn't going to be lonely anymore.  He hasn't always been there for me the way I would have liked, and I know my place is with you and our dads, but, still, I love Pop."

"I love 'im too Sorrow."  I grinned at my big ol' angel.  "You know how ol' Job lost everthin' he had?  Then, later, God gave it all back to 'im, only he got lots more 'n he had 'fore?  Well, I reckon that's what's happenin' for all of us now."  I 'xplained to 'im what I's thinkin'.   "We all lost a lot.  Dad lost his mom 'n dad.  Daddy lost his whole family 'cept Grams.  I lost my mom n' I never knowd my dad or nothin'.  And you n' Pops, y'all lost David n' each other n' your mom too.  Now, though, look at what we's got.  We have a great big ol' family back at home, n' we gots Ed n' Valerie n' Allen.  We's got two dads n' a Pops to boot.  Plus, we's got one 'nother too.  Pops got you n' me n' Dad n' Daddy too.  Dad n' Daddy got each other, us, Pops, n' everbody else.  Yep, I reckon God's a blessin' us, givin' us back what we's lost n' more."

Sorrow hugged me all tight.  "Oh, Angel!  You're right!  And, lets not forget all our new friends from the group and the kids at the mission.  And, then there is Blade."

"We's blessed Sorrow.  God ain't never forgot us.  It just takes time is all n' now I reckon its time for us." 

He kissed me all nice.   "You are my Godsend, Angel.  You see things in such a perspective that I need.  Thank you, Chance."  He rubbed my face in his hands.  "I love you, Angel, with everything that I am."

"I know you do, n' I love you just the same way." 

We turned to see Dad n' Pops laughin' n' carryin' on with one 'nother still.  Sorrow n' me walked up to 'em n' hugged 'em both, Sorrow from one side n' me from the other.

"Not that I am complaining, but what was that for boys?"  Dad asked, smilin' at us both.

"I reckon we's gettin' lonely for our Dad n' our Pops is all."  I said, winkin' at Sorrow.  "'Sides, sometimes it's nice to let a fella know you love 'im."

"I can't argue with that, Chance."  Pops smiled at me.  He then looked at Dad, wrappin' his arms round Sorrow n' me.  "What do you think the odds are of my taking my four boys out for dinner this evening."

 "Well, I believe it's pretty much a sure thing that your four boys will be taking you out for dinner this evening." Dad laughed.  "Why don't you just come home with us?  Then, after Love gets home, we can get ready and leave from there."

"You have a deal."  Pops grinned. 

Sorrow rode with Pops n' I 'sided to ride with Dad.  I giggled a little bit, cause I knowd what Sorrow was thinkin' while we was ridin' home.  He was missin' me already n' I's missin' him too.  It was kinda nice knowin' part of 'im was with me, though, up in my head. 

Dad asked me what I's laughin'  'bout once n' I told 'im. 

"You know, I wish I could do that with your Daddy."  He smiled.

"I reckon y'all 's gonna have somethin' even better 'fore long."  I told 'im.

"Well, I will definitely take your word for it, Son." He grinned.  "So, how did you like spending the night with Pop?"

I told 'im all bout Pops teachin' us dancin' n' that paper place.  He thought the paper place was real neat n' he said I'd have to show 'im some of the dancin' we learned sometime soon. 

When we got home, the four of us played with 'em ol' pups for a while.  They's startin' to get bigger n' I wondered just how big they's gonna get.  They was still good at chasin' stuff, but they sure wasn't good at givin' nothin' back once they got in in those big ol' slobbery mouths of theirs.

After that, we went inside n' played us some games.  Pops started teachin' me n' Sorrow how to play this one game called Chess.  It was one of 'em games you had to think a whole lot at.  Sorrow seemed like he liked it real good, but I kinda thought it was borin'.  I liked 'em games we played at that ol' mall lots better.

Daddy finally made it home n' we all met 'im at the door.  He hugged us up all tight like, tellin' us how much he missed us n' all that.  I's just glad he's home.  He gave Dad a big ol' kiss.  I told Sorrow I thought that was real special, seein' 'em show how much they loved one 'nother.  Sorrow said he couldn't wait to come home to me n' our kids someday.  I just laughed, tellin 'im I reckoned I's gonna be the one comin' home to 'im.  Pops laughed at both of us, tellin' us we could always come home to each other n' stuff like that.  I guessed ol' Pops was right 'bout that.

Hela got home n' was real glad to see me n' Sorrow, kissin' us lots.  Course, she kissed Dad n' Daddy on the cheek.  We's all wearin' big ol' red lip marks on our faces, n' we all laughed 'bout that.  She told us Grams n' Nana left to go home n' get some of their stuff packed to move here.  I's glad they's comin' back, n' this time, they's gonna be here for good. 

Soon, ever'body else was home too.  Me n' Sorrow jumped on ol' Jew n' Jena cause we missed 'em.  They hugged us right back.  Cole n' Mic gave us both kisses, n' Roe squeezed us nearly to death.  Sorrow asked 'im if he had time later, he needed to talk to 'im 'bout somethin' important.  Roe said he's there for us any time we's a needin' 'im.  Sorrow said he'd tell 'im all 'bout it later.

'Bout that time, Ethan n' Shaft sneaked up on us n' started ticklin' us somethin' awful.  We's all on the ground just a laughin' n' carryin' on like that.  They hugged us real tight, tellin' us they really missed us since we was gone to Pops.  I reckon we missed 'em boys lots too, cause they was just good people.  I knowd they's both real special to us.  I guess all our family was, though.

After our family talked for a bit, we took our Pops to dinner.  We 'cided we's gonna go see Ed n' Valerie, so that's where we went to eat.  They was a waitin' on us at the door.  Me n' Sorrow both kissed Valerie on the cheek n' then headed to the kitchen with the boss to fix us some dinner.  I tell ya, that ol' Ed was real fun to work with.  He had us laughin' the whole time we's cookin'.  He let me n' Sorrow fix 'em steaks while he fixed up the broccoli n' mashed 'tatoes.  We also had us some corn n' salad.  Boy was it ever good.

Pops liked his steak still bleedin n' all red inside.  It looked all yucky, but he said I just needed to try it that way 'fore I 'cided if 'n I liked it or not.  So, I tried me a piece of it n' I's 'prised.  It was REAL good, way better n' mine was.  Dad wrinkled up his nose at it, n' Daddy said me n' Pops oughta just bite us a cow or somethin'.

"Why'd we wanna bite on a cow for?"  I asked 'im.

Sorrow grinned at me n' leaned real close to me.  "Angel, that is where you get steaks.  They are part of a cow."

Honest, I didn't know that or nothin'.  I just told 'im, "Well, I reckon that's the best tastin' ol' cow I's ever eat 'fore."  He just laughed n' kissed me on the cheek.

We talked 'bout the weddin' some more.  Daddy was real 'cited 'bout it too, but nobody was 'cited as Dad.  His whole face was glowin' when he talked 'bout it.  One thing's for sure, though, Daddy definitely made Dad happy.  I's real glad for that.

I seen Daddy was noticin' Dad callin' Pops Pop  when he first got home.   He grinned 'bout it each time he did it.  But, Daddy was all smilin' when Pops called 'im Son  while we was eatin', just like I was when Dad first said it to me.  

Valerie noticed that too, cause she pat me n' Sorrow on the shoulder, just smilin' while she looked at our dads n' Pops.  "They will be good for each other, boys.  You are never too old to have need of a father or of a son."  She said all quiet like.  She looked down at us both.  "I believe you both have already figured that out, though.  And, you are right, boys.  God blesses us, filling the voids of our loss with his love, all in his own time and in his own way.  It's just wonderful to see it happen with your own eyes."

Sorrow smiled up at her, pattin' her hand that was on his shoulder.  Then, she grinned at 'im.  "With so much happiness, I'm not so sure it is fitting to call you Sorrow anymore."

He giggled.  "I know someday I won't.  I'll be someone else entirely.  Chance and I both know that much."

"And what a glorious one you will be."  She patted my Sorrow's face.  "That time is coming soon, my child, so very soon."

"I know."  Sorrow said back.  "I just hope we are ready."

We helped clean up the dishes while our dads n' Pops had 'em some coffee n'  tea.   Once we's finished, Valerie gave me n' Sorrow two little boxes.  "These are a special gift for being such great helpers."  Ed told us.

We opened 'em, and there was these real neat necklaces inside.  Mine was these three loops that met in the middle with a big eagle in the center.  Sorrow's was the same, 'cept his had a dove in the center.  We thanked 'em both n' helped each other put 'em on.  Then, we run n' showed Dad n' Daddy n' Pops.  They all told us we looked real handsome in 'em, n' Dad thanked Valerie n' Ed for bein' so good to us.

We went on home shortly after that.  I took 'em pups out while Sorrow went n' talked to Roe.  Then, we met with Dad n' Daddy through the new door Roe'd put up.  We had us our own little home inside our big ol' house then.  I's cuddled up on Daddy's lap on one end of that big ol' couch.  Sorrow had his head in Dads lap on the other end, but he was all stretched out with his feet on my lap.  'Em pups was huddled up sleepin' in one of the chairs.

"Are you comfortable enough, Son?"  Dad asked Sorrow, runnin' his hands in Sorrow's hair.

Sorrow smiled up at 'im.  "I am now, Dad."  He let out a big ol' sigh.  "It was good to spend time with Pop, but man is it ever great to be home."

Dad leaned down n' kissed 'im on the forehead.  "We love you, Son."  He grinned over at me.  "We love you, too, Son.  You boys are our lives, and we would be lost without you."

Daddy kissed my forehead n' scratched my back all easy like.  "We are glad you are back home, too.  It was kind of lonely here last night without you two."  After a quiet spell, Daddy asked.  "So, is there anything special you boys want to do before we go to bed?"

I smiled at 'im, liftin' my head up off his big ol' chest.  "I's kinda hopin' you'd read to us some.  I like listenin' to ya."  Daddy laughed n' reached over for that book we was readin' together.  Then, he read to us all till time for bed. 

After tuckin' us in, prayin' with us, n' kissin' us good night, our dads went on to bed.  Sorrow kissed me night n' snuggled up on my chest.  We talked for a little bit n' I guess we both went to sleep talkin'. 

We went to the mission the next mornin' n' had us a big ol' party.  We started at that ol' school Thursday, so this was the last day we's gonna be there durin' the day time.  Since most of 'em kids had school too, we's gonna meet from after school till five after that day.  Some of 'em kids, though, the real young 'n's too young for school, was gonna be comin' durin' the day.  There was lots of help from that University place that fella Jena knowd had sent.  They all seemed real nice.

When we got home, Carter n' Dwayne was there, cuddled up with Ethan n' Shaft.  I could tell 'em boys was cryin, so I knowd they's havin' 'em some trouble at home.  Hela brought 'em some of her special tea n' pet 'em both.  I knowd Ethan n' Shaft was awful upset 'bout 'em both cryin' like they was.

Sorrow walked over to Shaft n' pat his shoulder.  "We'll figure out something.  Don't worry.  Just have faith."  He said all soft like. 

In my head, I could hear Sorrow tellin' me what was wrong.  'Em poor fella's had been yelled at by their Dad again, Carter for bein' gay n' Dwayne for lovin' his brother like he's 'posed to.  Then, I could see what all had happened to 'em up in my head.  I couldn't help it really, cause I's just started cryin'.  Me n' Sorrow sure was lucky to find our dads like we did.

Roe come down the steps n' whispered to Jew.  Then, they each carried one of 'em boys upstairs to one of the rooms we wasn't usin' for nothin'.  Roe'd fixed it up for 'em.   Ethan went on upstairs with Mic, carryin' up 'em boys stuff, while Shaft stayed down with us. 

He 'xplained what had happened.  'Em boys were thowd out on the streets n' had no place else to go.   They called Ethan n' Shaft once they got to thinkin'.  They went n' picked poor Carter n' Dwayne up n' brought 'em back home.  They got to take 'em some clothes at least, n' a few other things.

Jena was real mad like.  Dad n' Hela both hugged up on me n' Sorrow, bein' all sad n' quiet like.  Cole took Shaft's hands n' knelt down on the floor prayin' for an answer.  Daddy come home then, n' Hela went to him, tellin' 'im what was goin' on.  He hugged her real tight while she cried.  Somehow, I knowd lots more 'bout Hela then.  Sorrow did too, cause his tears told me so.

Dad hugged us both n' then went into the kitchen with Jena.  They come out a little while later n' sat with the rest of us.  A little bit later, Janet from the mission came by the house.  Hela went up to get Ethan n' she stayed with 'em boys while Ethan came down stairs.  She talked with Dad n' Daddy 'bout some classes n' stuff they's gonna have to take, sayin' Ethan n' Shaft would need to take 'em too if they was wantin' to try to keep 'em boys.  Shaft asked her 'bout his heart, but she said she didn't think it would matter all that much.  They'd be facin' the same things our dads was facin', though.  She gave 'em a bunch of stuff to fill out n' then headed up to talk with Carter n' Dwayne.

When Janet left, everbody was real quiet.  Then, Jena got mad again.  "I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like hitting something... hitting it hard!"

Sorrow grinned at her.  "Something like maybe a baseball?"

Cole runned upstairs n' came back with 'em poor boys a few minutes later.  "Well, everyone.  Don't just stand there, go get ready.  I believe we have a baseball game to play."

So, out we went to play baseball.  We all tried our best to forget about all that bad stuff a goin' on.  I reckon it worked, cause we all ended up havin' us some real fun.   Shaft was a bit worried bout the boys n' somethin' else, only Sorrow n' me knowd what it was.

I hugged 'im, smilin' at 'im.  "Don't be worryin' none Shaft.  It's all gonna be fine.  Like Sorrow told ya, you's just gotta have some faith." 

He grinned n' kissed me on the cheek.  "You know, Humper, I love you.  You always seem to make me feel more hopeful."  He hugged me, then we started playin' ball again.  I reckon that worked, cause he wasn't so worried after that. 

We had supper when we all got home.  After cleanin' up, we played some games.  Carter n' Dwayne got sad a few times, but our family was not one to let anybody stay all sad like for long.  When it was time for bed, our dads led us to our room, while Ethan n' Shaft took 'em boys to their new room. 

"Daddy?"  I asked.

"Yes, Son?"  He smiled down at me.

"You know how you n' Dad are our dads n' all?  Well, I reckon Shaft n' Ethan's gonna be like that with Carter n' Dwayne.  But I's wonderin' how that's gonna work.  They ain't all old like you n' Dad are."  I said.

Dad just laughed.  So did Daddy, though I wasn't none to sure why.  "Well, Son, I guess they are old enough.  Don't worry, Chance.  It will all work out for the better."

I felt lots better after that.  Me n' Sorrow talked a bit cause I was all nervous 'bout goin' to school n' all.  He put my head on his warm ol' chest, huggin me tight to 'im n' that's how we fell asleep.

The next mornin', Sorrow helped me pick out what to wear.  He wore 'em pants n' shirt I picked out for 'im at that ol' mall.  I was likin' how he was lookin in 'em even more n' fore. 

We ate us our breakfast.  Then, Dad n' Shaft took us boys to school.  Shaft talked with 'em office people while we waited for  'im.  Then, he n' Dad hugged us all, tellin' us to have a good day.

There was all kinds of people there in that ol' school.  I's kinda scared, but Sorrow took my hand, tellin' me it was OK.  Some of 'em kids started laughin' at us, but we didn't pay 'em no mind. 

They shut up, though when Blade grabbed 'em.  "You say anything else to any of them, and I will clean the floor with you."  He said, growlin' like a mad dog or somethin'.   After they run off, Blade smiled at us.  "Definitely making an impression, aren't you guys?"  He laughed.  "TJ and Jake are over by the cafeteria waiting for you guys."

We walked over n' met up with our friends.  I wasn't all nervous like when we was with them.  We talked for a few minutes, n' Blade told us to write down peoples names that we saw needin' some clothes.  Then this loud ol' bell went off.  Sorrow said it was time to go, so I followed him to what he called home room.  Carter was in there with us.  So was Blade, but I didn't know none of the rest of 'em kids.  I sat close to 'em waitin' on the teacher to come. 

I's surprised when I seen her.  It was 'at Miss Cooper I'd met when I took 'em ol' tests.  She smiled at me n' Sorrow.  "Well, hello Chance.  Eric.  I hope your first day is going well."

"I reckon I's still a bit nervous."  I said.

"Don't worry, Chance.  You will make some friends in no time, I'm sure.  Just relax and try to enjoy the day.  At least it is only a half day today."  I liked that Miss Cooper, cause she was nice to me n' all that, even though she knowd I's from the streets.

She told us lots of rules n' borin' stuff like that.  She gave us lockers n' Sorrow told me they was places to put our books n' stuff in.  Me n' Sorrow was sharin' one together, so I knowd he'd show me how it worked and what it looked like later.  We's in there a real long time.  Then, we started goin' to all our classes.  Boy was we gonna do lots of walkin'.

We seen ol' Wyatt in the hall, n' his hands started movin' all fast like.  Sorrow gave 'im some paper cause we didn't know nothin' of what he was sayin'.  He just said hi to us n' said he hoped we had us a good day.  Then, he said he'd see us at the meetin' later.

Sorrow n' me had a couple friends in most of our classes, 'cept at ol' English.  We wrote us down some names when 'em guys would say who they was to the class.  There was some girls needin' clothes too, but I didn't know what we was gonna do bout that.  We wrote down their names anyhow. 

Blade was in our gym class.  So was TJ, only he was helpin' the teacher 'stead of takin' the class with us.  He talked to us for a few minutes 'fore that Coach fella started barkin' at us.  He sounded like a mean ol' guy, but Blade said he was a nice fella.

We went through our classes kinda quick cause of the half day, but all 'em teachers did was talk 'bout the rules n' borin' stuff like that.  Finally, it was over.  We met ever'body back by that cafeteria place n' talked for a few minutes.  Then, Sorrow n' me n' Carter n' Dwayne went outside to wait for someone to pick us up.  Pops was there a waitin'.  He took us by to get us some lunch to go -- I kinda thought sayin' it like that was funny somehow, cause it made ya wonder where 'at food was goin' 'sides in your belly--  n' then took us to the mission to see Dad n' Shaft.  We told him all  'bout that ol' school.  He said we'd have us fun 'fore long cause school would get lots better.  I was hopin' he was right 'bout that, cause school was real borin' if you's askin' me.

We ate us lunch with Pops and all our family that was workin' at the mission that day.  Since Shaft was gonna be buildin', we all went with Dad.  I kinda wanted to go build, but I didn't say nothin'.  Turned out, Dad let us change oil again.  We learned how to put 'em tires on too.  That was real fun cause we got to use that thing that made 'em ol' cars go up all high like in the air n' stuff.  We got to use lots of other tools n' stuff too.

We got home n' took out Domino n' Chips.  Hela n' Dad fixed dinner.  Daddy got home a little after we did, n' he stayed out there with Sorrow n' me n' Dwayne n' Carter while we played with the pups.  He wrestled 'round with us some when Ethan came out.  Ethan n' Daddy seemed to make one 'nother silly for some reason, but we had lots of fun playin' 'round all rough like with 'em. 

After we ate dinner, we all got ready for the meetin'.  Everbody liked meetin' our family.  Carter n' Dwayne told the other fella's what had happened to 'em.  They's all real sorry 'bout what'd happened, but they's glad they had 'em a place to stay.  Blade talked with the group 'bout his plan with the clothes.  We talked 'bout a few of 'em girls needin' some clothes n' he said he would see what he could get Mario to do about that.  Sorrow n' me made sure to invite Alex n' Kevin to help us, n' they both said they would.  We told 'im we'd pick 'em up.  Then, we told our dads 'bout it.

'At pizza guy showed up with his sister and her girlfriend.  His name was Nicholas.  His sister was Alison n' her girlfriend was Kristin.  They's OK lookin' for girls I guess.  Juan thought ol' Nicholas was cute, but Alison told 'im to give it a rest cause he had 'im a girlfriend.

Dakota told Carter how sorry he was n' gave 'im a hug.  I reckon he was likin' that hug quite a bit.  Dwayne whispered to me that he thought Carter was beginning to have a crush on Dakota.  Sorrow giggled, tellin' Dwayne that ol' crush was goin' both ways.

Dad started teachin' us some of that hand talkin' stuff.  I learned how to say a few of 'em words, but  'at Wyatt was just to fast for me to know anythin' he was sayin' back.   Dad just smiled n' told me it would take some time to learn.  Lots of 'em fella's liked Roe n' Hela.  I think they's center of everbody's attention for a good bit.

Bobby, 'at little short fella, then said we was gonna sing some.  Jew and Hela sang a couple songs, which ever'body liked, even Blade.  Then, Jena n' Cole sang with Ethan n' Shaft.  They sounded real good together too.  They played some music n' danced some after ever'body sang what they was wantin'.  Thank God ol' Roe didn't sing, though.  He wasn't none to good at it, but he sure liked doin' it.  He was too busy tellin' ever'body stories n' stuff like that.

When we got back home, Sorrow took me to the kitchen, tellin' me he had a 'prise for me.  Roe n' Hela came with us.  On the table was a bunch of 'em menu things.  We sat down n' Roe n' Hela 'xplained what all that stuff on 'em was n' what they's made from.  They didn't laugh at me none 'bout not knowin' none of that stuff n' I thought that was real special.  They asked me a bunch of questions 'bout it later n' helped me if I's stuck.  'Fore too long, I knowd what most of it was.  I's kinda proud of myself, but I's real proud of Sorrow.  He did that just for me n' it meant a whole lot that he would go to all that trouble.  I thanked Hela n' Roe a bunch of times.  I also gave my sweet ol' Sorrow several big kisses for doin' all that for me.

Daddy come in n' jacked us both up on his big ol' shoulders, tellin' us to tell ever'body night.  Then, he carried us up to bed.  Dad was waitin' for us.  We talked for a little while for we got ready for bed.  Then, they tucked us in, prayed with us, n' kissed us night.

Me n' Sorrow musta been real tired, cause I think we went to sleep 'fore our dads even left our room.  Next thing I knowd, it was time for that ol' school again.  Friday took lots longer n' Thursday.  We did lots more n' talked 'bout rules in our classes too.  They gave us some sheets 'bout different clubs n' stuff to join.  Sorrow 'xplained what a club was to me n' we talked 'bout joinin' a few of 'em.

We met a few fella's from group at lunch time.  Blade n' his football friends came over n' sat with us.  Sorrow told me up in my head that he was 'prised they did, cause he figured most of the kids would pick on 'em for bein' 'round us gay guys.  Nobody really said much to us.  A couple of times, I was holdin' Sorrow's hand n' I heard a few of 'em whisper stuff 'bout us, but none of 'em said nothin' loud 'nough for us to hear clear what they's sayin'.  

We had to change for 'at gym class n' one of the fella's pushed me, sayin' I was lookin' at his stuff down there.  Sorrow was real mad like when he pushed me, but I let 'im know I's fine.  I wasn't even interested in 'at boy cause I had Sorrow n' told 'im so.  He started to say somethin' else n' I started to grab 'at boy. 

Blade stopped me though.  He looked at that boy real mean like.  "Look, I hate to tell you this, but Chance can easily kick your ass.  I don't think it's wise for you to mess with him."  Then, he grabbed him by the shirt real strong like.  "Besides, it really pisses me off when people like you mess with my friends.  You don't want to piss me off now, do you?" 

That boy left us alone after that.  I was wantin' him to say somethin' else though, cause I was ready to stomp him but good.  Sorrow kept laughin' at me cause I's broodin' over what that fella had said.  "Just let it go, Angel.  Let's have fun." He said all sweet like.  So, we played us some basketball.  I ain't all that good at it, but we had fun anyway.

Finally, school was over n' Roe picked us up.  He could tell I's still mad n' Sorrow told 'im what happened.  Dwayne told me not to worry 'bout that ol' boy either, but I just knowd he was gonna be trouble.

We got to the mission n' we worked with 'em kids some.  That made me forget 'bout that ol' mouthy guy.  Carter n' Dwayne seemed to like all 'em kids we worked with.  I think they liked Carter n' Dwayne too.  We played lots of games n' read stories.

When we got home, TJ called on my pocket phone n' asked if we wanted to go eat n' watch a movie.  Dad n' Daddy, Ethan n' Shaft, Dwayne n' Carter, n' Jew n' Jena came with us.  Carter called to see if Dakota could come, n' that made Dwayne real happy.   We thought 'bout callin' Blade, but he was playin' football.  We sided next week we'd go watch 'im play. 

I didn't know it, but ol' Jena was real good at 'em games, almost as good as Ethan.  We had us lots of fun playin'.  We ate Chinese stuff for dinner.  It didn't look real good, but it tasted just fine.  I liked 'em egg roll things n' ate me a bunch of 'em.  Daddy was a piggin' on 'em too.  I guess all us fella's knowd how to eat, though.

We saw one of 'em kissy movies Jena n' Dad liked.  I reckon Ethan liked 'em too.  Sorrow n' me did kiss a couple times in it, cause it just felt real nice like in that movie.  I still liked that big ol' knife movie though. 

Dwayne got us to look over at Carter n' Dakota, cause they was holdin' hands.  He was so 'cited bout that, cause his brother was findin' 'im someone special.  Ethan got all panicked 'bout it, n' Shaft said Ethan would have to talk to Carter 'bout sex later n' all.  That got 'im real worked up then, n' we all laughed at 'im, 'cept Carter n' Dakota cause they didn't even know none of us had seen 'em or nothin' like that.  Jena said she thought it was cute that her nephew had 'im a boyfriend.  I think she liked sayin' she had nephews, cause she called us that lots too.  I guess she was just happy for Ethan n' Daddy, really.

We went to bed soon after we got home cause we was workin' the next mornin'.  We went by n' picked up 'at Alex n' Kevin, cause this was gonna be a real special day.  Everbody came back to work Saturday mornin', even Pops n' Blade.  That Alison n' Nicholas came too, but her girlfriend couldn't come.  We introduced Pops n' Ed n' Valerie to Alex n' Kevin, and they all seemed like they thought 'em two was a real nice fellas.  Ed showed 'em 'round, tellin' 'em what we was gonna be doin' n' all.  Then, we gots to work.

Once em young fella's came, we all talked with 'em, findin' out as much as we could 'bout 'em.  Dad n' Daddy helped us figure out what sizes we was gonna need.  We gave all our lists to Blade then.  He was gonna call Mario n' tell 'im 'bout sizes n' stuff.

While everbody was cleanin' up, Sorrow n' me went to find Valerie n' Ed.  We wasn't bein' all lazy like, though.  We had somethin' real important to do.  They's in the kitchen together, so we walked up to 'em grinnin.

"Valerie n' Ed, we has a big 'prise for you both."  I smiled.

"Oh, now boys!   You really don't have to get us anything."  Valerie grinned.

"Those necklaces were for being such good helpers, not something to get you to buy us something in return."  Ed said.

"Well, we didn't buy you guys anything, but this gift is beyond price."  Sorrow laughed.  "Actually, the gift is not from us at all.  It's from someone who loves you and wants to thank you for all you have done for others."

"What?"  ol' Valerie said, shocked like.

Sorrow n' me took her n' Ed's hands, showin' 'em
up in their heads what we knowd.   As they seen it, they 'both started cryin' all happy like.  "It's what he's a wantin' for you, what he's wantin' you to do for 'im too."  I told 'em.

"He says it is a blessing of his love for you, for all the love you have shown to others."  Sorrow smiled n' waited.  I reckon they's still shocked n' all that.  "Well, go talk to him.  He's gonna be your son, now, so there is no need to be shy."  Sorrow laughed.

"We just hope you's still gonna want us workin' with ya now you gots you a son."  I giggled.

Valerie n' Ed hugged us real tight, tellin' us how much they loved us.  Then, we prayed 'fore they went out n' talked to ol' Alex.  His mom n' dad didn't want 'im, thowin' 'im out on the streets like they did, so God was givin' 'im to two people who did.  I knowd ol' Kevin would be real happy 'bout that.

Ed n' Valerie started talkin' with ol' Alex n' Kevin.  Then, they got all 'cited, huggin' Valerie n' Ed.  I knowd then they asked Alex if he wanted to live with 'em instead of goin' from friend to friend like he had been a doin'.  Kevin hugged up his boyfriend real tight, and I knowd he was thankful.  Ol' Kevin's life wasn't all that good at home, but 'least his parents didn't throw 'im out or nothin' like that.  I knowd they's gonna come 'round soon anyhow.  Blade already had Alex's name on that list, cause me n' Sorrow done put it on there.

Ever'body was real happy 'bout Alex gettin' 'im somebody who was gonna love 'im n' take care of 'im.  After we cleaned up, we told em all bye.  Ed was gonna take Kevin home later.  I guess 'at Kevin was gonna help Alex get what little stuff he had moved to his new room n' all that.

We went on home n' Sorrow n' me met with Carter n' Dwayne to work on our homework.  I wasn't all that happy 'bout it, but long as I got to be with Sorrow, I guessed homework was OK.  It took us a good while to finish all that stuff, but I reckon it was cause we kept talkin' 'bout Alex.  Then, we spent the rest of the day as one big family, just talkin' n' spendin' time together.

We had us a good day on Sunday too.  Carter n' Dwayne got introduced at church n' ever'body was glad to meet 'em.  Ethan n' Shaft was real proud of 'em boys, just like our dads was of us.  Allen had 'em all come up front n' introduced 'em all formal like to ever'body. 

What was funny was that his message was on ol' Job, just like me n' Sorrow was talkin' bout 'fore.  Allen said that sometimes bad stuff happened and we wondered why.  He said why wasn't all that important, cause if we held us some faith in God, then we was gonna make it through everthin'.  God was gonna bless us in the end with more n' we had 'fore.

Sorrow giggled.  "Well, Angel, I suppose you saw that one coming.  And, of course, you were right as usual."  I got real shy like when he said that.  He lifted up my head n' looked me in the eyes.  "Angel, you are far smarter than you give yourself credit.  I swear, I think you see things through God's own eyes sometimes.  And, I love you for that unique way of looking at things, Chance. "

Dad n' Daddy was talkin' 'bout that message n' how it was true with them n' Pops.  Sorrow just grinned at me again.  Shaft told Ethan that God was blessin' him for all the heartache Ethan had with his dad.  Jena agreed with 'im, huggin' Ethan all strong.  Carter n' Dwayne kept lookin' at their new dads, smilin'.  I reckon they knowd when God was blessin' 'em too.

Allen come home with us for dinner n' ever'body told 'im what a great job he did.  Sorrow grinned at me again, tellin' me he thought I's gonna be givin' people God's messages some day.   I just grinned at 'im cause I knowd what we would be doin'.  Really, we was already doin' it some.  I told 'im 'bout it up in his head n' he started gigglin' too. 

We had us a nice time really, ever'body sharin' love n' good feelin's with everbody else.  Carter n' Dwayne snuggled  up with their new dads, tellin' 'em how thankful they was for 'em bein' there when they was needin' them the most.  Ethan n' Shaft just hugged 'em back, tellin' their sons how happy they was to have 'em.

Dad n' Daddy walked up 'hind Sorrow n' me, wrappin' us up in their arms.  "I guess that is what we look like to everybody else, Love."  Daddy said.

"It sure is wonderful to see, I tell you that."  Dad smiled.

"I reckon we's feelin' like they's feelin' toward us when we first come here."  I said to 'em.

Sorrow got all teary like.  "So, that is how much they love us?"

"Yes, Son.  All of them."  Daddy said, tearin' up with 'im.

Dad grinned at us all.  "Well, this will bring us even closer together.  We have been able to see things in another perspective and learned just how special our little family is.  Not to mention, we have learned how great the love our bigger family has for each of us."

"You know, when we's all together, we's lots more n' we are when we's separate.  I don't know really how to 'xplain it, but we are."  I said.

Daddy rubbed my head.  "That we are son, and we know exactly what you mean."

After church that evenin', we 'vited Ethan n' Shaft n' 'em boys to read with us.  We let them sit on the couch while I sat on Daddy's lap in one chair n' Sorrow snuggled up in Dads on the other.  We started a new story with 'em, and ever'body had his turn readin'.  We stopped after each one of us read, tellin' 'bout what the story reminded us of or what we's thinkin' it was really sayin' 'sides the story itself. 

"You know, this was really fun."  Dwayne told us.  "I don't think Carter or I have ever read with someone before, but I think we should do this again sometime."

"Well, we do it lots, so y'all just come down here n' join us when you's wantin' to."  I told 'em.

Daddy kissed me on my cheek.  "Anytime guys.  We enjoy spending time with you."  Then, he started laughin'.  "You know, we have more in common than anyone else I can think of at the moment.  I believe we truly understand each other."

"And, we are there for each other."  Shaft smiled.  "You guys are our family, too.  I guess we all are, really, but we seem to have a stronger connection for some reason.  Maybe it is as you say, we have so much in common.  But, whatever it is, I'm just glad we have you guys."

We all hugged night n' got ready for bed.  We had us a whole week of that ol' school comin' up.


School was a bit more eventful that second week.  There was a lot more class involvement and homework assignments.  Chance and I met a few new kids that seemed nice enough.  We also met a few that were not quite so nice.

One guy in our math class kept making comments about us.  He had shoved Angel in gym class the week before, so I really did not like him much.  By Wednesday, he was getting on my nerves.  The teacher called upon Chance to give an answer, and the guy actually mocked Angel, making fun of the way he said things.  Chance was hurt by this, and I had reached my limit. 

As soon as class was over, I was fueled by anger.  I waited on the guy to exit class then swiftly flung him against the lockers.  "Look, saying something about me is one thing, but mocking my Angel, well that is another entirely."  I grabbed him up by his shirt and raised him off the floor, as the fury overtook me.  "You made fun of him, and I for one do not like that.  I happen to love the way he says things.  Then, again, I happen to love Chance.  You have a problem with that, then I suggest you take it up with me.  But, be warned.  You had better leave my Angel alone. And, don't you EVER shove him again!"  Then, I slammed him hard into the lockers and dropped him to the ground.  Chance stood there, shocked that I had been so forceful.

I looked over to see our math teacher standing there.  She had seen the entire thing, so I just knew I was in real trouble.  She just nodded her head at me with a smirk, then looked the other way as if nothing had happened.

It turned out that a lot of the guys from the group were being picked on.  As the week went by, the insults came more and more.  It was terrible, honestly, yet there was little done to prevent it.  Blade was really pissed off by all this when we discussed it Wednesday at lunch.

"I just don't get it, guys.  Why can't they just leave you alone?"  He asked.

"I guess for the same reason you said what you did at that ol' mall, Blade." Angel said, patting his shoulder.  "You's learned lots since then, but I reckon they ain't yet."

"Well, maybe it is time somebody taught them."  Blade replied, anger flaring in his voice.

"You'll only get suspended, Blade."  Carter reasoned.  "Then, it will be even worse for us once you're out for the week."

As strange as it sounds, I was actually comforted seeing Blade enraged about our poor treatment.  Man, he had really come a long way, and I was rather proud of him.  "We just have to stick together guys.  We are stronger as one than we are as individuals."  I offered, using Angel's wise words, which made him grin.

Just then, there was a commotion a few tables over.  A few of the popular kids were degrading a few of the poorer ones.  It was horrible to see, though I knew how school was.  The bad part of it was, they were the group Blade and I had worked so hard to be a part of during our years of school.

"To think, I actually wanted to be part of them."  Blade fumed in disgust.  "Man, this is pure bullshit!  We have to do something.  It's only going to get worse unless we take a stand."

I was simply amazed by this.  "Blade, let's think this through.  There has to be a way without getting any of us suspended or hurt." 

He sulked for a few minutes.  "Yeah, I know, Sorrow, but it sucks.  I just want to go on the record for saying that."

Chance smiled at him, and started giggling.  "Well, I don't know if it'll make you feel all better or not, but I's real proud of ya, Blade.  You's turned out to be a real good friend to all us guys."

He grinned and ruffed up Angel's hair.  "Actually, Chance, that means more than you know.  Thanks, little guy."

Dakota spoke up.  "You know, what everyone needs is a good education in what it is like for others who are different.  The problem is finding a way to do this without getting into trouble."  We all agreed with him, though not one of us had a clue what to do.

On a lighter note, Chance and I joined a couple of clubs.  Seeing how animated Chance was in reading and acting out stories, Miss Cooper suggested he join the Drama Club.  I explained what it was, and Angel was completely into it, so we both joined.  We also decided to join the choir, which was only a club now because the school board did not have enough money to hire a regular teacher for making it a class.  With the way our family sang so much, it just seemed like a good thing for us to join.

Also, in English, we were discussing some of the stories we were reading and what they meant to our modern world.  Several of the class had presented very good ideas and points, but they all seemed to be flowing along the same lines.  Basically, everyone said they felt the writers were saying that the world was not perfect, and it was often unfair.

Miss Cooper agreed with them, but asked if anyone had a different opinion.  With no responses, she called on Angel to share his ideas on the subject.  Seeing that we sat up front, I guess we were bound to be called on a good bit.

He nervously chewed on his lip, calming himself.  After that guy in Math class said what he did, Angel was a bit timid.  "Well, I reckon that this ol' world ain't fair.  Lord knows it ain't perfect neither.  But, I don't think that's all they's tryin' to say 'bout it.  I think they's tryin' to say we's got a choice in what part we's gonna play in all of it."

Miss Cooper smiled widely at Angel, and he sighed with relief at her approval.  "Excellent point, Chance.  See, I told you that you would be an inspiration in this class."  She soothed, seeing how he had been worried.  "Now, would you care to elaborate on it.  Maybe you have a personal experience you might want to share about this."

Chance looked at me a moment, taking my hand for reassurance.  "Go ahead, Angel.  You can do this."  I whispered.

Then, he stood up, still holding my hand, and faced the rest of the class.  "Well, Sorrow n' me, we work some down at the mission.  Actually, we kinda just play 'round with some kids there n' read to 'em n' stuff like that.  But, I guess these kids is real special.  They's not like most kids.  See, some of 'em has trouble walkin', n' some of 'em can't see or nothin' like that.  Some of 'em are kinda like babies cause their brains don't work quite like other kids' brains do.  Anyways, they's all real special.  I guess we could just sit back n' say that life ain't fair, feelin' sorry for 'em kids, but that'd be all we did.  Or, we could get up off our butts n' do somethin' to make life easier for 'em poor guys.  No, I don't reckon life is fair for 'em, but they's still people.  They still need someone to love 'em, somebody to play with 'em, n' somebody to let 'em know that things is gonna be all right."  He became quiet, I think waiting for someone to say something bad about what he had to say.  No one did, though.  "Anyways, that's what I's thinkin' they's really meanin'.  We can't really change the way the world is, but I reckon we gets to choose what we do while we's in it."

"Very good, Chance!"  Miss Cooper bragged.  "That was very enlightened.  Was there anything else you gathered from the stories or your experiences you might like to add?"

Angel looked at me with a huge grin on his face.  Finally, he was going to show everyone else just how special and bright he truly was.  "Well, I guess that all 'em kids is different.  I mean, they all gots different problems n' ways you gotta work with 'em.  But, I guess they's really still the same too.  They's all kids n' even though they's all special, they's worth just the same to me.  They all oughta be treated good with respect n' all that."  He paused a moment and looked around at the class.  "I reckon that workin' with 'em's taught me 'bout myself too.  I knows it's made me real thankful for what all I's got in life.  I knows more 'bout things goin' on in other guys lives too, so I guess I know more 'bout the world that way.  We's just one world after all, n' to get to know what world we's livin' in, I think we's gotta get to know people different n' us."

"Wonderful, Chance!  You truly have the concepts I was aiming for in this discussion."  Miss Cooper praised.  "Now, class, does anyone have any thoughts or questions on what Chance has just shared with us."

One of the girls asked if Angel would tell them more about the work at the mission, and when Miss Cooper asked if he would share this, he smiled and agreed.  Through the entire class, Chance answered their questions, eventually telling them all about his life on the streets and how the two of us came to live with our dads.  He looked at me for approval before discussing how I came to live with them and I readily agreed.  He skirted around my depression, cutting and suicidal thoughts though, only saying I had some problems at home.  Everyone respected his answers and did not pry, but I offered to share my experiences during the next class, seeing as that one was almost over.  Before ending class, Miss Cooper requested that we each write down any ideas, thoughts, feelings, or experiences that were brought up by the discussion.

When the bell rang, I grabbed Chance into a tight hug and a quick kiss.  "Angel, I am so proud of you!  You really had them thinking, and I just know you have started something in them.  I think you inspired them to look inside themselves, Angel." 

He just dismissed what I said, grinning and shaking his head.  However, he soon learned I was correct, because much of the class stopped him in the hall.  Many of them commented on what he had said, and quite a few asked questions about things they could do to make a difference in someone's life.  Angel told them all to open their eyes and look around.  If they saw an opportunity to make a situation better, then act and do what they could.

Miss Cooper had heard him talking with them and called us over to the door.  "Chance, darling, I just knew you would be a great influence on our school.  I want to thank you again for sharing all your experiences with us today.  You opened a lot of minds, eyes, and hearts this afternoon, young man, and for that, you have earned 20 extra bonus points."

Chance was elated by this.  As we walked to gym, he was all grins.  "I can't believe none of 'em made fun of me, Sorrow.  They all 'cepted me, even knowin' what I was 'fore."

"I know, Angel."  I smiled.  "Given the opportunity to know you, anyone would be a fool not to love you."  I hugged him tightly.  "Not everyone will want to take the time to know you, Chance, but at least some of them will."

I told Blade and TJ what had happened in English class, and they both bragged on Angel.  "I can tell you, Chance, Miss Cooper is one lady who is not easily impressed.  She respects true intellectuals, so you must be one smart guy."  TJ grinned.  "Personally, I already knew that, but I don't think you realize it."

"Don't go giving him the big head."  Blade laughed.  "Seriously, Chance, you are a very inspiring person when you want to be.  I think you were what infected me with all this thinking of others crap.  Now look at me.  I'm hopeless in ever returning to my self-absorbed way of life."

"Well, I like you much better this way, Blade."  I commented, wrapping my arms around Angel.

"I guess I do, too." Blade replied, smiling.

Just then, Coach came by and looked at us.  Then, with a scowl on his face, he said.  "Well, are you boys gonna just stand there hugging on each other all period or are you going to play some ball."  Seeing the shock in our faces, Coach laughed.  "Look, you guys want to hug, fine.  I'm cool with that.  Just do it while you're dribbling.  You have to participate in order to get a grade, you know." 

Red-faced, Angel and I headed out on the court to join in the game.  TJ sat there laughing at us with Coach, while Blade followed behind us.  We had a good game, and Chance caught on more in how to play.  Blade gave him some pointers here and there, and Angel adapted quickly. 

At the mission, I told Dad all about our English class.  He was quite proud of Angel, and so was Daddy when we told him.  Pop was thrilled and said he would be by the house to take us out to celebrate.  I guess he took every opportunity to be with us, and none of us minded in the slightest.  However, when he made it to the house, we roped him into joining the whole family in a celebration dinner at home.  Dwayne had received an A on one of his papers, so we had two reasons for celebration that evening.

Thursday was better.  That guy from Math class kept his mouth shut.  I also noticed some of our English class were taking action, standing up for others when someone would make an off-hand comment.  It looked like things were going to be tolerable at least.

In English class, I shared with everyone about my depression and cutting.  One of them was not sure exactly what I meant, so I pulled up my shirt and showed them the scars.  It turned out that one of the girls had also cut on herself, as she shared that with the class.  Then, I talked about the suicidal thoughts I had and the death of my brother.  The one girl who was also a cutter told me she was glad Pop and I were working our relationship out, and a few of the guys thought it was cool that Angel and I had two dads, and Pop, as Chance reminded them.  The cutting led to discussions about addiction.  One of the guys shared that he had been in rehab over the summer for his drug habit.  To summarize the discussion, Miss Cooper paraphrased Angel, saying that as one of her wise students once stated, although we were different in many ways, we were fundamentally the same.  Once again, Chance received a great deal of well deserved praise.

On Friday, we were dismissed from our last two classes for the pep rally.  Everything was all school spirit this and school spirit that until the discussion about joining the pep club.  The entire football team was up on the stage at that point.  Coach had appointed Blade to be the spokesperson for this.  Angel and I cheered for him as he made his entrance in a way only Blade could.  I was surprised, though, when he started calling names of people to join him up on the stage.  Angel and I were the first he called.  Before long, the entire group of us were up on the stage.  Then, Blade said his speech.

"Today, we are recruiting for the pep club, but I want to make a clear point about who and what this club is all about.  You see before you some guys many of you have noticed in the hallways, in classes, and at lunch.  I know you have noticed them, because I have heard many of you making comments about them."

He stared out into the mass of students.  "Some of you have had the nerve to call them FAGS.  Well, I choose to call them FRIENDS.  So has the rest of our team.  See, the pep club is not for the popular and normal students.  No, it is for the outcasts of the school."

"It is for the ones people call Fags or Lesbians.  It is for the ones called Nerds or Geeks, as well as the ones called Stupid or Dumb Jock.  It is also for the ones called Fat.  I was called that a few years ago, so I know it is for us Fat people.  It is also for the people who could not gain an ounce no matter how much they try.  The pep club is for those who are not drop-dead gorgeous.  It is also for those who are so pretty, no one ever asks them out because everyone thinks they are not approachable.  The pep club is for the people who are looked down upon because they come from poorer families.  It is also for those who come from families whose wealth makes them feel like an oddity."

"In a nutshell, the pep club is for anyone who has ever felt insecure or different from anyone else.  I guess really, it must be for everybody, because each and every one of us is different.  Anyway, anyone who wants to join who meets this criteria is welcomed to do so."

"However, I also want to point out one of the new goals of our club.  In the efforts of promoting school spirit, we want to celebrate the unique individuality of our members.  In so doing, the officers of this club, being our team, will be monitoring the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria.  We intend to make sure the county and state Zero Tolerance policy is fully upheld.  If we see anyone harassing or downgrading the uniqueness of anyone else, we will take action.  We will make whatever noise is necessary to ensure that the expulsion of anyone breaking this policy is enforced, just like the state law requires.  And, being one of the key athletics programs in our state, I believe we can make lots of noise."

"Everyone in our club is considered our friends.  I guess what I am saying is this:  Mess with our friends, and you won't be here long enough to regret your decision.  It is not a threat, it is a promise."  He paused and scanned the audience again.  "Any of you wishing to join the pep club, please see one of our officers after the rally.  We are easy to spot, seeing that we are the one's wearing jerseys.  We will gladly welcome you and thank you for supporting our athletics programs.  Any of you not wishing to join, that is fine.  But, we ask that you at least support our school's spirit by giving every person who attends here the courtesy and respect everyone deserves.  Thank you."

I suppose everyone was in shock at first, totally blown away by what Blade had said.  One by one, though, most of the school stood to their feet, cheering him on.  Coach patted him on the back, telling him what a great job he had done.  Then, Blade came over to Angle and me, grinning widely.

"I can't believe Coach and Principal Jackson didn't stop you during that speech of yours."  I said, squeezing him on the shoulder.

"Why would they?"  he laughed.  "When I talked to them about it, they loved the idea."  Then, he winked at the two of us.  "Sorrow, buddy, there is no way I could write a speech like that without some help.  Principle Jackson and Coach are pretty good at it though.  So is Miss Cooper."

"Are you serious?"  I asked in shock.

He just smiled, motioning for TJ, Jake, and Bobby to join us.  "Now, you guys finally have a voice.  By the way, TJ, you are up to speak at our fist meeting.  Get ready to educate the masses."

As soon as school was out, the lot of us met in front of the school.  Dad and Pop were there with two vans to take us over to the mall for the fashion show.  Coach knew Blade would miss a good bit of the practice session before the game, but he eagerly made an exception for him, once we explained why he would be late.

The fashion show went quite well, and we had so much fun doing it.  There was a great applause every time someone would walk across the stage.  With Mario's encouragement, Chance re-enacted Pimp Daddy C for the crowd, which all howled with laughter.  One of the guys caught it on tape to send to the main office.

Afterwards, Mario gave us several bags and boxes with the outfits we were promised plus several more.  He also talked to a few of the other stores and had several outfits for the girls, too.  He even had shoes and coats donated for Blade's little project.  All in all, there were 200 outfits, 100 pairs of shoes, and 100 coats and jackets.   Blade was ecstatic about it all.

Once loaded into the vans, we rushed to the stadium.  Blade quickly ran to the locker room while we all hit the concessions booth.  After grabbing what we wanted, we found seats in the stands.  Blade played two and a half quarters in the game, which was great for a Freshman.  The team won by 21 points, and we all were excited.  Angel enjoyed his first football game, though we had to explain most of what was going on to him.

After the game, everyone came back to the house.  We sorted out the outfits for everyone on our list.  We all guessed at shoe and coat sizes for them, packing them together for each person and labeling the bag.  Though it was late, we headed out in the vans delivering the bags to the addresses Jake somehow managed to get from the school computer.  We just knocked on each door loudly, then sat the bags down and hid.  None of the kids would ever have any idea from where those clothes had came, just as Blade had wanted.

Once the clothes going to people from school were delivered, we went home and had another sleep over in the movie room.  Everyone was so excited about what we had done, we hardly slept any.  The morning quickly came, and everyone readied for work with the homeless after we ate a quick breakfast.

We gave out the bags to everyone on our list as they finished their breakfast.  It was great seeing their reactions, though none of us disclosed from where anything came.  We simply said someone had left them to be given to each one of them when they came by.  It was such a wonderful feeling, and it really united us as a group.  We all thanked Blade for his great idea several times that morning.  We gave Ed and Valerie the bags meant for Alex, asking them to give the clothes to him later so he would not know they had came from us.  We spent the rest of Saturday lounging around the house, just enjoying being a group.


Having Dwayne and Carter was a dream come true for Shaft and me.  Though I hated the circumstances that brought it all about, I was thankful, nonetheless.  'One man's garbage is another man's treasure'; those words played in my mind as I wondered how someone could be so terrible to such wonderful kids.  True, my own father was no better, but still, these were fantastic young men.  Shaft and I made a pact that our boys would know just how wonderful they really were every single day.

Having Sorrow and Chance around was great for our sons.  Wow!  Hearing myself say those words still makes me tearful.  Anyway, the boys bonded so well together, and that made the adjustment much easier for them.  Having Kal and Kanawha to rely on for advice sure made things easier for Shaft and myself.  Who would have ever thought I would ever ask Kanawha for advice on anything?  I guess you just had to grow up with him to understand what I mean.  He was true to those he loved, though, and I never knew him to ever let someone in need down.  He would do anything and everything he could for anyone, well, for those he loved anyhow.

Kal, Kanawha, Shaft, and I attended the classes we needed in order to be considered as foster parents.  The whole 'being parents' thing actually brought the four of us so close to one another.  We shared things on so many levels, it was unreal.  Kal and Shaft were so patient and kind, while the big guy and I were so emotional and pig headed sometimes.  We each had been blessed with a fantastic partner, and now, we shared having a wonderful set of son's.

Just as she did with Sorrow, Mic provided counseling for both our sons.  They had been through a lot of verbal abuse in their lives over the last while, but Mic worked her magic, bringing them out of their negative states easily.  She was such a wonderful person, but she was also one of the best counselors ever.

At first, Carter had a bit of a problem sleeping.  Oh, he could fall asleep just fine.  It was staying asleep that was the problem.  He would wake in the night with cold sweats, screaming out in terror.  Dwayne, Shaft, and I would just hold him as he cried.  Most of the time, he would fall asleep in one of our arms, and as long as one of us held him, he would sleep peacefully the rest of the night.  Once Mic started counseling, his nightmares diminished.  Soon, they were all but gone, and he, thankfully, began to sleep peacefully once again.

Dwayne became emotional at unexpected times.  He was never angry or aggressive, though I think that would have been more productive.  No, he would become quiet, withdrawn, and would cry until he had no tears left.  Other times, he would fuss at himself, being supercritical over everything he did.  Boy, did I know how that was.  Low self-esteem is hard to overcome, I can assure you.

Shaft and I would continually reassure Dwayne that everything was fine, that we loved him no matter what.  I guess it is hard to accept someone saying this when you do not feel you are worth anything.  Over the course of time, Dwayne began to believe us when we told him how much he meant to us and how thankful we were to have him in our lives.  Little by little, he began to grow more confident.  Shaft and I were most pleased with this, because, like I said many times before, he was a wonderful young man.

Carter's affections for Dakota had me a bit spastic, though Shaft found it cute and funny that it worried me so much.  I guess I am just a big time worry-oriented person.  Kanawha made many jokes about me teaching him about sex.  I guess it was pay back for my thinking the visions I had of him teaching his sons was humorous. 

"Look, I am not capable of doing that, guys, so just drop it already!"  I fumed.

"Honestly, though,"  Shaft smiled tenderly, "I think we need to be the ones telling our sons about sex rather than them being misinformed by their friends.  They may already know everything, though I somehow doubt it.  I think they know a few things, but are as in the dark as we were."

"Well, don't look at me."  Kal said, his modesty getting the best of him.  "I think Ethan and I are in the same boat on that one."

I just laughed, hugging him tightly.  "Well, I guess that leaves the big guy."

Kanawha just grinned.  "I would be more than happy to explain it to the boys."

"In a series of lectures!"  I shot.  "With slides, hand-outs, and pop quizzes!"

Kal and Shaft joined me in laughter as Kanawha stood there smiling.  "There is nothing wrong with being thorough."  He snickered.

"Love, you can go a bit overboard, sometimes."  Kal smiled, patting Kanawha's face.  The big guy just grinned and kissed Kal as usual.  Then, Kal blurted out the craziest idea I had ever heard.  "Why not Roe?"

"AS IF!"  I replied hastily.

"Well, you have to admit that Roe is our resident expert.  He also loves these boys, and they all find him entertaining.  Maybe he would not be such a bad choice."  Kal continued.

Shaft laughed.  "But, we would need to add a counterbalance to keep his outrageous personality in check.  I'm thinking Hela."

The big guy chuckled.  "You know, I honestly think they would do a fantastic job of this.  Not to mention, I think the boys would not be as embarrassed to ask questions about sex of either Roe or Hela.  Asking your dads, though, well, I believe that would be uncomfortable."

"Well, let's agree on this, then go see if the two of them will agree to do it."  Shaft said, slipping his arm around my back.

Call me crazy, but I agreed.  It was either Roe and Hela, who would honestly be informative, or it would be Kal and me, who would never be able to utter the words.  Of course, the other option was Sergeant Kanawha, drilling them with way too much information, and Giggle box Shaft, who would just roll with laughter at the boys confused faces.

Thank God, Roe and Hela agreed.  Actually, they seemed honored we asked them, and they had many ideas they were bouncing off of one another almost immediately.  I believe the four of us were shocked to see them getting along so well on something.  We just left them to their magic, asking them to let us know when they wanted to have 'THE TALK'.

A couple of days later, we discussed this with our sons.  All four of them seemed to be fine with the idea.  I guess they must have bragged about it at school or something, because TJ and Jake called that evening, asking if Roe and Hela would present the discussion at group.  As you probably know, they both were excited to have a larger audience.

That Thursday, we sat as Roe and Hela amazed us with their relaxed discussion of sex.  Together, they were extremely funny and entertaining, but also hit home the facts and responsibility involved with sexual activities.  Roe presented his cardinal rules for mutual consent, and Hela presented an AM I REALLY READY FOR THIS checklist.

Overall, the presentation was quite successful.  There were so many questions each of the guys had, not to mention the misinformation that had been spread amongst their peers.  In all honesty, Kal, Kanawha, Shaft, and I laughed about a few things we didn't know before.   Jew and Jena were impressed, too, and I think I saw Jena make a few notes.

The weekends were a busy time for us all.  Friday's were spent watching Blade, cheering him on as he played his heart out.  He had turned out to be an amazing young man who had made life much easier for our sons at the school.  Though he had developed a close friendship with all the guys from the group, he remained far closer to Chance and Sorrow.  I guess the two of them had made quite an impact in his life.  Regardless, I was glad our four boys had him as a friend, because he turned out to be someone they could count on when they needed him.  He and his squad watched over them at school, making sure they were safe.  I developed a deep respect for him, and I honestly liked the guy.  I guess he just grew on you, and he reminded me a little of Kanawha.

After the games, the guys would usually camp out in the movie room.  They would socialize, bond, and have a good time.  Saturday mornings were spent helping Ed and Valerie.  Everyone enjoyed helping out, and Shaft, Kal, Kanawha, and I always offered those poor homeless kids a place to stay anytime they wanted.  Unfortunately, none of them ever took us up on the offer. 

Alex was an adorable boy, and I know he made Ed and Valerie proud.  His boyfriend Kevin was a bit obnoxious at first, but it was just a coping mechanism because of his insecurities.  Believe me, I know all about insecurities.  Alex spent a couple of nights at the house, and the boys spent a couple with him.  We were all glad to see them getting along, because Ed and Valerie were family as far as we were concerned.

Without any prompting whatsoever, the boys decided Saturday afternoon was homework and study time if they had any weekend assignments.  The four of us would often fix snacks to take up to them while they studied.  They were diligent, and none of us could have been more proud. 

Usually, we would do a family activity once the boys were finished.  As funny as it sounds, our sons were all keen on spending time at home, just relaxing with the whole family.  Board games, singing, movies, and just talking were the usual activities. 

Reading was another favorite of the boys.  On many nights, the four of us would join Kal, Kanawha, Sorrow, and Chance in their little living room to read as a combined family.  Sometimes, the four of us would snuggle up in Shaft's and my bed, reading as our own smaller family.  I have to say, it was a great way to spend time with our sons.  But, any time with our sons was time well spent.

Around taking classes for being foster parents, raising our sons, civic duties, school, and all the extra activities we did as a family, we still found time to help plan out Kal and Kanawha's commitment ceremony.  Often, the family would throw out ideas and work with them until we had things the way our guys wanted it.  The music, the flowers, everything, we worked on as a unit. 

Derek was a key character in this also, as Kanawha and Kal were growing ever connected to him.  Honestly, Derek was as proud of them as if he were their own father, which was truly heart-warming.  It was even more so because Sorrow was building a great relationship with Derek while still having his relationship with his family.  It eliminated any strain that might have otherwise been present.  What I liked most about Derek, though, was that he loved Chance, every bit as much as he loved Sorrow.  It just seemed to me that it was an affirmation Sorrow needed, one I wished my father would have given Shaft and me.

As the wedding drew near, everything just kind of fell into place.

Kanawha And Killian

Love and I were so proud of our sons, for they were doing so well in school.  Chance was beginning to see his true potential, which, under Sorrow's gentle hand, was bringing him out of the last of the self-doubts he held.  I noticed as we went out to eat a couple of times, Chance would actually order what he wanted from the menu.  I just knew Sorrow had something to do with this, and it made me even more proud of the two of them. 

They definitely stuck together.  Each one brought out the best in the other, and I could never ask for anything more.  I suppose Love and I did that too, but we noticed it more in our sons.  Of course, I knew Love did so many things for me, and he claimed I did the same, but I guess you are often blind-sided when it comes to how you appear to others.

They were quite helpful in helping us plan out the wedding.  In fact, Sorrow and Chance helped Love and I pick out a few songs.  Pop was also most helpful in getting things ready for the ceremony.  He patiently went to the same stores to see the same things with Love and me so many times while we tried to make up our minds.  Never once did he complain, either, but simply smiled.  He was wonderful to have in our lives, and I loved the guy.  Though he did not make much of a good first impression with me, he quickly proved to be a wonderful man, a fantastic friend, and a person we could turn to any time we needed him.  He was our Pop, plain and simple.

One of the biggest concerns Love and I had was over our best men.  Actually, I figured Love would choose Ethan, and I would be torn between Roe, Shaft, and Jew.  See, I loved each one of them so much, for they were my brothers.  Ethan was like that to me too.  The thing of it was, I was rather fond of Jew, Roe, and Shaft, too. 

They were all making a joke of it one evening.  Then, Jena pointed out that Love and I could just as easily ask one of the ladies to stand with us.  It just created a sticky situation, at least we perceived it that way.

Love and I mulled this over for such a long time, but it wasn't until we were talking with Pop that we found our answer.  He simply asked us who did we think of first standing beside us when we envisioned our ceremony.  Without question, Love and I answered at the same time.  I said Sorrow.  I said Chance.  It is not that I love Chance more or anything like that.  He was just the first who came to my mind.  I love both of our sons equally as well, but I just knew it would be Sorrow for some reason.  That is exactly how it was for me, only Chance.  Anyway, it made it easy for Love and me, because both of our sons would be standing with one of their dads. 

When it was brought back up later, Love and I grinned at each other and announced that we loved them all, but two people stuck in our minds to stand with us.  Then, we both asked our sons together.

"Dad, are you serious?"  Sorrow was so excited that I would ask him.

"You sure you's wantin' ME, Daddy?"  Chance was completely blown away.

Love and I both assured them that for us, there were no other men to do the job.  They were both thrilled.  Then, Roe got them started on Bachelor Parties.  The boys watched several movies, getting ideas from them.  Chance wanted to get a stripper to come out of a cake!  I told him unless it was Love, he could forget it.  And, Sorrow wanted to go to a night club.  I just know his ideas involved strippers, too.  It took a lot of effort to get those two ideas out of their heads.

There was not one of our family that was offended by our choices.  In fact, most of them told us they thought it was a fabulous idea (Roe's words, there).  Pop, of course, loved the notion.  Everyone pitched in and helped us pull everything together.  Actually, they were the one's who put it all together.  Love and I just said yes or no other than picking out a few things. 

Before we knew it, it was October the 15th, our two month anniversary and the day of our wedding.  The day dragged by in a blur.
It was finally time for our commitment ceremony to begin.  Sorrow and I were waiting in the room to the right side of the sanctuary, giggling because we were both complete wrecks.  Chance and I were waiting to the room on the left.  I swear, it was pure anguish being without Love, and Chance was longing for Sorrow something terrible.  I know.  We had not seen the others since 10:00 the night before.  Personally, I did not sleep one wink the entire night.  I was far too lonely without Love there beside me.  I didn't sleep at all either.  I just paced the floors all night, begging God to help me make it through the night. 

Poor Chance and Shaft couldn't sleep either, being separated from Sorrow and Ethan.  It wasn't any better for Sorrow or Ethan, I assure you.  I suppose we all had a bit of separation anxiety.  Hehehe!  At least we had the cell phones to keep in touch with each other.  Hehehe!  Lord knows we used them enough that night.  Honestly, it wasn't much of  Bachelor's parties for any of us, I guess.  One thing is for sure, it was not what any of us thought it would be. 

Tell me about it.  But, then again, the entire concept was kind of crazy.  I mean, we were supposed to be living it up, celebrating the remaining moments of my single life.  Truth be told, I hadn't been single since that fateful day at the bookstore.  Not to mention, who in their right mind would want to hang on to being lonely?  The short time Love had been a part of my life was by far greater than the many years without his presence.  Ethan and Sorrow seemed to agree with me on that note, as we pretty much just moped around, missing the loves of our lives. 

You know, though, I found it admirable that Ethan, Sorrow, Chance, and Shaft decided to share in our misery of being separated.  They didn't have to, but they wanted to be there for us.  So, they made the sacrifice and parted company with their respected loved one.  I suppose that by one of each couple being together, it was sort of like having the lot of us together.  But, as I said before, without having the half that completed us, we were all terribly lonely and utterly miserable.

Before the ceremony began, our family entertained the guests with their musical talents.  Together, they picked out what songs would be performed.  Jena and Cole sang Breathe.  Then, Ethan and Shaft sang AmazedAfterwards, the twins sang I Love the Way You Love Me and ValentineJew and Hela then brought down the place with their version of All The Way.  Man, could those two ever sing.  Finally, it was time for us to make our entrance.  Love and I decided we would both walk in and meet at the alter.  In we came, escorted by our best men, our sons, walking to the wonderful sounds of Jew and Hela singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

As Sorrow and I entered, we were amazed at the spectacular job Mic and Roe had done with decorating the place.  Of course, Pop had pulled out so many surprises for Love and I.  Everything we had really liked but decided we could not truly afford was there.  The arbor, the candles, everything was beautiful.  There were so many arrangements of brightly colored fall flowers, and the two white runners leading from the side rooms to the alter had been sprinkled heavily with crisp colored fall leaves.

Chance and I commented on the way Roe and Mic had arranged the sanctuary, as we both noticed it immediately.  Everyone had been a bit worried as to who's side of the church they would sit, mine or Love's.  Those two took care of that problem, because there were no longer any sides.  All seating was moved to the middle of the church, so everyone was simply there for the two of us.  And, the church was completely filled with friends and loved ones, including Blade and all our guys and gals from the support group, who acted as our ushers.  If that was not enough to bring a tear or two to my eyes, the very sight of Love and Sorrow made me speechless.  They both looked so handsome walking in their tuxedos.

Actually, our breath was taken the moment we saw Love and Chance.  Sorrow and I both looked tearfully at each other, smiling at the beauty of the two we loved.  Love is a very handsome man, but boy did he ever look good.  I wanted to jump to the honeymoon and skip the service, truth be told.  Chance was simply gorgeous, as was Sorrow.  We all had matching tuxedos: black slacks, ties, and cumber buns, with white jackets and shirts.

As we made it to the alter, we were surrounded by the whole of our family.  They formed a semi-circle facing the congregation with Allen at it's center.  To the left of Allen stood Jew, Cole, Ethan, Carter, Mic, Valerie, and Kevin.  To the right of Allen stood Hela, Jena, Shaft, Dwayne, Roe, Ed, and Alex.   Opposite Allen, Pop stood waiting, taking both Love's and my hand, one in each of his own.  He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, telling me to take good care of his son, Kanawha.  Pop did the same to me, only saying to take good care of his Sonny.  There was no doubting he loved both Love and me, and we loved him with an equal vigor.  Pop had become such a Godsend to us, and he filled a long experienced void we each had.  It was nice to have a father, and Pop made a great one.

Allen smiled and began the service.  "It is always a joy to gather in the house of our Lord, but today, I am especially happy.  Kanawha and Killian, our dear friends, brothers, and congregational members, have shared a desire to commit their lives to each other.  So, it is with great pleasure that I invite you to celebrate their union and love and pray for the Father's blessings upon their lives.  In the beginning, God spoke all things into being with but the sound of his voice.  His voice, of course, was filled with love, for God is the author of love.  So, in essence, it was love that brought all things into being.  Perhaps, that is why the scriptures tell us that love is God's greatest gift to mankind.  Like our Heavenly Father, love is eternal, unconditionally blessing every area of our lives.  Let us now pray for the blessings of love for Kanawha and Killian."

Allen's prayer was utterly beautiful.  "Father, we come to you today with joy in our hearts as two of your sons seek your blessings upon their union and commitment to one another.  We ask that you bring your continued blessings of peace, joy, and love upon Killian and Kanawha.  May they become the very embodiment of love, unconditional and without end.  May the blessings of hope spring forth from their love, comforting them all of their days.  May this hope flower into an unyielding faith, strengthening them and guiding them down the path you have laid out before them.  May they forever walk hand-in-hand, united by your love for them and their love for you.  We ask this, Father, in your name, and in that of your Son and Holy Spirit, Amen."

Allen smiled at Love and me, then asked.  "Who among us will stand as a testament to the love Kanawha and Killian share?  Who among us will give their consent that these two should be joined in unity and commitment as partners in life?"

Grinning proudly at us, Pop responded.  "It is with great pleasure that their sons Chance and Eric, as well as Nana, Grams, and I consent to such a union and commitment."  Kissing us both again on the cheeks, Pop joined Love's hand with mine.  "I love you both, my sons."

Once Pop took his seat between Nana and Grams, the music started.  Cole and Shaft had carefully recorded all the music for the ceremony so that it would be flawless for our big day.  As unorthodox as it may seem, Love and I sang to one another, the twins providing backup.  It was actually Roe's idea, and we both loved the notion of sharing our hearts this way. 

See, during the rehearsals, Love couldn't keep his trap shut and would start singing to me.  As I recall, Love sang right back to me. So, I guess neither of us could let our friends do the singing on their own, without our wonderful accompaniment.  Anyway, like I was saying, Love would sing to me, and I, of course, would sing back.  Maybe it was his voice, or maybe that look in his eyes, but I was lost in the moment, unable to contain my love.  It just felt natural for us to sing together. 

Roe and Hela thought we sounded great together. and the others agreed.  Seeing how Love and I had picked the songs used in the actual ceremony, Roe felt the words were symbolic of our love.  For that reason, he said we should sing the songs to one another.  As a final thought, Roe said it was our ceremony, so we should do whatever we wanted.  Honestly, that's the way of Roe, and I totally admired him for his attitude.  It reminded me so much of my own.  At any rate, Love and I quickly agreed, and that is how we wound up singing to each other during the ceremony.  Looking deeply into his soulful eyes, and he into mine, it was as if everyone else simply faded away.

Every Day I Love You

I don’t know, but I believe
That some things are meant to be
And that you’ll make a better me
Everyday I love you

I never thought that dreams came true
But you've shown me that they do
You know that I learn something new
Everyday I love you

'Cause I believe that destiny
Is out of our control
And you’ll never live until you love
With all your heart and soul.

It’s a touch when I feel bad
It’s a smile when I get mad
All the little things I am
Everyday I love you

Everyday I love you more
Everyday I love you

'Cause I believe that destiny
Is out of our control
And you’ll never live until you love
With all your heart and soul

If I asked, would you say yes?
Together we’re the very best
I know that I am truly blessed
Everyday I love you
And I’ll give you my best
Everyday I love you

Once the song was finished, Love kissed me passionately, and there were no complaints from me whatsoever.  Allen giggled and stage whispered loudly enough for all to hear him clearly. "Kal, buddy, it is not quite time for that just yet."  Everyone chuckled.  Grinning with embarrassment, Love broke the kiss, and Allen continued with the ceremony.  "On this day, a day of great joy and love, I have but one message I wish to impart to the two of you.  Leviticus 6:13 states 'The fire shall ever be burning on the altar.  It shall never go out.'  This passage, of course, was referring to a time when offerings to God were given in the form of a burnt sacrifice.  To keep the fires burning, a continued commitment from the people was needed.  Throughout the day and night, during both times of war and peace, the fires had to be tended.  Without constant vigil and needed precautions, the flames would grow dim and die."

"This scripture speaks as a metaphor of your love.  Burning brightly is the fires of passion and love you both hold for one another in your hearts.  We have all witnessed the blessings of love God has granted you.  I want you to clearly understand that your union is a commitment to forever tend to these fires.  Just as those who watched over the flames of the altars, you must remove the burned ashes regularly to keep this love fresh.  You must consistently add fuel to the fire to keep it burning brightly.  Regardless of what happens around you, in times of joy or sorrow, in times of peace or turmoil, your duty is to tending the fire.  Every second of every day, you must make sure that you honor and strengthen your love for one another."

"As well, the fire of your love must burn with pure flame in order for its offerings to be given up to God.   Take great care and concern in what you bring into your union.  Make certain it is pure fuel that will produce a pure flame.  God must be the center of your relationship, for God is love.  Without him, love would simply not exist.  Cleave closely to God, for in doing so, you cleave closely to one another."

With that being said, the music again started.  Love and I sang our second song to one another, as Hela and Jew softly provided harmony. 

"When You Say You Love Me"

Like the sound of silence calling,
I hear your voice and suddenly I'm falling,
Lost in a dream.
Like the echoes of our souls are meeting,
You say those words and my heart stops beating.
I wonder what it means.
What could it be that comes over me?
At times I can't move.
At times I can hardly breath.

When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
For a moment, there's no one else alive

You're the one I've always thought of.
I don't know how, but I feel sheltered in your love.
You're where I belong.
And when you're with me, if I close my eyes,
There are times I swear I feel like I can fly.
For a moment in time,
Somewhere between the Heavens and Earth ,
Frozen in time, Oh when you say those words.

When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
For a moment, there's no one else alive

And this journey that we're on,
How far we've come, and I celebrate every moment.
And when you say you love me,
That's all you have to say, I'll always feel this way.

When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
In that moment, I know why I'm alive

When you say you love me.

When you say you love me, do you know how I love you?

I was so moved by my Killian's melodic voice, and, yet, I knew he meant every word of what he sang.  I then understood part of Valerie's message.  Love was my guide, my light, the star from heaven I would forever follow.  My Kanawha was blessed with the magnificent voice, not me.  His every passion echoed in his song.  And, it was in that moment that I understood the other half of that message.  If ever I felt lost or uncertain, I need only look to love.  Then, I would know I was were I belonged, right at Love's side.  He was the map my life would follow, because in him was everything for which I had been searching, every answer I would ever need.   All roads simply led to Love.

Allen grinned and continued.  "Before exchanging vows, I must ask if there is anyone here who has a just reason why Killian and Kanawha should not be joined together as partners in life.  If someone has such a reason, please make yourself known at this time." 

I know it is silly, but my heart almost stopped at that moment.  Sorrow giggled, patting my hand, reassuring me everything would be just fine.  Hehehe!  I had such a panic, thinking there would be a huge line of people telling Love that he deserved better.  Honestly, he did, but he loves me, regardless of all my faults.  Chance, though, bless him, rubbed my hand in his.  The look in his eyes let me know that he would gladly take on anyone who would dare disrupt the service. 
To my relief, no one made a sound. 

With no objections, Allen preceded with the ceremony.  "Blessed be.  Killian and Kanawha, you may now exchange your vows."

It might seem corny, but Love and I wrote our own vows together.  Killian said his vows first, and though I knew what he was going to say, it still moved me to tears, for I knew he meant every word with all of his heart.  I was truly blessed beyond all things by his presence in my life.

"The beginning of time was created the moment God spoke.  With just the mere presence of his voice, the heavens were brought forth, so he literally spoke all things into being.  I know that the moment he spoke me into existence, the word our Father uttered was Kanawha, for your name is engraved deeply upon my heart.   Love, you complete me.  You are everything for which I could have ever hoped or dreamed.  You were fashioned by God's own hand to be my partner in life."

"Kanawha Darkstorm, my Yana, on this day, with God, our sons, and our friends and family as witnesses, I make you this solemn promise.   For as long as I draw breath, I offer to you all that I am.  In times of health or sickness, in times of joy or sadness, in times of peace or turmoil, through hardships or blessings, I will be your constant companion.  I will remain at your side, offering my unconditional love and support.  You, my beloved, are the only one for me, and I will forever remain faithful and true to you.  Never shall I stray, for you are my world and universe.  Hand-in-hand, we shall walk through this life together, just as God has intended us to do."

As Love said his vows, I trembled, realizing just how much he truly loved me.  Surely, God had blessed me beyond anything I deserved.

"As God spoke all things into existence, I am certain that the word he said to bring about my creation was Killian, for your name is clearly carved upon my heart for all the world to read.  You, Love, have healed me, making my shattered soul whole.  You are the embodiment of my every desire, my fantasies made into flesh.  Our Father designed you to be my perfect partner in life."

"Killian Anderson Lord, my Keokuk, with God, our sons, and our friends and family gathered to be witnesses, I make this solemn promise to you.  For as long as my body is alive, I freely give you everything that I am.  In times of health or sickness, in times of joy or sadness, in times of peace or turmoil, through hardships or blessings, I will be your constant companion.  I will remain at your side, offering my unconditional love and support.  You, my beloved, are the only one for me,  and I will forever remain faithful and true to you.  Never shall I stray, for you are my world and universe.  Hand-in-hand, we shall walk through this life together, just as God has intended us to do."

After saying our vows, Love and I sang our last song, with our sons providing backup vocals.

I'm So In Love With You

You are to me
What poetry tries to say with the word
You are the song
All the music my heart ever heard
I can't escape
The air that I breathe even speaks of you
And I'm not ashamed to say
That I feel this way

I will stand before God
Give you all that I've got
I can promise you
I'll be true
I reveal here and now
As we both take this vow
I am so in love (So in love)
With you

Words can't express
What I confess with each beat of my heart
I'm overwhelmed
With a passion I, I felt from the start
Our love will grow
As the years come and go
I'll remain by your side
Oh, yes I will
There isn't anything that I would deny

I will stand before God
Give you all that I've got
I can promise you
I'll be true
I reveal here and now
As we both take this vow

I am so in love
I am so in love
with you.

I promise to honor and cherish you
For better or for worst
I'll be there for you
For richer or for poorer
In sickness and in health
Till death do us part
I will go with you
>From this day on and forever

I will stand before God
Give you all that I've got
I can promise you
I'll be true
I reveal here and now
As we both take this vow

I am so in love
I am so in love
I am so in love
I am so in love
With you
I am so in love with you

Smiling, Allen asked for the rings.  Chance and Sorrow, who had brought so many blessings to our lives, carefully produced the rings, each giving the ring he carried to Love and me.  With a shared smile, we gave them to Allen. 

"These rings will be a symbol of the commitment you have made here this day. 
The rings are perfect circles, having no beginning or end, just as God has no beginning or end.  May your love be fashioned from God, also being without end.  The rings are also made of precious metals.  May they always remind you of the precious love you share with your partner.  May they continually remind you of your promise to each other and to God."  After praying over the rings, Allen handed them to us.  "You may now present one another with the symbols of your love."

"Love, I give to you this ring, a token of the love I hold for you.  As I place it upon your finger, I seal the vows I have made to you on this day.  From this moment on, I am yours, completely committed to you as your partner in life. 
  You are my husband."  Just so you know and in case you did not guess already, Ni-wy-she-an-a is Shawnee for 'You are my husband.'  I then slipped the ring onto Love's finger.  "I love you, Killian Anderson Lord, Always and Forever."

"Love, I give to you this ring, a token of the love I hold for you.  As I place it upon your finger, I seal the vows I have made to you on this day.  From this moment on, I am yours, completely committed to you as your partner in life. 
Ni-wy-she-an-a.  You are my husband."  As I placed the ring upon Loves finger, a tear flowed down his cheek.  Brushing it away with my thumb, I grinned.  "And I you, my love, Forever and a Day."

Next was the candle ceremony, and Allen explained our unique ceremony to those gathered.  "Now, it is time for you to light the candle of unity.  In many services, the two candles representing each individual, which you currently see burning, are extinguished.  The center candle, which is lit by the two burning candles is the only one that remains burning.  This center candle represents the unified couple and the Father's light upon them.  Today, however, the two individual candles will not be extinguished, for our Father is synergy in motion.  As Killian and Kanawha light the center candle, their unity shall be complete.  They are made more than what they once were.  They are two individuals and, yet, also a united couple... a trinity patterned after God."  Love and I carefully lit the center candle as Allen explained the ceremony, returning our candles to their places beneath it.  As terrible as it sounds, I just knew I would drop the candle and start a fire or something.  Hey, after digging through trash to find Love's ring, I was a little worried that my bad luck would flair back up during our wedding.  Thank the good Lord nothing bad happened. 

Allen smiled at the two of us, taking our joined hands into his own.  "It is with the greatest joy that begin the final part of this ceremony.  Kanawha and Killian, having proclaimed your love before God, seeking his blessings upon your union, and having exchanged your vows both to God and one another, sealing these vows with the exchanging of rings, I happily pronounce you husbands, committed partners in life.  What God has blessed and joined together in Holy union, let no person move against or try to put asunder. "

"I would like the first act of your lives together to be spent in prayer.  Let us pray together.  Holy Father, we thank you so much for bringing Killian and Kanawha into our lives.  The love these two share is a true testament to the miracles and wonders you work in our daily lives.  May you watch over our brothers as they venture into their new lives together.  We ask that you continue to pour out your blessings upon them, praying that they always find favor in your eyes. "

"The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.  The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace.  Amen." 
After a long pause, Allen laughed.  "Kal, what are you waiting for, buddy?  Now is the time.  Now, you can kiss him!"

I cheered, then planted the biggest kiss I had yet to share with Love on his lips. 

After a while, Allen interrupted us.  Clearing his throat, he giggled.  "OK, guys.  Enough already.  Some of your guests are getting hungry."  Begrudgingly, Love and I broke our kiss, grinning at Allen.  With a wink, he made his proclamation.  "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my esteemed pleasure to present to you our new couple, Kanawha and Killian Darkstorm-Lord.  Please join me in congratulating them."  Clapping and cheering erupted, prompted by our sons and Roe.  Then, everyone came forward to give us their blessings and well wishes.  Afterwards, it was time for our reception.

Let me just simply say that we had the combined culinary talents of Hela, Mic, Grams, Nana, Valerie, Ed, Ethan, and Shaft in creating our reception, along with Roe's incredible artistic flare.  Honestly, the food was fantastic, and the cake was a true work of art.  Pop had a topper specially made by a friend of his, and the two grooms bore an amazing resemblance to Love and me. 

Once everyone was seated, our sons made their toast.  Poor Chance had been so nervous, thinking some of the people might make fun of the way he said things.  Love and I assured him that he would do wonderfully.  I just told him that his toast was to Love and me, and if anyone made so much as a gesture that was disrespectful towards him, I would promptly beat their ass.  He just laughed, knowing I was dead serious about it. 

Chance began.  "Sorrow n' me's thought long n' hard on this toast thing to our dads."

Sorrow quickly added, "We were at a loss for words, though.  I mean, what do you say to the two men who changed your entire lives?"

Taking Sorrows hand, Chance stated, "So, we 'cided on this."  Raising his glass, he smiled at us.  "For all you both 've done for us, for all 'em big smiles you's put on our faces, for all 'em prayers you's said with us ever night..."

Raising his glass to us, Sorrow  continued.  "For all the laughter you have brought to our lives, for all the love you have showered us with, for just simply being there anytime we have needed you..."

"We's both REAL glad we gets to call you our dads."  Chance grinned.

"May you both be as happy together as you have made the two of us."  Sorrow smiled.

Then Chance laughed, and our sons had impish grins dawning their faces.  "We's also hopin' one of you's gets pregnant or somethin', cause we's wantin' us a sister!"

"Though a brother would be fine, too."  Sorrow chuckled.  "Anyway, may God bless you the way he blessed the two of us when he brought you both into our lives."  There was a slight pause.  "That's it.  Drink up, everybody."

"And none of ya's gotta worry 'bout gettin' drunk or nothin' like that, cause this ol' stuff is just bubblin' grape juice.  But it's real good, honest."  Chance announced.  Love and I fought hard our laughter and raised our glasses quickly.  Following suit, everyone joined in and drank down their juice.

"HERE, here!"  Ethan smiled after that memorable toast.  "Excellent job, guys!"

"I'll say!"  Shaft grinned.  Leaning on the table towards the boys, he requested, "Be sure and save Ethan and I a dance later, guys.  Remember, we asked first."

A few other toasts were supposed to be made, but the family decided that our sons toast was just too good to follow.  So, the meal was served.  Afterwards, Love and I shared the first dance, joined on the floor by our sons.  I have to say, they had become fantastic dancers.  Others made their way to the dance floor, as Love and I danced with Nana and Grams.  Pop and Roe also danced with each of us.  After dancing with Ethan and Shaft, our sons finally danced with Love and me.

The dancing continued for a good while.  Then, we had the cake.  Let me just say that Love wears cake rather well, hehehe!  Of course, I had to pay Love back for smearing it all over my mouth, though he was nice enough to kiss it all off of me. 

Next came the gifts.  Honestly, we received everything a couple could possibly desire.  There were also numerous gift certificates and lots of cards with money.  The best gift we received, however, was given to us by our sons.  Upon opening it and reading it, I was quickly moved to tears.  I looked over to see Janet, smiling at the two of us.  We had been appointed Chance's foster fathers, both of us!  This greatly improved our odds at being awarded adoption.  Needless to say, we were both happy campers about this news.

Roe and Hela decided that Love and I each had to throw something to the awaiting bachelors.  We decided to throw our ties, gladly accepting any chance to shed them.  Ethan caught the first one, telling Shaft that it better be soon, or he was running off with Jake.  TJ faked like he was hurt by this, but then said he would help Ethan run away if Shaft did not get on the ball.  The second tie was sailing right to Roe, who promptly ran as far away from it as he could, allowing Jew an easy catch.  TJ grabbed him snugly, saying he guessed it was the two of them if Shaft and Jena did not act soon.  Jew grinned, telling TJ that they might just run away together before Shaft or Jena had the chance to make their moves.

Finally, Love and I were assaulted and peppered with birdseed, making our way to what used to be his car.  I swear, my poor car looked like some kind of float or something!  I wondered if it would ever be clean again.  Saying our quick good-byes, we loaded our sons in the car and quickly headed home. 

We decided to spend our honeymoon for a few days at Grandma Darkstorm's family home, then the rest at Loves family home.  Not wanting to be parted from our sons, Chance and Sorrow were going with us. 
The boys went to their room to shower, change, and finish packing.  Love and I started in the same route, but we hit a slight detour. 

It was the most fantastic experience Love and I had shared before.  As we made love, I could suddenly feel everything he was feeling.  I could also feel how he could sense me.  It was like making love in surround sound or something.  It was amazing to know love could feel me the same way I felt his presence.  Right as we were approaching our climax, however, all these swirling colors were everywhere, and I could see what Love saw everyday.  As we prepared to take our shower, it faded, but for that brief time, Love and I were able to experience the world from each others perspectives.  That brought us even closer together.  In that short time, we were truly one:  physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Later that evening, we found that every time we made love, we experienced that level of complete union.  Just so you know, neither of us ended up pregnant, though it was not from a lack of trying.

Once we had our shower and dressed, Love and Sorrow took our suitcases to my car.  Chance and I double checked everything, then made sure we packed everything for Chips and Domino.  Yeah, they were going with us, too. Hehehe!  What a trip that would make.  With everyone in the car, and as we were certain we had everything we needed, our family headed out on the interstate towards Georgia.  It was a wonderful trip, and the time we spent  honestly brought us all even closer, truly uniting the four of us, and those monsters we called our pets, as one happy family.

Well, this completes Chapter Ten.  Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think.  Chapter Eleven will be coming  soon.

Written by: H. Lamar and S. Bentley ©1999

Written by: A. Mayo, C. Lindsay, and M. Green ©1999

I Love the Way You Love Me
Written by: Victoria Shaw and Chuck Cannon ©1992

Written by: J. Brickman and J. Kugell ©1997

All the Way
Written by: J. Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn ©1957

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Written by: Ewan MacColl ©1962

Every Day I Love You
Written by: Jerry Williams / Frank Joseph Myers / Gary Baker. ©1997 Universal Music Ireland Ltd.

When You Say You Love Me
Written by: Hammond/Scoffield ©2003

I'm So In Love With You
Written by: David Foster, ©1995