Chapter Five: LOVE, Friendship, and Family

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 copy rights 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.)

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 solacelenity@yahoo.com


I woke up to a sunny, wonderful day.  The birds softly chirped from the trees outside my window.  As soon as I stepped from my room, I was greeted with loving hugs and morning wishes... 

OK, that is total shit.  To be honest, I woke up alone as usual.  Mom was still gone.  She had been staying over with man number who even knows for the past week.  Nothing to worry about though... I mean, she wasn't.  I had plenty of money to buy what I needed, and if I needed her, I had my cell phone. 

You know, cells are great for emergencies, but they are not very good company or parents.  But, I guess that was just my mother and father's solution to dealing with me.  Dad would sign the child support check, so that relieved him of any further duty.  Mom would hand out the cash each week and call a few times here and there,  I don't know, but I thought there should be more to it than that.

There was a time when this all bothered me.  I used to cry myself to sleep wondering what I ever did to make my parents hate me so much.  I would wait up days on end, wondering what happened to my mother, terrified of being alone.  Every weekend, I would wait for my father to show up for our time together, but he never came.  Most of the time, he never even called.  He just left me there waiting for him, watching anxiously for his arrival.

I used to wonder why I was such a bad person, because they both seemed to avoid me like a plague.  At one time, I even prayed that just one of them would find me worthy of spending a little time together... an afternoon at the park, a dinner, or even just tucking me into bed.  Those prayers were just in vane, though.  And, through years of disappointment and heartbreak, I toughened up.  I became indifferent and apathetic to it all.  So, like I said, it was really nothing to worry about.

I scrounged around for something to fix for breakfast, but there was not much left.  If my mother ever came home, I would get her to take me to the store.  Otherwise, I would have to walk.  The problem there was that I could only buy what I could carry back with me. 

I settled for a frozen pizza.  I was sick to death of them, but you make due, I guess.  I choked down its cardboard taste and rubber texture.  I then took a long shower and settled down to watch a movie.  Just as it was getting interesting, my cell rang.

Without even looking, I knew who it was.  It was Blade.  He was a real dick most times, but he and the gang were all there was to my life.   Not that they really knew me, or even gave a shit about me all that much.  But, they were at least someone to be with, which beat being lonely.   It was the usual song and dance.  "What you doing?  Want to go to the mall and hang?"  It sucked, but there were no better offers, so I agreed.  It would only be for a few hours anyway, because they had practice later in the day.

I got dressed and began walking towards the mall.  Along the route, I met Blade and the others.  They went on and on about this and that at home, and I withdrew into my own little world.  They annoyed me!  They complained because their parents fussed at them about one thing or another.  Well, at least their parents took notice of them!  They were unaware of my withdrawal.  I suppose it was normal, because I seldom had much to say to any of them, anyway. 

We made it to the mall and began our usual activities.  Insult this one, laugh at that one.  I was just along for the ride.  We hit a few stores, then headed to the arcade.

When I first saw them there, I thought they looked cute together.  It was obvious by their interactions that the blond boy and the black-haired boy were a couple.  The way they were affectionately helping each other while playing the game, it just seemed hopeful.  Not that my world had proved to have much use for hope. 

Then, Blade saw them and decided to be an ass, as usual.  I really tried hard to get him to leave them alone, but he wouldn't,  He just had to "show them a thing or two."   Truth be told, I have never liked Blade or any of the other guys I hung out with.  They're all just a bunch of wanna be bad asses that were missing two vital organs:  a brain and a heart.  Unlike them, I had a brain, for I excelled rather easily in school.  My heart, however, was in question.  It had pretty much whithered and died years ago. 

I just could not believe I ever wanted to be part of that group, yet I practically sold my soul to be so.  I had resided to the fact that my situation was beyond all hope.  The more I tried to get out of it, the further I sank into the depths of it.  I had left the football team, but there was no one else for me but these guys.  As much as I disliked them and the things they did, they were better than being alone.  It was all just hopeless. 

Then, he turned around.   He was so beautiful (?)... handsome just doesn't seem to cut it.  He had long, dark brown hair, with loose, untamed curls jetting every which way.  His tanned skin accentuated his very thin frame.  His strong jaw was set with determination, and his eyes burned with a fire like none I had ever seen.  They shifted from a tranquil green to a deep blue as his gaze fixed upon Blade.   That is what drew me to him, for they were the most vivacious eyes I had ever seen.  I had been dead inside for so long, but these eyes were stirring me from deep within.  They were summoning a part of myself that had drowned in apathy long ago, resurrecting it from the graveyard of my heart.  No matter how I tried to suppress it, I could feel a connection between us.

This guy had such courage and determination, and when I saw Blade flying over and landing on his back, I was awestruck.  Blade completely deserved to get his ass kicked, and I was looking forward to his getting just that.  But, the guy did not hurt him.  He made Blade apologize and then let him go.  Everyone else left, but I needed to make peace between us.  I wanted him to know I really had nothing to do with this.  The couple accepted my apology, but he questioned my hanging out with Blade and the gang.  He somehow knew I was gay... And, he was OK with it.  He said he somehow just knew, and I wondered what else he could tell about me.  Being gay was something I was accepting within myself, but it was nothing I had discussed with anyone.  So, I was taken by complete surprise when he let me know he knew.  I was relieved, though, when he accepted it as an OK thing to be.  He even offered me friendship, introducing himself as Chance.  Ethan and Shaft were the couple.  Chance then turned around and introduced me to his dad's!

First of all, he did not even see them, yet he knew they were there, which I thought was odd.  Secondly, he had dads, as in two of them, and they were holding hands... now that was really different, but in a nice way, I determined.  The strangest thing of all was that Chance looked so much like both of them.  I could not tell which one was his real dad and which was the boyfriend.  Then, I figured it really did not matter, because they both seemed to love him.  'If only all fathers were that way.' I thought.

Chance also had an unusual way of talking, but I could follow what he was saying.  I think I actually found the way he spoke to be charming in some strange way.  Maybe it was his accent, or maybe it was his voice.  It could even have been his choice of words.  I am not really sure, but I did decide that I liked to hear him talk.

Another amazing facet about Chance was his humbleness.  He had been so brave and heroic standing up for his friends, yet he dismissed it as if it were nothing.  I felt a bit ashamed.  Here I am, a much larger guy than Chance, and I was too much of a coward to stand up to Blade.  I realized then that I could have stopped him had I really tried, but instead, I conceded to the path of least resistance.  That was a course with which I was all too familiar.

After being introduced, I was invited to go shopping with them, and later, Chance asked me over to his house.  What a house they had!  That place was huge, and there were a lot of people living there. 

Hela was a character.  She had us look through pictures to find Chance a new haircut.  Personally, I liked his hair as it was, but it wasn't my hair.  We joked around about a few styles.  Then, I found one I thought would look great on him, and Chance went for it. 

Mic came in during the haircut, and we talked for a while.  She was very nice and quite pretty, if you were into girls.  Her long blond hair was twisted up loosely on top of her head.  Her warm, friendly smile put you at ease almost instantly, and her rich brown eyes reflected her sincerity.  She was shapely, but again, that was dependent upon your interest in females. 

Mic looked me over a moment and then spoke.  "Sorrow, huh.  Wow!  That is an interesting name for such a handsome young man.  Tell me about yourself."

What was I to say?  I pondered this a moment, then decided for the obvious information.  "Well, my kindergarten teacher used to tell me I was a sad-sack all the time, and some of the kids started calling me Sorrow.  The name just stuck.   My real name is Eric, though.  Eric Moirae."

"Eric is a nice name.  Sorrow has a bit of mystery and excitement to it, though.  Hmm.  Which do you prefer to be called?"  she asked.

"Well, I have been Sorrow for so long... even my mom calls me Sorrow.  Dad, well..."  I trailed off into thought for a moment, and before I realized it, I was revealing a bit more about myself than I wanted to do.  "...He never calls me anything.  He just never calls me, to be honest.  He walked out on us when I was in kindergarten.  I guess he is just too busy in his new life to worry about us." 

Mic rubbed my shoulder and smiled at me.  "Well, it sounds like he has missed out on a lot.  You are a great young man.  I'm glad our little Chance has you for a friend."  I smiled and looked at Chance, watching his hair fall to the ground.  "So, does your father live far away?" she asked.

"Just across town." I answered.  "You would think there were a million miles between us though, the way he makes excuses.  I started playing baseball and football, hoping he would come to my games.  I've been playing for three years, but he has never came to one single game.  Something always comes up."  Somehow, I felt comfortable talking to Mic, so I opened up a little to her.  "Truth is, I hate football.  I cannot stand the guys who are on the team, either.  They are all just a big bunch of jerks, but I swallowed it all down just to be on the team.  I only played football because Dad played it all through school.  I thought if he would want to see me play, he might want to come and see ME.  It didn't work though, so I didn't go out for football this year."  I fought back the tears, because I was determined not to cry over that man again.  He was just not worth it.  "
I love baseball, though, and I plan to try out again this year.  I'm in ninth grade, though, so I am not sure if I will make the team.  The high school is a lot bigger than the middle school was."

Hela spoke, drawing our attention back to Chance.  She told him he would need to learn to shave before long, and he made a joke about growing a beard.  I had to laugh.  Just the thoughts of him with one was funny.  Hela gave him a mirror and asked him what he thought.  Chance could not believe it was really him.  Mic joked about leaving her husband over Chance, but he commented on not having met Thomas yet -- I wondered how they lived together and he had not met her husband.  I mean, the guy could not have been over in Korea for that long. 

I dropped all thoughts of that, though, when I looked at Chance.  He was drop-dead gorgeous.  That angelic smile of his was plastered across his face as I fumbled for words to tell him how nice he looked.  I related what other kids would think about it, too.   It seemed that both Chance and I hoped to have at least a few classes together.  Truth is, I just wanted to be around him.  I won't try to deny I found him very attractive, 'cause Lord knows he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  But it was different than that.  He was so full of hope and life, and I wanted to feel like that, if only through him.

We went to the park with Ethan, Shaft, and Jew to play baseball.  Before I knew it, I was having the time of my life.  There were so many little guys that wanted to play, and Chance was eager for everyone to get the opportunity.  I loved helping all of them learn to bat, catch, and throw.  It was the first time in a long time that I felt I was doing something worthwhile with myself.  Chance and I joked and carried on, and it was as if I had known him my entire life.  Our interaction was so natural.  Being with him and having a real, honest-to-God friend, I think I actually smiled inside.

Jew, Chance, Ethan, Shaft, and I talked on the way back.  I really liked these guys, because they treated me like someone.  They acted like I existed and was not a burden or a problem in the way of their otherwise perfect lives.  Chance was such a lucky guy, I realized, for most of us kids do not have the wealth of love he has around him.

When we got back to Chance's house, his dad's were there, and we told them all about what had happened.  They told Chance to get changed and to show me around his room.  He was so excited when we got to his room, so I guessed that they must have remodeled it or something.  But, as everyone came up to see it, and the more he kept talking about it, the more confused I became.  It was as if he had never seen the room or anything in it before.  I also noticed he did not seem to have any old clothes, as everything looked brand new.  As close as Chance was to his dads and the people in this house, it just did not make any sense.  One of his dads said something about everyone welcoming him to his new home, so I just left it alone... even though that made things all the more puzzling. 

The adults soon left, and Chance plopped down on the bed.  "Oh, man!  Check out this comfy ol' bed." He laid back and pat a spot at his side, so I joined him.  "I just can't believe all this here stuff is really mine!  Wow! I guess I's just real lucky, ain't I."

That did it.  I turned to my side and looked at him.  "Chance, buddy, I'm confused.  You look just like both of your dads, and I cannot figure out which one is really your dad and which one is his boyfriend.  You live here with everyone, but you have never met Mic's husband.  Now, you are looking at this room as if it were the first time you have ever seen it.  I just don't understand."

Chance then turned to me and laughed.  "I can see what you's wonderin' 'bout.  They's both my dads, but that wasn't till yesterday.  I sacked out in one of Dad's rooms last night, so I didn't have this room here until I picked it out this mornin'.  It sure didn't look nothin' like it does now, though!   They all's worked real hard fixin' it up for me, and look at all that baseball stuff.  Even a shirt with my name on it!  I's just lucky is all there is to it!"

I was even more confused.  "You said they were not your dads until yesterday?"

Chance just shook his head.  Then he told me everything.  I was simply amazed.  To think of all he had faced in his life... being homeless, alone, scared, everything... well, I just hugged him.  Chance hugged me back and pat my shoulder.  "You know, I reckon I's alright now.  You don't have to be all worrying 'bout me and stuff.  I told ya, my dads done give me a home, so I ain't on 'em streets no more." Silence fell for a moment.  "You don't hate me or nothin' now you know, do ya?" he asked.

"No way!  You're probably the first real friend I have ever had, so there is no way I am ever gonna hate you."  I admitted,, hugging him  even more tightly.

He leaned back slightly and looked me in the eyes.  "Good, cause I like havin' you as my friend.  I think we's gonna be awful good for each other."  Then, a smile spread across his charming face.  "We's gonna be closer 'n friends.  We's family, you 'n me."  That thought made me smile.  "You need to do that more often.  You ain't gonna find you no fella all frownin' and sad lookin' all the time."

I smiled even more.  "What makes you think I am looking for a boyfriend?"  I asked.

"Well, if you're anything like 'em dads of mine or 'em boys down the hall, you's gonna be humpin' all over each other 'n stuff." he laughed.  "I just figured you was, is all.  You seem like you're a might lonely."

"Well, a boyfriend would be nice, someday.  But right now, I think I'll settle for a really good friend." I smiled.  I realized just how insightful my new friend was, and I was once again amazed.

Chance just smiled at me, looking me in the eyes.  Then, he sprang to his feet and quickly moved across the room.  "I reckon I should be gettin' ready, else I might just get us both in a heap of trouble.  Any idea what I should wear?"  he said, opening up his closet.  I helped him select some clothes, and he changed.  Man, was he thin, but he looked nice anyway.  I imagined he would fill out some once he was eating regularly, which made me feel guilty for some reason.  I noticed some bruises on his body, though they were fading.  He told me they were from a gang called The Thorns that hassled street kids for money, and I again thought of how much Chance had gone through.  After he changed, I helped him fix his hair.  Then, we went downstairs where everyone commented on just how hot Chance really looked. 

Boy did he ever!   Low-rise jeans were just made for his body, the way they clung to his narrow hips.  The A & F shirt set off his skin,  The hairstyle brought out his eyes and facial features.  He was far too beautiful to describe with words.  I just wished my growing feelings for him would not screw up our friendship.


It was like looking at my grandson during his younger years.  Chance looked so much like Kanawha.  Of course, I knew he was not blood related, but the resemblance was uncanny.  I swan, he was an adorable young man.  I was glad we had a little preparation from Jena and Jew, however.  The surprise of having a great-grandson might have been too much for this old girl.  Truthfully, I was thrilled to hear the news.  I do have to say that I honestly liked Jew, as he seemed so right for Jena.

A huge smile burst across his face as he ran to greet us.  "I don't know if you knowed 'bout me or not, but I's Chance."  He said, hugging myself and then Nancy.  He turned and smiled at the room of people.  "Wow!  I ain't never had me no granny before!"

I noticed a sharp wincing from Kanawha when Chance referred to us as grannies.  I suppose he knows me well.  "And you still don't.  At least, not as far as me." Chance's eyes became enlarged, and his smile faded quickly, so I reached out and pat his cheeks. "You, my darling, precious boy, can call me Grams or Grandma, but I am no one's Granny."  I laughed.  "I don't believe I am quite that old yet."  The smile quickly returned to his face.

Nancy then replied.  "I have to agree with Shenandoah about being a granny.  I personally prefer Nanna."  she chuckled.  "My what a handsome young man you are.  You remind me so much of Kal when he was your age."  Nancy said as she examined Chance. 

"I was thinking the same thing about his resemblance to  Kanawha" I replied, "from the moment I first saw him.  But, I believe you are correct, Nancy.  I do not see a huge chip on his shoulder like the one my Kanawha always carries."  I laughed.

"Hey, now!"  Kanawha said, bringing his new love by the hand.  "Don't make me sorry I had Jena bring you here." 

"You best watch it Daddy!  I think Grams just might whip up on you and Dad if you ain't careful."  Chance giggled.

Kanawha  laughed, kissing Chance on the forehead.  My what a change there was in him.  For the first time in many, many years, he seemed happy.  These two special young men seemed to have made him complete, a whole person again.  For that, I was thankful.  He hugged me up in one of his big, strong arms.  "Grams, this is Killian Anderson Lord.  Love, everyone, this is my Grams, Shenandoah Brightmoon."

I hugged Killian tightly.  "Anyone who can bring happiness to this grouchy, cantankerous ol' bear of mine must be someone very special.  Of course, I always knew you would be."  I stepped back and looked at him closely.  "My, what a strapping young man you are.  Kanawha, you have done well for yourself, so don't do anything to mess this up.  The good Lord knows we would never find anyone else to put up with you." 

Kanawha looked at Killian and smiled.  "Do you have any doubts now as to why my life was so lonely and devoid of love before you came along?"

"Don't make me punish you, young man." I joked, pinching my grandson's cheek. 

Killian took Nancy's hand.  "Nanna, this is Kanawha Darkstorm.  Love, this is my Nanna, Nancy O'Brien."

Nancy fanned her face.  "My, Shenandoah, how our boys have grown up.  Kal, he is quite a looker.  I wonder if he comes in an older model."  she laughed.  "It is wonderful to see you." she said, hugging him tightly.

"Well, Nancy.  You know Kanawha and Jena." 
I said, motioning for Ethan to come to me.  "Meet my other grandchild, Ethan."  Ethan was escorted by a charming and handsome young man.  I smiled as I thought of how young they both looked, but they fit so well together.  "And, who might you be?"  I inquired.

"This fine looking young man is Carmine Romero.  Shaft is one of my boys."  Nancy smiled as she hugged Ethan.  She turned to Killian.  "Was there a matchmaker convention Shenandoah and I missed."

I hugged Shaft and examined him closely.  "I am so happy for you and Ethan.  He is the good one out of the three, so you had best take care of him."  Ethan stuck his tongue out at Kanawha and Jena, reveling in my comment. 

"I certainly plan to do so."  Shaft smiled, hugging Ethan from behind.  "Ethan means everything to me."

They made a delightful couple, and I smiled my approval.  Then, I turned to Chance.  "Well, Chance, darling.  Why don't you introduce your Gram's to everyone else."

Grinning widely, he led me by the hand to meet the others.  "Well, this here's Roe, Mic, Cole, and Hela.  They all live here with us."  I greeted and hugged each one.  Then, Chance led me to another young man. 
"And this here is my friend, Eric.  But we all calls him Sorrow."  Chance turned to find Nancy.  "Nanna, I reckon you might want to meet my friend Sorrow, too."  Nancy quickly joined us. 

He was a fine looking young man, though he seemed a bit troubled.  "Well, Nancy, it looks as though we have ourselves two great-grandsons.  Sorrow, you just call me Grams and Nancy, Nana."  He embraced us both tightly.  He was surly a strong fellow.

"Thanks." he said.

"Just be sure 'n not call 'em Granny!"  Chance giggled.  Nancy, Sorrow and I joined in the chuckle.  "I reckon I ought to get you's a seat somewhere."  Chance said, escorting Nancy and I to a couch.  He and Sorrow then joined us.  Everyone settled down, and we exchanged chit-chat for a bit.  Then, Chance asked, "Grams, I ain't meanin' to be nosy or nothin', but what does your 'n Daddy's names mean?  I guess it ain't really none of my business, but I was just wonderin' is all."

"Well, Chance, those are two lovely stories I would be happy to share with you."  I smiled, patting his leg.  "Shenandoah has a couple different  meanings, depending upon which language one is speaking.  To may nations, it means Hillside Stream."  I paused, and noticed everyone in the room was listening to my spinning of the yarn.  I had to laugh, seeing their faces, so engrossed in my words.  "My name, however, was taken from the Hopewell language.  The Hopewell were an ancient tribe that formed many of our modern Native American nations, including the Shawnee, which is our family nation.  The Hopewell had a legend about a princess, and her role varied some from story to story.  In some of the stories, she was a goddess who helped in the creation of the earth.  In other stories, she was the embodiment of spring and the renewal of life.  Well, in many of the stories, the princess often rested in the waters of a river located in what is now Virginia.  These sparkling waters were said to rejuvenate her spirit.  The princess was quite fond of these waters, and the lands around them were blessed with fertile ground and much game for hunting.   Because of her fondness, the stars of the heavens bent low to protect these waters, and that is from where the name Shenandoah comes.  It means Crown of the Stars."  Chance seemed entranced by that story, so I continued with the next.

"When your Daddy was born, he had the most beautiful deep blue eyes any of us had ever seen.  But, you could also see the strong spirit that dwell within him.  His mother chose Kanawha, because one look into those eyes, and you would honestly drown in them." 

Killian interjected, "Yea, I am quite familiar with the drowning."  My grandson snuggled closely to his love, and I could not help but smile with pride. 

I paused a moment, reflecting on the day he was born.  The joy we all felt was beyond description.  His father was so proud, as was my husband.  My daughter was filled with the awe, wonder, and love only a mother could understand.  Bringing a life into this world is a blessing that no one can completely describe.  Her friends were there, also enjoying the birth of their own son.  Thinking of them all brought tears to my eyes.  I looked to my precious grandson and his love.  I quietly thanked God for blessing me all these years with such a wonderful grandchild and for bringing such happiness to his life. 

I then continued. "Kanawha is another Hopewell word.  It, too, is a name which comes from a river, one that is located in what is now West Virgina.  In ancient times, these waters were teaming with life.  Many a tribe hunted and fished along its banks.  But, the river was a temperamental one.  Its tranquil waters hid a strong undercurrent.  Many who tried to master the river were lost.  But for those who successfully navigated its waters, the people said that the Great Spirit was with them.  At some point, it became a ritual of honor to cross the mighty river.  That is how the river received its name.  Kanawha means River of Spirits."

"Wow!"  Chance enthused.  "I think we should all get us some of 'em names like that." With a grin spread wide across his face, he looked at everyone, settling his gaze upon Kanawha.  "How 'bout that Daddy?  Let's give us all names like you and Grams has."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea, darling.  Maybe we can work on that together."  I smiled to him.  Then, I looked to Nancy, who nodded her head.  "But, your Dad already has one.  It was given to him by my husband the day he was born."  Killian and Kanawha, along with everyone else for that matter, seemed rather shocked.  "Killian, your mother and father were friends with Kanawha's mother and father.  In fact, they met while attending the university here in Raven Cliff."

"Killian, you know how you were born in Kansas?  Well, your parents and I went out to the reservation to help with a watershed project."  Nancy continued.  "We had been there a couple of months and were in need of some supplies.  So, Shenandoah and I, along with both your mothers, went into town to get what was needed.  While there, first one, then the other went into labor.  You boys were born together, just a few minutes apart from one another.  Even back then, we thought that was quite an oddity."

"When my husband first looked at you, Killian, he named you Keokuk, which means Watchful Fox.  He had picked out his own name for Kanawha, which he always called him to the dismay of his parents.  He was such a stubborn man, much like Kanawha."  I laughed.  "He called him Yana, which means Little Bear.  I swan, I never understood why he insisted upon those names, but my husband swore the two of you had a special destiny.  Your births being so closely together only fueled his beliefs in your intertwined fate."

"As I recall, even as infants, you both shared a special bond.  The two of you would become so fussy if you were separated for even a minute.  When it was time for us to return home, Killian did not sleep or eat well for weeks."  Nancy explained.  "Over the next few years, you boys saw each other a few times a year.  Your parents would all meet somewhere for a few days.  Neither of us traveled with them, though.  And before you ask, you have to realize, I knew Kanawha as Yana, and Shenandoah knew Killian as Keokuk.  We did not connected anything together until Jew pulled in to pick up Shenandoah.  After talking a few minutes, we realized how we knew one another." 

I finished up.  "When Kanawha mentioned the name Killian, I was reminded of your father, but I never dreamed it would turn out to be you, child.  Imagine our surprise realizing that after all these years, you two found one another again, and are in love, no less.  I guess you really did have a special destiny." I smiled, looking at Chance.  "He sure seems special to me." 


The news of our interconnection with one another, stemming from our very births, had me at odds.  I was speechless as Nana and Grams explained everything.  If ever there were any doubts that Killian was my destined partner in life, they were all erased.  More and more, pieces of the puzzle were falling into place.  There was no room for doubt that fate had brought us together, and if our purpose was nothing more than giving Chance a home, then it was probably the greatest destiny I could ever conceive.  "That he is, Grams.  That he is."  I pulled Killian onto my lap, wrapping my arms tightly around his waist. I then whispered in his ear.  "Love, it is no wonder I feel for you the way I do.  From the instant I met you, I felt as if I had known you my entire lifetime.  Now, I know that is true, and I can honestly say I have loved you since the moment I was born."

Killian blushed and flashed me his evil grin.  He leaned in and whispered back, "I think we have a lot of celebrating to do this evening.  And, we have a lifetime of love to catch up on.  So, you might plan or retiring early."

His words tickled the inner parts of my ears, exciting me to no end.  I quietly replied, "Well, I am feeling a bit tired right now.  Think it is too early to turn in for the night?"  Killian just snickered.  "I didn't think they would buy it either, but I am ready anytime you are, love."

Killian giggled and whispered, "I know.  I can feel your enthusiasm against my hip.  I don't think I'll be able to stand up anytime soon, myself."

Our little world was invaded by Roe.  "You know, I think this naming idea of Chance's sounds like a lot of fun.  But, we need to give Kanawha, Grams, Chance, Sorrow, Ethan, and Jena special little nicknames like the rest of us have."

Cole then burst out laughing.  I must interject a warning to you, at this point.  It is always the quiet ones you have to watch out for in life.  When Cole could finally speak from the laughter, she spoke the most painstaking words I have yet to live down.  "I have the perfect nickname for Kanawha!   Yana means Little Bear, right.  Well, how about calling him Boo Boo!  You know, the little cartoon guy."

Even my love laughed at my fate.  I just shook my head, residing to the fact that I would be known to this group forever more as Boo Boo.  How humiliating a name is that!  I could see them referring to me as Boo Boo in public.  This was going to be a nightmare!

"What do ya' say, Boo Boo boy?"  Jena laughed, doing a horrible imitation. 

"Just remember guys, I get to help pick out names for you, as well."  I shot back.  But, the laughing continued as everyone made a point to address me as Boo Boo.  After a while, I tried to steer the conversation away from my new name.  "OK. Enough with the Boo Boo business.  You guys still have five more victims to claim, so why not feast on their carcases for a while."

Shaft then started giggling uncontrollably.  Ethan shot him a stern look.  "I swear, if you say one word..."

"OK!  OK!  I won't say anything."  Shaft replied.  "Nibbler."  He then rolled with laughter as Ethan flushed with embarrassment. 

I chuckled.  "Nibbler is not as humiliating as Boo Boo, but it is awfully close."

"OK.  That is two down and three to go."  Hela said.  Then, she had a wicked smile that crossed her face.  "I have the perfect name for Jena.  And it will work out beautifully, seeing that you and Ethan are twins.  How about Dribbler?"  She laughed.  Jew shook uncontrollably, finding humor in this name, while Jena looked shocked.  So, Hela enlightened everyone.  "When you fell asleep last night, you drooled all over poor Jews' shirt."

Jena blushed, but laughed.  "And to think I used to like you, Hela."  Then, she giggled some more.  "Hey, guys.  I'm Dribbler, and this is my twin brother Nibbler!  Oh, Lord.  That is pretty good."

"All right now group.  Settle down."  Roe interjected.  "Let's concentrate on Chance next."

The wheels were turning for a bit on Chance.  He nervously sat there grinning.  He seemed to be enjoying this, and I had to admit I was, too.  Then, Ethan spoke up.  "As vindication for his need to share information about certain activities, and because he seems to have a fixation with the word, I propose Chance now be known as Humper!"

We all had a good laugh out of that one, and Chance appeared to approve of the name.  Roe took over the proceedings again.  "OK.  We are down to two remaining victims.  I already have Grams' name solved, so we will save that one for last.  Let's gang up on Sorrow now."

After pondering a minute, Mic spoke up.  "Well, I admit it is not the greatest method we have used to come up with a nickname, but I think it is cute.  Sorrow has this habit of strumming his fingers a great deal, and since he is Chance's new friend, I think they should match somehow.  So, how about Thumper."

Hela giggled.  "I like that.  Though he is a big ol' boy, he is every bit as cute as that little bunny."  

Chance laughed, pointing at Sorrow.  Sorrow just blushed a bit.  "See, I told ya', we's closer 'n friends, we's family, you 'n me."  Chance said, wrapping his arm around his buddy.  I felt a great deal of pride for him.  He was such a loving and giving little man. 

"Well, I suppose it could be worse."  Sorrow said, and we all laughed again. 

"Now, for the best part."  Roe stated.  "And we owe this name to Humper, here.  Because of her obvious affinity to aging, I propose that Shenandoah Brightmoon be known to this group from this day forward as Granny!"

Grams eyes became huge.  We all fought hard the urge to laugh, but it was inevitable that someone had to give.  Nana was the first.  Laughing, she turned to Grams.  "Believe me, Shenandoah, Granny is far better than my nickname.  Imaging being called Tinkle."

"Tinkle?"  Grams... I mean Granny asked.  Hehehe.  Lord, she SO hated that name! 

Killian snickered.  "Yea.  See, every time we go anywhere, be it 10 miles down the road or 100, Nana always has to stop at the restroom.  So, we dubbed her Tinkle."

Grams laughed.  "Well, I will gladly take Granny over the other possibilities."  She then became quiet for a moment.  "You know, I just want to thank you all for making me feel at home here.  This naming of names was more than just fun entertainment.  It was an initiation.  You have opened your home and your hearts to Jena, Ethan, Kanawha, Chance, Sorrow, and myself. 
Though I have just met most of you, I feel like you are all part of my family."  Everyone quietly pondered her words, and I realized just how right my Grams was.  Boo Boo, though a name I would rather not have been called outside of the confines of that room, was a badge of honor... one I hoped I could someday wear with pride.  It would not be anytime soon, I thought, but maybe fifty or sixty years down the road, just as Alzheimer's struck, I would find it endearing.

Grams fought back tears.  "It will have been twenty years this Saturday when Kanawha and I lost so many... My daughter and son, which were Kanawha's parents... Kanawha's Grandparents, the Darkstorm's... and my beloved husband.  In one instant, our family dwindled down to two.  Later in the year, the good Lord blessed us with Jena and Ethan.  But today, our little family of four has grown so much... from four to fourteen, now that is certainly a miracle." 

Grams pat Chance on the back.  "I am reminded of wise words my great-grandson recently told his friend.  I do not want to discount the value of friendship, because friends are very important.  The only thing with friendship is that it may come and it may go.  But family, that is the people you hold nearest and dearest to your heart... the people you love unconditionally with all of your heart and soul.  Family is forever, and it is not a word I use lightly.  What I am trying to say is that I am honored to be a part of this family, just as I am honored to call each and every one of you my family." Then, she giggled.  "I guess I will be equally honored to be GRANNY to you all, as well."

Chance hugged Grams tightly.  "Thank you.  I ain't never been called wise before, but it sure felt good what you said and all."

"My dear boy, you have such a profound wisdom inside of you.  Never doubt that."  she said, running her fingers through his hair and kissing his cheek.  "I believe your Nana and I owe you and Sorrow a bit of spoiling.  What do you say we plan on doing something special this evening?  Anything you boys want to do."

"That sounds like a splendid idea Shenandoah."  Nana said, patting Sorrow on the leg.  "You boys figure out something you want to do, and we will do so."  

"This is SO sweet!"  Sorrow enthused, as he hugged Nana and Grams.  Then, he embraced Chance.  "Anything you can think of doing, Humper?"

Chance giggled.  "Well, Thumper, I ain't never seen no movie at no theater before.  I saw 'em there at that mall, though, and Ethan and Shaft explained what they was."

"Oh, guy!  That 'll be so much fun!"  Sorrow replied.  "Your first trip to the theater.  You will remember this forever!"

"Well, then, I guess it is settled.  We will go see a movie."  Grams smiled. 

I was once again amazed at how the things I often took for granted were so special to Chance.  I loved seeing the world through his eyes.  Between he and Killian, my perspective was quickly changing.

"Only under a few conditions."  Jena interrupted.  "Chance has to take an entrance exam before he can get into high school.  We are going to need to do a lot of studying in the next ten days."  Grams winked at Jena and nodded her head.  "You will need to study right after dinner for at least two hours.  Since our study time is being cut short, Sorrow will have to agree to help you study some.  And, when it comes to studying, Chance, you cannot argue with Mic, Ethan, Roe, or myself.  We will be teaching you.  Finally, everyone has to agree to help out with the studying and teaching as we need help."

Chance agreed.  "I guess goin' to that school will be OK if Thumper is there.  I guess I's gonna have to study then, if I wanna be in class with 'im, so I promise."

Sorrow smiled.  "You know I want you in class with me, so I will do whatever it takes to get you there, Humper."

Everyone agreed to help out in any way Jena thought would work.  In fact, everyone wanted to do as much as they could for our little guy.  Grams was right.  These guys were my family... a bit large sometimes for my comfort, but I was getting used to them.  I was starting to care for them all quite a bit, too.  I looked around and marveled at what a wonderful, talented, diverse group this family was.  And, in our own quirky ways, we added to the whole.

"Well, what do you say we get dinner under way?"  Hela asked. 

Everyone agreed and headed for the kitchen.  In a short time, everything was spread out on one of the large banquet tables, and we were all sitting down to eat.  Cole said the blessing, which I felt spoke the words in everyone's hearts. "Lord, we come to you today with the greatest of thanks in our hearts.  You have touched our lives in so many glorious ways, answering many long awaited prayers.  You have blessed many of us with love, uniting thee couples in our midsts.  You have also blessed our home with the laughter and zeal of two wonderful young men.  You have brought Nana to once again be with us, and you have added Grams to aid in wise counsel.  We gather today with six new additions to our family, and for that, we are eternally grateful.  Bless the food we are about to receive, the fellowship in which we are about to partake, and the love that binds us all together.  In your holy name we pray, Amen."

My beloved proposed a toast.  "To love, friendship, and family."  Everyone joined the toast, which I felt to be a rather fitting summary of what Grams had said earlier.

Dinner was spectacular.  Hela and Mic really outdid themselves, and I was the first to pay my complements.  They both said that when it came to family, they always pulled out the stops.  The conversation was pleasant, and I could feel the warmth and genuine love everyone held for one another.  

I contently watched everyone interact for a few moments.  Then, I took my lovers hand and kissed it gently.  "Thanks, Love.  Thanks for sharing this wonderful family with me."

"It was never complete without you, my love." he said with a grin.  Then, he looked around.  "Somehow, I believe this is just the beginning.  In time, I feel certain our family will grow much larger."

"You know, all this food is making me awfully sleepy."  I smiled.

"Maybe we can sneak away while they are doing homework."  He slyly stated.  "I have a few studies I would like to attend to myself." 

I was so blessed.  Killian was so far beyond perfection, yet he was born to be my lover.  Even my Grandfather foresaw some of our destiny.  I thought of his names for us, Little Bear and Watchful Fox.  How bizarre that he knew so much about how things would unfold.  "I love you Killian Anderson Lord... Now and forever."

"And I you, my love... Forever and a day." He replied.

Soon, dinner was over.  We all worked together and quickly cleaned up.  Then, Jena took charge of study time. 

We asked Chance if he wanted us to come with him, but he said he did not want us to see him fail.  I assured him that we would be proud of him no matter what.  He hugged us both and said he knew that.  Then, he told us he figured we wanted to be alone for a little while.  Killian told him we would both be happy to sit with him, but he said we would make him nervous.  Then he laughed, telling us once he learned things better, he would want us to watch him.  I just smiled and shook my head, delighting in the fact that we had such a wonderful son.  We both kissed his forehead for good luck, and he headed off with everyone to the movie room. 

Nana showed Grams upstairs to the rooms prepared for them, as they decided to take a little nap.  With everyone out of the way and Chance not needing us, Killian and I quickly made our escape.


Jena delivered her directions.  Ethan and she would administer an initial testing of Chance.  From that, we would know where he stood and with what areas he needed the most help.  Roe was to monitor his speech and figure out what needed to be done to prepare Chance for the oral part of the examination, the part they called the interview (We all knew a lot was riding on that interview).  I had to giggle, because poor Roe had his work cut out for him.  I loved the way Chance said things, but I was certain the teachers would not see this the same way we did.  My task was to monitor his social patterns and determine how to groom our guy into fitting in at school. 

Sorrow rubbed Chances shoulders and offered up moral support.  He was such a charming young man, and I could tell a difference in him already.  I just knew Chance could bring him back from the brink of despair.  I recognized the symptoms, having walked that path myself.  But, we were in a pivotal time to intervene.  Sorrow was not at the edge just yet. 

Jew, Hela, and Shaft gave our guy a hug, telling him how much they believed in him.  Then, Cole kissed him on the cheek and said a small prayer.  By the time they were done, Chance appeared to be calm. 

So, the testing began.  Ethan started with a few quick, simple Learning Style Inventories, assuring Chance that there were no right or wrong answers.  He then administered a couple intelligence tests.  This took around 40 minutes.  Ethan turned things over to Jena while he tabulated Chance's scores.

Jena had prepared a smaller-scaled version of the exams Chance would be taking.  The test was in four areas: reading comprehension, writing and language skills, science, and mathematics.  Chance seemed to be doing well until the writing and language skills portion.  He began to get agitated and irritable.  I nodded to Sorrow, who placed his hand on Chance's shoulder.  "Just calm down, guy.  You are doing fine, and you're almost done.  Just hang in there a little longer, OK?"

"I just ain't no good at this stuff."  Chance looked so defeated.

"Well, just do your best, Humper.  That is all anyone is asking.  Please, don't give up.  You just have to be in class with me."  Sorrow soothed.

That seemed to do the trick, because Chance was back at it with a vengeance.  Sorrow smiled as I winked at him.  'He is going to be every bit as good for Chance as Chance will be for him.'  I smiled to myself.  With eight minutes to spare, Chance finished the exam.  Jena then conducted a short interview, and though Chance had great ideas and understanding, his way of expressing himself had Roe in fits of laughter.  Boy was there work to be done!

Jena graded the tests as Ethan explained the results of the Learning Style Inventories and the intelligence tests.  "Chance scored equally in auditory and tactile, and was only one point less in visual.  This tells us that he learns in just about any situation.  That is a good thing Chance, so smile, little guy.  Chance had many high score areas of intelligence.  His highest were interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, analytical musical, and analytical mathematical.  This tells us quite a bit.  Chance learns best when he is in social interactions with others.  He also needs to transfer what he is learning by reflecting on his own personal experiences.  By being kinesthetic, he is in tune with his body, and his sense of touch must be stimulated during the learning process.  Finally, he does well with theories and working with numbers, but he needs to see a pattern or develop a learning rhythm for this to be successful.  >From the final test, Chance scored highest in the experimental learning quadrant.  This means he learns best when he can try out new ways of doing things and can apply what he is learning to other areas of his life."  Ethan smiled at Chance and grabbed him up into a hug.  "That means you are one really smart guy, Humper."

Chance looked relieved, and I just had to laugh.  Jena finished scoring the test and announced the results.  "OK.  Chance, you did very well in math and science.  That kind of surprised me, seeing as how you have not been in school for a good while.  Your reading comprehension was not bad either.  However, your language and writing skills need some work.  Honey, you cannot say the big fat guy with the beard and the pointed hat on your test.  I know what you were meaning, but they are looking for his name.  You have the right ideas, we just need to work on how to express them better.  OK, sweetie?"

"I told ya I ain't no good at that stuff." Chance sighed.

"Chance, babe, it isn't a matter of knowing the facts.  It's just a matter of learning the right words to tell the facts.  Believe me, knowing the facts proves you are much smarter than most of the kids your age.  We just have to work on your vocabulary."  Jena soothed.

Chance still looked defeated.  Then, Hela worked her magic.  She came over and grabbed him up into a hug.  "Oh, baby.  Don't you fret over anything.  We all know you are smart, and don't you doubt yourself for a minute.  You just leave this to us.  We will help you get through this.  We believe in you baby, and we are all so proud at how well you have done.  Just think, we haven't even started to study yet.  Imagine how well you are going to do once you take that test."  The wide grin returned to our little angel. 

Roe came over and knelt down in front of Chance.  "Personally, I love the way you talk, little man.  But, this interview is important.  You have great ideas in answering the questions, but you need a little more vocabulary and better use of grammar.  You also need to finish your words out and not use contractions quite as much."  Roe then smiled at him.  "Hey, I will help you get through the interview part, and that is where we will focus on this stuff.  Other than the interview, though, I really don't want you to change a thing in how you talk.  It is a part of who you are, and we all love you for being you.  You got that Humper." Chance giggled as Roe poked his ribs. 

"Yea, OK.  I'll try my best to learn all that stuff."  He smiled.

Now it was my turn.  "Well, Chance, I have to say that I think you are well adjusted socially.  The scores you had from Ethan's test proves that.  I do think you get a little upset and doubt yourself some.  But, I know a few things we can try to help you relax during the writing part and the interview.  That will be a piece of cake, though.   You already have mastered the hard stuff."  He smiled at that.

"Thanks for helpin' me guys.  I sure is glad you're all on my side.  I just gotta get in that school.  Me 'n Thumper are gonna have lot's of fun then."  He grabbed Sorrow in a hug. 

Jew came over and ruffed up Chance's hair.  "You want to throw some ball for a while?"

Chance became very excited.  "Let's go get us some gloves, Sorrow."  and the two raced off. 

"Well, you seem to have found an effective reward system." Shaft noted.

Jew laughed.  "For me or for Chance?"

"Come on guys, let's all go out and throw some ball."  Ethan stated, and out to the front lawn we headed.

Ethan and Shaft brought gloves and a few balls out for everyone.  I have to tell you that I had never thrown a baseball before, but Chance and Sorrow were there to show Cole and I what to do.  Hela had played softball before, so she had no problems.  Jena received personal coaching from Jew, which I have to say was adorable.   They seemed so happy together. 

Ethan and Shaft made a lovely couple, and I rolled with laughter at Ethan's expression when Shaft yelled, "Catch it Nibbler."  Of course, Ethan missed the ball because he was too busy shooting off his mouth for being nicknamed nibbler in the first place.  Lord, were they ever funny.

About twenty minutes into our throwing session, Kal and Boo Boo joined us.  I wondered what they had been up to, but I decided not to ask.  Calling Kanawha Boo Boo was more than enough enjoyment for the time being.


As we entered the bedroom, I noticed the roses.  Killian blushed as he cast his gaze down to the ground, running his foot back and forth in front of him.  He was so adorable, I thought.  "You may want to read the card."  He softly said, so I did just that:

        My Love,

           You are the embodiment of everything good in this world.  You are the sum of every hope and dream to
        which I have dared to aspire.  You are the shining star that illuminates my path, for without you, I would be
        lost in nothingness.  Every step I have taken in this life has led me straight to you, for you are my destiny. 
        Your very presence is proof to me that dreams really do come true and prayers are answered.

        All that I am, all that I have within my heart, I give to you freely.  I am yours, my Love, forever and a day.


I was so deeply moved by his romantic gesture, but my love wasn't finished just yet.  He walked over to the stereo and pressed play.  As the music started, he smiled "I had Cole do me a little favor.  Dance with me."  I graciously accepted, and as we moved slowly to the music, my love sang to me:

Before Your Love

I wonder how I ever made it through a day
How did I settle for a world in shades of gray
When you go in circles all the scenery looks the same
And you don't know why, then I looked into your eyes,
Where the world stretched out in front of me and I realized

I never lived before your love
I never felt before your touch
I never needed anyone to make me feel alive
But then again, I wasn't really living
I never lived before your love

I wanted more than just an ordinary life
All of my dreams seemed like castles in the sky
I stand before you and my heart is in your hands
And I don't know how I survived without you kiss
'Cause you've given me a reason to exist

I never lived before your love
I never felt before your touch
I never needed anyone to make me feel alive
But then again, I wasn't really living
I never lived before your love
I never lived before your love

And I don't know why,
Why the sun decides to shine
But you breathed your love into me just in time

I never lived before your love
I never felt before your touch
I never needed anyone to make me feel alive
But then again, I wasn't really living
I never lived before your love

His tenor voice was soft and soothing, as the words moved me to tears.  Destiny had been so favorable to me, giving me such a wonderful man... a man that I could never possibly love as much as he deserved.  Yet, I loved him so deeply that I felt for certain I would explode.  Every fiber of my being yearned for him.  My very soul quaked in his presence. 

I looked into his eyes where an unfathomable love for me sparkled in the light of his essence.   Slowly his lips brushed against mine.  The moisture of his mouth, the taste of him... it was beyond description.  His gentle kiss sent tingling pulses up the lower part of my spine as I melted under the gentle caresses from his hand.  He softly stroked my cheek as I ran my hands down his back.  His fingers lightly strolled down my sides where they delicately worked my shirt upwards, removing it from my body.  Skillfully, he unfastened my pants and guided my jeans to the floor.  He then pressed me back to the bed, where he removed my shoes, socks, and pants. 

I drank in his image as he methodically shed his clothing.  His well-defined chest was lightly covered in soft, brown hair, as was his muscular thighs and calves.  Killian's eyes pierced my soul as he gazed into my own, smiling his love for me.  Then, as he made his way onto the bed, his fingers seductively explored my body.  His feather-like strokes burned a trail along my legs.  I was lost in euphoria as his lips and tongue delicately grazed the sensitive skin of my inner thighs.  His hands massaged my hips, gently gripping my boxer briefs.  Slowly, he worked them off of me and out of his way.

He continued his torturous exploration.  I gasped as the lightly grainy texture of his tongue ran along my scrotum. The sensations made my head  feel light and weightless.  He continued lavishing me with his tongue as his roaming fingers played with the hair along my abdomen. 

My beloved seductively licked his way up my pulsing member.  His hot, most breath further stimulated my sensitive skin. It was as if all time had slowed down to a crawl.  Seconds passed like hours.  His parting lips glided along the tip of my throbbing head.  I incoherently growled in pleasure as he took me inside the warm, sensuous wetness of his mouth.   As he brought me deeper inside, I felt as if my whole body was encased within my lover.  His lips and tongue stroked the length of me in a slow torturous pace.  Moans escaped me, as I firmly clutched the bed.  Passion and euphoria were overwhelming me, as the primal need inside of me built up slowly.  Killian began a faster rhythm as I called out his name over and over again.  My hips involuntarily moved, matching every rise and fall of my lover's cadence.  I could feel myself drawing tightly as the tension mounted within me.  My breathing was shallow and labored.  I warned my love of my impending situation, but he lovingly kept on.  My body pulsated with every heartbeat, sounding like a tribal drum beating deep within me.  On the brink, I slipped into the pleasurable pain of climax.  I growled out my beloved's name once more as I exploded with release.  His stroking stopped as he drank in the essence of my seed.

It seemed like an eternity before I could finally move.  Killian was lying at my side, running his fingers through the hairs along my chest.  He smiled, licking his lips.  "Not bad."  he commented.

I pulled him close to me, so that his head rested upon my chest.  "Not bad?  That was the most fantastic experience!  Oh, Love.  You were... it was... I can't even describe it!"  As the spirit returned to my body, I raised his head to look in his eyes.  "I guess I will just have to show you so you can see for yourself."  A wicked smile spread across both of our faces as I grabbed him up into a passionate kiss.


While I was walkin up the steps, I wondered if I might have hurt Dad and Daddy's feelings.  I didn't want them a watchin' me make a fool out of myself on that ol' test.  It had been a real long time since I was in a school, and I figured I wouldn't do none too good.  Them first tests was fine, 'cause you couldn't get none of 'em answers wrong.  That ol' math and science tests wasn't too bad neither, 'cause I always liked 'em classes.  Now, I ain't the best reader, but I reckon I's can read alright.  But I just ain't no writer.  I don't get that ol' English stuff.  I ain't never heard nobody talk like that nohow. 

My good friend Sorrow helped me out though, 'cause I was fixin' to just tear that ol' test up in a bunch of pieces.  I was gettin' a bit mad at myself, I guess is all.  But he calmed me down, and I finished the thing.  I knowed I didn't do none too good on it, and that mouthy girl, Jena, she tried to make me feel better 'n all 'bout not bein' so good at writin'.  I guess Daddy is right 'bout her.  She is pretty nice sometimes. 

Hela made me feel good, though.  I really like her, 'cause she is special.  Then, Roe told me he didn't really see nothin' wrong with my talk, 'cept I needed to work on impressin' 'em teachers so's I could get into that school.  It's funny, but I didn't even want to go to that ol' school till I met Sorrow. 

That Sorrow was a good one, though he needed to quit hangin' out with 'em other boys he was with at that mall.  They's just plain mean.  But he's a nice fella.  Seemed to be real smart, too.  I wasn't quite sure what it was yet, but there's somethin' special we's 'posed to do.  I knowed we was meant to be with one another.  I was thinkin' he was a likin' me, wantin' me as a boyfriend 'n all.  I wasn't sure 'bout that, 'cause I reckon I's never thought 'bout stuff like that with me 'n all before.  He was a handsome fella, though.  I just didn't know if I was a wantin' me no boyfriend or not... didn't know if i was a wantin' no girlfriend neither.   When I brought it up in my room, though, he didn't  answer me quite like I wanted 'im to do.  He just said he was a wantin' a friend, someday, maybe a boyfriend. 

Anyways, Jew took us all outside in the front yard to throw some ball.  Me and Sorrow showed Cole and Mic how to catch and throw.  I don't reckon too many girls play baseball, but they was learnin' pretty good how to do it.  A little bit later, Dad and Daddy came outside, and I run up to 'em.  Mic called Daddy Boo Boo, and I laughed at 'im when his face got all red.

"Well, son, how did your test go?"  Dad asked me.

"Well, Ethan says I'm smart, but I ain't so sure 'cause I just ain't no good at that English and writin'.  Dribbler says I need some work on it." I told 'im.  Daddy laughed when I called Jena that.

Daddy picked me up and hugged me.  "Just give it time, son, and do your best."  He kissed me on the forehead, and I just smiled at 'im.  I liked it when he did that.  "I believe in you, Chance.  You will do just fine."

"I sure hope so, 'cause me 'n Sorrow just has to get into class together."  I said.

"You like him quite a bit, don't you?"  Daddy asked me.

"I sure do.  'Sides, I think he kinda needs me.  I knowed I's gonna need him at that ol' school!"  I laughed.

"Well, I think you two are good for each other, and I am glad you have made friends with him."  Dad said.  "Hey, you want to throw some ball with your two dad's?"

"I saved you two some gloves!  Come on!"  I ran and got 'em their gloves.  Then, we throwed some ball for a while.  They was both pretty good at throwin' and catchin', and I just liked doin' somethin' I was good at with 'em.  I knowed they would not hate me if I wasn't good at somethin', but I wanted 'em to be proud of me is all.  I guess I really knowed they was proud of me anyways, but I reckon I get a bit silly sometimes.

A bit later, Nana and Grams came outside 'n asked if us boys was ready to go to that mall and watch a movie.  I hugged Dad and Daddy, tellin' 'em we'd be back later.  Then, me n' Sorrow was ready to go. 

Grams drove us there, but Sorrow had to tell her where to go.  I don't reckon she had been to that mall before.   Then, we walked up to the theater, and there was all kinds of people there.

"Well, Humper, what do you want to see?"  Sorrow asked me.

"I ain't never been to none of 'em movies before, so I don't know nothin' 'bout any of 'em." I explained to 'im.

He told me 'bout a bunch of 'em.  Some of 'em was scary movies, and I thought those sounded like fun.  Grams and Nana didn't look all that excited 'bout 'em, but they didn't complain or nothin'. 

We walked up to this little window with a little hole cut in it at the bottom.  Grams told the girl what we was a wantin' to see and paid her.  That girl then gave Grams some paper stuff.  Sorrow called 'em tickets.  Then, we walked inside, and there was that girl.  Then, we had to give her 'em tickets back, and she just ripped 'em all in half.  She gave Grams back part of 'em though.  I wondered why we had to pay her from that hole in the window, when she was right there, and why she gave us 'em tickets when we just had to give 'em right back to her when we walked in.  It just didn't make no kinda sense to me. 

Nana took us in this line, and after a while, we had us some popcorn, candy, and a big ol' pop each.  I was real excited then.  Sorrow showed us all where the movie was at.  There was a bunch of chairs in there, but they was all crowded together.  Sorrow found us some seats over on the side in the back.  He sat down at the wall, then me, Grams, and Nana.  I kept bumpin' my arm on 'im 'cause 'em seats was so close together.  We all talked for a little bit, then they turned the lights out on us and the movie started.

That picture was way bigger 'n any tv I ever saw.  There was some stuff on at first that I thought was the movie, but Sorrow said they was called previls or somethin' like that.   He let me know when it was the movie, which I thought was real nice.

That ol' movie was real good.  There was this guy who had on this ol' mask.  And he had this big ol' knife that was real shiny.  He would take out that knife and rip 'em people into pieces.  Blood and guts was a squirtin' everywhere in that ol' house. 

Some of 'em people wasn't none too smart though, 'cause they knowed he was there and they didn't try to leave or nothin' like that.  They just walked around in that ol' house till he killed 'em.   If it was me, and some ol' man had a knife and a mask on, I would be a runnin' as fast as I could to get away from that ol' house.

I was talkin' to Sorrow 'bout the movie, and this one boy turned 'round and went S-h-h-h.  Then, Sorrow told me we was 'posed to whisper if we wanted to talk.  At one part, that man with the knife jumped out and cut up this ol' girl, and Grams spilled her popcorn everywhere.  We all laughed kinda quiet like so that boy wouldn't get mad at us or nothin'. 

They killed that man a bunch of times in that movie, but he just got back up and stabbed 'em some more.  Then, they all said he was really dead , but his hand moved.  Then, that movie was over.  I was gonna try to get Dad and Daddy to bring me 'n Sorrow back to watch that movie again, 'cause it was real good.

We drove by Sorrow's house to take 'im home, but there wasn't no lights or nothin' on.  He said his mom must still be out, but I was wonderin' if he saw her very much.  He just seemed a might lonely, and I kinda doubted she stayed  in that there house too awful much.  So I asked Grams and Nana if Sorrow could come stay with me. 

They said he would have to talk to his mom, so Sorrow called her on his little phone he carries in his pocket.  I thought I would like to get me one of 'em things, but I really didn't have no need of one, cause I ain't got nobody I needed to call.  If I wanted to talk to Dad, Daddy, or any of the rest of 'em, I could just walk down the hall to their rooms.  Sorrow's mom told 'im he could, so me 'n him went in and got some of his clothes.  He had a real nice room, but I was thinkin' mine was a bit bigger.  I wasn't braggin' to myself or nothin' like that.   We got his stuff and went back home.

When we walked in, all of 'em were in the living room waitin' for us to get back.  Sorrow and I told 'em all 'bout that movie, and  'em two boys, Ethan and Shaft, said they might take me 'n Sorrow back to see it again if we was wantin' to.  They said they was dyin' to see it. 

Hela and Jena brought out this big ol' cake and some ice cream, tellin' me how proud they was of me doin' so good on that ol' test.  I hugged 'em all for helpin' me.  Then, we all ate some. 

I was kinda tired, so I asked Sorrow if he was ready for bed.

Me 'n him walked up to my room with Dad and Daddy.  We went in the bathroom and changed into our sleepin' clothes.  Dad and Daddy was waitin' on us.  They put the covers up on us, said prayers with us, and then kissed us both good night.  Then, they went on down stairs, I guess.

It was quite a few minutes, then Sorrow turned on his side.  "You are so lucky, Chance.  You have all these people that love you.  Your dads even play ball with you and tuck you in bed."  I smiled  thinkin' 'bout that, but I noticed he was all quiet.  Then I heard him a snifflin'.  I turned on my side and looked at 'im.   Then, he said, " I would give anything if my mom or dad would do that for me." 

I felt real bad for my friend.  I knowed he was hurtin' real bad inside.  I knowed that before.  I also knowed he was thinkin' 'bout some stuff that I didn't want to let happen.  I just hugged him up real tight.  "They all love you too, Thumper.  You got me now, so you ain't gotta be lonely no more.  We's family, you 'n me." 

He cried for a while, and I just kept a huggin' 'im.  I was cryin' with him, though.  Then, he leaned back and looked me in the eyes.  I reached up and wiped some of 'em tears off his face with my thumb and smiled at 'im.  Then, he kissed me, not like he was wantin' to hump me or nothin' like that.  Then, he put his head on my chest and said, "I love you man.  I have been thinking a lot about some things, and I am so glad I met you today."

I just hugged 'im up to me as he kept on cryin'.   I knowed what he was talkin' 'bout, and seein' it in my head made me cry, too.   Yep, my friend needed me, and I knowed I needed 'im too.  I kissed 'im on the forehead and run my fingers in his hair.  "I love you too, Sorrow, and I's awful glad we met.  Like I said before, we's closer 'n friends.  We's family, you 'n me.  And I ain't goin' nowheres, 'cause family is forever."  I just kept holdin' my friend,  and we both cried ourselves to sleep.


After we tucked our little guys into bed, I decided it was time to talk with Kanawha.  Even though our earlier experience was mind-blowing to say the least, I felt guilty for hiding the situation with Chance from him.  So, as we went down the hall, I pulled him into our room.  He just smiled at me.  "Three times was not enough for you?"

I laughed.  "I could never get enough of you, my love, but this is not about that.  I need to talk to you about a few things."  I was feeling a bit uneasy, and he took notice.  The worry lines appeared across his forehead.  Then, I realized he was feeling my uneasiness, too.  "There are a few things we need to discuss.  For one, the meeting with Janice was not bad, but it was not what I would call good either."  I became emotional, trying my best to fight back the tears.

Kanawha held me close to him.  "Love, it is OK.  Whatever it is, we will fight through it together.  Just tell me what is wrong."

"Well, we have temporary custody of Chance through the mission.  That is only until he is placed in foster care.  We have to apply to become foster parents in order to keep him."  I started.

"Love, that is not so bad."

Before he could go any further, I explained.  "There is more to it, though, Love.  Janice said that she will have to check into things before we can apply.  It seems possible that only one of us may be able to apply to become Chance's foster parent.  She said that one gay foster parent is accepted, but the law is tricky when dealing with a practicing gay couple."

Kanawha fell quiet for a minute, as he stroked his hand up and down my back.  "Would we still be able to keep Chance that way?"  He asked.

"Janice says yes.  But, say you become his foster parent.  I have no rights to him.  What if something should happen to you?  What would I do then?  What would Chance do then?"  I cried.

He continued to comfort me.  Soothingly, he replied, "Well, Love, what did Janice say to that.  I know you well enough to know you asked her." 

"She said that if we had to go that route and something happened to the one who was made the foster parent,  she would move heaven and earth to see that Chance stayed with the survivor.  You or I would have to apply to become a foster parent, but she said she could retain custody of Chance through the mission just as she is now."  I elaborated.

"Killian, I know that it is not fair, and it is not right, but at least it is a way for us to keep Chance.  I hope you are not upset with me, but I think we need to prioritize and focus on what is most important.  Granted, we could make a big issue of this and stand up for gay rights.  But in doing so, we could also lose Chance.  If playing it safe means we get to keep our son, then I am all for safety."  My gentle giant lifted my head from his chest as he gazed compassionately into my eyes.  "Do you trust Janice?  Do you trust in her judgment?"

"Yes, I trust her.  But, Love, she is only human.  What if something goes wrong." I stated my fears as best I could.

"Love, there are no guarantees in life.  Ethan and Shaft are a perfect example of this.  They decided that one hour together as a couple was better than a lifetime of not experiencing one another.  I feel the same way about Chance.  Of course, I want to keep him forever.  But, if things should turn out differently, then at least we made an impact in his life.  For what time we had him, we gave him a home.  We gave him all the love we had."  He paused a moment.  "You know, neither of us had our parents forever.  But, during the short time we had with them, they made a lasting impact upon our lives.  Would you trade the six years of knowing them for a lifetime without them.  Yea, you would miss out on the pain, but you would also miss out on knowing them."

I was rather amazed at how rational my love was.  Truth is, he was making total sense to me.  "Of course I wouldn't.  And, I see your point."  Then, I tried my best to smile and hugged him.  "Your right.  We will do what we have to and hope for the best."

"Actually, love, I think we can go one better."  He started.  He searched for his words, forming his thoughts in his mind. Tears welled up in his eyes.  "I was thinking about what Grams and Nana told us earlier today.  Love, we were born together, and though our parents' deaths tore us apart, fate and destiny brought us back together.  I believe it is the same with Chance.  You and all of your friends have shown me a lot in the last day and a half.  Valerie as well, for that matter.  You have such a strong faith, Love.  With everything that has happened, I have no doubts it is he who has brought us all together.  He obviously has some sort of plan for our lives, so
I say we pray and trust in God to show us what to do.

At that moment, my heart leaped and my soul rejoiced, for I knew my lover was beginning to make his peace with God.  He was also developing his faith.  "You are right again, my love."  I smiled.

"So, what else did we need to discuss."  He grinned, obviously pleased with himself.  The longer we were together, the more my attraction to Kanawha grew.  I was truly blessed to have such a wonderful partner.

"Money, actually.  And, living arrangements."  I replied.

He pulled me onto his lap.  I smiled, realizing that I was rather enjoying this ritual.  "Look, Love, I know we spent a bit much today getting Chance the things he needed, but I have enough to cover that.  I still have money from my parents and grandparents deaths.  I also have some from Grandma Darkstorm's estate.  I am nowhere near rich, but it is enough to take care of what we need.  I also have the paid internship.  I start that back on the 27th.  The pay is not the greatest, but it will be enough for living expenses."  He consoled.

"Well, I have some left from my parents' deaths, as well.  I also have money left in my college fund.  I have had a few years of scholarships, so that has left me with a little extra.  Working at the mission gives me expense money.  Plus, we get to live here without rent or utility cost in exchange for work at the mission and what we do on the hotel."  I explained.  "I was kind of hoping you would consider living here.  It would save us a good bit of money.  We could build up enough for a good down payment on our own house in a few years.  Plus, this hotel is special to me.  See, in this very suite, my mother and father spent their honeymoon."  I could not help it, but I blushed.  "It is also where we first expressed our love for one another.  And, it is the place we spent our first night as a family."  I explained.

Kanawha just smiled, "Love, when Grams spoke this afternoon, I realized something that you have known all along.  These people are not our friends.  They are so much more than that.  They are our family.  As crowded as it gets sometimes, I think I can learn to live with it.  So, yea, I would be happy to move here."  Then, he giggled.  "I was reminded of a conversation I had with Ethan about meeting you.  He said that he knew eventually I would move in with you, and he was worried that we would not see each other very often.  Well, I have a feeling he and Jena will be moving in here, as well.  You know, we kinda have already."

I laughed and kissed him.  "Just one last thing, Love.  Cole has made us an appointment to see a lawyer tomorrow at 1:00.  She is going to talk to us about our options with adoption.  I have to work at the mission in the morning, and I thought maybe you and Chance, and now Sorrow, might want to come with me.  At noon, we can grab lunch and go over to Jessica's office.  Cole and Shaft wanted to go with us.  Mic and Jew want to get Chance and Sorrow involved with a big brother project, so that will keep them busy while we are gone."  I rattled.

"I think that sounds like fun, actually."  Kanawha replied.  "Say, how much do you think the adoption will cost us?"

"Well, I am willing to sell the family home to pay for it, should we need the money."  I was expecting this would be pretty costly.  "Of course, that would mean Nana would have to move here permanently, but I am sure she would be more than willing."

"I feel certain Grams would do the same,  so that would give us a little more money to finance this."  My love snuggled up to me.  "Besides, this is my family now.  And if it grows like you were saying, we are gonna need a lot of money."  He smiled.  Then, he got quiet a moment, and a sadness swept over him.

"Love, what's wrong?"  I asked.

"Chance and Sorrow."  he replied.  "I can feel them.  They are slowly crying themselves to sleep.  It seems Mic was right about Sorrow, but Chance is taking care of him.  We are going to have to keep a close eye on the poor fellow, though.  He is not out of the woods just yet."

"I agree."  Then, something came over me, and I smiled.  "You know, I love that little fellow to pieces.  He is more than Chance's friend to me.  He is family."

"Love, I was just thinking the same thing."  Kanawha smiled.  "Well, Keokuk, Let's hit the bed.  Tomorrow is a busy day, and you still have to finish your homework." 

"Well, get out the textbooks, Yana.  You can help me study."

Well, that's a wrap for chapter five.  Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think.  Chapter six will be coming  soon.


Before Your Love

Written by: Kelly Clarkson, 2002

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