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


Shaft slept as I had my head on his chest.  His arm was wrapped snuggly around my shoulders, holding me close to him.  I listened to him softly breathe in and out, reveling in the thoughts that he was my lover.

As I lay there, I contemplated the nature of my partner.  He was so gentle.  Even in jest, he would do anything he could to spare someone's feelings.  So, he named me Nibbler.  I could live with that, and as anyone else called me by my new nickname, I was reminded how and why I received the name.  That would forever tie me back to Shaft, and that thought made me feel content.

As a lover, well I had no complaints at all.  We adjusted our love making to one another's mood, and we had been eager to try many different things.  Shaft was more concerned about my comfort and pleasure than his own, which I found made the experience even more fantastic. 

That was another thing about him.  He made me feel like I was the most important person on the planet Earth.   I suppose I  have suffered from a low self-esteem for some time, but Shaft was making a drastic improvement in the way I looked at myself.  Somehow, it did not matter whether I was center-stage or not.  He made me the center of his universe, and I found that to be a much more valuable place to be.

I was aware that we had moved rather quickly in our relationship, but everything felt so right.  I knew he was the one for me, the only person I would ever love.  I was not sure if it had anything to do with his heart condition or not, but I wanted to make the most out of every single moment we spent together.  I knew he felt exactly the same way.  The more I mulled it over in my mind, the more I was certain it was just my nature.  I wanted to experience everything in the moment.  Perhaps that was one of the many things that made us destined for each other.

Whether we were holding hands, looking at one another, or making love, the experience was the same.  I felt totally enveloped by Shaft, as if our souls were merged into one.  When he was not at my side, I could still feel his presence lingering near.  I could still smell his uniqueness in the air.  I could still see the smile on his face and the deep pools of his soul. 

I was completely in love with him, that was for certain.  For some reason, though, I wanted to do something extraordinary to show him just how much I loved him.  I knew it was silly, because he knew I loved him in everything we did together.  I guess I wanted to create the most romantic moment he could ever imagine, so no matter what life would bring our way, we could each look back and remember that one special moment.

The problem was, I had no idea what to do.  Everything I thought of seemed to be too... I don't know... unworthy of him.  He deserved so much more than I could plan myself.  He was so romantic, even in the way he noticed every little detail.  What could I do for a guy who could make hanging a role of toilet tissue in the bathroom a gesture of undying love?

I thought back to the times we had shared together.  Shaft was like a mental recorder or something.  He could tell me every single move, every gesture, every breath that I took on any given day at any given time.  I loved that about him, but it made planning a surprise very difficult.  You could not sneak something past a man who notices everything.

It was hard for me to remember all the little details.  What I remembered were all the feelings he inspired... the way his fingers would make each of the downy hairs on my neck tingle as they stood erect with goose flesh... the way his breath in my ear sent shivers down my spine as he stood behind me, watching me play Chance at the arcade... the way every hair on his chest tickled my body when he embraced me... the way his touch could send me into euphoria as we made love.  These were my memories, which were wonderful in themselves.  But, they did little good in planning out a romantic surprise for my lover. 

Then, I got an idea.   As Jena knew me so well, I knew Cole would know Shaft in the same way.  Quietly and carefully, I got up from our slumber and went outside and down to Cole's room.  Softly, I knocked on her door.  Within a minute, she answered the door.

"I hope I did not wake you."  I said, hoping she would not slug me the way I knew Jena would have done.

"No, not at all.  I was just reading another one of my romance novels.  Come on in, if you want."  Cole opened her door more and I walked into her room  She pat the bed, and I sat down beside her.  "So, what's up?  Is something wrong?"  she asked, with a sudden concerned look on her face.

"Well, not really.  See, I love your brother so much, Cole.  He is the most romantic person, and he has changed my life in such a fantastic way.  The problem is that I want to do something really romantic for him, but I have no clue as to what to do.  Everything I can think of seems campy or just not worthy of his love.  I just figured you would know him better than anyone and could give me some ideas."  I explained rather awkwardly.

"Well, Babe, I believe I might be able to help you with this.  I am an expert on Trashy Romance 305 -- that is an upper classmen course in case you didn't know!"  She quipped.  "Let me think about this.  I might just even feel him out to get some ideas.  Anyway, don't let this bother you.  Just make the most of each moment, like you have been doing, and leave the worrying to me.  And, yes, sweetie, you both are like that... you both live in the moment."

I smiled and kissed her on the cheek.  Then I headed back to our room and quietly climbed back into bed.  Shaft was still asleep, and as I placed my head back on his chest, his arm wrapped back around me.  I guess it was our natural sleeping position.

I was just getting to sleep, when I heard the knocking at the door.


Kanawha and I were wading in the stream which runs through the meadow of my dreams.  He grabbed me forcefully into a strong hug, then passionately kissed me.  Lost in the euphoria of his kiss, I was shocked when the cool waters surrounded me and I sank to the bottom.  Kanawha pulled me back up out of the waters, laughing hysterically at his dunking me.  I retaliated, but ended up dunking us both under.  We laughed and played around in the waters, just enjoying our time with one another. 

Then, a golden eagle cried out as it circled from high above.  My lover and I watched as it soared higher and higher in the air.  I smiled as I saw the beauty of Chance's soul.  Suddenly, he swooped down, crying out what seemed to be a plea or a warning.  The eagle landed atop a bush growing on the banks of the stream.  Kanawha and I quickly approached him, wondering what could be wrong. 

The bushes began to stir, and out jumped a tiny bunny.  The bunny began to bleed as many wounds appeared along its body.  I picked it up and held it close to me.  Tears began to stream down my cheeks as I looked into its icy blue tear-filled eyes.  I knew those eyes, and the reality of it woke me suddenly. 

As I sat up in the bed, Kanawha was waking.  "Oh, my God, Love!  Sorrow!  Sorrow is in trouble!"  Then, it appeared.  The unknown symbol was again before me along with another symbol which meant help.  Three of the ovals glowed dimly, one blue, one red, and one violet.  Then, the remaining oval to my left began to shine brightly in teal.  My love and I both sprang from the bed, grabbing some clothes to throw on quickly.

Kanawha tensed up.  "Chance!"  he started.  Then we heard the screams.  We bolted out the door and sprinted into Chance's room.  Chance was holding his mouth with his hands, tears streaming down his face.

As we entered and turned, the first thing I saw was the blood.  The unknown symbol shifted, and the teal oval pointed towards Sorrow.  The symbol for help began to pulsate as many more symbols appeared before his body.  I was far too nauseous and hysterical to even begin reading.  My love and I rushed into the bathroom.  Sorrow was lying on the floor, and blood was all over him.  Kanawha reached him first.  "Love!  Is he..." I asked in panic.

Kanawha felt for a pulse.  "No Love.  Thank God, he is still alive!"  I plopped down on the floor and pulled Sorrow up onto my lap, bending down to hold and rock him.  Tears were flowing from my eyes as I brushed the hair from his face.  "And, Love.  He is NOT a bunny.  He is a HARE.  There is a difference, you know.  See, hare's are bigger and have longer ears."  he said, moving his hands to illustrate longer ears.  Though he was crying himself, I knew he was just trying to lighten the mood... but it was not working.   Kanawha joined me on the floor, gently stroking Sorrow's cheek. 

Hela and Jew quickly arrived, and Hela sent Chance to wake Mic and Shaft.  He returned shortly with the remainder of the household.  Shaft came into the bathroom, and examined Sorrow for a moment.  Turning, he asked "Cole, can you get me my bag?"  As Cole ran out of the room, Shaft went to the sink and wet a towel.  He began to clean off the blood, revealing so many cuts along Sorrow's chest and abdomen.  There were at least a hundred other scars, indicating that this has happened quite a bit in this poor child's life.  Kanawha reached behind him and picked up a blood covered pocket knife.  "Well, the wounds are superficial, and I do not see any that needs to be stitched.  I'll dress them up, but I think Ethan and Mic need to have a talk with him.  He is unconscious, but it is not from the wounds.  Chance, buddy, tell me what happened."  Shaft asked as he continued cleaning the cuts.

"Well, I woked up, and Thumper wasn't nowhere to be found.  Then, I saw the light on in the bathroom through the bottom of the door, so I gots up and knocked on it.  He told me 'Just a minute.', but I just knowed Sorrow was doin' somethin' real bad.  I can't tell ya how, but I just knowed he was a hurtin' himself.  So I pushed hard on that ol' door, and I guess it must'a hit 'im or somethin' cause he fell... and when the door came open, he was just a lyin' there with all that blood and stuff all over 'im!  So I screamed out for you Dad and Daddy."  Chance cried.  Hela grabbed him tightly to comfort him. 

Cole returned with Shaft's bag, and he began dressing the cuts.  Slowly, Sorrow came to.  "Hey, sunshine.  You gave us quite a scare.  Are you hurting anywhere?"

"M-my head... what happened... wait, I remember."  He groggily stated.  Then, he began to cry, trying to cover up the cuts.  "Oh, no!  You guys weren't supposed to see this."  He waled. 

Shaft pulled his arms back out of the way.  "Easy there, Thumper.  It's OK.  We're just here to help.  Just relax and let me finish dressing these up.  We can talk about this later if you want."  Shaft said calmly.  He examined his head.  "Any dizziness?  Is your vision blurry?  Do you feel sleepy?"  Sorrow shook his head 'no' to all these questions.  "Well, I think you will be fine, then, though you may feel a bit awkward and sluggish for a little while."

"What are you, a doctor or something?"  Sorrow asked between sobs.

"Or something."  Shaft smiled.  "In another year, I will hopefully be a veterinarian.  You are a bit different than most of the patients I have treated, not quite as furry."  he joked, trying to put poor Sorrow at ease.  "But, I know enough to get these cuts cleaned up."  he grinned. 

Sorrow sobbed as Shaft finished dressing the wounds.  He looked at my love, myself, and then Shaft.  "You must all think I am a really disgusting sight."  he softly spoke.

Shaft raised up his shirt, revealing his own scars.  "I think I can look past the scars if you can."  He soothed.  Shaft then reached out his hands.  "Come on, buddy.  Let's get you up off of this floor."  Sorrow took his hands, and the three of us gently helped him to his feet.  When Sorrow turned to look out the bathroom door, only Mic, Ethan, and Chance remained.  Everyone else was gone, for Mic and Ethan had cleared the room. 

"I thought you was dead."  Chance cried, embracing Sorrow carefully.  They both held each other and cried for some time.  "Please, don't be hurtin' on yourself like that no more, 'cause I need you.  We's family, you 'n me."  Chance softly stated.

"I'm sorry, Humper.  I-I just..."  Silence fell.  "I am so numb inside, and sometimes, I want to feel something...  Anything...  Just something to let me know I am still alive."  he continued.  "So, I cut myself.  For a little while, it feels good again.  Then, I realize what I have done, and I know I am even more worthless than I was before."  My heart just ached for him, but this was Ethan and Mic's area of expertise.  So, as hard as it was, my love and I stood there holding hands for the support we needed to remain neutral.  With my love at my side, and seeing Sorrow was at least physically alright, I was now in the frame of mind to begin reading the many symbols which illuminated around our young Thumper. 

"Have you ever thought of doing more to yourself than the cutting?"  Ethan quietly asked.  Sorrow grimaced and confirmed the question with a slow nod.  "Tell me, what all have you considered?"

Chance led Sorrow to the bed, and once seating him, held his friends head in his arms, gently stroking his scalp. 

"Lately, I have been thinking that it would be so much better if I were not around.  I would not be in anyone's way, and I would not be so lonely anymore."  He sobbed.

Mic wiped the tears from her eyes.  "Eric, have you ever thought of how you might not be around... How you might accomplish this?"

"No, not really.  I've thought about running away, but I am already alone.  There wouldn't be anyone to notice, anyway.  I have thought about what it would be like to be dead, though."  he admitted, and my heart sank.

"Have you ever thought about killing yourself?"  Mic calmly asked.

"I've wished I were dead a lot.   Mostly, I have thought about just not waking up, you know, dying in my sleep.  But, sometimes, I have thought about taking some pills or cutting my wrists."  He began to wale again, hiding his face in shame against Chance's chest.  "You must think I am such a terrible person!"

Mic walked over and lifted Sorrow's head to look him in the eyes.  "Actually, sweetie, I know exactly what you are going through.  See, I used to think about things like that, too.  I even tried to kill myself.  I was going to jump from a cliff.  You can ask Kal about it if you'd like, 'cause he was the one who came to my rescue."  She paused as Sorrow took it all in. 

Mic then continued telling her story.  "He helped me to realize that what I was doing was a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  At the time, though, it seemed like my problems were so far beyond hope.  Have you ever felt that way?"  Sorrow nodded his head 'yes '. 

"Well, he convinced me to hang on for just one more day.  He took me to see someone I could talk to about what was going on in my life.  Each day, Kal would convince me to hang on just one more day, and soon, with help, I no longer wanted to take that route.  Things started to look better to me, I guess.  It became easier to find a reason to live till the next day.  Then, I just wanted to live."  She paused again, to give Sorrow time to reflect on what she was saying.  "Look, I don't know if you were planning on killing yourself tonight, or if you were just cutting, but I want to make you that same offer.  Give me the chance to show you that things can get better.  Promise me not to do anything to yourself for just one more day.  You know, 24 hours ago, you had not met Chance yet, but I think you have enjoyed getting to know him, right?"

"Yes.  Of course I have.  He is my only real friend."  Sorrow sadly responded.

"Well, for his sake, will you give me just 24 hours?"  She asked.

"Yeah, sure.  I promise.  I won't do anything to myself." 

Mic kissed his forehead.  "Your promise is good enough for me.  Do you want to talk about anything with any of us?  You know, we are always here for you any time you need us."

"Maybe Chance, if that is OK."  Sorrow looked at us all pleadingly.

"Sure, Thumper."  Ethan smiled.  "I figured it would be Chance, anyway."  He smirked.  "But if you need any of us, our bedrooms are just down the hallway.  Don't hesitate.  Just come and get us."

"Thanks." Sorrow replied.

"Don't worry.  I'll take good care of 'im."  Chance swore.

"I know you will, buddy."  Shaft smiled.  Ethan and he both gave Sorrow and Chance a hug, then returned to bed.  Mic kissed them each on the cheek and quickly followed. 

Love and I tucked our guys back into bed, saying prayers and kissing them both on the forehead.  "We are just down the hall if you need us."  Kanawha smiled. 

My love and I then headed back to our room.  Mic was there, waiting for us.  We went inside and talked for a bit.  She explained to us about cutting and about motivations behind suicides.  We told her everything our gifts let us experience.  After contemplating it all, Mic told us of her plan and her obligations to follow.  The three of us prayed for strength and guidance to help us lead Sorrow through the next 24 hours.


I was so scared when I seen my friend in all that blood!   It was just like in that ol' movie we watched at that theater.    I was just glad as could be he's OK.   I pulled his head on my chest and held 'im to me.  We's real quiet for a while.  "I love you Sorrow.  I ain't mad or nothin' at ya, 'cause I know you's been thinkin' that and all.  But, if you's sad like that, you need to talk to me.  We's family, so we's 'posed to be there for each other."  I told my friend.

He started sobbin' again, and I just run my fingers through his hair, pettin' his head.  "I'm so sorry I scared you.  That was the last thing I ever wanted to do.  You have been so nice to me, and now I have screwed everything up."

"I done told ya I ain't mad at ya.  I don't want you hurtin' on yourself no more, but I still love ya.  And I ain't goin' nowhere.   Family's forever.  I'll always be right here with you, no matter what." 

He just laid there crying for a while, then he started tellin' me what was wrong with 'im and all.  "My life is not so good, Chance.  You have all these people who love you, but it's not like that for me.   Life for me is just so lonely... there is no one to turn to...  no one understands, and they don't care enough to even try.  Blade and the others, they were just someone to be around.   But, I  realize that even when I was with them, I was still all alone.  Pop never comes to see me, and seldom does he even call.  Mom is too busy getting in the sheets with her men to even notice me.  She's never home much.  Sometimes, it's weeks before I see her.  Then, it is just for a few minutes, and if I am lucky, for half of a day.  I don't have any friends... except for you, now."  He got quiet for a bit.  "Chance, I don't want to lie to you.  Were friends, and we should be honest with each other.  I swear, I wasn't trying to kill myself tonight... but, I have been thinking about it a lot lately.  I hate to say this, but I think maybe I am too far gone... I don't know if things could ever get better for me.  I'm trying to believe it can... I really am... but it all honestly feels hopeless."

I cried with him for a bit more.  Then, I got to thinkin' and told 'im what I thought.  "I know I ain't never been much of nothin' but trash on the street 'n all.    But, I's been thinkin' that maybe if I can be a son to my dads and a friend to you, then just maybe I can be somethin' more 'n what I was before.  So, I ain't givin' up on ya', Sorrow, 'cause I know I's needin' you, just like I know you's needin' me.  You just hold on like you said you would to Mic 'n all.  I'll try 'n hope enough for both of us."

He thought that out for a spell, then he said, "I really do love you Chance, as much as I can love anyone.  And, I promise, I'll try."

We didn't say much else.  Sorrow fell asleep before I did, huggin' me up like I's an ol' teddy bear or somethin'.  I just thought it was kinda cute lookin' at 'im sleepin'.  He was all peaceful when he was like that.  As I was watchin' 'im, I said in my head, 'God, please help my friend.  Help his life to get better 'n all.   Help 'im find somethin' to hold on to, 'cause I don't want him hurtin' or killin' his self. '  Then, I just held his head in my arms, hopin' all I could hope.  Then, I guess I fell back to sleep.

Next thing I knowed, Hela was wakin' us boys up.  "Hey, sleepy heads.  I just finished fixing breakfast and thought I would get my little guys up first.  That way you get first picks of everything."  She smiled, and  as she was leavin', she started singin' another one of 'em songs she sings that I ain't never heard before or nothin'. 

Sorrow still had his head on my chest, but he was startin' to stretch out some.  I think he might've hurt one of 'em cuts, cause he made a funny noise.  He looked up at me, lookin' like one of 'em alley cats just gettin' up from one of their naps on top a box.  "I hope I didn't squish you too much, Humper."

I laughed as he yawned.  "You look like one of 'em ol' cats when you's a wakin' up.  You sleep good?"

"Hmm.  Better than I have in a while, actually." he said.  Then he smiled.  "It was nice waking up and finding someone there for a change."  I knowed he was smilin' on the outside, but I wondered if he was smilin' on the inside.  For some reason, I was doubtin' it.

"I slep' good too.  It's 'cause this big ol' comfy bed.  That and 'cause somebody was a squeezin' me up like an ol' teddy bear!"  I laughed. 

Sorrow turned all red.  "Sorry." he told me, startin' to get up.

I stopped 'im, though.  "I kinda liked it, to be honest.  I ain't had much of nobody for a long time neither, so I thought it was sorta nice wakin' up with somebody.  I kinda liked havin' someone a holdin' onto me, too, I reckon."  He was lookin' at me like he was tryin to figure out what to say.  After a minute or two, I just said, "Well, I guess we best get up and run down 'em steps to get us some breakfast.  Hela makes some good food, but I gotta tell ya a secret.  Daddy likes 'em grits, but I don't think they is none too good.  Dad don't like 'em none neither.  But Hela, she made 'em yesterday, and Daddy went on 'bout 'em.  So, he might try to get you to eat 'em if she made some of 'em.  Just drink ya lots and lots of juice."  I warned 'im.

He laughed as we got out the bed.  I went and peed, then I waited till he finished and we went down to get us some of Hela's good food.   Hela made us both wash our hands at the sink so she knowed we had clean hands 'fore we handled on the food.  But, she made everybody do that, so we didn't think much 'bout it.  I didn't tell her, but I didn't wash my hands upstairs like I know I's prob'ly  'posed to do. 

Sorrow 'n me got our plates fixed first.  Then, Daddy 'n Dad came in with 'em boys.  Dad and Daddy both kissed me n' Sorrow on the forehead.  It looked like all four of 'em had done been in the shower, so I started laughin' bout that.  Ethan shook his head at me.  "Humper, you have yourself a real problem, don't you.  Is that all you think about?"  He laughed.

"Nope.  I just knowed that is all you fella's do."  I giggled. 

Shaft leaned down and whispered kinda loud like so that everybody could hear what he was a sayin'.  "It was all Nibbler's idea.  I think he is the one with the problem."  Ethan turned REAL red, and we all laughed real hard at 'im. 

They all got 'em somethin' to eat, and Daddy fixed me 'n Sorrow some of 'em ol' nasty grits.  Dad was tryin' hard not to laugh at us, but that just made me 'n Sorrow giggle.  "What's so funny?"  Daddy asked us.

"We's just thinkin' bout somethin' we talked 'bout this mornin'."  I told 'im, which wasn't no lie or nothin'. Thumper tried 'em grits, and I could tell he didn't think to awful much 'bout 'em neither.   "Lots and lots of juice." I whispered all quiet like, remindin' 'im.

All of 'em was soon down to breakfast.  Grams liked 'em ol' grits too.  So did Ethan and Jena.  I wondered if they knowed how to taste,  but I sure wasn't askin' nobody 'bout that.  I didn't want to hurt Daddy's feelings 'bout somethin' like 'em ol' yucky grits. 

Durin' breakfast, though, Dad looked at us and said, "Chance,  you and Sorrow seem to really like juice."  He was smilin' real big, thinkin' he was all funny 'n stuff.   "That is good though, because it helps you grow up strong and healthy."  Then, he leaned down next to my ear.  "It also helps wash down those horrible grits.  Why don't you just tell him you don't like them?"

"I guess I'll just eat 'em to make 'im happy." I whispered  back.  Dad messed up my hair, laughing at me.

We finished up eatin', and everybody cleaned up the mess.  Sorrow and I went to my room, and I told 'im he could take his bath or shower first.  While he was in there, I went down to Cole's room.  Somethin' just told me to go 'n see her. 

I knocked on her door, and she let me in, askin' what was wrong.  "Look, I just knowed you could help me.  See, Sorrow told me 'bout lots of stuff botherin' 'im.   His dad don't come see 'im, and his mom ain't never hardly there or nothin', so he's just all alone in that house.  Then, he told me he didn't know if he could get better.  He said he thought he was too far gone.  I's askin' God to help 'im last night in my head while he was sleepin', but I think you should ask God too.  I just knowed you is good at that, and  he will let you know somethin' to help out my friend."  I told her. 

She hugged me up and prayed right there with me in the room.   When she was done, she kissed me on the cheek.  "Sweetie, thank you for believing in me like this.  But, you know, God listens to all of us.  Still, while I was praying, I was inspired.  You just keep being the good friend that you are to Sorrow.  I will do everything I can to help.  OK, Humper?"  She giggled.  I smiled and told her yea.  She kissed me again on the cheek.  "Thank you again for believing in me.  It means a lot that you felt you could turn to me, and if you ever need me for anything, Chance, I will always be here for you.  I love you, little guy."  I smiled and hugged her back.

Then, I went back to my room.  I sat on my bed and Sorrow opened the door to the bathroom.  He had a towel wrapped 'round his waist, and them cuts looked lots better.  I walked up to 'im and ran my fingers across a couple of 'em.  "They look like they is healin' up some.  Do they hurt any?"  I asked.

"Not really.  It stung a little when the water first hit them, but none of them bled anymore." 

I looked up at Sorrow, then hugged 'im tight.  "I don't know what I'd 've done if you wasn't OK last night.  I's just glad you are here with me and not in some grave somewhere."

He kissed the top of my head.  "You are the only good thing I have going for me, Chance.  I don't think I would be here now without you."   

I prayed to myself again, 'God, please make me into what he's a needin', and let me be enough for him to keep hangin on to till you can fix 'im.'  I was feelin' a bit better 'bout it all after that.  "We's gonna be alright, Thumper.  We's gonna make it through this.  You just wait 'n see.  I's hopin' enough for both of us."

Then, he just kissed me and throwed me on the bed and started humpin' on me and stuff!   Hahaha!  No he didn't.  I's just pickin' is all. 

Honest, he just tried to smile, sayin', "If you are right, I wonder how I will ever be able to make this up to you.  You...  well, you have done so much for me that I really do not deserve."

"You can be there for me when I need ya... like when we's in that ol' school.  I know you'll help me lots then, but that is what we's 'posed to do anyway."  I smiled.  "Well, I guess I'm gonna go take me a bath.  I'll leave the door open if you wanna talk or somethin'."   Then I took me a bath, just hopin' everything would work out for my friend.  Somehow, I just knowed it would.  It just had to is all.  We still had somethin' special we needed to do, me 'n Sorrow.


I was in a complete panic when I felt Chance's distress.  The screams only further heightened my fears.  When we found Sorrow, I managed to calm myself as much as I possibly could... which I confess was not by much.  Killian was in hysterics, and Chance was horrified.  I knew I had to be strong for them, and for Sorrow if I were to be of any help to him. 

Knowing he was alive did not do much to calm my love, nor did my efforts to make a joke with him.  Normally, I would go into my 'defensive mode', as my love calls it, and doze down whatever it was causing the distress.  In this situation, however, I was pretty much useless.  As members of our family took charge, I was reminded of Valerie's words... "Faith and trust are far greater than brute strength and sheer will."  I grabbed my love's hand, leaning on him to help me find the courage to have faith and trust that everything would turn out better for Sorrow.  I really loved that kid, and it broke my heart feeling the empty void that was inside of him.

After tucking our young men back into bed, saying prayers, and kissing them good night, Love and I returned to our room, fining Mic at our door.  I was so glad to see her there, because I had so many questions for her.  We went through the bathroom and into the study.  After sitting down, I began.  "Mic, what the hell is going on?  Sorry love, but I don't understand what we just witnessed.  Why would he do something like that to himself?  He is such a great kid, and a nice looking boy.  Why would he want to carve himself up?"

"Well, Boo Boo... hehehe, sorry, but I just couldn't help myself." Mic laughed.  "I guess I was just trying to lighten the mood some."  I smiled, knowing the sentiment.  "First, I have to tell you guys, I never saw the cutting coming.  The suicidal thoughts, yes... but, Chance has stabilized that, I feel.  Anyway, there are so many reasons why someone might choose to engage in cutting or other acts of self-mutilation.  See, this is but a small part of what we call self-inflicting behaviors.  Many times, there is severe physical or sexual abuse involved.  But, I honestly doubt that is the case here."

"Sorrow told me a few things yesterday about his father.  In Eric's eyes, he sees his father as abandoning him.  I don't know his father, but I believe Sorrow's perception is quite accurate.  Before I can really get a handle on this, though, I need more information about Eric.  Has he mentioned anything at all to you about his family?" Mic asked.

"No.  But, I read some things about it while you were talking to him."  my love explained.  "Mic, his mother is seldom home at all, and he practically has nobody.  Honestly, he's been all alone, at least before he met us.  There is no one he connects to being a friend, save Chance.  Our son is his only thread connecting him to this world, his only reason for hanging on.  I know he was not intending to kill himself just now, but I know he has been very close to doing so a few times before."

"What about you, Kanawha?  Did you pick up anything from him?"  she inquired.

"Guys, it was horrible.  There wasn't any of the sadness I felt before.  In fact, there was not much of anything left at all.  It was as if he were hollow inside.  What little emotions existed, the biggest majority was feelings of self-doubt and self-hatred.  There was a tiny spark of love there, but that was held solely for Chance."  I replied.  "There wasn't anything else but emptiness."  A quietness settled upon us, and I reflected upon it all.  "Mic, why would he hate himself so much?  Why would he want to do this to himself?"

"Our poor guy has suffered years of abuse.  He has been practically abandoned by his parents.  The neglect is so cut and dry here.  I believe Sorrow sees himself as the cause for his parents' absence.  He blames himself, thinking he is an unworthy, terrible person who is repulsive in the eyes of others.  It is possible that he is wanting to reflect these feelings by making himself  repulsive, at least what he thinks repulsive would be.  But, more likely, it is a way to escape from alienation, the terrible loneliness we all know he has been feeling."  Mic pondered a moment.  "He said himself that he is numb inside.  There are similar cases with cutters claiming that the bleeding allows them to feel again.  Anyway, there are a few drugs that can help with this.  A lot of reports show that there are low levels of serotonin in the brain of those who exhibit self-inflicting behaviors.  Ethan and I discussed this a few minutes ago.  We can get this prescribed for him, and I am sure it will help, but I believe this is treating the symptom.  What we need to do is get to the root of it.  There, we can remove the source, repair the damage, and he can truly heal."

"Kanawha, you said you felt emptiness.  Well, that is part of the addiction cycle he is following, and yes, cutting is a highly addictive behavior.  The emptiness is called disassociation."  Mic continued to explain.  "See, it all starts with negative emotions presenting themselves, which triggers a desire to engage in the activity like his cutting.  A tension is experienced over the desire to feed the addiction.  Disassociation allows him to accept that it is OK for him to cut, and it helps to block the emotions and physical pain involved in the process.  Then, he engages in the cutting.  Afterwards, there is a release he sees as a positive effect from the cutting -- he is able to control what he is feeling.  But, soon, the high of the experience is over, and he realizes what he has done; the guilt and shame are the negative effects of the cutting, and they send him right back through the cycle again."

"Oh, Lord!  How horrible it must be for him.  There is never an end to this self-violence."  My love commented sadly.  I pulled him close to me, reassuring him with a hug.

"That is just it, Kal.  In order to help him, we have to break the cycle.  But in order to break the cycle, we have to identify and then remove all the triggers for the behavior.  Then, we build on his self-esteem while presenting alternatives to the cutting.  However, when he is engaging in cutting, he is not attempting suicide.  The cutting is the only other option he sees besides suicide."  Mic sighed in frustration.  "That is the other difficulty with Sorrow's case.  We can't just treat one area.  If we take away the cutting, then all he has left is suicide.  If we remove the suicidal thoughts, then the cutting will increase, and probably be even deeper avenues of self-mutilation.  What we have to do is find the common link to both behaviors, and that, guys, is the root from which it all stems."

Mic explained to my love and I things that motivate suicide, as well as things for which to listen and watch.  She said if we witnessed any of these to let either Ethan or her know as quickly as possible. 
She answered all of our questions and assured us that we could help our dear Sorrow through this difficult period.  Finally, she stressed that the best thing we could do is listen to him without judging him, and to encourage him to express himself as much as possible.

"Guys, we have one other problem." Mic began.  "
I pray I am wrong, but I believe things will get a bit more rocky for Sorrow today.  As I said before, the neglect is so cut and dry.  You both know I cannot let this go, and I am not sure I would ever want to do so.  I have to report this, and in my opinion, they both deserve to rot in jail.  Really, both of his parents are guilty of abandonment and neglect, but the law will only affect the parent who has custody.  My only concern is how Sorrow will handle this.  I know he deeply desires a close relationship with his dad.  I just hope his dad is ready to develop one."

My love took both of our hands and led us in prayer.  If ever we needed a miracle, it was now.  But, I was inclined to believe that some divine intervention would present itself.  After all, I had one miracle who was now my life partner, along with a second miracle whom I lovingly called my son.  'Faith and trust.' I reminded myself.  'Faith and trust.'


I was mortified that they found me like that.  What was worse was that Chance had seen it.  I had worried over his knowing of it when he told me he knew about my being gay.  Now, I knew he was aware of my dark secrets, along with everyone else in the house. 

I wanted to believe Chance when he said that he was not mad at me and that he would never leave me.  Yet, everyone else in my life had left me, so I wondered why he would be any different.  I just could not see why or how he could love me like he said.  I knew I loved him, though, and that was reason enough for me to try at least.  I did not honestly see things getting better for me, but I wished they would, if only for Chance. 

He had told me many times that he needed me just as I needed him.  I could not fathom how that was possibly true, for I needed him in the most dire of ways.  He was the only ray of sunshine to ever penetrate the blackness of my soul.  He was the beautiful angel that selflessly offered me the only genuine care or love I had ever known in my life.  Though I admit to seeing him as quite an attractive guy, his beauty was from deep inside.  He was spectacular, in my opinion, radiating a positive energy of hope. 

Being around him was addictive I realized, because all I wanted was to be near him.  I fought with myself over being worthy enough to be anywhere in his proximity.  I debated sneaking away, thinking he would be better off without me in his life.  He had been through so much already, so what was the need in my adding more?  Perhaps it was the love I held for him, perhaps it was pure selfishness on my behalf, but I decided to stay.

I slowly made my way to the bathroom and sat down in the floor next to the tub where my angel was bathing.  "Hey, I was wonderin' if you'd ever come in here or not.  I know I wanted you to, and I reckon I just knowed you needed to come in here."  he smiled.  I tried my best to return the smile.  After a minute, he broke the silence.  "Man, it is so nice gettin' to take a bath 'n all any ol' time I want!  I used to get awful dirty sometimes out on 'em streets, and it was real hard to find some place to wash up.  But washin' up just ain't nothin' like bein' able to take ya a bath.  You know what I mean?"  he asked.

"I guess I never really thought about it before."  Maybe I had taken too many things in my life for granted, so I began to think.  "You know, Humper, you are really amazing.  You find joy and happiness in the most simple of things.  I wish I had your spirit."  I replied.

Chance's forehead rumpled with deep thought.  "You know, I'd give it to ya' if I knowed how to.  I'd give you anything I's got if it would make you all happy and stuff like that... even if it would just make you a little bit happy, truly happy."

I reached up and rubbed my hand across my angel's cheek.  "I don't understand how you could think so much of me, but I know why everyone loves you so much."

"Oh, you just needs you some glasses is all."  I was lost with that line of thought, and Chance picked up on it.  "You just don't see yourself right is all.  So I think you just needs you a pair of 'em glasses.  'Sides, you got you a good soul anyways.  You just ain't lettin' it out none is all."

"I'm afraid there is not much to see Chance.  Maybe you need the glasses." I replied.

"No, I see you just fine.  You's got somethin' special locked up in there that you ain't never even noticed before.  Plus, you's willin' to be my friend, so I know you's a good guy.  Not many people's all crazy 'bout street trash ya know.  But I's happy just havin' you, my one special friend.  You're gonna be the only friend I's ever gonna need anyways.  I just knowed that for some reason, right when I met you at that mall."

"What makes me so special?"  I asked, trying hard to believe him, and knowing deep down that we really were connected in a way I could yet explain.

"Everybody else has to love me 'cause of Dad 'n Daddy." he explained.  "You don't, but I knows that you do.  I knows that I love you too.  We's special together.  It's like we's part of one 'nother or somethin' like that.  I just knowed it is all.  I don't reckon how, but I's knowin' lots of stuff lately.  It's kinda like you knowin' all that school stuff in your head 'n all.  'Cept I's just know other stuff."  Deeply, he thought a moment.  Then a big grin spread across his face.  "I'm a thinkin' you's knowin' a little bit of that other stuff too.  I'm a thinkin' you's gonna know more of it sometime soon.  'Less you just think I's silly, then, I just shut up 'bout it till later."

"You mean that we are connected somehow?"  I inquired.

"Yep.  Stuff like that I's knowin' somehow."  He smiled.

"Well, I knew we were connected as soon as I looked into your eyes.  I'm not sure how, but I just knew."  Then, I laughed, realizing I was sounding much like Chance (which, in my opinion, was a great thing).  "I believe I know what you mean."  I thought about it for some time.  It is true that school work came easily for me.  Maybe people came easily for Chance or something.  It was apparent that he knew much about me, and that made me need him all the more.  I was beginning to believe that if anyone could ever understand me and what was going on inside of me, it would be Chance. With this revelation, I knew I had to hang on for as long as I could, for Chance truly was my angel.

As I came out of my concentration, Chance was getting out of the tub.  He wrapped a towel around his waist.  "Hey, you reckon you can help me fix this hair of mine and help me pick out some of 'em clothes for today?  We's goin' to Dad's work, 'member?  I don't have me no idea what we's 'posed to wear."  He requested.

Getting to my feet, I grinned.  "Sure thing.  I guess you really do need me.  How else would you ever get ready for anything?"  I joked.

"See, told ya I needed ya."  Chance laughed.  Then, I helped my angel get ready.


As we all headed to the mission, I noticed Sorrow seemed a little better.  Kanawha and Killian smiled, indicating that they could tell he was in a better state.  My biggest worry now was in how fulfilling my obligation was going to affect his spirits. 

It was times like that when I really missed my Thomas.  Then, I thought that I might IM or email him when we arrived at the mission.  I knew I sure could use his support.  God had blessed me with such a wonderful husband, and even though he was on the other side of the world, I could still feel his love for me.

Suddenly, I remembered something.  "Sorrow, babe, can I please borrow your cell phone a minute."

"Yeah, sure." he replied. 

I called the center and asked Kathy if she could rearrange a few of my appointments.  I needed to clear up some time to do what I had to do about poor Sorrow's situation.  After finishing the call and jotting a couple of important things down in my planner, I handed it back to him, kissing him on the cheek.  "Thank you sweetie.  You know, these are awfully handy.  I may have to get one of these for myself."

"I have been thinking about getting Chance one, just in case he should need one of us, or in case we need to get a hold of him in an emergency."  Kanawha added, looking to Kal for his response. 

"Love, I've told you before, if you feel it is something you should do for our son, then I will not stand in the way of your decisions.  But, since you seem to want my opinion, I think it is a great idea." Kal replied, and Kanawha was elated with his response.  I thought there was more to the reasoning of getting Chance a cell phone, but I wasn't going there. 

"You mean you's gonna get me one of 'em little phones to carry 'round in my pocket?"  Chance asked enthusiastically.  Kanawha shook his head proudly yes.  "I noticed lots of 'em boys had 'em one while we's at that mall.  I was even thinkin' 'bout havin' one of 'em just last night." he added. 

'So, that is why.'  I thought, 'So Chance will fit in.  I just find more and more reasons to love Kanawha.'  I was rather proud of him for thinking about ways to normalize Chance, not to mention his smooth way of getting Kal's approval.  Kal has been known to be a bit tight with the pennies from time to time.

"Well, that will be great.  Sorrow will be able to get in touch with you any time, anywhere."  I commented, gaging his response.  It was as I expected it would be.

"Yeah, that will be great."  Sorrow replied with far less enthusiasm than one would think he would have.  'I knew I was right!' I mentally gloated.

"Of course, I expect you two young men will be together most of the time anyway, so you probably won't really have to call that often.  But, it will be good in case you need one another."  Then, I saw the reaction that confirmed my suspicions. 

"Well, I guess it would be silly to call Chance when he is right beside me."  Sorrow laughed.  The smile on his face as I presented a situation with him always being with Chance let me know he was worried about being away from his trusted friend.  That gave me assurance that my ideas for his therapy were on the right track.

"If we gets into classes 'n all together, then we'll be with each other all through school.  You'll just have to come over 'n help me with all that school stuff, 'specially that ol' English, else they might just kick me out of that school.  So I guess we'll be with one 'nother all the time just about."  Chance added.  He nervously bit his lip.  "I just hope I can get all that stuff down 'fore I gotta take that ol' test."

"You'll do fine, Humper."  Sorrow consoled.  "I'll help you study some this evening if you want.  We'll have to see what Jena has planned though."

'Bless you, Chance.' I smiled to myself.  'Just keep giving him a reason to hold on till things get better.'

The boys chatted away while we drove to the mission.  When we arrived, I hugged the boys and headed to my office.  I stopped and scheduled an emergency psychological and psychiatric assessment for Sorrow.  Friday was the earliest appointment I could make, unfortunately.   As soon as I entered my little cubby hole, I logged onto my messenger only to find Thomas waiting for me.  I pressed the microphone button so we could hear each other's voice.

"Well, what a pleasant surprise to find you on here.  Oh. Lord, sweetheart, I could really use your support right now."  I told my husband.

"I just had this gut feeling that something was up, so I figured you would either IM me or email me. That being said, I logged on and have been waiting for you.  Babe, what's wrong?"  My Thomas is such a wonderful and insightful man.  Despite the fact that we are so far away from each other, he always knows when I need him. 

"I told you about Chance.  Well he made a friend yesterday.  He is a wonderful young man with whom Chance has bonded so strongly.  Well, it seems that there is a serious case of abuse in his life.  He has been all but abandoned by both his mother and his father.  He has a lot of other problems, too, and I am afraid that when I report this, it may push him too far."

Thomas thought about what I said for a moment.  "Mic, darling, what does your instincts tell you to do?  The first impulse you had was to do what?"

"Report the abuse."  I replied.

"Well, honey, you are so intuitive, I would be willing to bet the farm that it is the right decision to make.  Besides, you have to report it.  It comes with the job description." He counseled.  "Honestly, though, baby, I know you well enough to know you have weighed this all out.  So what have you determined?"

"He needs to be in a stable environment in order to overcome his problems.  Being in isolation as he is now will only make the problem worse in the long run."  I giggled.  "You really think you have me figured out, don't you Tommy boy."

He laughed.  "I just know how you are.  That is one of the things I love about you.  You have this amazing blend of intuitiveness and methodical logic.  It is inspiring, the way your mind works.  Then, there are the other 56 trillion reasons I love you."

"If only you were here right now."  I said, longing to touch him just once.

"I miss you so much, Mic.  But it won't be too much longer.  Just about three months and I will be home.  That is the only thing keeping me going, you know.  Being with you once more, it is all I think about." There was a sadness in his voice that touched me deep within my heart.  But, my Thomas always stirred me like that.

"Believe me, husband, I know the feeling.  I have made arrangements for a cabin for the first five days you are back."  I told him all about the cabin.  I just hoped it would be enough alone time for us.  After all, it has been such a long time since we had experienced the pleasures of our union, and I planned to be united with him quite a bit once he was back.

"You know, the thoughts of this are going to torment me for the next three months."  he quipped, though I imagined he was somewhat sincere in this.  I knew I had been longing for our reunion since I first got the idea.

"You and me both, honey.  I just cannot wait to have you all to myself."  We talked for a few more minutes, then Thomas had to go.  I gave him all my love, and told him I would tell him all about it later.

Talking with my husband gave me the courage to do what needed to be done.  I buzzed Janet Kingsley and told her all about Sorrow.  Next,  I pulled out my planner and called the Child Protective Services, or CPS as we call them.  I explained the entire situation and gave the case manager the telephone numbers for Sorrow's mother and father I had lifted from his cell phone during the trip here.  Expediency was promised, and I knew it was always the case with CPS.  They were quick, fair, and efficient.  At least, they were when the mission was the one calling.  (See, the mission took over the failing community mental health center for our area, along with a huge chunk of the health and human services department when drastic budget cuts were necessary.  Basically, our divisions of the mission operate for the state, only not on the state's strained budget.  So, the state tries very hard to accommodate us.)  I just had to wait to find out what the determination was, and I suspected I would know something before lunch.


I showed my love and the boys around the mission.  Kanawha seemed to be impressed with all the different projects we offered for the community, particularly Urban Renewal.  This project helped to fix up existing housing, business offices and locations for our incubation program, and to build new housing for the Fresh Start program.  I explained that Shaft and Roe worked with Urban Renewal, and Kanawha asked if I thought he could volunteer to work with them as he was able.  The thoughts of my love wanting to help out on such a worthy project had me elated. 
Chance and Sorrow were fascinated by the idea of building things, but I was a bit afraid of them being near power tools.  Still, I was sure there was something they could do, that is if they did not want to be big brothers.  We decided to talk with Shaft after the visit with the lawyer.

To finish up the tour, I brought them to my project.  "This is the Work Force Preparation Center.  Here, we train people for specific jobs with our partner companies.  Several businesses have granted us funding and even supply most of the equipment.  They hire their new employees strictly through our program." I smiled, remembering so many of the wonderful people who had trained at our center.  "The businesses receive trained workers, and we are able to help people in need find suitable employment.  It is a very rewarding experience."  Kanawha seemed interested, but the boys seemed a bit bored.  They perked up some once they saw all the different equipment we had for so many diverse jobs. 

"This reminds me of the tech ed center back home."  my love said as he snaked his arm around my waist.

"It is very much like that," I elaborated, turning to Kanawha and wrapping my arms around his neck, "except we are on a much shorter time frame.  We train for specific jobs and tasks, were they train for entry level into the industry as a whole.  Take Automotive Technologies, for instance.  At the tech ed centers, students are trained to do a wide variety of tasks and can get numerous different jobs.  Here, we train them for a specific job with a company ready to hire them.  They learn things such as changing oil, balancing tires, front end alignments, and tune-ups.  These are the tasks they will be required to do for the specific job.  At a later time, if they want to advance to other levels in the industry, we encourage them to take training at the tech ed center.  Many of our companies will pay a certain percentage of the educational costs, too."  I paused and looked deep into his sapphire eyes.  "You just don't know how thrilling it is to see someone finally able to take control of their lives and better themselves and their families.  We give them the opportunities, but each one of them earn that job and the advancements they experience along the way."

Our opportunity for another perfect kiss was postponed as Chance inquired, "So, you work on cars 'n stuff like that?"

"Would you like to see the garage bays?"  I smiled, noting his sudden enthusiasm.

"Oh, yeah!"  Chance cheered.  "You know, Dad, I thought your work was kinda borin' 'n all before, but you work on 'em cars 'n stuff!"

Sorrow giggled at Chance's honesty.  "I am with you on that one, Humper."

I led Love and the boys to the garage bays, where a few of our clients were busy performing different tasks.  Chance and Sorrow seemed quite interested, and they were practically bouncing off the walls when I asked them if they wanted to learn how to change oil. 

"You can change oil?" Kanawha asked, somewhat in disbelief.

"Of course.  I can rebuild an engine, for that matter."  His eyes lit up, and this mischievous grin spread wide across his face.  "What?  What are you up to in that mind of yours?"

"Just picturing you with your shirt off and all that grease and oil all over you."  Love nibbled on my ear.  "It is quite a provocative image, I must admit.  Very provocative."

"And they call you Humper!"  Sorrow shot, talking to Chance, which caused an outburst of laughter.  "I thought you were going to show us how to change oil, not how to make out with a boyfriend."

"Well, let's get suited up, then."  I replied, leading them to the locker room.  We changed into work clothes, and I explained the importance of safety equipment.  Then we went into the bay.  I demonstrated the entire task, and when I asked the boys if they wanted to try, I was met with nothing but positive response. 

Mic came into the bay and asked if Kanawha could assist her for a few minutes.  Before leaving with her, though, he leaned over and whispered into my ear, "Don't be washing that oil off just yet, Keokuk."  He kissed me, then went on his way.  I let the boys start changing oil... What a blast that turned out to be!


Jew convinced me to come with him to the mission.  He had never explained any of what he did there, so I was curious.  Upon observation, I was more in love with Jason Edward Wilson than I had been before.

Jew worked with a large diversity of needy children.  Some were from destitute circumstances, while others were from broken homes.  Many had physical or mental challenges.  But, the way those kids responded to him, and the way he interacted with them, it made my heart melt.  He had so much love for them, and I realized that was because he could identify with their circumstances.  He was once one of needy children himself. 

It set my mind into deep concentration, and I was rewarded with a revelation of sorts.  I realized that we often are faced with challenges that seem unfair.  We question why we are forced to experience such things.  For example, why would Jew, being such a wonderful and loving man, be afflicted with his stuttering?  The reality of it is that it makes us become the person we need to be in order to complete our role in the grand design.  If Jew had not a stutterer, he would not have been able to identify with the children in his charge.  He would not have inspired them the way he so obviously had done.   It became clear to me that our trials and tribulations were ways to prepare us for connecting with the people God was calling us to help.

I watched as he played all kinds of games with them, teaching them to use their minds and their bodies.  He also modeled socially appropriate behavior, and the kids responded with better interpersonal skills.  He taught them manners and many other important skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.  I was enthralled at his program.  He explained to me that he was working towards recruiting big brothers and sisters for each of his charges.  He was hoping that Chance and Sorrow would agree to help out.

Seeing his selfless act had me reevaluating my own life.  I was designing curriculum at the preschool.  However, this preschool was set up for the privilege children of the university professors and business professionals in the area.  What Jew was doing had so much more meaning and value to it.  I wondered what I could do to help him.  Then, I was struck by another idea.

I pulled out my cell phone and contacted my adviser, who was the chair of the educational department.  In speaking with him, I told him of Jew's program and his desires for the big brother and sister program.  I also explained the value I found in trying to help under-privileged children, giving them an edge they would need to compete with the more fortunate children who were in their schools.  Mr. Johnson was impressed by my passions for the program and made the offer for which I was hoping.

He offered to create a new practicum for me, which was to design and implement a tutoring program for Jew's charges.  He said he would reallocate funding to get the program up and running.  He also assured me that Jew and I would have numerous volunteers from the educational department.  He was going to make it a requirement that each ed student volunteer here as part of a work-based learning experience. Before hanging up, he thanked me for allowing him the privilege to be part of something so notably worthwhile. 

Needless to say, I was beyond excited.  I leaped at Jew and kissed him with all the love I had inside me. 

"What was that for?"  he shyly smiled.

"For inspiring me to find my path in life.  I am so excited, Tiger, and I have wonderful news for you!" Suddenly, though, I was reminded of something Ethan had once told me.  He said I was a bit too pushy and that I tended to take over things.  I wondered if that were true.  I just hoped Jew would not see it like this, because I really was not trying to take over what he was doing.  I only wanted to become a part of his mission.  I wanted our goals and lives to mesh with one another.  "What would you say if I could get funding to start a tutoring program for your kids?  What would you say if I could guarantee you that you would have all the volunteers you will ever need for both the tutoring and the big brother and sister programs?"

"I would say, um, you know, that you are the woman I, well, I want to marry."  He said nervously.  "Will you?"

"Are you asking me what I think you are asking me?"  I was so blown away by this.

He breathed heavily a couple times to calm himself.  "I-I haven't bought mmm, you know, a ring or anything yet, b-but this is all I have been thinking about."  He calmed himself some more.  "I-I know we have only met a f-few days ago, but I know y-you are the one, J-Jena.  I planned to um, you know, wait a little while, but it just seemed um, like the right time.  S-So, will you m-marry me Jena?"

"Oh, God! Yes! Of course I will."  I kissed him again.  He calmed down, almost immediately with my answer.  Then, we heard the snickering children.

"We're getting married, so it's OK if we kiss."  he told the children.  Some laughed, some clapped, but they all gave Jew hugs. 

"So, you don't think I am trying to take over or anything like that do you?"  I asked him, a bit concerned that maybe I was too pushy. 

"Only over my heart, but you did that days ago." he smiled.  "Besides, it could use your touch.  You've worked wonders for me." he calmly spoke.

"Well then, future husband, let's get to work."  A thought occurred to me, and I asked, "So, how do you want to break the news to everyone?"

He smiled happily, "I've already thought about that."


Kanawha was a bit anxious as I explained my reasonings for pulling him away from his time with Kal and the boys.  Derek Moirae was coming here to meet with a CPS worker and myself.  I decided that Kanawha's little gift might just come in handy, not to mention his size and overall attitude.  As I observed him pacing in my office, I could see a million and one reasons why Kal was so crazy about him.  He was quite handsome, but he was also passionate about his beliefs.  There were many other qualities, but the one that struck me the most was his utter determination to protect the men he held near and dear... Kal, Chance, and now Sorrow.  That one desire would prove to be invaluable.

Within twenty minutes, Ron Sorvaue from CPS arrived.  Derek arrived not long afterwards.  Sorrow looked much like his father, except Derek's eyes were a dark brown.  He seemed nervous and almost annoyed at being here. 

"Mr. Moirae, the reason for our calling you here is in regards to your son, Eric Aisa Moirae."  Ron said with an authoritative tone.

"What is wrong with him?  Where is his mother?"  Derek seemed somewhat panicked, which seemed to be a good sign in my book.

"Well, sir, it appears that your son's mother was the problem.  We had a report that was followed up this morning.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have had such discussions with her.  During our questioning today, Alicia admitted to each of the concerns prompting the call, and she is being charged with neglect and willful abandonment.  As soon as the hearing is conducted, we are certain that all rights she has as Eric's mother will be revoked, making you solely responsible for his care.  His custody is being placed with the mission, but it will be transferred to you after the hearing."  Ron stated matter-of-factly.

Saying Derek was shocked would be a drastic understatement.  He looked as if a time bomb had been strapped to his chest.  "What am I supposed to do with him?  I have no idea what to do..."  he softly said, trailing off into his thoughts. 

Kanawha reacted strongly to this.  "Look.  Your son has some problems that were created when your ex-wife and you decided to drop out of his life.  Now, I personally do not give a rat's ass about you.  But, I do care about your son, and I will do everything within my abilities to make sure he is safe from ever being hurt like that again.  Do you understand that?"  He growled.  His grandfather was right about the bear part, that was for sure.  Derek just shook his head. a bit frightened by Kanawha's close proximity.  "Good.  Now, Sorrow has been cutting himself, apparently as a way to escape the pain and isolation his parents have caused him.  He is also experiencing suicidal thoughts, so it is important that you watch what you say and do to him. 
Fortunately, though, your son has longed to have you in his life for such a long time, he should respond favorably to your being here."  Kanawha then pushed the envelope a bit further.  He grabbed Derrik up by the collar and lifted him from the ground.  "And if that is not enough motivation for you, then I will tell you this:  You will go in there and do whatever it takes to see that your son is in better spirits than he is now, or so help me God, I am going to kick your ass from here to Georgia and back.  Do I make myself clear?"  Derek was about ready to urinate on himself, and Ron fought hard to suppress his smile. 

"Y-yes.  Perfectly."  Derek nervously answered.  "Do you mind if I use the restroom first?" he asked Ron.

"It is down the hall and to the right."  I answered.  After he left the office, Ron and I burst out laughing.  "Kanawha, you do not know how many times I have wanted to do that!"

"You know, there would be a lot less abuse if we were allowed to handle people like Derek and Alicia in that manner."  Ron added.

"Guys, you may think it is funny, but I am dead serious."  Kanawha said, somewhat offended.

"We are not laughing at you or what you did, guy.  We are celebrating the fact that you got through to Derek in a way we can only dream about doing." I soothed.  "Personally, you are my hero for what you just did."

"I swear, though, Mic.  If he hurts him in any way whatsoever, I will hurt him in kind.  That poor kid has been through way to much because of that ass and his ex-wife."  he brewed.  "Just have bail money ready."

Derek returned and we headed out to the garage bays.  Chance, Kal, and Sorrow were pretty well encrusted with oil, as they were having what appeared to be an oil fight.  Kanawha seemed to like Kal's new look, "Love!  Now that is what I was thinking about... only minus the shirt!"  He looked around and remembered we were there.  His face blushed strongly.  "And minus the company." he finished.

"Pop!"  Sorrow said enthusiastically.  Then, his mood went flat.  I suspect he was preparing himself for more abandonment.  "What are you doing here?"

"Eric, look at you..." Derek started.  Before he could finish his accusing statement, Kanawha laced his fingers and tuned his palms outward, cracking his knuckles loudly.  As Derek looked in his direction, he saw the stern look in Kanawha's eyes.  "My how you have grown." he recovered.

"Yes.  I have grown.  You would know that if you ever came to visit me, though.  So, like I asked before, why are you here?"  Sorrow coldly stabbed.

"Well, son.  It..."  He stopped.  Derek looked to us, wondering what to say.

"Eric, my name is Ron
Sorvaue, and I work for Child Protective Services.  We had a discussion with your mother this morning, and she has admitted to some things we are quite concerned about."  Sorrow looked really worried.  "Son, I am going to be honest with you.  It does not look like your mother will be retaining custody or any parental rights to you.  Therefore, your custody will fall to your father.  That is why he is here, Eric."  Ron stated as gently as possible. 

"Oh, so you are only here because they made you come."  Sorrow jibed.

Derek was ashamed, and I knew Sorrow was correct in his assessment.  "Look, son, I have made a lot of mistakes, but right now, I am all you have."  Sorrow fumed over this for a few moments, but then retreated to his numb state.  "You seemed to be having a great time earlier, so how about this:  How about I let you stay here to finish up whatever it was you were doing?  Then, I will pick you up after work."  Sorrow slightly shook his head yes, never looking at his father.  Derek looked to Kanawha and Ron.  "Is that OK with you guys?"

"Sure.  You can pick him up after work."  Ron stated flatly.  I could tell he did not like Derek much, which made six of us from what I gathered.

"Alright, Son.  I will be back after work."  With that, he left.

Kanawha was intently observing Sorrow.  Just moments ago, he was laughing and having a good time.  Now, he was emotionally empty once more.  "Can I go hurt that ass of a father now?"  He quietly asked Ron and myself.

"If it would do any good, I would join you." Ron said, patting his shoulder.  "Some people are beyond hope, though."

"So, you are going to put him in his care?  And, how will that be any better for Sorrow?"  Kanawha quietly stormed.  I could see why Jena called him Stormy.

"I know your frustration, believe me.  But, we have to operate within the scope of the law."  Ron admitted.  "In cases like this, I just look to heaven and pray for the best."

"Look, I know it is not your fault, but this sucks!  There has to be something we can do."  Kanawha replied.

"Not until there is substantiated charges."  Ron said sadly.  "God, please help that boy."

We stayed for a little while, but Sorrow stayed in his emotionless state.  Not even Chance could bring him from it.  Unfortunately, I had to go to my office to see a client, so I told Kal and Kanawha to buzz me if they needed me.  I escorted Ron out as I left.


We were to meet Kal and Kanawha at the mission.  Shaft was somewhat lost in thoughts over Ethan, I assumed.  This brought nothing but honest bliss to my heart, because my wonderful brother was happy and in love with a truly great guy.  He had been quite for much of the trip.

"Shaft, babe, what are you so quiet about?"  I decided to pry, just because I could I guess.

"Ethan, of course."  he laughed.  "Cole, I love him so much, and he has made such a drastic change in my life.  I just want to do something romantic for him, but I am not quite sure what to do." He laughed again.  "With spending all these years dreaming about having a lover, you would think I would have a million ideas.  But, honestly, none of them seem to be worthy of Ethan."

"Brother dear, you have came to the right woman!"  I laughed, noting just how similar my conversation with Ethan had gone.  "Let's face it, I work, I pray, and I read romance novels.  I'm sure I can help you think of something.  Hmm.  Let me ponder on this a bit."  I decided then that I was going to surprise the both of them with something wonderful.

"Thanks Sister."  He took my hand and kissed it.  "I can always count on you."  Then, he thought a moment.  "Cole, I have something to ask you, and I want you to be honest with me, OK?"

"Always."  I replied, hoping he would not ask me anything about Ethan.  My brother and I never kept secrets from one another,  talking about everything with each other.

"Do you feel like I have slighted you any the last few days?  I know we have not spent that much time together like we usually do, but do you feel slighted?"  He asked seriously.  I was delighted that he was so concerned over my feelings.

"Honestly Shaft, I have been so busy thanking God for you finding Ethan, Jew finding Jena, and Kal finding Kanawha and Chance, I have not given it any thought.  Then, there is Sorrow who has been on my prayer list."  I looked at my brother.  "No, babe.  I do not feel slighted in the least bit.  But, if it worries you, maybe you, Ethan, and I can do something together.  Perhaps we can invite Jew and Jena along, too, so Ethan can spend some time with his sister."

"But, what about you?  Who will you invite?  See, Cole, I want you to be happy, too.  I want you to have someone special in your life."  He soberly stated.

"Shaft, hon, it will happen when it happens.  I am in no rush for it.  Look at you and Ethan.  It happened as it was meant to happen.  My time will come someday, and until then, I am content to wait."  Then, I saw more to his line of reasoning.  "And, no, Brother, I do not feel slighted because you have found Ethan, either.  Does that put your mind at peace?"

He smirked.  "We know each other so well, don't we."

"Yes, babe, we do.  Hey, do you want me to fill Ethan out and see if there is anything in particular he fancies?"  I asked, somewhat mischievously.  The idea that they were both contemplating the same thing seemed to be the most romantic thing I have ever encountered.  I definitely needed to do something special for them both.

His smile was priceless.  "Who would ever suspect you, of all people, being the secret agent after the prized secrets?"  'Definitely not you, dear Brother.' I mused.

"Then, it is settled.  I will use every technique of subvention I can for you, Brother."  'And on you, too, for that matter.' I smiled to myself.

Soon, we arrived at the mission.  Kal and Kanawha were with Chance and Sorrow in the garage bays.  They had just cleaned up, judging from the wet hair they each had.  "So, boys, did you have a good time so far today?"  I asked.

Chance was elated, telling me all about the oil fight he and Sorrow had with Kal.  Sorrow was withdrawn I noticed.  Chance leaned in and whispered to me, "Sorrow's dad is 'posed to pick him up after work today.  He has to go 'n live with 'im now.  I thought he'd be happy 'bout it, but he ain't nothin' but sad since he found out."

I winked at him and said in a whisper, "We will have to pray about that, too, sweetie.  Let's just hold our faith it will all work out for the better."  He smiled and nodded his head.

I looked at Kal and Kanawha, "Well, are you guys ready to meet Jessica?"

"We need to take Chance and Sorrow by to see Jew and Jena.  He is wanting to see if the boys would be interested in helping out in his program"  Kal answered.

"Oh, you guys will make excellent big brothers." Shaft enthused.

"I ain't never had me no brother nor no sister.  You Sorrow?"  Chance asked.

"Yeah, once.  Once, I had a brother."  he replied quietly.

"Really?  Wait, you said once.  What happened to 'im if you don't mind me askin' none."  Chance responded delicately, taking the hand of his friend and rubbing it gently in his own.

"He... he died.  He killed himself, actually... back when I was five.  That was right before my dad left us."  My heart just broke for him, and I knew I needed to talk to Mic.

"Oh, honey!"  I hugged him tightly.  "My, you have had it so rough in your short life.  I wish I could take all that pain away, Sorrow.  Honestly, I do."

"I wish you could too, and I believe you, Cole."  he said, almost emotionless.  "That was years ago, but it still seems like yesterday." He became almost transfixed as he spoke.  "He shot himself, but he did not die just then.  It was weeks later in the hospital.  They realized he would not get any better, so they turned everything off.  I was just five, but I can still remember the sounds of the heart machine as the line went flat."  he trailed off into his sadness.

I looked to everyone, not sure what to do now.  "Well, I need to go by Mic's office before we leave guys.  Sorrow, you want to walk with me?"  I asked.

"Yeah, sure.  Can Chance come with us?"  He asked, seeming desperate for his friend to be near him.

"Sure thing."  I said, placing an arm around each of the boys.  Then, we went by Mic's office.  She was working on her case notes as we knocked on the door.  "Mic, the boys are going over to Jew's program.  I understood that you wanted to be there to help explain it all to them."  God forgive me, but that was honestly a bold-faced lie.  Mic read through my intentions quickly.  She is so intuitive, and I was thankful for God blessing her with her ability to see into people.

"Oh, my.  I did not realize it was getting so late in the day already.  Let me put these files away, and I will be right with you guys."  she replied, quickly locking up her case notes.

We then walked to Jew's program, meeting up with Kal, Kanawha, and Shaft.  Jew and Jena nodded that they now knew, seeming relieved to see Mic had came along.  "Jew, you will have to refresh me on the details so I can help the boys learn what it is they are to do today with the children."  Mic slyly stated.

"Yeah, I have everything over here."  He methodically said.  He was doing so much better with his speech, even more than before I noted.  This change was obviously due to Jena.  She was building up his confidence in himself, and she was also making him one happy man. 

"Well, guys, have fun, and listen closely to Jena, Jew, and Mic.  These kids are very special, and many have certain ways in which you have to work with them.  But, I know you will both do fine, and I think you will truly enjoy it."  Shaft grinned warmly.

Jena took the boys over to meet some of the children, but Kal and Kanawha seemed reluctant to leave.  So, I pushed easily.  "Let me tell you something my mother always told me.  It takes a community to raise a child.  No one parent or set of parents can be everything to their children.  And, yes, I feel the same way about him, too.  But, you have to have faith and trust in your family.  We are talking about Mic, Jew, and Jena here.  If anyone knows children, they do.  So, lets go do what needs to be done and trust that they will do the same."

They looked at one another and then back to the boys.  Reluctantly, Kanawha admitted.  "I know you are right Cole, but I really want to be with him in case he needs me."

"Right now, Chance needs you to take the steps that will secure his future.  That is something only you two can do.  Watching over Sorrow in this state is something Mic is more than capable of doing.  So is Jena and Jew.  Like Cole said, just have faith and trust in your family."  Shaft soothed.

Finally, they agreed with our logic, and we went to see Jessica.  Jessica greeted us warmly.  She knew Shaft already, so I turned to make the remaining introductions.  "Jessica, this is Kanawha Darkstorm and Killian Lord.  They are the couple I spoke to you about."

She shook both of their hands and smiled.  "It is a pleasure to meet you both.  You are amazing people in my opinion.  From what I understand, Chance is a special young man.  Your opening your hearts and home to him speaks volumes of your character.  So, it will be my privilege in helping you."

Jessica spent a great deal of time going over the laws of adoption for our state.  First, there was an initial screening to determine suitable parents.  Of those passing the screening, in almost all cases, a single gay parent was approved for adoption.  There were numerous cases in which one gay parent would adopt; petitioning the courts a year or so later, the second parent was given guardianship, resulting in both partners having custody of the child.  There were a few cases where the second partner was denied guardianship, however.  Finally, there were a few cases where both partners were granted adoption, but these were few and far between as Jessica explained it.  "So, it is fairly close to a sure thing for one of you to adopt.  It is reasonably sure that the other of you will be granted guardianship.  But, it is a big risk if you both pursue adoption together.  Those are your options, gentlemen.  Which will it be?"  Jessica asked matter-of-factly.

Kal began to answer her almost immediately, but he never said a word.  He instead looked intently at his hand as it joined with his lover's.  Kal stroked Kanawha's hand for a moment, looking deeply into his eyes.  Finally, he spoke.  "Well, Love, I know we agreed about this already, but I was sitting here thinking.  I was looking at our hands, and how natural it is for us to hold hands just about all the time.  I was reminded of what Valerie said.  '
I know that you two have a long road ahead of you.  Walk it hand-in-hand.  It is not always the easiest way to go, but it is the way that God wants you to walk your path.'  So, Love, I believe our answer is that we petition the courts together as a couple and fight for Chance."

Kanawha kissed Kal warmly.  "I agree with you 100% on that Love.  We will fight for our son, hand-in-hand."

Jessica was elated with this.  "Guys, I am so happy you have chosen this route.  I honestly believe this is the course we should take."

"Just one other question."  Kanawha added.  "So we know what to do to prepare financially, how much will this cost?"

Jessica smiled again.  "Honestly, adoption is rather expensive.  But, seeing that this is an issue close to my heart, I will make you a deal.  If we are denied, you owe me nothing."

"And when we win?"  Kal replied.

"Hopeful, are we?
  So am I. Well, in memory of my brother and his partner, I will charge you the huge fee of one whole dollar. And, of course that fee is non-negotiable."  She took great pleasure in the shock on their faces.  "My brother was several years older than me, but he and his partner were denied adoption, along with many other issues.  They are who inspired me to take up law in the first place.  So, in their loving memory, and for all the injustice they suffered during their lifetimes, I will charge you the fee of $1.00."

Kal was moved to tears as he tried to respond.  "I just don't know what to say."

"Say that you agree to let me represent you."  Jessica smiled happily.


I explained to Mic about Sorrow's brother and his death.  "Jew, that is one step closer to the root of it all.  It may actually be the root, but my intuition tells me there is something more here."  Mic smiled as if she had won the lottery.  "We just have to keep listening.  Sooner or later, it will surface and we will know.  I just hope we can keep him hanging in there until then."

"I have faith that we will."  I grinned.  I knew in my heart that Sorrow would overcome this.  He just had to pull through.  He and Chance were so close, and I really loved those guys.  Chance had this infectious way about him, just like Kal had.  With Sorrow, your heart just went out to him.  Mine did because I knew about living with pain.  But, I had never suffered anything as traumatic as he had in his short life. 

I smiled over at Jena, as she was introducing the children to Chance and Sorrow.  Mic suddenly asked, "OK lover boy, what is up between the two of you, anyway?"

"Jena made a way for our program to grow.  She can tell you about it, because it is her thunder."  I replied.  I knew Mic could tell there was more to it, but I wanted everyone to know together, just as Jena and I had discussed.

I smiled widely knowing that she accepted my proposal.  Man was I ever nervous.  I wanted to wait till a little later in our relationship to ask, but it was what was on my mind at the moment, and it just came out.  I am so glad it did, though, because Jena was going to be my wife! 

She told me that as she slept in my arms the first night, she dreamed of the two of us getting our children ready for school.  My kitten dreamed about a family with me!  I was so overjoyed with this, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  But, we had our own plans as to how and when we were going to let everyone know, and I was sticking to those plans if it killed me.

"Yeah, OK."  Mic responded.  "Don't worry, Jew.  I won't pry.  I just hope it turns out beautifully for you sweetie.  You two make such a cute couple.  It reminds me so much of when Thomas and I first met."

"She really did work out some funding, though."  I laughed.  I looked over at Jena, and I was awestruck. "She is so amazing."

"Come on, now.  Let's focus upon work.  You are making me miss Thomas again."  Mic quipped.  She is such a doll, and I love her dearly.  But she brought an interesting point to my attention.  How would I ever get anything done while I was doting over my kitten?  Somehow, I knew I could gladly live with that problem.

We divided the group up into sections.  Mic and Jena took one group and began reading stories to them.  Chance and I had the other group, and we began playing Duck Duck Goose with them.  Sorrow just passively watched in withdrawal, sitting cross-legged on the floor. 

We were about 15 minutes into the game, when I noticed Sarah making her way to Sorrow.  She was an eight year old who was paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident.  She pulled herself along the floor from the reading group until she was sitting beside Sorrow.  Sarah looked at him intently for a moment, then she wrapped her arm around his back and rested her head on his side. 

They sat quietly for a few moments.  Then, she looked at him and in her loud voice (her mother is hard of hearing, so Sarah tended to be a bit strong with the vocals), "You don't have to say anything if you don't want to."  Silence fell for a few moments.  "I just want to watch them.  I know I can't play the game with them. I sure wish I could though." 

Sorrow snapped out of his stupor and took Sarah in.  His arm wrapped around her for a minute.  Then, he stood up and hoisted her up in his arms, carrying her to her wheelchair.  He smiled at her, "Well, let's go play then."  Getting a feel for the chair, he picked up his pace as he brought her to the group.  There, he pushed her around the circle as she determined who the goose was going to be.  Once selected, Sorrow raced her around the circle and into the vacant spot.   I had never seen Sarah so happy before, and her joy seemed to lift Sorrows spirits.

Chance was working with Berry, who was a blind six year old.  He was so adorable, too, and he had Chance totally wrapped around his finger.  Hmm. Berry had me wrapped rather tightly as well, I guess.

The boys helped us feed the children lunch, and for some of the kids, that was literally.  After clearing away the lunch trays, we played different games including Simon Says and Red Rover.  The boys seemed to enjoy themselves almost as much as the kids enjoyed having them.  When we switched areas, Sorrow read a few stories to the kids, and Chance impersonated the characters.  He was so comical, especially his big bad wolf.  They were definitely a hit as far as the children were concerned.

Kal and the others arrived back, which prompted Chance and Sorrow to introduce the children to each of them.  Kanawha and Kal ended up giving piggy back rides to several of the children, and I could tell they enjoyed every moment of it.  Cole and Shaft taught the kids a few new songs, and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Then, Sorrow's father showed up.  He watched his son from outside the room for a while, taking notice of how he interacted with Chance, the children, and Kal and Kanawha.  Then, he came inside.  Sorrow's mood changed almost immediately back to his emotionless state.

Mic introduced Derek to the rest of us.  He called Sorrow over to him. 

"Well, I guess I's be seein' you later, Thumper."  Chance said, trying to put on a brave front for his friend.

"I hope so.  Man, I am really gonna miss you, though."  Sorrow said, and tears filled his eyes as he clung to Chance in a tight embrace. 

Sadly, Chance replied.  "You just call me on that phone if you's needin' me.  And, please don't be doin' nothin' to  yourself.  I love you, Sorrow."

"I love you, too, Chance."  Sorrow replied, hugging Chance one last time.  Slowly, he made his way to his father.

They started out the door, but Derek stopped and looked back at everyone.  After a few moments, he turned to his son.  "Look, Eric, I really do love you.  I want to do what is best for you, too."  He became a bit misty eyed like the rest of us were already.  "Son, please don't hate me any more than you already do, but I don't think you should come with me...  Not just yet, anyway.  You seemed to be happy here with your friend and his family. I think that is what is best for you son, to stay with them for a while.  They know how to help you, but I honestly don't.  Eric, I have been a lousy excuse for a father, and in time I hope you will forgive me.  I do not want to add this to my list of sins... tearing you away from a place you feel happy and safe."  Sorrow hugged his father tightly, tears streaming down his face.  "I promise, son, I will visit you as much as you want me to be around.  When you feel better about things, you can move in with me if you want."  He lifted Sorrow's head so he could look him in the eyes.  "Or, if you choose, you can remain with your friend... if that is OK with them.  But, I think it will be.  If that is what you choose, then I will give Chance's dads custody of you.  I hope you will still have room in your life for me, but I will understand if you decide you don't want to spend time with me.  Like I said, I have been a lousy father, but for once, I want to do what is right for you instead of what is convenient for me."

"Pop, thanks."  Sorrow cried.  "I hope we can spend some time together and get to know each other.  But, I belong with Chance.  I know it in my heart.  He is the only thing holding me together."

Derek held his son for some time.  Then, he looked to Kanawha.  "I want to thank you for what you did earlier.  I thought about all you said throughout the day.  You were honest, straight forward, and, as ashamed as it makes me to admit it, you were totally correct. I really do love Eric, but I am not what is best for him.  I think you are.  The way you acted showed me what a real father should be like.  And, I believe Eric will be safe in your care." 

He then looked at Mic. "I'm not sure what we will need to do to arrange this, but I trust you can help me with that."

Mic dried her eyes.  "Sure.  Just come with me and we can take care of everything."

"Son, just call me if you need or want to talk to me.  I promise to be there if you need me this time."  He hugged Sorrow again.  "I really do love you, Eric."  Then, he turned and followed Mic.

Chance ran up to Sorrow, hugging him tightly.  "I's real glad you ain't leavin' me.  I's gonna' miss you somethin' awful, but I's tryin' to be brave and all for ya.  I's just glad you's stayin' with me."

"So am I Chance.  You have no idea how much."  Sorrow replied, returning the hug.

"Well, boys, what say we go by and pick up some of Sorrow's clothes.  Then we will go to dinner to celebrate the newest member of our family!"  Kanawha was excited beyond descriptive words.  All of us were.  That was one thing less to worry about, and we were getting closer and closer to helping Sorrow overcome his problems. 


Kal and Kanawha entered with huge smiles on their faces as Chance escorted his new friend.  He was a handsome fella', and though his troubles deeply ran, he seemed to be on the path to recovery.  "Hey, Valerie, this here is my friend Sorrow.  He's gonna be livin' with us I guess till he don't want to do that no more.  I just hope that ain't no time soon."  The smile on Chance's face showed such love, and I knew he was exactly what his Sorrow needed.  Of course, I knew that before.

I led the guys to their usual table, which I already had set for four.  Kal smiled at me.  "I take it you were expecting us."

I laughed.  "Well, this ol' dog only knows a few tricks, and she is far too set in her ways to go changing anytime soon."

Kanawha gave me one of his strong hugs.  "It is great to see you.  We have been thinking quite a bit about your words to us over the last couple of days.  They helped us reach a few decisions, so thanks once again." 

"So you decided to fight the good fight, did you?"  I asked.

"Yep.  We met with Jessica today and started the process.  Love also let Janet, the social worker, know that we wanted to petition together to be his foster parents."  Kanawha replied with great enthusiasm. 

"It will be a battle, boys, but all things worthwhile are worthy of a good fight."  I conveyed. 

Kal smiled, looking at their new family.  "I couldn't agree with you more."

"Say, where's the boss at?  I reckon he needs to meet Sorrow too."  Chance was in seventh heaven.  I knew Ed had been anxious for them to arrive since the minute I told him this morning to be expecting them. 

"He's in the kitchen.  You can take Sorrow back with you and surprise Ed if you want."  A sneaky grin crossed Chances adorable face, and a matching one was reflected upon Sorrow.  'Those boys are something else.' I mused to myself, knowing full well just how special they would prove to be.  With delight, the two crept into the kitchen, where Ed acted with such surprise, we all had to giggle.

"I swear, Valerie, you have such a wonderful husband."  Kal said, stroking the hand of his love.  "Chance thinks the world of him."

"Oh, boys.  I think it is very mutual.  Chance is all Ed has talked about.  You should have seen his face when I told him about your other boy."  I laughed.  "He has been climbing the walls all day waiting for you to arrive."

"Well, Kanawha informed me that he is a hare, not a bunny."  Kal said with a joking sarcasm.

"They are easily confused, except for the size and the longer ears."  I quipped.

Kanawha chuckled.  "See, Love.  I told you there was a difference."  Then, a realization struck him.  "Hey, if you knew, why did you not tell us?"

"I told you that I could not answer that, not that I did not know the answer."  I replied with a smirk.  "So, have there been any other developments with your gifts?"

"Well, we have been sharing our dreams every evening.  They are not always like the one's we had before, though."  Kal said, his face suddenly flushing with embarrassment. 

I pondered this a moment.  "Well, perhaps there are more to the dreams than you realize.  You are a couple destined to be united.  Unity is more than just physical proximity.  Unity is the ability to act as one, and you are starting to grasp the meaning of this already."

"Oh, Love was able to read Chance at the mall.  He focused and made it work."  Kanawha bragged of his love's accomplishment.

"That is wonderful Kal.  Have you been able to do it again?"  I asked.

"Well, no.  I am not really sure how I did it the first time, to be honest.  But at least I know it can be done."  he smiled, still petting his lover's hand.  "It came back on its own when Sorrow needed us, though."

"How about your gifts?"  I asked Kanawha.

"Well, I saw Chance transform at the mall.  And, I have been in better control of myself, not being all oozy.  Some of the things I feel are hard to put into words, though."  He reflected a moment.  "I wonder if Chance's transformation had something to do with Sorrow."

I pondered this a few moments.  "That is a very keen observation, Kanawha, one that has much merit. They are connected in a very special way.  Of that you can be certain.  Perhaps the timing of the change had something to do with Sorrow, but the change itself had everything to do with the two of you."  I looked them both over for a few moments.  "I want to meet with you two this evening.  We have some work to do in order for you to be prepared for the road ahead.  Perhaps while the boys are studying, you can come back here."

"Of course.  Whatever you think is best."  Kanawha said, noting the importance of my tone.

"Then, we will meet later this evening.  The boys should be back with Ed any moment now."  I smiled.  Within a couple of seconds, they were carting the food in, laughing as Ed finished up one of his stories.

"We's havin' fried chicken today, and lots of other stuff.  Me 'n Sorrow got to help boss get stuff together, but he was already fixin' the chicken when we went in there."  Chance beamed with excitement.  He really seemed to enjoy helping Ed in the kitchen.  I think it was the whole idea of a job that was so important to him though.   That, and he really seemed to be fond of Ed.

"Ed wants Chance and me to come and work with him tomorrow, if that is alright.  He says we will be really busy frying fish for Saint Katherine's.  They are having a special luncheon there."  Sorrow said, grinning at the idea of being employed with Chance.

"We's also gonna be needin' to work on Saturday, 'cause we's fixin' breakfast for 'em people at the shelters and any of the rest of 'em on the streets.  Ed's got different places doin' that each day, and our day's gonna be ever Saturday!  I guess none of 'em's gonna go hungry no more with us a cookin'!"  I was so happy when Ed told me about that yesterday evening.  He said that knowing how we had been feeding Chance most of the only meals he had inspired him to do more.  As I have said before, I have never regretted marrying my Ed.  He always found ways to amaze even me.

"Ed, that is wonderful!  This will be such a great experience for you boys, too.  I am thrilled you are a part of something like this!"  Kal enthused.

"It sounds like quite a task.  I think you picked two great helpers for it though, cause I know my boys can do just about anything they put their minds to doing."  Kanawha bragged. 

Sorrow gave him a strong hug.  "Thanks... for the confidence and for whatever it is you did today to make my father agree to let me stay with you all." 

Kanawha pulled him onto his lap, returning the hug.  "I would do anything for you, son.  So would Killian and Chance.  We love you with all of our hearts."

"I know you do.  I just have a hard time accepting it, sometimes.  Hopefully, I will get better at that, though."  Sorrow kissed Kanawha's cheek.  "It means a great deal to me, even if I don't seem to show it sometimes."

"Well, I's gettin' just a bit hungry.  Let's get to eatin' and we can hug 'n stuff later."  Chance chuckled. 

"I'm with you there on the hungry part."  Sorrow smiled, taking his seat beside Chance. 

Killian blessed the meal.  Then, they ate as a family, a family I knew had a very blessed purpose.  I felt humbled, for I was standing in the midsts of a great destiny.


I was just not having any luck whatsoever with Chance.  He just has his own way of saying things, and it seemed utterly useless to try and change this. 

"Look, Roe, this is just like when I was working with Jena on that ol' English stuff.  I don't say none of that stuff, so I don't know none of what to pick from that list.  Those lists just ain't made for me.  I guess I's just stupid after all."  Chance hung his head in defeat.

Sorrow stepped in, hugging him tightly.  "Now, don't you go giving up.  You keep telling me to hang in there and that you will hope enough for both of us.  Well, if you don't pass this test, then we won't be in classes together.  I really need you there with me Chance, I just know that I do."

Chance shot him a look.  "This is lots different than that, though Sorrow.  This is that ol' English!"  I had to laugh at him, so I just turned around so he wouldn't see me.

"Well, you did fine in front of those kids today, didn't you?"  Sorrow asked.

"But that was just actin' out some of 'em stories.  They's gonna be askin' me all kinds of questions and stuff.  I ain't gonna know nothin' to say to 'em."  Chance whined.

"You were not exactly following the stories either, but you got what was going on across to the kids anyway."  Sorrow chuckled.  "Actually, you were rather funny.  Especially when you were the big bad wolf."

"Hmm.  Little pig.  Say your prayers, because I think you are going to be today's lunch special."  Chance said in a growly deep voice.

"Wait a minute.  Chance, my boy, that is it!"  I was so elated to finally see the light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel.  "What all voices can you do?"

Ethan and Shaft began to laugh hysterically.  "A whole bunch of different characters.  You should have seen him at the mall.  He had us laughing so hard, I thought we were going to burst."  Shaft said between fits of giggles.  "Do the old lady on the park bench."

Chance performed his rendition of an encounter he had with a lady who was rather mean to him over a park bench.  He was hysterically funny.  He then did several more impersonations of people he encountered.  He finally acted as if he were Ethan, playing video games at the mall, and everyone was in stitches. 

Jena perked up with his performances, noting the same characteristics I did.  Each character had a different voice, obviously.  But, each character had a different set of vocabulary, grammatic structure, accent, and so forth.  Our boy was truly a genius, and we realized he knew so much more about 'that ol' English' than he ever realized.  All along, he was giving us the answer, but we were too blind to see it.

"Chance, buddy, let's try something a little different than we have been doing.  I am going to have Jena ask you the same questions she has been asking you.  However, instead of answering them the way you would answer them, I want you to answer them the way Ethan would."  I suggested.  Chance seemed to think this would be funny, so he eagerly agreed.

Jena went through the interview, and Chance did fabulously.  However, he answered what he thought Ethan would answer. 

I devised a change in the activity.  "Now, Chance, let's try this.  Think about the questions and how you would answer them, but answer them with Ethan's voice."  Again, Jena fired away the questions. Chance was a little slower with his responses, but his own ideas came across beautifully. 

I was so proud of our little man, and I let him know.  "Alright, Chance.  That was fantastic." I then introduced a new change in the activity.  "Now, one last thing.  Answer the questions just like you did before.  But, this time, answer with your own voice and the words you think Ethan would use."  Chance was frustrated a bit at first, but after a few tries at the first question, he was on the mark. 

Jena hugged him up excitedly.  "Chance, baby, welcome to high school!"  He was ecstatic, but nothing like the rest of us were feeling.  Jena kissed him several times on the cheek.  "Chance, I don't think you even realize it, but that was YOU using YOUR knowledge of English.   Do you think you could maybe answer the questions on the test like that?  Pick the answers from the words you think Ethan would use?"

"Well, I guess I can try it.  I ain't never really thought of it like that.  Those lists seems like they's more made for Ethan than they's made for me, though."  He said in serious contemplation.

Jena gave him another writing and language skills exam.  This one was a full-scale exam, however.  It took him most of the allotted time to complete.  Everyone chatted nervously as Jena graded the test.  She had a huge smile on her face as tabulated his score.  "Chance, sweetie, you scored a 92% on the test.  That is fantastic!"  She cheered.  Everyone congratulated Chance.  Then, Jena announced a few more findings she had made.  "Of the ones you missed, I would be willing to bet everything I have that Ethan would have missed the same one's, even marking the same answers.  I know my brother well, after all.  Let me ask you Chance.  Look over these questions I have circled and tell me what you think the answer should really be...  what Ethan should really say, I guess."

Chance took the test back and looked over it carefully.  He marked the questions Jena indicated and gave the test back to her.  She recalculated and smiled again.  "Well, buddy, that brings you up to a 97%!  I think we are going to have ourselves two high school boys living with us!"   We were all extremely happy about our little man doing so well.  "But, Chance, that does not mean we are not going to continue studying.  That just means we do not have to push so hard or be so stressed out about it.  Now, we can have fun and learn at the same time."  Jena enthused.  Chance looked a little down by this.  "Of course, Sorrow will be studying, too.  You can never learn too much, you know." 

That seemed to bring a smile to Chance's face.  "Well, that'll be good then, 'cause if I's gotta be stuck doin' this ol' stuff, then I'd like Sorrow bein' stuck with me." 

"Gee, Thanks so much."  Sorrow jested.  "I will remember that next time you need help picking out clothes or something."

"Hey, You said you knowed you belonged with me.  Now you's got your wish, ol'boy"  Chance shot.  They both laughed and carried on a bit.

I was just relieved we had a break through with Chance.  I was really worried there for a while, but I guess Cole was right.  We had to just keep up our faith that it would all work out.  I watched as our two young men interacted, thinking how much fun it was going to be to have them around.  I guess deep down, I knew Sorrow's problems would work themselves out.  Maybe I was experiencing some of Cole's faith.  Whatever it was, I don't think I can ever remember being more happy or satisfied as I was in that one moment.


Love and I met with Valerie after the boys were settled in with Jena and Roe.  Having Sorrow safe with us made me feel more complete than I could have ever imagined.  He was part of us, somehow, though I was certain we would discover the connections in time.  Chance was like an extension of our love, if that makes any sense. 

Valerie took us upstairs to their apartment.  It was quite a lovely home, tastefully decorated in a way that made you feel at ease.  We were seated at the kitchen table, where Valerie had easy access to the both of us.  We had been at this for about an hour now.

"Now, Kal, I want you to focus on Chance.  Clear your mind and think solely about Chance."  Valerie calmly instructed.  "Try to trigger your gift to see how he is at this moment."  I tried many times, but nothing happened.

"I'm sorry.  I guess I just don't know how to trigger it.  I can't remember what I did before to get it to work."  I said, becoming agitated a bit from the numerous failures.

"Kanawha, think back to the experience at the mall.  What were each of you doing when he triggered his gift?"  Val asked my love. 
"Well, we were walking in the mall and we saw Chance, Ethan, and Shaft playing video games.  They looked like they were having a blast, so we stopped to watch them.  It was wonderful seeing our son so happy.  Then, I felt something, and I noticed the group of kids approaching them.  I was ready to act, but something inside told me not to do so.  I then asked Love to read Chance and make sure he was alright.  Killian protested that he could not just make it happen, but I told him I knew he could do it.  I told him to just stay focused.  He tried it several times, but could not get it to work.  Then, I wrapped my arms around him again and whispered that I knew he could do it.  Then, it worked.  I don't know what he did, but it worked."  Kanawha recalled.

"Let's give this a shot then.  Killian stand up and focus on Chance.  Kanawha, you encourage him just like you did before."  she stated.  Kanawha wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear just as he did before.  Nothing happened though.

"I cannot remember really doing anything to trigger it Valerie."  I said, somewhat defeated.

"Kanawha, were you connected with Chance during this time?"  she suddenly asked.

"Yep.  I was making sure he was not stressed out or anything."  He explained.

"Well, let's try this again, but as you encourage him, Kanawha, connect yourself with Chance." 

We tried it again.  I focused upon our son.  Kanawha again wrapped his wonderful arms around me, holding me snuggly to his body.  Then he gently whispered in my ear as he connected himself to Chance.  Then, it happened.  I was thrilled that it finally started working again. "Guys, it worked.  Whatever just happened, it worked.  I still cannot tell you how I triggered it though."

Valerie went into deep thought for a moment.  "Well, I'll be."  She mumbled.  "Sugar, I don't think you did anything to trigger your gift.  I believe Kanawha did."  She thought another moment.  "Kanawha, you said you believed you could sense Kal from the moment you first met.  When exactly was it that this happened?"

My love, still holding me, kissed my cheek.  "It was when he first introduced himself.  He held out his hand, and the moment I touched him, I was overwhelmed.  I feel certain that is when I first started sensing him.  But at the time, I had no idea what was going on."  he said, then kissed my cheek again.

Valerie laughed.  "It all makes sense now.  Kal, you are the trigger to Kanawha's gift, just as he is the trigger to yours.  Somehow, Kal, when you triggered his gift, Kanawha's stayed active.  Now we just have to figure out why yours does not stay active."  Then, she contemplated it all for a few minutes.  "Kal, describe everything you see right now at this moment."

I went through all of the symbols, explaining the meaning of each one.  I also described all of the colors each symbol had and what they seemed to mean.

"Kal, I want to try something.  Push all of the symbols aside.  Shut your eyes and clear them from your mind a minute."  I did as she instructed.  "Now, open your eyes and tell me what you see now."

It was amazing, unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  "Well, the symbols are still there, but there is so much more now.  I can see an image of Chance.  There are various colors around him, but the main one is an orange-red.  It just shifted though to a green-blue color."  I stated, as best as I could describe what I was seeing.  "The symbols have changed some, too.  There are other things around him too, not really symbols, but something else. Kind of like tags is the best I can explain them."

"Try to touch one of them with your mind." Valerie instructed.

I did, and was overran with visual images, sounds, and so forth.  "Whew!  That was a bit overpowering.  I can see Chance being chased by a group of boys... Wait.  It is the group of boys he was telling us about that hurt him unless he paid them money."  I conveyed.  I watched as they pounded on poor Chance, and it made me shutter.  "What is this, anyway?"  I asked.

"I believe it is a memory, Kal." Valerie softly spoke.  "Do you see anything else?" 

"Well yeah.  Most of the symbols I know.  But there are some that look like the one I told you about before.  The one I don't know the meaning of.  Hey that reminds me, I saw that symbol when I awoke from the dream about Sorrow.  The last oval was glowing a teal color, and it pointed itself to Sorrow when we found him in the bathroom." I elaborated. 

Valerie took this into her thoughts, then she said, "Kal, try to touch one of those unknown symbols with your mind."

I did as she asked.  "I see Chance at school.  He is in the gym getting into a locker and getting out a baseball uniform."  I relayed in a somewhat shocked tone.

"Chance playing baseball, aye?"  My love enthused.

"Try a couple more of them."  she advised.

As I reached out with my mind, another symbol opened.  "It is Chance and Sorrow out with Ethan and Shaft at the Mall.  They are going to the arcade."  I tried another, but nothing happened.  Repeatedly I tried, but it refused to open.  "Something is wrong.  This one won't open up."  I explained.

"You have done fine Kal.  You can rest a bit now."  Valerie said, smiling proudly.  "There we have it guys.  Now we know what to do and how your gift works.  The known symbols tell you things that are in the present about the person.  The tags tell you things about the person's past, and the unknown symbols let you glimpse into their future."  Valerie pat my hand and smiled.  "Don't worry if some of them do not open.  Even I cannot foresee everything.  It is just the way things are meant to be I suppose.  Some parts of the future are meant to remain a mystery."

"Well, I am pleased we have figured out how it works, but it isn't off." 
I explained.  They both seemed to think this was great.  "Guys, you don't understand.  There are symbols and colors everywhere... all around me.  How am I supposed to do anything with them there?  How am I supposed to drive or anything else with all this stuff in the way?"

Then, my circumstance was made clear to them.  Val offered her counsel. "Well, I suppose it will take time to filter it all out.  For me, images flash in front of my eyes, so you can imagine what that is like while still trying to concentrate on what you are doing."

"I'm still hit with people's emotions every time they walk into proximity of me, but I am learning how to push it all out of the way."  My love tried to sooth.

"But, Love, you don't understand.  These are not going away.  They are not appearing and disappearing.  They are just right there, moving about all around me.  And, what is worse, they are starting to give me a headache.  I'm not so sure this was supposed to stay on like this."  I was really worried about it, and my head felt like it was splitting open.  "This is all just a bit much.  I really think I need to rest a bit."

"I can sympathize with you Kal.  It will get better though, believe me.  Just give it some time, and you will adjust."  Val offered, as Love helped me to my feet.  She hugged us both tightly and reminded us to drop the boys off here in the morning.

Kanawha helped me to the car and drove us home.  All the swirling and moving was making me nauseated, and I prayed it would either adjust itself or just go away. 

Love pat my hand, as he seemed to feel guilty about my current state.  "I wish I could make it better, Love.  I hope you are not mad at either of us."

I smiled and leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, though it took some concentration to find my way around all the symbols.  "It will be alright, Love.  I am not mad at you, nor do I have any reason to be.  My head just hurts is all.  Maybe a little nap and things will be better."

When we arrived home, Kanawha carried me up to our room.  He undressed me gently and then tucked me in.  He sat on the edge of the bed, holding my hand, watching me intently.

Chance and Sorrow came in a few minutes later, excited about Chance's performance on the test.  I was excited for him, but my head was splitting open and I felt rather weak.  Kanawha explained that I had a headache and was not feeling well.  Both boys expressed their concern for me, but I assured them I would be fine.  They both snuggled up beside me for a while, as Kanawha rested at my other side.  I was surrounded by my loving men, and had it not been for the horrible headache, I believe this would have been one of my happiest moments... Well, I guess it made it on the list despite the headache.  When I awoke the next morning, I was still surrounded by my loving men.


Killian and I shared another lovely dream, where we were playing in the stream with the boys.  Chance and Sorrow were trying to dunk us under, but love and I held our own against them.  After tiring from the water activities, we had a picnic lunch and then rested on blankets in the peaceful meadow. 

I awoke just about the time Killian was stirring.  Oddly, Chance and Sorrow slept on through as Love and I quietly crept out of the bed.  They looked so peaceful there, we decided not to wake them.  Sorrow was sleeping with his head resting on Chance's chest.  Chance had his arms wrapped around Sorrow's neck and head, holding him close. 

"They certainly have bonded, Love.  Almost inseparable I would wager."  Killian softly said.

"They won't have to worry about being separated, at least not for a little while anyway."  I whispered in response.

"Are you sure we made the right decision, Love?  We could have taken the safe route, like we had decided, you know."  My love asked, seeking reassurance. 

'That is a switch.' I mused to myself, for it was normally I who was not certain about such matters.  "Love, with all my heart, I believe this is the right decision.  I really do not doubt it will all work out fine, and Chance will be ours forever.  I guess I still have that habit of preparing myself for the worst."  I admitted.  "Say, how is your head this morning?"  I asked with deep concern.

"I feel fine.  It is still on, though, in case you are wondering."  He smiled, kissing me gently.  "I told you I would be fine, you know.  I guess I slept a bit longer than a nap, though."

"Well, we all fell asleep in our clothes, and I am not sure which of us was the first to fall under."  I laughed.

"It was Sorrow."  Love replied.  "He makes this funny little sound when he sleeps.  See?  He just did it again." 

We watched our sons for a bit longer, then we decided to take a shower.  Killian grabbed us some clothes to dress in while I prepared the shower.  After relieving ourselves, we stepped in and enjoyed cleaning one another.  OK, we made out a bit in the shower, too.  Afterwards, we dried one another off and got dressed.

The boys were still asleep, but we needed to wake them so that they would not be late for work with Ed and Valerie.  I really hated to wake them, though, because they looked so peaceful.  Gently, I shook them.  Chance stretched his arms in a big yawn, returning his hands to hold Sorrow close to him.  His hazel eyes slowly opened as a smile spread across his face.  Sorrow began to stir, stretching  as he raised his head to look at Chance.  "What are you smirking about?"  he jested.

"You lookin' like an ol' cat again.  Your hair is stickin' up all over the place too."  Chance laughed.

"You should look in the mirror before you laugh about anyone's hair."  Sorrow jabbed back.

Love and I had to laugh at them, for they sounded as what I expect brothers would.  I knew Ethan and I shared similar banter.

Sorrow turned his head, smiling at us both.  "You're feeling better?"  he inquired of my love.

"Much better, son.  Thanks for asking."  Killian replied, wrapping his arms around my waist.  "I think it was being surrounded by the men I love so much that did the trick."

Sorrow stretched again and slowly stood to his feet.  Then, he pulled Chance up out of bed.  "Don't forget, Humper, we have work to do today."  He trotted his way over to us, giving us both a hug and kiss on the cheek.  "Morning."  he smiled.

Chance followed close behind, doing the same. "I reckon we should get cleaned up 'fore we eat us breakfast.  Wonder if Hela is a cookin' again?"

Sorrow opened the door to step into the hall.  The smells from the kitchen answered Chance's question.  "Let's hurry and get a shower, Humper.  I am starving!"  Sorrow said, then turning to sprint down the hall.  Chance was hot on his heals.

"He seems to be in much better spirits."  Love commented.

"And they were genuine feelings this morning love.  I don't believe it is completely over, but I do feel he is better than he was."  I replied.

"The symbols are still there, but the colors have changed.  That indicates some improvement"  Killian had his evil little grin across his face, his teeth shining brightly.  "What say we have a picnic today at the park while the boys are with Ed and Valerie.  I only have some skill tests to score, but that will only take about an hour.  Then, the rest of the day belongs to you, Love."

"Can you drive this morning?"  I asked, still concerned about Killian being overwhelmed.

"Everything has balanced out, just as you and Valerie said it would."   He smiled, kissing me gently.

I wrapped him in my arms. "Well, then, I will drop the boys off.  You go on to work, and I will meet you back here.  Then, we will go for our picnic."

He kissed me again.  "Sounds like a plan, Love.  Let's go make sure everyone is up.  Hela gets upset if everyone is not down at breakfast."

We went down and had breakfast.  Nana and Grams ribbed us about turning in early, but Chance and Sorrow defended us.  'One was great, but two is ten times better.' I determined as I thought about our sons. 

Ethan was going to work with Roe and Shaft today, which I thought was humerus.  Jena, Grams, and I fought hard to crack a smile or laugh when he proudly announced this.  It wasn't long though till Grams burst out laughing, sending Jena and I into fits.  Ethan was a bit miffed, but as we reminded him of his past experiences with trying to build things, he had to laugh himself.  Shaft hugged him tightly, telling him it would be fine today.  Then, he turned to Roe and said that Ethan could only hand them or hold things, but he was not allowed to touch any tools.  They made a wonderful couple, really, and I could not have been any more pleased with a partner for Ethan than I was with Shaft. 

As breakfast was over, Mic reminded us about Sorrow's appointment at 2:30pm.  I kissed my love before taking the boys to the car.  I dropped them off for work and then ran a few errands.  I stopped by the townhouse, then headed back to meet Love. 

The picnic was wonderful.  There was not a single soul at the park, and we had time to just relax and unwind a bit.  We discussed the events at Jessica's office, with my love saying that the Lord always makes a way for his tasks to be completed. We also had time to talk about our plans for the future. 

I would need to speak with Ethan and Jena, but at the end of the month, I planned to be moved completely.  Killian assured me that there was plenty of room to store everything we did not put into use.  It was going to be a small adjustment, but I was ready for this. 

We also talked about Sorrow. After he picked his own room, we would make arrangements to pick up his other belongings.  Then, we would take him shopping to get anything else he would need.  We also decided not to pressure him one way or the other concerning his father.  Both Love and I felt it would be good for him to attempt the relationship, but that would be strictly up to him. 

Finally, we discussed the idea of a pet, if you can believe that.  I had always had pets, and felt they were good learning experiences as far as responsibility.  Killian, although he liked animals, was not so sure a pet was the thing to have at this time.  He believed it would be better if we waited until we had our own home.  Our final decision was to let the boys bring it up first, then deal with it later.  We laughed at our parenting skills over that one.

We were getting ready to leave when a young man, maybe between 18-20 came walking in the park.  Killian and I were holding hands as we were heading back to the car.  The young man stopped us and asked, "I don't mean to pry, but are you guys gay?" 

I was a bit surprised by his asking.  To me, it was rather obvious that two grown men holding hands would be gay.  Killian, however, got me choked up with his response.  "I'm not."  Then he leaned closer to the guy.  "But, I think my boyfriend is."

The young man laughed.  "Why I was asking is that we have a group that meets on Thursday nights.  We socialize, support each other during a crisis, and try to organize activities to educate the public.  I thought maybe you two would be interested in coming out to one of our meetings."

"That sounds interesting.  Maybe we should, Love."  Killian said. 

I was not so sure, but I agreed that it couldn't hurt.  I guess I just did not like the idea of being in a group like that.  I kept imagining one of them touching Killian and my having to hurt someone.  Silly, perhaps, but, that is what ran through my mind.

The young man fished through his backpack and gave us a flier.  He introduced himself as TJ, and Love and I introduced ourselves in return.  He said he looked forward to seeing us there, then turned and left.

Love and I walked to the car and loaded our things.  Killian folded the flier and put it in the glove box. We then went to pick up our sons. 

The boys smelled a bit, having worked with fish all day.  Evidently, being around the fish had left them unaware of their pungent odor.  With subtle motions, we rolled down the windows rather than using the air conditioner.  Chance and Sorrow both seemed to have enjoyed themselves, talking quite a bit about their adventures with the fish.  I was bemused, wondering what the psychologist and psychiatrist would think smelling our sons.  I became so tickled, I had to pull the car to the curb for a moment. 

"What is so funny?"  Love asked me quietly, as the boys continued talking about their day.  I just wiggled my nose a little and looked towards the boys.  "And?"  He asked.

I could not think of a way to let him know the rest of it, so I just softly said.  "Well, nothing I guess.  What time is the appointment?"

"It is at 2:30."  Love replied.  I began driving again, when I heard him chuckle.  One glance, and I knew he understood what I found so funny.

We arrived at the mission and had to wait only a few minutes.  I heard the receptionist sniff as we walked past her, and I began to giggle.  Sorrow was to see the psychologist first. 

When we entered his office, Joshua seated us all, with Sorrow nearest his desk.  He began the interview, referring to the notes Mic had left for him.  About five minutes into the interview, Joshua began sniffing, and I again giggled.  Love poked me in the ribs, trying to quiet me down.  When he asked Sorrow about any kind of work experiences he may have had, Sorrow began telling him about working with Ed and frying the fish.  Joshua looked at us with this knowing look, and slightly smiled.  Casually, he made a reference to using fish emulsions on flowers as a plant food.  Then, he drew back the curtains, opened a window, and picked a flower to show Sorrow.  Joshua winked at Love and myself, and continued the interview. 

After the interview, he gave Sorrow a test with a few different sets of questions to answer.  It took a while, but Sorrow stayed at it rigorously until he was finished.  Then Joshua led us to the psychiatrists office.  She wanted to see Sorrow alone, but she consented to his request for Chance to be with him.  I asked Joshua if he was going to let her know about the fish, but he just laughed and said she would figure it out soon enough. 

About 20 minutes later, the psychiatrist asked to speak with Killian and myself.  She told us that she wanted to wait before starting any kind of medication therapy with Sorrow since she could see he was climbing out of his depressed state.  She did advise us, however, that it was not over yet, and we should still keep a close watch for any signs of his further contemplation of suicide.  Monitoring for cutting would also be important.  She ordered some blood work to be completed and gave love the forms.  As we were leaving, I noticed she too had her windows open.

As soon as we got home, I suggested the boys get cleaned up and changed.  I told them we had a surprise waiting on them after dinner was finished.  They happily headed up the stairs.  I turned to Love and asked, "OK, so what can we do with the boys to be a surprise?  I had to think of something to get rid of that horrible smell."  I laughed.  "Truth is, though, I really want to do something special for our sons.  They have blessed our lives so much."

Love thought a minute.  Then, he had a splendid idea.  We all had dinner as a family.  Afterwards, we invited everyone to come with us for our surprise for the boys.  It took the van and two cars to get us all there, but it was well worth the excitement the boys displayed over our little surprise.  We took them to a go-cart track.

Nana and Grams had a blast and were so comical to watch racing around.  The boys, of course, thought it was awesome to be driving.  I had to admit they did rather well on the track.  Jena and Jew decided to spend their time on the various carnival rides there, particularly the ferris wheel.  Hela, Mic, and Row played the games, while Ethan and Shaft hit the arcade.  Cole stayed with love and I as she took everyones pictures.  The three of us had a wonderful talk, and I grew even closer to the one who named me Boo Boo.

At the end of the day, we were all tired, so we headed home.  Love and I tucked the guys in, said prayers, and kissed them both good night.  We asked Sorrow to be thinking about what room he wanted.  We were surprised when he requested to share a room with Chance rather than have his own.  Chance readily agreed to this.  I guess, looking back, we should have expected that to be the answer.  We left the option open, should either change his mind.  Then, Love and I retired to bed.

It was at midnight when I was startled awake.  Killian was waking also.  Our bedroom door creaked open, and in came Sorrow and Chance.  Seeing us awake, they both pounced on the bed.  Sorrow hugged Killian while Chance hugged me.  They each gave us a kiss on the cheek and said, "Happy Birthday."

I had not realized it was our birthdays already.  Because of the painful experiences associated with this day, I seldom found any joy in celebrating.  With recent developments, though, I believed things would be very different from now on.  I gave Chance a hug back and thanked him.  Love did the same with Sorrow.  Then, Killian kissed me and we wished each other a Happy Birthday.

The boys ran from the room a minute, then came traipsing back with two small packages.  One was presented to each of us.

"You have to open them together."  Sorrow instructed.

"Yeah.  Me 'n Sorrow got you these today while we was workin'.  We had us a break, so we's walked down and got 'em with our money Ed paid us for helpin' 'im."  Chance added.

Killian and I opened our gifts.  They were ID bracelets.  Mine said 'Daddy' on it, and Love's said 'Dad'.  Sorrow and Chance helped us put them on, smiling proudly at the gifts.  Love and I grabbed them both into a group hug.

"Thank you boys for this.  I have never had a better gift in my life than the two of you."  I said from my heart as tears filled my eyes.  "This means a lot to me."

"You two are the greatest sons any father could hope to have.  Thank you both so much."  Killian praised, he himself crying.

Sorrow snuggled up to Love as Chance snuggled up to me.  We talked for a while, but soon both sons were fast asleep.  I took my beloved's hand.  "We are so very lucky, Love...  blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined."  I looked him in the eyes.  "I love you Killian Anderson Lord, always and forever."

"And I, you, my love, forever and a day."

Slowly, we drifted off to sleep.


Sorrow 'n me woked up in Dad and Daddy's bed again.  We'd done that for two morinin's now.  They's still sleepin' though this mornin'.  They both had on 'em bracelets we picked out for 'em for their birthdays.  Me 'n Sorrow had went down on our break while we was fryin' up that fish with Ed to this little store that had all kinds of stuff like rings, necklaces, and bracelets.  I was a wantin' to get 'em somethin' special, but I didn't have no idea what to get 'em.  Sorrow said we ought to get 'em bracelets.  So's that's what we did.

I gave Sorrow the money Ed had give me, and he said it was just enough to pay for 'em.  I think maybe he put more of his own money in on 'em, cause they looked like they cost a bit more 'n what we made.  We got their names on 'em, well the names I give 'em anyway.  Dad 'n Daddy.  Sorrow told me they's more parents than he'd ever had really, and I reckoned he was prob'ly tellin' the truth on that.   

Once we went to bed, me 'n Sorrow waited till it was their birthday and then walked real quiet like to their room.  We listened a minute, cause we didn't wanna walk in on 'em if they was doin' that stuff they do in that bathroom.  It was quiet, so we's opened the door and walked in on our tip toes.  They's both awake though, so Sorrow 'n me jumped up on 'em and told em "Happy Birthday." 

Then, we run back to our room and got the bracelets, only they was wrapped up and in these real nice boxes that lady at the store put 'em in.  Sorrow was the one who wrapped 'em up, though.  I tried to help 'im, but me 'n that paper almost had us a fight.  So, Sorrow ended up wrappin' the other one too. 

Both of 'em seemed to like 'em bracelets, and they was awful nice bout us wakin' 'em up and all.  I snuggled up on Daddy 'n Sorrow snuggled up on Dad.  They's talkin' to us, but I reckon we just fell asleep is all.

I looked over 'n seen Sorrow stretchin' out  so I knowed he was awake.  He was holdin' my hand while he was a sleepin', but that didn't bother me none.  We decided to go down 'em steps 'n see if there was any breakfast yet, cause we's hungry.  Hela was just finishin' it up.  We told her 'bout the bracelets, and she told us she though that was real special.  She fixed up this tray with breakfast for both our dads on it, even some of 'em ol' grits for Daddy.  She told us we could take it up to 'em and surprise 'em with breakfast in bed.  So, thats what we did.

Sorrow held that tray whiles I pounced on both of 'em and waked 'em up.  Daddy picked me up over his head 'n held me up in the air.  It was real fun.  Sorrow gave 'em their food, and Dad laughed at 'em nasty ol' grits.    We kissed 'em both then went down and ate us some breakfast.

When we was done, we tried to help Hela clean up 'em dishes, but she told us boys to go up 'n get ready for work.  So we run up and took us a shower.  I didn't have no time for no bath, cause we was wantin' to get  to work early.

We gots dressed, then went back to Dad 'n Daddy's room.  They was ready for us, 'n we run out to the car to get to work.

"Boys, we just want to thank you again for the gifts.   They mean a lot to both of us."  Dad said.

"Well,  you just wear 'em 'n remember we's both love you."  I told 'em both.

"Yeah, you've both done a lot for each of us, so that was our way of saying thanks."  Sorrow said.

"Plus, you took us to drive 'em little cars last night!  That was so much fun a racin' 'round that track real fast like.  'Course, I thought Nana's gonna wreck or somethin' cause she was goin' a bit too fast."  I told 'em.  They laughed 'memberin' how Nana was a drivin'.

"Well, we wanted to do something special for you boys because you have brought so much joy to our lives."  Daddy said to us.  We just smiled at 'em both.  We both knowed it was 'em who was makin' us happy.

They took us on to work.  Dad and Daddy came in to see what time we'd be finished up.  Ed told 'em to pick us up 'bout noon.  They both showed Ed and Valerie 'em bracelets, and me 'n Sorrow was glad we got 'em those.  We hugged 'em both bye, then went in the kitchen with Ed. 

I learned how to cut out 'em biscuits.  I couldn't keep at ol'dough from stickin' on that ol' pin, so Sorrow rolled out that stuff.   I cut 'em with that round thing.  We did that for a long time.  Ed cooked up some bacon, sausage, 'n eggs.  Then, he fixed up some gravy.  It was smellin' awful good by the time we's done.

Valerie showed us how to put all at stuff in these boxes, so that's what me 'n Sorrow did till 'em people came in to eat.  They was all real nice, smilin' 'n tellin' us what good food it was.  I's just glad they was a eatin' instead of bein' all hungry 'n stuff.  I knowed what that was like, and it wasn't no kind of fun for sure.

Sorrow 'n me even seen some kids 'bout our age come in to eat 'em some breakfast.  We gave 'em extra juice, cause we figured they was needin' it.  Dad told us it made ya grow up all healthy like.  I told Sorrow I wished 'em kids found 'em a couple dads like we did.  He got real sad like and said he wished they did too.  Honest, I just wish all of 'em found 'em somewheres to live 'sides the streets. 

Once all of 'em had eat, we helped Ed get the dishes all washed up and helped Valerie clean off all 'em tables.  Valerie asked us boys to take out the trash, and while we's out there, we heard somethin back behind 'em trash cans.  We was real 'cited when we saw what it was. 

It was two little pups.  One of 'em was white with black spots on it.  The other 'n was black with white spots on it.  They both looked like ol'wolves with em pointy ears and bushy like tails.  We pet 'em for a minute.  Then, we went in 'n asked Valerie 'bout 'em.  She got some food to feed 'em and came out with us.  Valerie said she ain't never seen 'em 'round here 'fore now.  They was awful hungry, cause they was eatin' real fast.  We got 'em some water then sit on the ground and they layed on mine 'n Sorrow's laps.  We pet 'em some, then Valerie brought out this big ol' box to put 'em pups in.  She smiled and told us we could have 'em if we wanted 'em.  We's both real happy 'bout that, but we was wonderin' if our dads would let us have 'em pups. 

We finished cleanin' up 'n stuff.  Dad 'n Daddy came back to get us, so me 'n Sorrow showed 'em those pups.  They both run to Dad, and when he bent down, they was a likin' on him like he was honey.  Dad was a gigglin' and looked up at Daddy.  Daddy had this big ol' smile on his face.

"Well, can we take these pups home with us.  We's take good care of 'em 'n stuff.  We can even buy 'em food with our pay money we get from workin'." I asked.

"What about you Sorrow?  Do you want to keep them too?"  Daddy asked.

"I think they would be wonderful to have around.  They are a lot of company and only want to be loved.  Besides, I think they need a home somewhere.  We can't just leave them running out in the streets."  Sorrow said.

Dad started gigglin' again, and when Daddy looked at 'im all pleadin' like, he just shook his head.  "Yes, Love.  They can keep the pups."  He told Daddy.

So, we both gave Valerie and Ed big hugs 'n got us a pup each to take home with us.  They was both boy pups too, so we didn't have to worry 'bout havin no more of 'em later.  That made Dad happy.  So we took 'em pups with us, and they was lickin' all over me 'n Sorrow on the way home.  I think they knowed that we was givin' some place to live is why they's so happy 'n all.


I was feeling a bit better when I knew I would not have to leave Chance.  I knew I was meant to be right there by his side.  We really were connected in some way, and that connection just kept growing. 

I was also glad that I would have Killian and Kanawha.  They were great, really, and treated me like I was their son from the minute I first met them.  I knew we were connected too, but not in the same way as I was with Chance. 

When Pop told me I could stay with them, I was so relieved.  It is strange, but after all these years of wanting to be with my father, I realized that was not what I wanted when I was finally able to have him.  Truth is, I really did not know him much at all.

Dinner was great, especially when Kanawha held me on his lap.  I am not much smaller than he is, but I felt like I finally had a real father in that moment.  Both he and Killian kept calling me son, and I really liked that.

Killian was fun to be around, too.  I had a great time learning about changing oil.  Yet, he can be silly sometimes, and he started this oil fight with us.  I could never say which of them I liked better, because they were like a part of each other.  You had to have both of them in order to have one of them.  It was a good bit like how Chance and I fit together. 

I was so proud of my angel acing his exam.  I knew for sure that we were going to be in classes together.  That had me more at ease.  I guess I was growing dependent upon him, but he was a missing piece to my life.  I know he was all that kept me together.

When Killian was not feeling well, I was very worried.  I had just found them, and I was worried something bad might happen to him.  When Chance and I woke up that first morning in their bed, I knew that they were meant to be my dads.  I cannot explain how or why, but that was what I felt in my heart.

Frying fish was kind of gross.  I know it smelled awful at first.  But, then, we got used to it, I guess.  I really enjoyed the work, and though I really liked Ed and Valerie, I knew it was only because I was with Chance. 

He was telling me about Killian and Kanawha's birthdays being on Saturday, so on our break, we went down to the jewelery store.  Chance was wanting to get them something special, so I figured maybe bracelets with Dad and Daddy on them would be nice.  They were a bit more than I expected, but I had the extra money.  I did not mind because it made Chance happy.  I also did not mind because I was beginning to feel like they were my dads, too.

My angel  had me laughing when he struggled with wrapping one of the boxes.  He was getting so upset, I just had to laugh.  Here he is the most hopeful person I know, and a piece of tape sticking to his finger was frustrating him.  We were so different, yet somehow we fit together to make a complete person.

At midnight, we presented them their gifts.  I wanted to call them Dad and Daddy, but I was not sure how they would feel about that so soon.  So, I held back.  I was glad they liked the bracelets, and Chance smiled his appreciation for picking out the gifts. 

When I awoke snuggled up to Killian, I felt better somehow.  I noticed, though that I was holding onto Chance's hand.  I realized that I had not wanted to cut myself since Pop first told me I could come and live with them.  I guess it gave me the first bit of hope I had felt on my own in many years.  I wondered if I was wrong and things were getting better for me.

After breakfast, Chance and I wanted to get a jump start on our day, so we both hopped in the shower.  He normally likes a bath, but showers are a lot faster.  Plus, we took a shower together to save some time.  Afterwards, we got dressed and headed down the hall.  Killian and Kanawha was ready for us, so we headed out to the car.  They thanked us for the gifts again, but Chance and I thanked them for being so nice to us.  We talked all the way till we arrived at work.

After hugging them goodbye, Chance and I went into the kitchen to get started.  We had a bunch of hungry people to feed that morning, and we were ready to go.  Chance had trouble rolling out the dough, so I did that while he cut the biscuits and put them on the pans.  Ed fixed everything else while Chance and I worked on the biscuits.  We boxed everything so that it would be easier to give out. 

There were so many people who came in, I was just amazed.  There were a few kids our age, and that really bothered me.  I was beginning to think that maybe my life was not so bad.  Sure I had been practically abandoned, but now I had a home with people who loved me.  I was determined at that point to make every effort to get better. 

The puppies were an added bonus.  It was so funny how they were like negative images of each other, and they were both boys, too.  I thought that they reminded me of how Chance and I were for some reason.  I really wanted to keep them, and Chance obviously had the same thing in mind. 

The hardest sell, though was going to be with our dads.  I think all the licking they gave Killian helped a bunch, because he kept laughing and looking at Kanawha.  Within minutes, it seemed they both melted, and we both had a pet each. 

On the way home, we stopped at the pet store to get food and other supplies.  I had money to get them, but Kanawha insisted on paying.  We got two matching gray harnesses and leashes for the pups that we put on them as soon as we got back to the car.  They were really cute, and we were debating names for them.

When we arrived back home, the four of us took the dogs to the back yard and played with them.  Mine was the black one with the white spots.  He seemed to like Killian a great deal and would jump all over him any time he sat down.  "I think he likes you better than me, Dad"  I said.  Then, I realized what I had let slip, but he did not seem mad by it.  He just kept on like it was natural.  So, I felt certain that it was OK if I called them what I really wanted to for quite some time.

"I think my ol' pup likes Daddy more 'n me too."  Chance giggled.  I just loved to hear him laugh.  It made me feel better in some strange way.

Kanawha had Chance's pup at bay while he was sitting on the ground because it was trying to bite his nose. "So you thought of any names for them yet, boys."

"Nothing that suits them, yet, Daddy."  I replied, and he did not react in any harsh way either.   I did notice that he smiled at Dad, though.  "Do you and Dad have any suggestions." I asked.

Dad was laughing because my pup was pulling at his hair while he was lying in the grass. "He looks like a domino piece with fangs to me, so I have no idea what you would call him." 

"Hey!  Domino is a great name, Dad."  I was excited because it really did suit the little monster.  My pup was a bit hyperactive and just a tad aggressive.  But, that is why I liked him so much.  I think that Dad liked him for the same reason.

Chance's pup was a bit more tame than mine, but he was still awfully playful.  Chance was trying to hold him still, but he was quickly out maneuvering my poor angel.  Finally, he grasped the pup and picked it up off the ground.  Chance looked it over carefully.  "I think I's gonna call you Chips."  he grinned.

Daddy smirked as Chips wiggled loose again.  "I swear Love, is this not so much fun." 

Domino snatched Dad's glasses and took off quickly.  "Well, if I could see them, then maybe it would be."  He laughed.

Daddy caught Domino and retrieved Dad's glasses.  He put them back on his face and kissed him.  "There you go Love.  Thanks again for agreeing about the pups.  I love them, myself."

"I think they are a lot of fun, too.  I just can't wait till they calm down some, though."  Dad laughed, as Domino was pulling on his pant leg. 

Ethan and Shaft walked outside, and the pups were all over them. They both laughed and joined in the play. Shaft offered to examine Domino and Chips for us.  He said he could give them all their puppy shots too.  I figured that would save us some money and thanked him for his offer. 

We took them inside to meet everyone and see their new home.


Domino and Chips, now they were really something.  They were two of the feistiest and most spirited animals I had ever seen.  They reminded me a bit of the boys, or at least what I figured Sorrow would be like if he were not depressed.  The two pups practically knocked Ethan and I down, but we really enjoyed them.

Hela was going to be the hard sell with the newest additions to the family.  When the boys lugged the furry brothers into the house, her eyes lit up.  I just knew she was going to throw a fit about them, but I was completely wrong.  She was on the floor playing with them before I knew what was happening.  She told Kal and Kanawha that she was proud of them for getting the boys pets.  She felt they would teach them responsibility as well as give them hours of love and companionship.

I have to say that Hela was surprising me quite a bit lately, though I was happy to see the changes.  It was as if she were mellowing out some.  I know the boys were very fond of her, but then, the feelings ran quite mutual. 

The pups were in very good heath, save they were a little undernourished.   Chance was a bit nervous when I took Chips' temperature.  "Why's you puttin' that up in his butt for?", he asked.

"Well, Chance, that is how you take a dog's temperature.  Their mouths are made different than ours.  They also want to chew on anything you put in their mouths, so you can't take their temperature orally."  I explained.  He shook his head as he took in what I was saying.

Both he and Sorrow enjoyed listening to their heartbeats, and they practiced listening to each other's as I gave the pups their shots.  Chance said that maybe he would want to be a Doc like me someday, and it made me smile thinking that I inspired him in some way.

With a clean bill of health, the pups were free to roam and terrorize the household.  Everything went well until Jena found Domino with one of her shoes.  She decided it was not a big deal and gave Chips the other shoe, seeing as Domino had ruined its mate.  The boys promised to buy her a new pair, but she told them they were a cheep, old pair anyway. 

We had a nice family lunch, and then we all went to the movie room for entertainment.  We watched movies and sang songs till well into the afternoon.  Chance was not a bad singer, but Sorrow had a lovely voice.  It was rather angelic, yet it expressed the deepness of the emotions he had been experiencing.  There was still a lot of pain and sorrow in his soul, but he did seem to be better.

On a more interesting note, Domino and Chips seemed rather fond of Roe's singing voice.  They would raise up their heads and howl as he sang.  As he would stop, they would look anxiously at him, with their tails wagging in appreciation until he would sing again.  Then, they would once again start howling.  "Everyone is a critic." Roe joked.

Mic and Grams decided they would fix dinner for the lot of us, and Hela took that time to spend with the boys.  I could tell she truly loved them.  Her laugh and every expression was different where the boys were concerned.  Watching them, I realized that she was kind of like their mother, and I could not imagine a mother who could be more loving or more protective of her children than Hela. 

Cole quietly spoke with Ethan, Jena and I about meeting her here later to work on something special she had in mind.  She also asked Mic, Jew, and Hela if they could join us as well.  We all agreed, for it was not often my sister ever asked anything of anyone else.  She was the selfless soul who was there for everyone else.  I thought this would give us a little more time together, too.

Dinner was soon ready, and we had a wonderful meal.  I enjoyed watching contently as my family interacted with fondness for one another.  I also spent a great deal of time watching my Ethan.

He was not much in the construction field, as his work yesterday indicated.  But, he was a wonderful mate, and a fantastic lover.  He was so emotionally driven, intuitive, and romantic.  I just hoped Cole would think of something worthy of my Ethan, because I was no where near the romantic he deserved.

The birthday cake was spectacular.  Hela had done a wonderful job with it.  There was a bear and a fox in the center, and it read "Happy Birthday Yana and Keokuk.  There were twenty-six candles along the borders.  As it was lit, Chance joked that it looked like a house burning down his dads were so old.  He received several laughs for his efforts.

The group of us had went in together for one special birthday gift for the both of them, and they were quite excited when they opened it.  It was a digital camera, printer, and a family photo album.  We figured they should start saving memories of the boys right away, because each day was a treasure.

After cleaning up, we retired to the living room.  Cole brought down a box from her room.  There were seven candles in it.  Kal lit two, and Kanawha lit five.  Then, they, Grams, and Nana silently remembered those who had been lost twenty years before.  Cole lead us in a special prayer honoring their memories and bestowing blessings on Kal, Kanawha, and their sons.

As the prayer was finished, Kanawha began to speak.  "You know, there was a time when I prayed so much for God to end my pain.  But, it seemed as though he did not listen to me, because each day came with only more pain.  I thought for years that God hated me somehow... that he was punishing me in some way by taking my family and leaving me with such a sorrowful life.  I believe I actually thought he turned his back on me, so I guess that is why I strayed away from him."  He was lost in his memories a moment.  "How could I have known that all along, he was there with me?  I realize now that he had every intention of answering my prayers, only it was in his own time and not mine."  He took Kal's hand to his lips and kissed it gently.  "He brought me to you Love, and through you, my every prayer has been answered.  It's strange how time changes you.  Now, I would never go back and change one day of my life, because I know that everything I endured only lead me to you.  But, back then, I just wondered how one could live a life without your parents being alive."

Sorrow was in tears thinking of what Kanawha had said.  "You know, sometimes life is just as hard to live when your parents are alive."  He said sadly.  "But, I know what you mean about feeling as though God has turned his back on you.   Funny thing is, you one day realize it was you who turned your back on him." 

Kanawha and Killian both embraced their son as he sobbed so deeply.  Mic nodded to Cole, and I later understood what that was all about.  After a long cry, Sorrow wanted to go to bed.  Kal, Kanawha, and Chance went up with him.  The boys spent the night with their fathers, as their own little family supported the one who was in need.

The rest of us went up with Cole to work on her special project.  Upon finding out what it was, I was again amazed at what a remarkable woman my sister truly is.


Love, Chance, and I brought Sorrow to our room.  There, we sat on the bed in a group hug as Sorrow unleashed much of the pain he had been feeling for such a long, long time.  His sobs seemed endless as they carried him off to sleep.  Once again, our family huddled together through the night.

The next morning, as we awoke, our son seemed a little better, but still he was hurting.  We had our usual family breakfast, and everyone was supportive without trying to push too much as where Sorrow was concerned.  We played with the pups for a little while, then all took our showers and got dressed.

We all went to Sunday morning church services.  Kanawha and I entered holding hands, which he was at first worried about doing in the house of God.  As we were received with nothing but warm welcomes by many of the members, he relaxed quite a bit.  I introduced my love to many of those I knew, including a few lesbian and gay couples.  Everyone told me how handsome Kanawha was and what a nice couple we made.    They also made over Chance and Sorrow quite a bit. 
As you probably have guessed, I could not help but show one of my big toothy smiles over the comments.

Some of the widowers I noticed were trying to make their plays for Grams and Nana, which had me tickled.  Kanawha was beside himself, thinking of his Grams dating one of them.  Of course, Grams assured him she was anything but interested.  She said that there was but one love in her life, and if she could not have him, then she would be content honoring his memory.  Nana, on the other hand, was soaking it all up, flirting back rather strongly, I might add.

Valerie and Ed arrived, and we waved them over to us.  I had called and asked if they could join us today, just in support of Sorrow.  I wanted the entire family near him in his hour of need.  They were greeted warmly, as everyone was very excited to meet the infamous couple.  I smiled knowing they would be counted as part of the family by everyone.  Kanawha, Chance, Sorrow, and I already felt this way about them, but it was great having them welcomed into the fold by everyone else.

The new assistant pastor, Allen Carpenter, looked to be around our age, I thought, and I noticed he spoke with Cole for quite a bit before beginning the services.  He made the announcements and welcomed all the newcomers.  Then, he lead the congregation in prayer.  I must add that he said a wonderful prayer, asking that everyone receive the courage and strength needed for fulfilling their roles in God's plan.

After the prayer, He began his sermon.  He spoke of Judas, and how Judas had betrayed his greatest friend.  But, rather than seeking forgiveness, he took matters into his own hands.  He talked of Judas' suicide and how he knew that Jesus would have forgiven him, if only he had asked.  He said that Judas could not see past the betrayal to see the wonderful friend he had in Christ.

The sermon, though somehow fitting, was rather short I thought, but Allen said that there was a special program to be presented.  I was surprised when the four twins, Jew, Mic, and Hela went up front.  There, they performed a skit, one of the most appropriate and meaningful plays God has ever inspired.

They acted out a scene that began with two strangers passing on the street.  One of the strangers, played by Hela, took the time to say hello to the other, played by Cole.  Hela's character then took time to support Cole's and offered encouragement and advice. From there, the day just kept getting better for each one of them. 

Then, they reenacted the skit, but this time, Hela did not speak to Cole.  As Cole would meet another person, her day just kept getting worse.  As the play progressed it became apparent that Cole's character was one troubled by self-doubt and deep depression.  She made many comments that were actually peas for help, yet, everyone ignored her cries.  In the end, Cole slit her wrists.  Then, at the brink of death, she reconsidered her situation.  She cried out to God, and Cole then sang the most haunting song I have ever heard:


I tried to kill the pain,
But only brought more.
(So much more)
I lay dying,
And I'm pouring
crimson regret, and betrayal.

I'm dying,
And Screaming.

Am I too lost to be saved? 
Am I too lost?

My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.
My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.

Do you remember me; 
Lost for so long?
Will you be on the other side,
Or will you forget me?

I'm dying,
And Screaming.

Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.
My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.

(Return to me salvation)
(I don't want to DIE!)

My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.
My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.

My wounds cry for the grave.
My soul cries for deliverance.
Will I be denied?
Christ!   Tourniquet my suicide.

(Return to us salvation)
(Return to us salvation...)

At the end of Cole's powerful performance, she had the undivided attention of the entire congregation.  Sorrow, seemed rather moved by the performance, and a few tears trickled down his cheeks.  Chance held his hand tightly, as streams flowed freely down his own cheeks.  The rest of us were all moved to tears as we contemplated Sorrow.

Cole then spoke for a few minutes.  "A message has been placed upon my heart, and during the last few days, God has made it clear to me what this message is to be.  One of the greatest questions ever asked was by Cain when he asked God 'Am I my brother's keeper?'  Well, I want to impress upon you just how important it is that you accept that you are indeed your brother's and sister's keeper."

"Each of us holds a destiny, a part in the great design of God's plan.  Some of us may move on to be remembered in history, a person of fame.  Most of us, however, will be the quiet unknown ones who work behind the scenes.  Regardless of fame, each person's destiny is of equal importance.  See, God's plan is designed in such a way that we are completely dependent upon one another.  In this fashion, what we do affects others around us.  There are times when doing something as simple as acknowledging someone on the street can make a major impact upon the lives of so many others.  This someone acknowledged could be the person who is inspired to cure cancer, feed the hungry, or spend time helping a child learn to read.  He or she could turn out to be the person God will send to help you out in your own time of need."  The passion and conviction with which Cole spoke was mesmerizing, and I knew her words were truly inspired by her close connection to God.

"The beauty of it all is that we often do not know how something so seemingly insignificant as a phone call to a loved one, or helping a person load up their groceries will affect others.  But, I assure you that it does.  We have all heard stories about people being in the presence of unknown angels.  Well I want to impart to you that sometimes we are unknowingly the angels in the presence of another's life.  What we do matters, and one person can make such a drastic difference.  Rivers can carve their way through mountains and cut deeply through the earth.  Yet at the beginning of every river is but just one single drop of water. "

"I want to charge you with three special duties today.  First, take time to offer love to anyone who in need or you may even think is in need -- and, in my opinion, everyone is in need of love.  Notice them and let them know that as they are important to God, they are important to you, too.  Second, inspire hope in those who need to be encouraged.  Instead of being the gloater who says 'Hey, I told you so.  You should have done it my way.', be the person who says 'I know you are trying so hard, and I am proud of you.  Please, don't give up.  I know you are going to accomplish wonderful things, because you are a wonderful person.'  And finally, fertilize and foster faith in others.  Be there when you are needed, console and support those who are having a difficult time, and let everyone know that God loves us all... each and every one of us from the wealthy and famous to the poor and homeless are of equal value in God's eyes, so try to see things with his perspective."

"Our play today was about a very real subject.  There are many in our midsts that are on the brink of utter despair.  We need to take notice and put ourselves in their shoes.  We need to be instruments of healing and peace, not weapons of war and destruction.  We need to bring them the message that God loves and God forgives.  Mic is going to share with us some information about despair leading to suicide."   Mic then took her place in front of the congregation.

"The first thing I want to point out is that anyone of us have at some point faced traumatic times that are overwhelming.  A person who contemplates suicide often sees this act as the only way to rid themselves of their situation.  So it is not that she or he wants to die, it is that she or he wants out of the traumatic, overpowering situation in which they feel trapped. 
My advice is that if someone is going through a difficult time, intervene before it ever becomes an issue of suicide. "

But, you may be wondering how you know if someone is contemplating suicide.  Well, honestly, the best way to know is to ask them.  Talk openly and directly about suicide.  Ask them if they have a plan or time table for committing suicide.  Learn to watch for certain behaviors and listen for any comments that indicate such behaviors exist.  Cole exhibited many of these behaviors and made many of these comments during our play, so as I review them, think of the impact they had upon her character.  Some statements might include: I can't stop the pain... I can't think clearly... I just can't decide... I'm depressed, and I just can't shake it... I am worthless... It's hopeless. There is no way out... This sadness I feel just does not seem to go away... My future is dismal, for I will never escape the pain... No one will listen to me... No one really cares, anyway... It would be better for everyone if I were not around... I think I am loosing control... I believe I am too far gone to recover.  Look for behaviors such as a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, withdrawal from friends or socializing, preoccupation with death and dying, a loss in personal care and apathy in personal appearance, sudden and erratic changes in behavior, giving away prized possessions, a fixated desire to make out a will or make final arrangements, or openly admitting to thinking about suicide."

"What can we do to help?  Be aware of what is going on in other's lives.  Take the time to be available, offer support, and get involved with helping out.  Honestly listen and acknowledge what the person is experiencing.  Put yourself in their shoes and think about what it must be like for them.  Remember that listening means that you allow them to express themselves without your judgment or interruption.  Remember that this is not a debate about good or bad, right or wrong... this is about letting the person express her or his own pain.  Encourage them to open up by asking them to explain how they feel or to tell you more about their situation.  And most importantly, take action and seek out advice and help."

"Things that are not helpful?  Being indifferent.  Acting shocked, because this creates a rift between you.  Asking why, as this makes them defensive.  Being judgmental or debating whether suicide is right or wrong.  Don't try to decide things for the other person; if they are to truly respond to help, it has to be their desire to have the help.  Finally, don't promise to keep things a secret, because this is serious and help is needed."

As Mic finished speaking, Cole, Shaft, Ethan, and Jena sang one last song:


You think you’re alone there in your silent storm
But I’ve seen the tears you’ve cried
Falling down and trying to drown
The flame of hope inside
Let me tell you now, tell you now

When you’re walking in the dead of night
And your soul is churning
When your hope seems out of sight
Keep the candle burning
All it takes is one steady heart
In a world that’s turning

Shine a light and pierce the dark
Keep the candle burning
Keep the candle burning

When you’re down and you’re discouraged
When the darkness clouds your view
You’ve got to gather up your courage
You know the Lord is gonna see you through
Let me tell you now, tell you now

When you’re walking in the dead of night
And your soul is churning
When your hope seems out of sight
Keep the candle burning
All it takes is one steady heart
In a world that’s turning

Shine a light and pierce the dark
Keep the candle burning
Keep the candle burning

One ray of light always breaks through
Follow wherever he takes you
Wherever he takes you

When you’re walking in the dead of night
And your soul is churning
When your hope seems out of sight
Keep the candle burning
All it takes is one steady heart
In a world that’s turning

Shine a light and pierce the dark
Keep the candle burning (You've got to keep that candle burning)

When you’re walking in the dead of night
And your soul is churning
When your hope seems out of sight
Keep the candle burning
Just one steady heart
In a world that’s turning

Shine a light and pierce the dark
Keep the candle burning
Keep the candle burning
(keep the candle burning, keep it burning bright)
(It takes one steady heart, one steady heart in a world thats turning)
(So keep the candle, Keep the candle lit) 

As they were singing, Allen asked if anyone who was going though any personal crisis or pain and wanted someone to pray with them, to please come forward.  Almost half of the congregation made their way to him.  Sorrow, however, was the first to reach the alter. 

He held tightly to my love as he prayed.  Chance and I embraced them both.  The rest of the family embraced us all, and
as the song finished, the twins joined us, allowing the entire family to pray with him.   The release was amazing, as it could be felt by all.  When the prayer was finished, I knew our newest son was now safe.  Though his road to recovery was not completely traveled, I knew that the threat of suicide was no longer an issue.  By the end of the service, it turned out that 18 elderly members and 11 other teens were at the point in their depression that they were contemplating suicide.  Mic and Allen held a support group meeting after Church for them.

Allen made his way to Sorrow, hugging and comforting him.  "Son, God loves you and forgives you.  Now, you need to let it go and forgive yourself."

Chance hugged Cole tightly.  "See, I just knowed he would tell you how to help out Sorrow!  Thank you, Cole.  Thank you so much." he cried. 

In tears, Cole replied, "Chance, babe, you give me far too much credit.  This was God's work, not mine."

"Mrs. Romero," Allen said, "You and your friends are truly instruments of God.  Look at all the healing you have catalyzed on this day.  Though you are right that God did the healing, you were the one willing to be his vessel.  Thank you."

Cole smiled.  "Well, thank you.  But, unfortunately, it is just Miss Romero... or just plain ol' Cole.  Shaft, well I guess you know of him as Carmine, he is my twin brother, not my husband.  Shaft is Ethan's partner, and Ethan is Jena's twin brother, not her husband.  One of these days, I think that honor will be Jason's." she said, pointing each one out as she explained their relationships.  Allen just smiled as he looked at her.

As I glanced between the two of them, I took the liberties of reading the signs about them.  Then, I was delighted.  I leaned to my love and whispered, "He is the one for Cole.  What a ministry the two of them will have." 

"Well, you better do something, then Love.  Allen is smitten by her, but he is overcome by shyness right now. And you know Cole will not make the first move."   Kanawha snickered.

"Allen, would you care to join our family for dinner today?  We would love to have you, and with as many of us as there are, we always fix enough to feed an army."  I conspired.

"That would be lovely."  Hela added, smirking at what I was attempting to do.  "I hope you like pot roast."

"Actually, it is one of my favorite dishes."  Allen smiled shyly.  "I would love to join you."  He said, looking over Hela's shoulder towards Cole.

"Good, Kal and Kanawha can bring you along after the support group meeting.  I'll make sure everything is ready."  Hela smiled, and I knew she would work a way for the lines of love and communication to be opened between Cole and Allen.

Well, that concludes chapter six.  Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think.  Chapter seven will be coming  soon.


Lyrics by Evanescence  ©  2003

Keep the Candle Burning
Words and music by Jeff Border, Gayla Boarders & Lowell Alexander  ©  1996