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


When Daddy said he felt like God had turned his back on him, it struck a strong chord in the center of my soul.  I had never realized just how strongly I felt that way until it was put to words in that moment.  However, as I looked around me, I knew this was just not so.  I was the one who had turned away.  Once this reality was spoken, my heart and soul began to ache with a pain I had suppressed for so many long years.  This pain would neither be quieted nor denied.

With the floodgates opened, I was swept away, drowning in the emotional undercurrent.  Dad, Daddy, and my angel did everything they could to comfort me, but this was a pain that no one human could ever erase.   I was so stricken by grief and shame that I was certain I would never last the night.  Somehow, though, sleep came to my rescue.  By morning, I awoke in the loving embrace of my new family.  Their loving natures, however, made me feel even more guilt and shame, for I believed I did not deserve them.  Even Domino, in all his spectacular rowdiness, did little to cheer the depths of what I was experiencing.

I was not fond of the idea of attending church services.  I firmly believed it was the last place I needed to be or would be welcomed.  I could never have been more wrong, and I still, to this day, thank Dad and Daddy for being so gently insistent that I go. 

As Pastor Carpenter delivered his message, it seemed as if he were speaking solely to me.  Then, there was the play.  So much of what Cole was saying accurately expressed many of the things I had felt over these last several years.  The ending let me experience the acts I had been contemplating, and the words of Cole's song had me reconsidering the choices now made known to me. 

As Cole talked of people unknowingly being the angels in the presence of another, I knew she spoke of Chance.  The kindness of my angel, as he sat crying tears for me, gently patting my hand, it moved me in such a way that I became open to the hope he had been trying to offer.   By the time the second song was being sung, I knew that God still loved me.

He had sent to me an angel in the form of a friend.  That friend then led me to the family which God had made for the both of us.  Suddenly, my eyes were opened to the blessings and fortunes I had around me. And, as I counted, they were fifteen of the most amazing people to ever walk this earth.

Chance and our dads went with me to make my amends with God.  There was so much love surrounding me while I prayed, and when I finished, all fifteen of my blessings where there to lend support.  How I could have ever doubted God's love is beyond me, for in that moment, I knew I would never be the same again.

Dad, Daddy, and Chance sat with me as Allen and Mic began a talk with those of us battling depression and  contemplating suicide.  I never realized there were so many others out there going through such similar circumstances.  Several of the elder participants had lost their spouses, and most said they felt their children had abandoned them.  The teens seemed to have many different reasons, but all in that group had a few things in common.  We had experienced self-doubt and a loss of hope. 

Being a person who seldom talked to anyone, it was very difficult for me to open up.  Chance held my hand tightly, whispering words of encouragement.  Our dads were at my other side, supplying me with unconditional love.  I guess that is how I found the courage to begin talking about the many things which had brought me to that point.  As I opened up, I learned many things about myself.  I became aware of a dark spiral of negative self-beliefs which I kept hidden even from myself.

David's death was the starting point.  I had prayed so hard for him to come back to us, but it never happened.  When he died, all I remembered were the terrible things I had said to him whenever we would argue.  I loved my brother, even idolized him, but I never had the chance to ask him to forgive me for all the harsh words I had uttered his way. 

Mom and Pop fought terribly after David died.  I prayed again, asking God to make my parents happy.  Alas, that never happened either.  When my father left, I blamed myself, the source of every cause and effect reaction that tore my life apart.  I felt that If I had been a better brother to David, then he would not have killed himself...  because David died, my father left...  because my father left, my mother ran around with numerous men, leaving me all alone...  Pop never visited because he knew I was to blame for David's death... Mom never stayed because she knew I destroyed her family... I had no friends because I was not worthy... because I was such a terrible person, God did not find me worth helping, so he turned his back on me.  

The relief I felt as I verbalized everything within that dark corner of my mind was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  I had a long road ahead of me, but at least I now knew what I was battling.  I also knew I would never have to walk that road to recovery alone.  For the first time in so very long, I did not want to die.  I now felt I had reason to live.

After the support group session was over, the four of us headed home while Mic rode ahead with Allen.  There was something of an inspiration which struck me on the drive, and I asked Daddy if he would please take me by my old home.  He smiled, saying he could feel how important this was for me.  I gave him directions, and soon we were there.

I asked them to wait for me, and quickly ran up the steps.  After unlocking the door, I dashed up the stairs and into my room.  I searched in a panic until I found it.  A smile spread across my face seeing it once again.

I returned to the car with the prized possession,  smiling from inside my soul as I presented it to my angel.  "Chance, this is something I have had since as far back as I can remember.  When I was very young, I used to believe that I could see angels.  I used to even believe that they whispered things into my ear, guiding me along, I suppose.  I never saw an angel after David died, so I thought for a long time that it was all in my imagination.  However, after meeting you, I believe angels walk among us once again.  For days now, I have realized that you are my angel.  During the darkest of times, you were the single ray of light that illuminated my world.  So, I want to give you this.  Its just a little angel figurine, but it used to mean the world to me.  Now, I have a real angel, so I want my angel to have this one."

Chance accepted my offering, and rewarded me with a tight hug.  "I love you Sorrow, but I ain't no angel.  I's just your friend and your family.  I ain't done nothin' you wouldn't do for me, no ways.  But I thank ya.  I's a gonna keep this forever, right next to the bed on that little table."  He looked at me and smiled.  "An angel... Hahaha... you know most 'em grouchy ol' people used to tell me I's a devil when I'd get myself in trouble at that ol' home I's in.  I think I's likin' bein' an angel lots better 'n bein' one of 'em devils." he giggled, making me smile with him.

"Doubt it or not, but you are an angel, Humper... my very own angel."  He laughed again, wrapping his arm around my back and looking at the figurine. 

"You boys are truly heaven sent." Dad smiled.  "I could never live my life without you two."  He then looked at Daddy.  "Or without you, Love."  Of course, Daddy kissed him.   Yeah, and they called Chance Humper.

Daddy then chuckled.  "You know, son, if you could see things through Love's and my eyes, you would not think seeing angels was such a hard thing to believe.  Trust me when I say we have seen some amazing things ourselves."

Dad giggled.  "And now, I see them 24-7."  Before I even asked what they were talking about, Dad and Daddy shared with me some of their experiences since meeting one another. 

Their perceptions reaffirmed my unexplainable feelings and realizations.  I truly believed without any doubts that the four of us were connected in a very special way.  I was also becoming aware that I was changing, evolving to fulfill some sense of destiny I had yet to figure out.  Even Chance had pointed this out to me before, and as I reflected on his words, my angel leaned over, grinning, "See, I told ya we's special together, you 'n me.  Now, you's startin' to know more of that other stuff I's tellin' you 'bout."

I grinned, throwing my arm around his shoulder.  "Yes, angel, I truly believe you're right.  We definitely have a purpose to fulfill together.  But, like you, I have no idea what it is that we are to do either.  Whatever it is, thought, it seems like everything has brought us together to accomplish it."

"Ka-tet."  Daddy said, looking back at us in the rear view mirror.  "Ka-tet is Shawnee and means fate or when things happen for a reasonKa-tet is looked upon as the will of God at work in our lives."

Dad smiled at him.  "How perceptive you can be, Love."  This, as you would expect, brought upon another kiss, and Chance and I laughed as quietly as we could.  Dad then looked back at the two of us.  "One thing I am continually learning, sons, is that what is meant to happen will happen in its own time and in its own way.  Live your life and let things unfold as they will.  Hold faith that you will both be where you are meant to be when the time is right.  You simply can't rush destiny."

Our dads were amazingly insightful, and I thought deeply upon their wise words.  Chance turned to me, "You know I's glad you's alright now, just like Dad 'n Daddy is too.  But, I reckon I's know someone who would really like to know you's doin' better 'n the last time they's seen ya."

"Who, Pop?"  I asked.

"I just know he's been a worryin' 'bout ya.  I just been thinkin' maybe you ought to get out your little pocket phone 'n let him know you's gettin' better.  It ain't none my business, but I knowed if I's him, I'd be awful happy to hear from ya." The grin across my angel's face melted all my defenses.  But, I was still not sure if I should call or not.

As if sensing my indecisiveness, Daddy reassured me.  "Son, Love and I both feel it would be wonderful if you would at least attempt to build a relationship with your father.  And, I know you are worried about our reaction to this, so don't be.  We are not going to push the issue, but I just want you to know that it would not hurt our feelings any for you to spend time with him." I was still worried about talking with Pop, and Daddy again gave me his support. "That is the wonderful thing I'm learning about love.  There is an overabundance of it in our hearts for everyone.  My love for Chance does not affect how much love I feel for you, nor does my love for you boys affect the love I feel for Killian.  If anything, it enhances it.  You see, the more you love, the more love you find you have to give."

I reached around him, hugging him tightly from the back seat.  "Thanks Daddy.  I'm not too sure about getting to know Pop, I guess because I am afraid he will hurt me again.  But, knowing you two will not be disappointed or hurt by me talking with him makes me feel better."

"You know, you could invite him over for dinner today.  I think having the whole band of us around might make you feel somewhat safer."  Dad replied.  Then, he pat my shoulder reassuringly.  "Just have a little faith that it will all work out for the better, son.  It is entirely up to you, though.  Just know we are all here to support you with whatever decision you make."

I thought about it for a few minutes as we continued driving home.  Then, I pulled out my cell.  "Hello, Pop... Yeah, it's me... Well, I am doing much better.  Thanks.  Listen, we were all wondering if you would like to join us for dinner... Yeah, OK... Yeah, that sounds good... Yeah, well, Pop, I'm gonna let you talk to Dad and get directions and everything from him, OK?... Yeah, I think it will be nice to see you, too... OK, here's Dad." 

I handed Dad the phone, and he talked to Pop for a few minutes, reassuring him that I was doing better.  He gave Pop directions to the house.  He said his goodbye and hung up the phone.  Handing it back to me, he smiled.  "Well, son, he will be over in about an hour."

Suddenly, I felt a bit nervous.  Chance took my hand and squeezed it gently.  "I's right here with ya, so you's ain't got nothin' to worry 'bout.  I done told ya' before, I ain't goin' nowheres.  I'll always be right here by ya side."

I hugged Chance up tightly to me.  "Thanks, Angel.  That makes me feel a whole lot better."

He smiled again at my calling him angel.  Then, he laughed.  "I sure hope he likes pups, cause I just know Domino and Chips is gonna be all over 'im.  I knowed I love 'em, but they's little devils sometimes, if ya ask me."

Dad giggled.  "Do you think?"  We all found humor in that.

Soon, we were home.


As quick as we gots home, I run in the house and took that little angel Sorrow gived me up to our room.  I put it on that little table aside the bed.  I smiled ever time I looked at it, thinkin' how much it meant that Sorrow gived it to me.   He kept callin' me Angel, and I think I's likin' that.  I knowed I ain't no kinda angel, but it made me feel good with him thinkin' so much of me and all.  I knowed if either of us was an angel, it was Sorrow, but he just didn't know nothin' 'bout all that yet.

I's standin' there lookin' at that little angel when Sorrow came in the room.  He walked up behind me and hugged me.  "Thanks again, Chance.  I don't know what I would do without you."

I's gettin ready to tell him he's welcome, but we both heard 'em ol' pups a thunderin' down the hall.  They run in the room, just a shakin' on 'em shoes Jena give 'em.  They dropped 'em shoes soon as they saw us, and then they attacked us.  Me 'n Sorrow got down on the floor laughin' as we played with Chips and Domino. 

We played like that for a good bit, till Dad 'n Daddy told us we might wanna take 'em pups outside for a bit.  Dad said we had better odds of livin' with a bigger space to get away from 'em.  We both knowed he was bein' funny, but we took 'em on out to the back yard.  Both our dads come with us, and so did 'em boys.  Chips'n Domino run real fast like 'round that back yard, jumpin' and a playin with all of us.  I knowed 'em pups was happy, and I's glad we was givin' 'em a home.  They sure was fun, 'specially when they chased after that ball.  Boy, they sure loved to chase stuff, but I reckon their favorite thing to be chasin' was poor ol' Ethan.  I could tell he liked it though,  cause he would laugh 'n carry on when they was a doin' it.

Sorrow's Pop pulled up just a little bit after we's all went outside.  Daddy told 'im to come on in when he was at the gate.  Sure 'nough, 'em pups was after 'im soon as they saw 'im.  He bent down to pet 'em, then started laughin' when they just pushed 'im over to the ground.  They's lickin' all over 'im then started pullin' at his clothes.  Me 'n Sorrow run and got 'em off of his Pop. 

"Sorry, Pop.  They are a little too excitable, I guess. " Sorrow told his father as he was pullin' Domino off of his shirt sleeve. 

"It's quite alright, Eric.  My, they certainly are friendly."  He laughed.  Then, he looked at me, askin' "Chance, right?  So, when did you get them?"

"Me 'n Sorrow found 'em while we was at work yesterday.  They's hidin' out back behind 'em trash cans.  Daddy 'n Dad let us bring 'em home with us, and Shaft give 'em their shots and all that stuff.  The black 'n with the white spots is Sorrow's, and he's named Domino.  The white 'n with the black spots is mine, and I named 'im Chips."  I told 'im.  "You know, I don't reckon I's a  knowin' your name, or if I did, I sure don't 'member it."  I told him all honest like.

"It's Derek.  So you boys have a job?" he asked like he's shocked or somethin'.

"Yeah, Pop.  We work sometimes at a cafè over by the university.  We fried fish on Friday, and yesterday, we made breakfast to feed the homeless."  Sorrow told 'im.  I could tell Sorrow was proud of our work 'n stuff just by the way he was sayin' it. 

Derek looked real shocked then. "Feeding the homeless,  now that must have been quite an experience.  I bet you boys were scared to death."

Sorrow looked like he was a bit hurt by his Pop a sayin' that, so I looked at Derek.  "You think I's scary?"

"Well, no, Chance.  You seem like a nice kid, to me."  He said back to me.

"I's just wonderin' cause I was one of 'em homeless 'fore, till Dad 'n Daddy found me."  I explained to 'im.
  He knowed then he had put his big ol' foot right in his mouth and was a tastin' on his ankle.  I just laughed.  "You ain't gotta worry 'bout sayin' that.  You didn't know nothin' 'bout it, anyway.  But, I ain't ashamed or nothin' that I's homeless 'fore.  I's just glad I found my dads when I did.  Wish 'em other people could find 'em somewhere to be, though, 'sides out in the streets like that."  Him 'n Sorrow was a bit quiet after that, so I's told 'em, "Well, I think I kinda liked givin' out all that food to all 'em people.  I's just glad they ate 'n all.  I knowed when I was homeless, there'd be days when I's left all hungry 'n stuff like that.  Least we's making a difference for 'em.  Right, Sorrow?" 

Sorrow still looked like he was hurt by his Pop's sayin' what he did.  Then, he looked real serious, tellin' 'im, "It was time well spent, Pop.  They are people just like us, only life was not so kind to them.  There were even some kids our age that came in for food."  Sorrow got kinda quiet.  "It made me rethink about my life, and I realized I am lucky, I guess.  I mean, now I have a nice place to live with people who love me.  It's quite a bit more than many people have, really."

Derek seemed like he was thinkin' a bit 'fore he spoke, I guess so's he wasn't chewin' on that other foot of his. "Look, Eric and Chance, I am really sorry for what I said.  I guess I have never given the homeless more thought than thinking of how they frighten me when I drive by them coming to and from work.  I didn't mean to hurt either of your feelings, and I certainly did not want to insult you Chance."  He seemed real sorry 'bout it, but I wasn't mad or hurt or nothin' like that. 

I reckoned that Sorrow was a worryin' 'bout my feelin's too, cause he kept lookin' at me like he was tryin' to say he was sorry without sayin' nothin'.  "It ain't nothin' to worry yourself 'bout, cause I ain't mad or nothin'."  Then, I got to thinkin' that maybe 'im 'n Sorrow needed to be spendin' time doin' somethin' together 'sides talkin', cause they sure wasn't doin' none to good at that.  "Say, why don't you just bring yourself on down  to the
cafè Saturday 'n help us.  It was awful busy, and I knowed we could use ya.  'Sides, you could see what we's doin', and maybe that'd make you feel all better 'bout Sorrow bein' there." 

Sorrow looked at me all funny like, but I smiled at 'im to let 'im know it would be just fine and to tell Derek it's OK.  I don't think he was a gettin' what I's tryin' to let 'im know though, so I just poked 'im in the ribs and looked at his Pop.  Then, he got it.  "Yeah, Pop.  I think you should come down with us.  It might just surprise you.   We start pretty early, though."  I reckon he needed to think 'bout it some, cause he never did tell us if he was a comin' or not.

By then, we's done walked back up to Dad 'n Daddy.   They was smilin', laughin' at 'em pups a wigglin' tryin' to get loose from us.  Chips just up 'n bit me on the nose, so I turned 'im loose real quick like.  Sorrow put Domino down too, and they went after poor ol' Ethan again, pullin' on his pants and a growlin' like they's real big dogs or somethin'.  They's waggin' their tails, so we all knowed they was just a playin'.

Dad smiled and shook Derek's hand.  "Sorry you were attacked by the wolf pack."

Derek laughed, "They are something, but in an enjoyable way."

"We have found them amusing to say the least." Dad said, all grinnin'.  "We are so glad you could join us for dinner."

Chips was pullin' on Ethan's shoe and got it off of 'im somehow, so I went to chasin' 'im to get it back.  Sorrow come to help me, but that ol' pup sure was a fast 'n.    Shaft was too busy laughin' to be much help to us.  Finally, we caught Chips and got Ethan back his shoe.  It was all slobbery 'n stuff, though.

"Your Pop made it, like he promised he would.  That ought to make ya feel better 'n all."  I said to Sorrow.

"Yeah, and he insulted you as soon as he got here.  Look, Angel, I am really sorry about that."  my friend said all serious like.

"It wasn't nothin' to be all worryin' over, Sorrow.  I ain't hurt or nothin', so don't be gettin' all upset 'bout it."  I told 'im.   I's gettin worried he might wanna start a hurtin' on his self again, so I just hugged 'im real tight.  "I promise you I's OK, so long as you's with me.  Just don't give up, OK?"

He was a huggin' me back, "I promise, Angel.  For you, I'll keep trying."

I guess 'em pups was tired, cause they went up on that ol' porch 'n laid down for a nap.  We walked back up to our dads and his Pop.  Ethan and Shaft come up with us, talkin' as we walked.

"I sure hope dinner is ready soon, cause I am starving."  Daddy said, pattin' on his belly.

"I'll go check with Hela, Daddy, and see how much longer it will be."  Sorrow told 'im.

I noticed ol' Derek looked a might hurt when Sorrow called 'im Daddy, so I thought 'bout that a minute.  "I reckon if Sorrow gets to call 'em Dad 'n Daddy, then I gets to call you Pops."  I said a smilin' at 'im.

He grinned all big like 'n messed up my hair.  "You sure are something special, you know that Chance."

I giggled as Sorrow hugged me up from behind.  "I keep telling him he is my angel, but he doesn't believe me."  My ol' belly started growlin' somethin' awful, and they all laughed at me.  "I'll go check on dinner, Humper."  Sorrow said to me.

Derek watched 'im walk in the house, lookin' kinda worried and all, so's I  put my hand on his shoulder.  "Sorrow's real glad you come 'n seen 'im today.  He just ain't got no idea what to say really.  I reckon you's havin' the same problem."  He looked at me, smilin' again.  "You just gotta give 'im time is all.  What he is a needin' is for you fella's to be friends and stuff.  Just don't give up none, Pops."  I said  to 'im.

He just stood there lookin' at me.  Then, he hugged me.  "You know, I believe Eric is right.  You are an angel, Chance, and I can see why he is so fond of you."

"He makes us proud."  Daddy  smiled.  "They both do."

Sorrow come back out, smilin'.  "Hela says dinner will be ready in about 10 minutes.  Think you can wait that long, Chance?" 

"I guess I's gonna have to, 'less I eat on your  tasty ol' arm. " I said, grabbin' Sorrow's arm 'n bitin' on it all easy like.  He started ticklin' on me, and I just went to the ground a laughin'.

"Well, boys, I guess we can go get cleaned up.  That should kill a few minutes of the wait."  Daddy said.  We all walked on in the house.  Domino 'n Chips woked up when we got on the porch 'n come on in with us.


The idea of Cole in love had me in fits of joy.  After all, Cole was one of the kindest people I know, aside from my little man Kal.  I had no doubts that if the doctors would have agreed, Shaft would have had her heart in his body.  That was just the way of Cole, an angel amongst mortals.  She had the quiet soul of a true romantic, yet she also possessed a keen sense of humor she occasionally let out to play.

In my opinion, she was quite beautiful.  Cole possessed a flawless olive complexion.  Her soft black hair cascaded in loose curls down her back.  Her black-brown eyes reflected the sincerity of her dazzling smile.  Her delicate features and slender 5'5" frame enhanced the humble qualities of her personality.

Allen Carpenter, on the other hand, stood at 6'1" tall, stocky and slightly out of shape.  Still, he was quite attractive.  His brilliant gray  eyes were surrounded by thick brown lashes.  His light brown hair was cut short, and he had the slight indications of a receding hairline.  Allen's silver framed glasses and well trimmed goatee seemed to give him a look of knowledgeable sophistication.  His overall presence emanated a peaceful quality.

I knew it was a difficult task to bring the two of them together, because they both were such shy people.  Of course, I was never one to back away from any challenge, and I loved to meddle in romance.  So, I resorted to my grandmother's secret recipes.

Grandma had taught me much in the fine arts of cooking.  To her, the heart of the home was the kitchen, and I had always found her philosophy to hold true.  Meals were a time for family to gather in fellowship, and this camaraderie built the lasting bonds of harmony and love which served to hold the family together.  Blends of various herbs and spices aided in promoting such an atmosphere, and Grandma was a true artist when it came to creating any ambiance. 

 The family gathered, each doing her or his part to set the table.  Mic, Kal, and I placed the food on platters and in serving bowls, while Sorrow and Chance carted them to the table.  Allen blessed the meal, and we began our ritual bonding time.

"MMM.  This is the best ol' stuff you's cooked up yet, Hela." my darling little Chance enthused.

"I'll second that, son.  This has to be the most tender roast I have ever eaten."  Kanawha added, patting his son's head.

"Have you ever thought of opening a restaurant?"  Sorrow's father commented, which had me smiling from ear to ear.  "You truly have the talents for a successful business.  I imagine people from all around the county would frequent such a place."

"I am a hairdresser by trade.  Cooking is just something I enjoy." I modestly replied.  "I have been taking culinary arts classes, though, at the university.  They have broadened my knowledge, but I still find my Grandma's recipes to be the best."

"Well, we are truly blessed that you enjoy cooking so much, Hela.  This meal is perfection."  Allen smiled between hearty bites.

"I will have to agree with Allen, Hela.  You have truly outdone yourself."  Shaft added so sweetly.  Ethan, though his mouth was full, sounded his appreciation to support his lover's.  'Some of my best work yet.' I mused as I looked at them lovingly.

"Well, you know you always have my vote."  Kal grinned.

Everyone else chimed in their complements, and I was blushing something fierce.  "Oh, all this complimenting is going to make me melt.  But, thank you all, nonetheless."

Derek looked to Sorrow, "Well, I am glad you invited me today, Eric, though you may think I have ulterior motives the next time we visit."

"We play baseball, some, if you want to come join us sometime."  Sorrow replied.  Chance's impish grin showed he was pleased by this turn of conversation.  Kal and Kanawha also looked to be in prideful approval.

"I'm not really much of a baseball player." Derek started, and Sorrow's face fell. "But, I would love to watch you play."  This brought out a wonderful smile.

Jena laughed. "Well, if we have to play," she said, pointing to all the girls at the table, "then you have to play.  That goes for you, too, Allen."

Derek's face reddened as he laughed.  "You just don't know how terrible I am at baseball.  I'm pretty well hopeless."

"Ah, but hope is something my angel excels at, Pop."  Sorrow grinned.

"I reckon if we's can teach 'em little fella's how to play and all, we's can teach you too, Pops."  Chance giggled.  "We even teached Cole 'n Mic some with throwin' 'n catchin'.  'Sides, we's only playin' for fun.  We don't even keep us no scores and stuff."

"With logic like that, who could argue."  Derek replied, roughing up Chance's hair.  "But, don't say I didn't warn you."

"What about you, Allen?  Are you game to join us?" I slyly asked.

"Well, I think it would be quite fun, to be honest.  Lord knows I could use the exercise." he joked.

"With Hela's cooking, we could all use the exercise." Roe stated, and everyone seemed surprised.  There was no off-colored comments, no back-handed complements, nothing.  Of course, they had no idea that I had already threatened loudmouth within an inch of his life if he said anything inappropriate in front of our guests.  Roe winked at me, though, and I gave him a quick nod.

If everyone was surprised before, they were absolutely dumbfounded when shy Cole spoke.  "Actually, Allen, I rather like the way you are built.  It shows you live a life outside the gym in an honest, human way.  I find that to be very attractive."

Poor Shaft almost choked on his drink when his twin said that.  Why, it was down right brazen for someone such as Cole.  Kal and Kanawha sported matching smiles of approval, though, so I gathered things were going well.

"Thank you."  Allen sheepishly blushed.  "I think you are put together nicely, yourself."  I just knew he was going to stroke out on us, he was turning so red.  Cole just blushed in modesty.

Nana and Grams chuckled amongst each other. "Is that not the sweetest thing?" Nana said.

"This family just keeps growing.  Four new members just today: Ed, Valerie, Derek, and Allen.  I can hardly keep up." Grams smiled.  Then, she looked at everyone, laughing,  "I think we will be needing some place bigger than this old hotel before long."

"Does that mean you've decided to move here?" Kanawha asked with high enthusiasm.

"Well, Nancy and I have discussed it.  We both feel that our great-grandsons could use a little guidance from a point of view only two vibrant, mature women can offer." Grams started.

"Besides, Shenandoah and I had far too much fun at the movies." Nana smiled at the boys.  "Then, there was all those eligible men at church." she laughed.  "Honestly, we decided we both simply want to be with our family."

Everyone was elated with the news, and Cole offered up a special prayer of thanks for bringing our growing family together.  We finished the meal in the highest of spirits, then cleared everything away in harmony.  Afterwards, we retired to the movie room, where we sang songs and played charades, enjoying one another's company until it neared time for evening services. 

Derek said his goodbye's, giving both Sorrow and Chance big hugs.  He promised to join us Tuesday afternoon for baseball, which made our two young men very happy.  'Grandma's secret recipes.  They work every time.' I smiled to myself.


As Monday came, Chance and Sorrow began their work as big brothers, while Jena started putting together the tutoring program.  We had received some equipment and quite a few resources from the university, and her adviser told Jena to be expecting much more.   The children were excited with seeing the new things, but I am certain they were far more happy with the presence of Sorrow and Chance. 

We started out with a few games to stretch the muscles.  This is a very difficult task for some of our kids, but Chance and Sorrow seemed to inspire them.  Chance would encourage them to keep trying, urging them to not give up.  Then, Sorrow would further boost their confidence by telling them how much he believed in them and that he knew they could do it.  Every victory, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant was celebrated, and the children simply kept trying that much harder.

"Those boys are amazing."  my kitten smiled, wrapping her arm around my back.  "Look at how those kids respond to them."

I grinned in agreement, watching our young men at work.  "They work much better as a team." I noted.

Jena agreed.  "Yes, I've noticed that too.  Chance builds them up, and Sorrow takes them over the top."  She then laughed.  "They are pretty much inseparable, you know.  Perhaps it would be best to leave them as a team, rather than assigning them each their own charges."

"I am sure you are right, but let's see what happens when Sorrow goes to counseling." I replied, pulling my kitten close to me.  "Then, we will see how Chance does alone."

After stretching, we played a game that introduced new vocabulary words to the children.  This was one of Jena's brainstorms, and the children found it to be a challenge.  Yet, they all seemed to have fun.  She would tell them a story, using illustrations as she introduce new words to them.  Then, there was a speed round to see which team could get the most answers correct, all based upon the new words.  A few of their answers were truly priceless, and they had Jena in stitches.

It was then time for Sorrow to see Mic.  Though she had offered different counselors, Sorrow wanted Mic.  I thought they were quickly building a good rapport, and I believed it helped Sorrow knowing that he had Mic and Ethan to turn to any time he needed.

As Sorrow left, we divided the group.  Chance was left to work with Eddie, a seven year old who had a severe leg injury.  Without crutches, he was still unable to walk. Eddie simply had no confidence whatsoever in the possibility of walking without them. 

"What say we put these ol' crutches down, 'n you walk with me some?"  Chance asked.

Eddie's eyes grew large.  "I don't know about that."  he replied in dismay.

"What if you's a holdin' on to my hands and all?  You reckon that might work?"  Chance said, squatting down to eye level.

Eddie looked Chance in the eye for a moment.  "It hurts real bad when I fall." he said sadly.

"Well, I reckon I's just gonna have to catch ya then."  Eddie grinned at Chance's infectious laugh.  "You think you can trust in me 'nough to put 'em ol' crutches down 'n walk with me now?"

"But, if I fall..." Eddie started.

"Then I's gonna catch ya.  You gotta at least try.  Just one time's all."  Chance coaxed, reaching out his hands.

Eddie slowly let one crutch fall to the ground, grasping tightly onto Chance.  Then, he reluctantly let the other crutch fall, quickly securing Chance's other hand.  At a very deliberate pace, Eddie began walking with Chance.  "See, all ya gots to do is try."  Chance cheered as a smiling Eddie took a few more steps.  He tired, and Chance quickly grabbed hold of him and sat him on the floor.  "Told ya I'd catch ya.  You ain't gots nothin to worry 'bout." 

Eddie and Chance continued walking in spurts for the remainder of the hour.  Chance tried several times to have Eddie walk with his hands just beside him, but not grasping him.  Eddie, however willing, did not have the confidence and would quickly loose his balance.  Chance would always catch him, but he never took a step on his own.

As Sorrow returned, Chance quickly called his attention to Eddie and his accomplishments.  "He's been a walkin' all 'round this here room without usin' 'em ol' crutches once."

"Oh, man!  That is great, Eddie!"  Sorrow bragged, hugging the little guy.  "Say, I wonder if you could walk without holding onto Chance?"

"I tried, but I can't get moving. Then, I start to fall." Eddie replied, somewhat defeated.

"Least you's been a tryin'."  Chance supported.

"Yeah, I think that makes you pretty brave, Eddie."  Sorrow smiled.  "I bet you can do it, though, if we keep trying."

"I don't know."  little Eddie started.

"Sure you can, sport."  Sorrow soothed.

"You think?" he asked.

"I know you can do it, Eddie.  We just have to keep at it."  Sorrow continued.  "How about I stand in front of you, just a couple of steps away, and Chance stays right behind you?  Will that work?" 

Eddie agreed, and they began trying to walk.  Chance would encourage him to keep trying, while Sorrow would build up his confidence.  After over an hour of failed attempts, Eddie walked three steps unassisted!  As he began to topple over, both Chance and Sorrow swooped him into their arms. 

"Sweet!  I knew you could do it, sport."  Sorrow raved.

"You just gotta keep on a tryin' is all."  Chance added. 

The boys called the attention of the whole group, bragging on Eddie's accomplishment.  They all clapped and cheered for him, as Eddie smiled with a sense of pride he had never shown before.

I wrapped my arms around Jena from behind.  "Your right, Kitten.  They do fine alone, but they are much better as a team."

"Well, Tiger, I believe you were right, as well.  They definitely make excellent big brothers."  Jena smiled, leaning back into me.  "To be so young, and have gone through so much, they are simply phenomenal.  I hope our children are just like them."  That thought had us both grinning.

It was time for lunch, and the boys helped with feeding the children.  After lunch was finished, we decided to celebrate Eddie's progress with ice cream for everyone.  That really seemed to make the victory special, and I found that the kids would try even harder to earn another ice cream party.  I suppose that is why we had one at least twice a week. 

After ice cream and cleaning up, Chance and Sorrow read and acted out a few stories.  Then, Jena introduced a few new games, during which time, she had the boys studying.  Afterwards, we played Red Rover and Tag.  Then, it was time to call it a day.

"You boys were fantastic today!"  I bragged.  "You do great on your own, but you make an awesome team."

"Well, I know two dads who are going to be ecstatic over their sons,"  Jena added, hugging the boys, "but I know one aunt who could never be more proud of her nephews." 

"That goes for their uncle, too."  I smiled, joining in the group hug.

"I think this is the funnest stuff I's ever did."  Chance smiled.  "Sure is nice a helpin' some of 'em kids." 

"I have to agree with you, Angel.  This has been a great day!"  Sorrow enthused, and I could see such an improvement in his outlook.

"Sounds like you've made some headway in therapy today." Jena happily noted.

"Oh, Yeah!  I sorted out a great many things today." he reflected, smiling.  "I just feel better.  Well, I guess just feeling is a big improvement."

"It sounds like we will have to celebrate this evening, boys.  Any idea what you would like to do?"  I was enjoying the experience of being with these fine young men.  I really loved them so much, and I guess I wanted to keep them with me for as long as I could.  Forever would have been just fine with me!


Monday was the first day Kanawha and I had spent apart since our meeting.  It was very hard for me, I must admit.  In such a short time, I had grown quite dependent upon my love.  I had work to do at the mission, and Love had decided to work with Shaft and Roe for the day. 

Within the first hour, I called him three times on his cell phone.  I truly missed him.  I felt as if I had been ripped in half, and everything within me yearned to feel the completeness only Kanawha could bring.  Love said he had been thinking about me each time I called, and we acted like giddy children as we conversed.  Just hearing his voice had me tingling with anticipation.  On the last call, however, Shaft told me politely to quit distracting his volunteer.  He did at least offer my joining them for lunch, which I gladly accepted.

It was the longest three hours of my life, as I awaited for lunch to arrive.  I tried my best to concentrate on work, but I simply couldn't.  All I kept thinking about was my little family.  First, I would think about my beloved.  Then, I would be reminded of our times spent with our sons.  Then, my mind would wonder about the two of them.  Finally, I vowed to myself that I would do what needed to be done and reward myself by seeing them all at lunch.

I suppose you could call it cheating, but, as I rationalized it all out, I chose to call it practice.  I checked up on all three of them by using my gift, several times in fact... and, in my defense, I was getting better at using my gift each time.  Knowing they were fine allowed me to focus a little, but only for a few minutes.  I just simply wanted the three men in my life near me, as close to me as possible.

As the seconds ever so slowly ticked by, I decided that holding off the final twenty minutes until our actual lunch time was a shameless attempt for bragging.  Two hours and forty minutes was good enough for me, so I headed over to see our sons.  Seeing them both working together with the children reminded me of the day before.

Love and I were thrilled when Sorrow called his father and invited him to dinner.  We both knew he deeply wanted to build some form of a relationship with Derek.  It was equally clear to us that Derek truly loved Sorrow.  Building that bridge over the rift between them, however, seemed as if it were going to be a rather difficult task. 

Despite the deep-seeded desire to get to know one another, neither Derek nor Sorrow had any idea what to say.  There was also the issue of Sorrow referring to Kanawha and myself as Daddy and Dad.  Chance, however, smoothed over the feelings, and in essence became the bridge between Sorrow and Derek.

On the ride home from church that evening, Sorrow began to worry.  "Chance, what if he decides not to come?  He's done that to me so many times before."

"We's just gotta hope that he does is all. People can change, 'n Pops seemed like he was all serious 'bout comin." Chance said, gently stroking his hand across Sorrow's back.  "But, even if he don't come, you just gotta try again.  You can't never give up, Sorrow, or you's gonna always be a wonderin' what if."

"Today was really nice.  I am beginning to believe that we can at least be friends, but if he doesn't come... well, I just don't want to be hurt like that again."  Sorrow sighed, and my heart went out to him.

"You's gotta stop doin' that Sorrow.  You keep a thinkin' you's gonna be alone 'n all that again.  But, you ain't never gonna be all alone 'n stuff no more.  We's got each other now, and I ain't a goin' nowheres."  Chance gently soothed. 

Sorrow half-smiled, trying his best to believe.  "Yeah, I know you are right, Angel.  Sometimes, it is difficult to believe you would ever want to be anywhere near me."

"We's gonna have to get you some of 'em glasses is all there is to it.  You gots to learn to see all that good stuff the rest of us is seein'.  You's special.  We all's a seein' it, and I reckon that's all that matters anyhow.  We's the ones 'at count, cause we's your family.  You's special to us." Chance put his hands around Sorrows face and lifted his head to look him in the eyes.  "You's special to me."

They both shed a few tears, embracing tightly.  "Thanks, Angel.  I'd be so lost without you."

Chance smiled.  "That goes for me too, ya know.  When I's a gettin' all mad 'n stuff over that ol' test, you's the one who's right there tellin' me to keep on tryin'.  When you knowed 'bout me bein' on 'em streets 'n all, you's still nice 'n all that to me.  I's still your friend despite it.  See, you's an angel too.  You just can't seem to see it like we do is all."

Love stroked my hand as we both quietly shed our tears of joy.  What blessed children we had.  Both were so giving of themselves and yet so humble.  "God had something miraculous in mind when he fashioned those boys, Love."  I whispered to Kanawha.

Softly, my love replied, "That he did love.  That he did."

I smiled at the memory, wondering to myself if this were not their destiny... being there in continual support of one another, while lending aid to anyone in need.  Seeing they were enjoying themselves so much, I decided not to disturb them.  I silently wished them all my love, then walked over to meet Love for lunch.

As I entered the work site, I was breathless.  Kanawha stood before me shirtless, perspiration glistening in the daylight.  He wore his hardhat, work gloves and boots.  His jeans fit snugly around his well defined body, and his muscles flexed as he carried a load of lumber atop his shoulder.  There was something about the tool belt, the way it was hanging from his hips, that had my hormones in an uproar.  I drank in his image as I stood in adoration.

He put down the lumber and quickly turned, sprinting towards me.  As his arms wrapped around me and he swung my body off the ground, he gently sighed. "Love.  I have been dying all morning without you." His kiss was like a breath of life-giving air. His scent was so powerful (It was clean smelling, not like dirty gym clothes smelling.), and it was turning me on quickly. "You better stop it.  I can feel it, you know, and it's starting to affect me."

My smile broadened, as he sensed my desires.  "I am realizing what you meant by the oil changing.  I swear, Love, you are going to have to bring that gear home with you sometime.  It's REALLY inspiring."

"Only if you bring home some oil and that sexy uniform."  He said, nibbling my ear.

"Guys, you know, lunch is only an hour."  Shaft shot.

"And I'm sure we could find some way to use that time wisely." Kanawha slyly rebutted.

"Honey, just wait till they discover leather."  Roe commented, and the three of us all looked at him in bewilderment.  "Oh, children!  Listen to your Daddy Roe.  Leather, you see, has such a nice texture, and the smell is an added bonus.  Plus, it can really accentuate certain features. Mmm-hmm." He smiled.  "Trust me, babies, you need to try it sometime."

I had to admit, the image of Kanawha in tight leather pants did have its appeal.  As I looked to my lover, I could tell he was sizing me in my own leather pants, and we both chuckled.  Somehow, I did not see us frequenting the leather store anytime soon.

We had a wonderful, though far too short, lunch together.  Ethan, not having a practicum this semester, had started classes.  As Shaft drifted off many times while we ate, I was certain his thoughts were of his lover.  I smiled and pat his hand, "See, it isn't so easy to be apart from the one you love." 

"Yeah."  He sighed.  "I can't get him off of my mind.  I really love him, you know."

"Shaft, I chartered the club.  I know exactly what you mean."  I giggled.

"You know, Love, next week, I will be on the job.  We are not allowed personal phone calls, either."  Kanawha mumbled.  "That is when it is really going to be rough."

"I have been blocking that out of my mind, to be honest."  I sulked.  My thoughts roamed about freely for a moment. "As hard as this is for us, imagine what it must be like for poor Mic.  She and Thomas have not seen one another in so very long."

"See, that is what I do not get.  Why do you put yourself through all this?"  Roe asked abruptly.  "I'm happy for you guys, but really.  All the dreamy eyes and aching hearts, that is simply not for me. What does it get you, anyway?"

"For one moment with Kanawha, I would muddle through anything, including the agony of being apart from him." I offered in explanation.

"Then, there you have it, Kal."  Roe smiled.  "You have to focus on the benefits of having your relationship over the drawbacks of spending time apart.  When you long for something, it makes you appreciate it that much more.  Make the most of the time you spend together, and let that carry you through the time you spend apart."  Not one of us saw that coming, and Roe laughed.  "Besides, sugar, we are only talking about nine hours tops.  That still gives you a good fifteen hours each day to spend doting over each other."

"Where did that come from?"  Kanawha blurted out.  Reconsidering his tone, he added, "No offense, Roe, but for a guy who totally avoids relationships, that was rather sound advice."

I smiled, knowing the true beauty that was Roe.  "Love, as I have told you before, Roe is very observant.  He seldom misses much of anything.  And, he is pretty crafty in getting you to say what is needed to be said."  I laughed.

Roe took a dramatic bow.  "It's a gift, babe.  What can I say?  Besides, I was getting so sick and tired of the three of you whining and belly aching." 

Shaft shook his head.  "Whatever your reasons, I feel much better.  Thank you, my friend."

"Anytime, sugar."  he smiled.  Then, he changed the subject and was back to his usual self.  "Well, I guess you need to say farewell to your favorite sex toy, Boo Boo.  It's time to get back to work."

Love and I said our goodbye's with a lengthy kiss.  Then, I headed back to work.  Following Roe's advice, the rest of the day went much more smoothly.  I managed to actually get a jump start on the tasks I had planned for Tuesday before it was time to go home.  We all met in the parking lot and headed home, telling each other about our day during the commute.


When Jew offered the boys a choice of activity for celebrating, I don't think he had any idea what he was getting us into... well, me into, anyway.  After a family dinner, it was time to pay the piper.  The whole mob of us headed to the ice rink for a night of skating.  Everyone was having a lovely time, save Kanawha, Ethan, and I.

"Kitten, you have to let go of the rail."  Jew sweetly smiled, but I was not so easy to forget who's bright idea all this was.

"Look, it was fun at first, but I have fallen so much that my ass will probably be bruised for the rest of my life.  And no, I really do not care if I am blocking the skating traffic or not.  They can just crawl around me if they have to, but this rail is the only thing holding me up."  I roughly replied.

"I told you I would help you."  he offered.

"Tiger, I would have you down on the ice with me.  Hell, I already have twice when you tried to help me up.  The way I look at it is that you will at least be able to go for the paramedics when I finally break something."  As aggravated as I was, his disappointed look melted my heart.  "Honey, I'm sorry, but I told you from the beginning that I am a bitch."

Jew actually laughed at me.  "I still cannot believe none of you have ever ice skated before today."

That ruffled my feathers again, and I lashed out.  "When was the last time a pond or lake froze over in Georgia, Jew?  We are southerners.  Of course we have not ice skated before.  Look at us.  We are easy to spot, you know.  We are the only three hitting our asses on the ice."  I pointed to Grams, sitting to the side watching while Hela kept her company.  "Grams is the only one with enough sense not to have fallen for the 'Oh, it is so much fun.' and the 'It's so easy.' line of shit you guys from the north were feeding us."

Jew shook with laughter as a chuckling Kal and a grumbling Kanawha made their way behind us.  "You know, I don't find it one damn bit funny, guys."  Stormy growled.  "Your not the ones with the sore asses."

Kal fell into a fit of laughter.  "Love, it's not the fact that you are falling.  It's that face you make when you do it."  Then, he imitated the face, and Jew joined in the laughter.  Finally, Kal calmed down a bit.  "Really, Love, I've told you before, we can go sit down for a while.  We don't have to skate.  I would be happy just snuggling up to you over by Grams."

"I'm sorry, Love."  Stormy apologized, pulling Kal into his arms.  "I guess I just cannot stand to not be good at something.  Maybe I am just too competitive."

"Or, maybe you thought I would think less of you if you did not turn out to be a fantastic skater."  Kal replied lovingly.  "You know, that is simply asinine.  I love you with everything in me.  So, you can't skate.  Big deal.  I can name many things you do quite well." He grinned mischievously.  "And who else could look so fine in a hardhat?"

Stormy chuckled.  "Lord, I love you.  But, I am no quitter."  The resolve was once again on his face.  "You're stuck with me, Love, out here on this ice.  And if it kills me, I will make it around this rink once by myself without falling."

"You don't have anything to prove to me, Love.  Honest." Kal pleaded.

"But I do to myself, Love."  Kanawha replied softly.

I laughed.  "Stormy, that is exactly how I feel."  I looked at the man I love.  "Jason, honey, I am really sorry for how I have acted.  It is just frustrating to be in a situation in which I am not in control.  But, I am not one to back away from a challenge.  None of us are.  I am going to do this, no matter how long it takes."

"You might want to rethink that."  Shaft replied, appearing out of nowhere.  "The 'None of us are quitters' part."  The worry was apparent in his voice.  With that he pointed to Ethan, who was sitting in the middle of the rink.  "He refuses to get up or let me help him. We have to do something, guys.  My baby could get hurt."

About that time, Sorrow skated by backwards, encouraging Chance along.  I must say that Chance was fairing much better than Stormy and I were.  "That's it Angle.  You're doing great!"  He noticed us and changed directions, coming to a halt beside us.  "Hey, thanks again for bringing us, guys.  This is so sweet!  I have not been in ages, and Chance is having a blast."  Chance made his way to us, grinning proudly.

"Anytime."  Jew smiled, patting him on the back. 

I felt like a real ass for becoming so upset before.  We were there to have fun, and I let that competitive perfectionist in me ruin a big part of the evening.  I pulled Jew to me and kissed him.  "I really am sorry."

The boys were next to their dads, telling them about everything they had done so far.  They asked how their dads' evening had gone.

"Well, my ass and the ice are on a first name basis,"  Stormy admitted, "but I am determined to learn."

"Maybe I can help you."  Sorrow offered.

"Son, that would be fantastic."  Kanawha smiled, hugging him.  "But, I think maybe you can do Shaft a favor first.  See Ethan out there?  Can you maybe figure out some way to get him out of everyones way?"

Sorrow laughed.  "You know, I did that when I was first learning.  I sat there for a good half hour before my butt became so numb I had to get up.  Yeah, Daddy, I can get him."  With that, Sorrow glided effortlessly over to Ethan.  He helped him to his feet, then threw him up over his shoulder and carried him over to us.  "I believe this belongs with you." He smiled, putting Ethan to his feet beside Shaft.

Ethan was still a bit upset, but he melted once encased in Shaft's loving arms.  "Honey, I'm so sorry your not having a good time.  I've told you before, we can sit it out or go play games.  I really don't care as long as I am with you."  Gently, he kissed Ethan on the neck.  "Come on, Nibbler.  Let's go sit down.  We'll do whatever you want later, but for now let's just rest a bit."  Carefully, he escorted Ethan off the ice and to a seat.  There, they talked for a minute before Ethan grabbed him into a tight embrace.  I assumed Ethan apologized at that moment.

Sorrow grabbed Kanawha's hand.  "Well, let's go, Daddy.  Chance, you skate with Dad.  I know you will do fine, Angel."  He smiled. 

"Alright, Sorrow."  Chance smiled at Kal.  "Well, I guess I's ready when you's ready, Dad.  Sorrow says I's doin' real good, and I guess I ain't too bad at this skatin'.  It really smarts a bit when you's go fallin', but I reckon it sure is awful fun a tryin'."

"I thought you were fabulous, the way you were skating all by yourself." Kal bragged, skating off with his son.  Sorrow and Stormy slowly followed.

I realized it was time to swallow down my pride.  "Tiger, I guess I really could use your help.  That is, if you still want to help me."  I looked into his wondrous eyes, and he grinned.

"Anytime, Kitten.  I'm always here for you."  That being said, we slowly began edging our way around the ice.

Chance ended up doing pretty good for his first time skating.  He smiled so much skating with his little family, and all the bruising I had incurred was worth it, just to see that smile.  Kanawha reached his goal, making it around the rink one and a half times on his own before he wiped out.  The rest of the time, he spent skating between Kal and Sorrow, each keeping him steady.  Chance carefully glided on beside Sorrow, taking his hand from time to time to regain his balance.  They were a beautiful family, I felt.

I made it thee-fourths of the way around the rink on my own, and Jew heroically stepped in and caught me before I fell.  From that point on, I realized it was kind of nice leaning on him, so we skated the rest of the time with him guiding me.  I think I liked knowing I had someone I could depend upon if ever I needed him.  I looked at Jew and smiled to myself, thinking 'Screw pride.  I have something far better right here at my side.'

Ethan and Shaft never stepped on the ice again that night.  They happily sat in the corner, making an unknown spectacle of themselves as they made out.  I noticed Cole taking some pictures of them, and I wondered how many ass slamming shots she took of us while out on the ice.  I decided it didn't really matter, because I had Jew, my future husband, the man I knew I could always trust to be there for me.


Monday night, Chance and I lay in bed talking as Domino and Chips slept at the foot of the bed.  We shared bits and pieces of our prior lives as they fit into our ever changing conversation.  We also talked a good bit about what school would be like, and Chance expressed his anxiety over his test.

"Angel, I know you will do well.  You have been doing great each time we have practiced, and we still have three more days to review before the big test." I coaxed, as he rested his head on my chest.

"I sure hope I don't get all nervous 'n mess it all up.  Then you 'n me won't get to have none of our classes together.  Just gotta keep on hopin' I guess." he anxiously replied.

"Chance, this might sound funny, but for me, it is more than simply hoping.  I know you will do fine.  I just believe it with everything in me." I replied, noticing how much I was changing.

Chance looked at me and smiled.  "You's gettin' lots better 'n all.  I's right proud of you, Sorrow."  He hugged me tightly, laying his head back on my chest.  "I's awful glad you's there to help me 'n all tonight.  I sure had some fun out there on that ice.  Man, you's real good at that skatin'."

"You did well, tonight, Chance.  I was proud of you, you know.  You never gave up and kept trying, just like you have been telling me."  I said, lightly scratching his back.  "It was inspiring, Angel.  A lot of people noticed you out there, and I can't help but think you gave them the courage to keep trying."

Chance giggled.  "Then they must of not seen me fallin' on my butt when we was first startin'.  After that, the only reason I's not sittin' on that ice is cause you was a catchin' me." 

A thought occurred to me.  "You do that all the time for me, Angel.  Your right there, keeping me from crashing, helping me to get back on track."

"I guess you's the angel tonight then, cause you was there a helpin' me 'n Daddy both."

I could not help but smile remembering it all.  "Daddy did pretty good, too.  I thought for sure he hurt himself that one time, but he was right back up, trying even harder."

Chance looked up at me smiling.  "That's cause you was a tellin' him how good he was a doin' 'n how you just knowed he could do it 'n all.  You inspired 'im to keep on tryin', just like with me."

"If you say so, Angel." I grinned.

"Well, I's a sayin' so."  he laughed.

We talked for a little while longer.  Soon, Chance fell asleep, resting in my arms for a change.  It was different sleeping this way, though I felt at peace regardless.  As long as I had my angel, that was all that mattered.

The next morning, I awoke to Daddy kissing my forehead.  I stretched, smiling and wishing him and Dad good morning.

Dad laughed.  "You know, Chance is right.  You do look like a cat when you are waking."

"See, I told ya you did."  Chance smiled.

"Is it time to get up?"  I asked, realizing it was darker than normal.

"No.  Love and I are going jogging.  We just wanted to check in on you guys.  We didn't mean to wake you, so you can sleep for a bit longer if you want."  Dad replied, kissing us both on the forehead.

"Can Daddy jog today?" I asked, and Dad laughed.

"Well, I am a bit sore still, but I think the jog might actually help.  I feel a lot better than I thought I would, though." Daddy chuckled.

"I's glad.  I figured you's prob'ly not gonna be doin' much for a few days that last time you falled.  I's not feelin' to bad neither."  Chance added.

"Well, you guys can go back to sleep.  We'll be back soon.  If you need anything, you know where everyone's rooms are."  Dad said, kissing us again.  "We love you both."

"We love you both, too." Chance and I both replied together.  Our dads quietly stepped out of our room and back into the hall, closing the door behind them.

"I's glad we ain't gettin up yet, cause I's needin' me some more sleep."  Chance yawned.  "I's sleepin' pretty good 'fore."

"I was too, but I kind of missed my pillow."  I laughed.

Chance smiled, and rolled over.  "Well, come on then."

I turned, kissing Chance on the cheek.  "Thanks, Angel."  Then, I snuggled up, resting my head on his chest.

He wrapped his arms around my neck, holding me close. "I's kinda missin' you a squeezin me up like an ol' teddy bear."  He giggled, as I held him tighter.  Soon, we were both back to sleep.

Hela gently shook us, as we awoke to the lovely melody she was always singing. “Babies, breakfast is ready.  You two have another hard day working with those wonderful children, so I also packed you an extra-special lunch.”  she smiled.

“Thanks, Hela.” I uttered, yawning and stretching.  I looked up to see Chances smirking at me as usual.  “Just call me Tabby, Angel.”  I laughed, knowing what he was thinking.

“Pretty soon, ‘em ol’ pups is gonna be chasin’ you up ‘em trees outside.”  he snickered.

I giggled, allowing the image to play in my mind.  I looked down to see Domino and Chips anxiously awaiting.  Without any further warning, they pounced, lashing their slobbery tongues about us both. Angel and I just helplessly laughed, as the pups enjoyed their upper hand.

Finally, we calmed them down and went to use the bathroom.  We then headed downstairs and took our hyperactive pets out into the back yard.  After doing their business, they quickly returned to the porch, were Chance and I had their food ready.

Having fed the little monsters, we went into the kitchen, washing our hands thoroughly before fixing our plates.  Shaft was down early, as he had to work at the animal hospital today.  He chatted with us as he quickly ate breakfast.  “Please, tell Ethan I love him.  He was sleeping so peacefully this morning, I just couldn’t wake him.”  he grinned, thinking about Ethan.

“I reckon everyone in that whole skatin’ place done knows that already, Shaft.” Chance chuckled.  “You two sure was a goin’ at it all hot and heavy like last night.” 

Shaft was quite embarrassed.  “Oh, Lord!  I was so taken by Ethan, I never really gave it much thought to who was around us.” Then, he laughed.  “It’s a miracle we weren’t thrown out with the show we must have been putting on.  Do me a favor, boys, don’t mention that to Ethan.  He would just about die in fits if he knew everyone saw us.”

“I’ll pass that on to everyone else, too, then.”  I grinned.  “And, I’ll be sure to give him your love.”  I wondered just how smart Shaft and Ethan were.  I knew he and Ethan had to be older than Chance and I, but I didn’t figure by much.  I thought that they were probably moved a few grades ahead in school or something, because they did not look anywhere near the age of our dads or their friends.

Shaft gave us both a hug, and as I embraced him, I became more aware of the very special bond I felt for him, and for Jew, as well.  Although everyone in the larger family was kind and loving to me, Shaft and Jew had reached out in a way no one else was able.  It was like they could relate to the all the pain I had been going through.  But, Shaft was extremely special to me.  He had made himself vulnerable by showing me his scars, and that act of kindness was helping me see myself in ways besides repulsive.

I hugged him tightly to my chest.  "I love you, Shaft.  Thanks for being so good to me."

Shaft looked me in the eyes, smiling.  "I love you, too, Sorrow.  Both you boys are high on my list, being very special to me.  To Ethan, too, you know."

"I'm just glad we have you."  I said in earnest.  "Well, I guess I better let you go, so you are not late for work.  And, I promise to tell Ethan."

He smiled at us both.  "I will see you two this evening.  Remember, it's baseball night."

"Sees ya later, Shaft."  Chance grinned.  After he left, Angel commented, "He sure is the nicest fella, ain't he.  I's feel real close to 'im and Ethan, too."

We ate our breakfast, talking with everyone as they made their way down to join us.  Ethan finally made his appearance, asking "Has Shaft left already?"

"He said you looked to peaceful to wake, but he asked me to be sure and tell you that he loved you."  I replied.

Ethan grinned widely, his love for Shaft shining through.  "He did, did he?"

"With all his heart." Chance added.  He then leaned to me whispering, "I knowed he meant to add that in there."

Daddy was going to pack some of his things and get ready to move his stuff over to our big house.  He also planned get boxes to help me pack up my belongings.  I was rather anxious, I guess thinking it was all too good to be true unless I was 100% moved in.  He said we could make arrangements with Pop this evening when he came to play baseball with us.

After cleaning up and grabbing our lunches Hela had packed, we headed to work at the mission.  Dad had a full day, but was planning on eating lunch with us.  Mic also planned to join us, scheduling her lunch after my counseling session. 

We began with stretching, and all of the kids tried their best.  I really liked helping them, and it made me feel good inside.  I felt like I was worth something, I guess, when they made even the slightest bit of progress.

Angel was a constant beacon of encouragement, and I did all I could to build their confidence.  I honestly know Chance was the true source of inspiration, because all the hope he had for those kids radiated throughout the room.  From that hope, I became certain that each child would succeed, so I simply expressed this to them all, one by one.

Regardless, it was such a great feeling to see them smile with pride.  Somehow, just being a part of helping those kids lifted my spirits to heights I never dreamed were possible.  I often found myself giving thanks for the many blessings I never before realized I had, as well as for the opportunity to be a big brother. 

On occasion, one of the kids would have a problem she or he would want to talk to us about.  This particular day was Erica's day for this.  She was down because her mother had moved out of the house the night before.  I could tell she was trying to blame herself and was frightened that she would never see her mother again.

Something inside me opened, and before I knew it, I found myself telling Erica all about my experiences with my mother and father.  Though she was only seven, she seemed to understand my feelings as I expressed them.  When I told her about meeting Chance, Dad, and Daddy, she hugged me, telling me she was glad I had a happy ending.  I also shared with her about Pop's visit on Sunday and that he was joining us for baseball that evening.  She smiled and wished me luck.

I believe Erica felt better after that, and I knew I did.  Chance had heard me talking with her, and he later came by and gave me a firm hug.  "That was real special what you did and all with her.  You's really gettin' lots better, you know.  I's real proud of you, too."  he smiled.  "You's my big ol' angel a helpin' out these kids."

"Actually, Angel, I think Erica was helping me."  I grinned, returning his hug. 

I went to therapy and talked with Mic about this.  She seemed pleased that I was opening up to others about what had happened in my life before.  We talked some about the cutting, and though I had not felt the need to do it the past couple of days, she gave me a red lip pencil. "If you feel pressures are getting too much, try to talk it out with someone.  But, if you can't, and the urge to cut becomes too strong, use this instead.  I really hope you won't ever need it, but I want you to keep it with you just in case." she smiled.  "I swear, though, Sorrow, you have been doing so well.  We are all so proud of you.  Jew and Jena just raved about you and Chance yesterday helping the children.  Roe and I noticed how you aided Chance and your Daddy last night at the rink.  All I can say is I am thoroughly impressed."  Those words made me feel so good inside, and I hugged her tightly.  "Come on, now, sweetie.  Let's go eat our lunch.  I am absolutely starving."

We joined Dad, Chance, Jena, and Jew.  We all helped feed those who needed our assistance, then ate lunch ourselves.  We had nice conversations, and they ended up focused about baseball night.  Jew was really looking forward to it, almost as much as Chance and I.

After lunch, we played a couple of games.  Then, Jena had Chance and I study while she introduced new words to the children.  She and Jew made wonderful teachers, I thought.  After studying, Chance acted out a couple stories while I read to the kids.  That, I think was the best part of the day, watching Chance's impersonations.

After work, we all met outside and drove back home.  Nana and Grams had dinner waiting for us when we arrived.  Pop made it just as Daddy was pulling in the driveway.  Daddy hugged us all, though for a much longer time with Dad.  Pop gave Chance and I both a hug, too.

Grams and Nana turned out to be pretty good cooks, though the food was a bit too spicy.  I would never tell either of them, but Hela was by far the better cook.  The dessert they made, however, was the best banana pudding I have ever had.  Chance ate three helpings of it, telling everyone that he had never tried it before.

We cleaned everything up as a group, and while everyone rested for a bit, Pop, Chance, and I took the pups out to play.  They were both getting good at retrieving the ball, but neither one would bring it back to you.  They would take off running, chasing after each other.  I really loved Domino and Chips, though. 

After everyone was rested up, we all headed to the park for baseball.  Nana and Grams cheered us on from the bleachers, where Nana spent her time sketching.  The rest of us played, and it was a wonderful time. 

Pop did not lie when he said he was terrible at baseball, either.  Chance and I laughed with him many times, but he tried hard.  It was fun trying to teach him, despite his complete lack of talent.  Allen was a really good player, and  he taught Chance and I a few pitches and batting techniques.

Then, it happened.  Pop and Allen kept Jena busy, distracting her at the pitcher's mound.  Chance and I were the first to each present her with a long-stemmed red rose.  She looked at us curiously, but she was completely baffled when all the other family members did the same in groups of two.  Dad and Daddy were the last.  Then, Jew approached the pitcher's mound presenting Jena with one long-stemmed white rose.  He then got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. 

She was completely taken by surprise, and he softly said, "I know it is not the way we agreed to break the news, but I wanted to surprise you by asking the way I had originally planned.  So, Jena, again I am asking.  Will you marry me?"

Jena cried as she kissed him, again accepting his proposal.  Jew slipped the engagement ring on her finger, and she kissed him again... for about ten minutes. She and Ethan definitely had the desire for long kisses in common.  Though only a teenager, I believed that was probably one of the most romantic gestures ever.  I hoped to someday be in either of their shoes with a special someone of my own.

Allen made a point to tell Ethan, Dad, Daddy, and Shaft that he would be honored to perform a commitment ceremony if they ever desired to have one.  I was not sure exactly what he meant by that, but Chance asked him before I had the opportunity.  Allen then explained all about commitments and marriages.  Cole seemed excited by the idea, but she didn't push the issue.  She did give Allen a rather lengthy kiss, and I laughed, noting she and Shaft also shared the desires for long kisses.

Nana surprised everyone with sketches of us playing baseball.  She gave Pop a sketch of Chance and I helping him with batting.  Chance received one of the two of us hugging after we made a double play.  I received one of Chance, Pop, Dad, Daddy, and me laughing as we rested in the outfield.  Nana was quite talented, and tears filled my eyes as I told her how much her gift meant to me.  Chance and I both hung our sketches up in our room as soon as we returned home.

After baseball, we headed back home and play some charades until it was time to get ready for bed.  Pop decided to take Wednesday off so that he and Daddy could help me pack and move my belongings.  I was a bit worried about being separated from Chance, but Daddy took care of that fear when he presented Chance with his very own cell phone.  He gave me one as well.

"But, I already have one, Daddy." I explained.

"Yeah, but the account is in your mother's name.  I'm not even sure it could be changed over, so I got you both one."  Daddy smiled.  "I want to make sure my boys can reach me any time they need me."

I gave him a big hug, and then examined the phone as he showed me its features.  He had programmed in all his and Dad's numbers, and  Chance's number, too.  I noticed he had put Pop's number in the directory as well.  This was a much nicer phone than what I had before, because it had a color screen, internet, email, and several other functions such as a day planner.  It even had a baseball face plate, which I thought was the best.  He had taken the time to personalize it for me.

Of course, Chance was extremely excited over his phone.  We all helped him learn how to use it, and Dad programmed in the rest of the family numbers for him.  He programmed in their numbers in my phone as well, should ever an emergency arise.  Chance called everyone at least once, laughing while he did so. 

Before Pop left, he and Daddy looked over our room, trying to figure out where to put everything.  Dad suggested a few changes that seemed to work nicely.  Roe and Daddy were going to put a door in our bedroom that led into his and Daddy's study.  There, we could put the computer and my bookshelf.  There was also room for Daddy's tv and stereo system.  I really liked the idea because it kind of made it like our own apartment, minus a kitchen. 

Chance and I gave Pop a hug goodbye, and he said he would see us in the morning.  Then, Chance and I headed to the bathroom to get ready for bed.  Dad and Daddy came back to tuck us in and say prayers with us.  They kissed us both goodnight and went on to bed themselves. 

I snuggled up to Chance, with my head on his chest as we talked for a bit.  Domino and Chips decided to sleep on my pillow, and seeing as I wasn't using it, I didn't mind.  Soon, sleep overtook us all.


Love and I shared another dream, just as we did every night.  We were in the meadow, lying in the grass with the boys, just talking and having a good time.  When we got to looking around, it seemed the whole forest was out around us.  Each of the animals were injured in one way or another, and we set out as a family to tend to their needs.  There was an interesting pattern Love and I noticed about the animals.  They were all male, many of which were in pairs.

As I awoke, Killian opened his eyes to gaze into my own.  "Love, we have to go to that meeting tomorrow night."

I smiled, stroking my hand through his hair.  "I suppose the boys should come with us, too.  Looks like we have something to do there, yes?"

"It would appear so, Love."  Killian laughed.  "At least some of the dreams are getting easier to figure out."

 I grinned, thinking about a few of the dreams.  "Well, some of them have served to inspire us, Love.  Personally, I like those the best."

"Some people are such perv's."  he shot.  "Monday nights was particularly interesting, though I was delighted to find you were in good enough shape to give it a try, even after ice skating."

I chuckled, kissing my lover.  "There is no injury powerful enough to keep me from experiencing something like that with you, Love."

"Well, would you like to give it another go before we go jogging?"  His big grin was plastered across his face.

"You know, I think that was more exercise than the jogging was.  What say we do it twice and forget about the running?"  I replied.

"Suits me just fine, Love."  He laughed.

After our fantastic voyage to the outer reaches of heaven and beyond, Love and I cuddled in one another's arms, slowly regaining our strength and consciousness.  Afterwards, we hit the showers, carefully cleaning one another in all those hard to reach places.  Once dressed, we headed to the boys room. 

Love woke them gently.  "Hey boys, you Daddy and I thought we would fix breakfast for everyone and wondered if you might like to help."

Sorrow yawned and stretched, smiling.  "Sure. That sounds like fun, if you ask me."

Chance  stretched out as well.  "I reckon we best get up then.  Ol' Hela will be happy gettin' breakfast fixed for her for once I's guessin'."

"Well, you guys get cleaned up, and we will meet you in the kitchen."  Love replied.

As we approached the kitchen, I wrapped my arms around Killian.  "You know, Ethan and Jena swear I make a lousy bowl of cereal.  Are you sure you want me to help you?"

"Oh, Love.  I have faith in you.  I'll guide you through your part of the breakfast.  Besides, it will be fun to do this as our little family."  Killian said, kissing me on the nose. 

Love was teaching me how to sift flour as the boys came into the kitchen.  He had me add the ingredients he helped me measure out, and I made my first biscuit dough. 

Sorrow laughed.  "Well, Chance and I are experts on rolling out dough and cutting biscuits.  That was our job Saturday."  Chance giggled and agreed.

"Well, have at it then, sons.  I trust you two will do just fine."  Love smiled.

"So, what do you want me to do next, Love?"  I asked, feeling rather proud of myself for being of some use in the kitchen.

"First, we will get the puffy omelets ready.  Then, we'll cut up some potatoes and fruit.  Then, while you and Chance fry bacon, Sorrow and I will fix gravy."  Killian grinned, mapping out all of our tasks.

Love showed me how to separate eggs and beat up egg whites.  Then, he mixed some milk, salt, and pepper into the yellows and whipped up the mixture.  He had me add the yellows back into the whites and mix it up with a fork, telling me to do so in a circular pattern, starting from the top to the bottom and back up to the top.  That part was kind of easy, and I know I smiled a lot.  "Cooking with you is much more fun than with Jena and Ethan.  They just yell at me until they finally throw me out of the kitchen."  I laughed.

"I guess they are in for a real treat, then, Love.  Just like when you sang to me."  He slyly smiled.

Chance giggled.  "Oh, yeah!  You sure did show 'em a thing or two then, Daddy.  I reckon you's gonna do so again today."

"Right you are son.  That ol' mouthy girl and her brother will think twice before they insult your Daddy's cooking again."  I laughed.  I was really feeling confident for some reason, but I guess Killian actually had me interested enough in cooking to try.  Maybe he was just more inspiring or something.  but, whatever the case, I was enjoying myself.

Love poured the eggs into two cast iron skillets and set them on the range to cook.  He then showed me how to use a peeler, and we had the potatoes ready for hash browns in no time.  As he gathered the fruit, I smiled at him.  "Cutting fruit is my specialty.  That was one of the few things I was allowed to do in the kitchen, you know." 

He chuckled and allowed me to prepare the fruit while he gathered what he needed for making gravy.  He also sauteed some onions, peppers, mushrooms, and ham.  Carefully, he added this to the omelets, putting them into the oven and then handed me the bacon.

Chance and I fried the bacon, taking our directions from Love.  He used some of the bacon grease to start the gravy, turning to put the biscuits in the oven.  He asked me to sit the hash browns on the range as well.  I mentioned grits, and my little family began to laugh.  "Love, I believe we have more than enough.  Besides, I hate those nasty things, and I don't believe I would cook them well."

Surprisingly, there were no fires nor burnt food when we were finished.  I was elated to having actually been of help cooking.  I got to thinking about it and smiled to myself as I realized there was not much Love and I could not accomplish together, especially with the aid of our wonderful children.

Chance and I went to wake everyone as Love and Sorrow set the table.  Soon, everyone gathered around the table, and I anxiously awaited the verdict.  Everyone complemented Killian on breakfast, and I beamed with pride when he informed them all that we cooked it as a family.

"You mean Stormy helped you cook and didn't burn anything?"  Jena asked in disbelief.  Grams and Ethan looked surprised as well.

"Love made the biscuit dough.  He and Chance fixed the bacon, and he, for the most part, cooked the omelets.  Sorrow and Chance rolled and cut the biscuits, and Sorrow helped me fix the gravy.  Of course, Love cut the fruit, but I found him to be much more resourceful in the kitchen than just simply being the fruit cutter."  Love bragged, and I kissed him for that.

"Face it, guys.  Love is just a better teacher than any of you.  He doesn't yell and get all mean, like you guys do, either."  I said, rubbing it in their faces.

"Yeah, but he has certain motivational tactics I would never use with you, big guy."  Ethan laughed.  I had to join him in laughter, because that was probably somewhat true. 

We had a nice breakfast,  and everyone finally paid me a few complements.  That was one day I never thought would happen... the day someone actually told me they liked something I had cooked.  Anyway, we cleaned everything up, and Sorrow and I took the pups out.  This gave Chance time to take a bath rather than a shower, which he was all grins about. We then fixed them their breakfast.

I kissed Love and Chance goodbye, as did Sorrow.  They went on to work at the mission, while Sorrow and I prepared to go pack his things.  Sorrow called Derek, who said he was just getting ready to leave.  We took the van over, since it had more room for hauling.

Sorrow did not seem at all saddened by packing up his things.  Mic had told me he would probably view this as closure to the bad experiences he had faced living in that house.  I was pretty sure she was right about it, because I could feel the relief he felt as each box was taped closed. 

Derek was actually a lot of fun while we were packing.  He joked around a bit with both Sorrow and I, and I could feel they were bonding.  That really made me happy, because I new it was something Sorrow had always wanted.

We took a break to eat the lunch Grams and Nana had packed for us.  "You know, Eric, I am really sorry I have been such a lousy father to you."  Derek said, patting Sorrow's back.

Sorrow snickered. "Well, I won't lie, Pop.  You have been a terrible father.  But, I think you are making a great friend."

Derek smiled, hugging Sorrow.  "I'm just glad you are giving me the chance to get to know you Eric.  You really are an amazing young man.  I can't believe I was so stupid for not doing this sooner, you know."  he said sadly.

Sorrow rubbed his shoulder.  "I want you to know, Pop, that I forgive you.  Let's just put that behind us and move forward."

I was so proud of Sorrow, I hugged them both.  "Like I told you before, Derek.  He makes us quite proud."

We finished packing everything, then loaded the van.  Derek followed us back home and helped us unpack everything.  I could sense that Sorrow was feeling much better once he was moved in, and he hugged us both, stating exactly that.

Derek handed me three checks. "This one is for Eric's school clothes, and this one is for food and anything else he needs. And, this one is to get Chance something special.  I swear, that kid is adorable.  I know why Eric is so fond of him."

"Love and I planned to take Sorrow school shopping, and as far as food goes, we have more than enough.  It isn't necessary for you to do this, you know."  I said as delicately as I could.

Derek smiled.  "Of course it is.  It was something I looked at before as my duty and obligation as his father.  Now, I look at it as one of the pleasures I have in helping you out with raising Eric.  Chance, well he is just an added bonus."  He put his arm around me, grinning.  " The difference in Eric since he has come to live with you is remarkable.  I truly believe being a part of your family is what is best for him.  But, I intend to help out as much as I can.  I also hope to spend many nights playing baseball or whatever else with you all.  I was a lousy father, but you are great at it, Kanawha.  So is Killian."  He turned and wrapped his other arm around Sorrow.  "Eric and I are friends for the first time is so very long.  You don't know how happy that makes me, guys.  And, I again attribute this to Eric's being here, a place in which he feels safe and loved."

I could feel Derek's sincerity in every word he spoke.  I decided to talk with Love about the money.  I really did not want it, because I knew we could take care of Sorrow ourselves.  We had already made plans for this.  But, for now, I let it go, not wanting to cause any hurt feelings.  "Well, the least you could do is go with us while we shop for school clothes."  I suggested.  "We were planning on going Saturday after he and Chance finish up at the cafè."

"That sounds like fun.  And it will work out great, seeing as I was invited to help out with feeding the homeless."  Derek grinned.

"You mean you are actually coming?"  Sorrow said in disbelief.

"I thought long and hard about what you and Chance said to me, Eric. I decided it would be a good experience for me, so, yes, I will see you Saturday morning."  he replied.

Sorrow retrieved his cell phone.  "I have to tell Chance about this."  he laughed.  Sorrow talked to Chance, who was excited about getting a phone call.  When he relayed Derek's decision, Chance asked to speak with him.  Derek laughed and chatted with Chance for a few minutes.  He handed Sorrow back the phone, hugging him and saying goodbye. 

I walked Derek out to his car.  "Thanks for your help today, Derek.  I know it meant a great deal to Sorrow, and I am happy to see you both getting along so well."  I commented.

"It was a great day, wasn't it?  But, last night, now that was so much fun.  I told you guys I was baseball challenged, though."  He laughed.  "Still, it was one of the happiest times I can remember.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it."

"You are welcome here any time, Derek.  Killian and I want you and Sorrow to develop a relationship with each other.  It is not our intention to ever keep you from one another.  We just want to make sure Sorrow has a happy home life."

"I know that, Kanawha.  But, I also know that Eric belongs here.  This is where he will choose to stay, because he knows it, too.  All I want is for him to be happy, and you are doing a fantastic job at that, my man."   He then opened his car door.  "I will see you all on Saturday.  Call me if you need me, though."  With that, he drove off, and I went back upstairs to check on Sorrow.

He was sitting in the floor, petting Chips and Domino, smiling as he looked around the room.  "Oh, Daddy.  I just knew everything was too good to be true, but here I am.  I am completely moved in now, and I feel great."

I sat in the floor beside my son, hugging him close to me.  "I feel a lot better about it all, too, you know.  I guess you and I try to prepare for the worst, at least a part of us does.  Your Dad and Chance, now they are a totally different story.  Though they worry some, they are much more hopeful and positive about things.  I really want to be like that someday."  I laughed.

"Yeah, I know what you mean.  They are something else aren't they.  Chance and I have had similar problems, but we both turned out so different.  He is just so inspiring.  I swear, Chance is my angel."  Sorrow commented.

"You know how similar Love's and my lives were, yet we turned out almost total opposites.  Killian never ceases to amaze me, and I look to love as my angel, too. 
It's weird, isn't it.  Neither one sees just how special they really are.  But, they love us anyway, so I won't complain one bit."  Then, I smiled, hugging him tightly to me.  "You are an angel, yourself, son.  Never doubt that for a moment."

"You have quite a few angelic qualities yourself, Daddy."  He giggled, resting his head on my shoulder.  "We four definitely make for an interesting combination, but a good one, I think."

Sorrow and I sat and talked until Love and Chance came home.  Then, the four of us took the pups out to play for a bit.  We later had our usual family dinner and then headed to Wednesday night church services.  Afterwards, Love and I took our sons out for ice cream, then headed home. 

We spent the rest of the evening in the study.  Chance decided he wanted to read a book together as a family.  Each of us took turns reading a few pages.  We would talk about the story for a while before the next person read.  It was actually quite fun, and we all thanked Chance for his brilliant idea.  As bedtime approached, Love and I tucked the boys in, saying prayers and kissing them goodnight.  We then settled in ourselves.

I discussed the money issue with Killian.  He felt much the same way as I did about it.  We decided to put it into a savings account.  If something came up and it was needed, then we would use it.  Otherwise, it would be put towards the boys future, such as college.

Love and I shared the same dream as we had on Tuesday night.  There was a bit more detail this time, however.  This time, when we awoke, the boys were standing in our room beside our bed.

"We have something important to do, tonight."  Sorrow replied in a serious tone.

"Yeah, we's both had this same ol' dream for two nights now with a bunch of 'em guys a needin' all our help.  They's needin' us all real bad, only they don't know it or nothin'."  Chance added, equally serious.

Love and I looked at each other in amazement.  "Well, we have had the same dreams too, boys.  We were planning on taking you with us this evening."  I admitted.  "Whatever it is, I guess we will find out tonight."

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