Chapter Eight: IN THE FAMILY WAY

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


Thursday, I walked down to retrieve Sorrow for our counseling appointment and watched in awe as he and Chance performed their magic with those children.   They were truly a Godsend to those poor tykes, and together, they made such progress.  I found myself hating to interrupt them, but I knew the counseling had its place as well.

Sorrow gave many of the children hugs goodbye before joining me on our walk back to my office.  Of course, he hugged his buddy Chance, too.  I smiled, feeling so glad they found one another, noting they really brought out the best in each other.  I wondered if there might be something more to their story someday, but decided it really did not matter.  As long as they were happy, I was happy.

We began the counseling session with prayer, just as we usually did.  Sorrow had requested this on our first session, and I was humbled by his faith in me, as I was the one he wanted to lead his counseling sessions.  After our prayer, we began talking about everything that has happened through the week, recapping his progress.

"I remembered something this morning." Sorrow started, smiling, though tears filled his eyes.  "It was the day David shot himself.  He came to my room and talked to me for a little while."  His tears began to flow down his cheeks as he paused.  "We talked about some of my action figures I was playing with, and then he sat me on his lap and hugged me tightly.  He told me how much he loved me and how much I meant to him."  He began to cry at this point, as tears streaked down my own cheeks.  "The thing is, I have blamed myself for so long, thinking that if I were only a better brother, David might still be here with us.  For some reason, I blocked this whole day out of my mind.   But now, as I am remembering it, I know he loved me.  He loved me, Mic." 

I held Sorrow in my arms as we shared in this revelation.  I thanked God for bringing this to the surface of his memory,  knowing that another part of the healing process would now begin.  "Sorrow, babe, that is fantastic!"  I soothed, gaining control of myself somewhat.  "All this guilt you have been feeling over David... now you know you can let it go.  Let it all go, sweetie."  He sighed and relaxed in my arms.  "That's it, Eric.  Now, doesn't that feel much better?"  I asked, with excitement edging in my voice.

"Yeah, Mic.  It feels wonderful!  I know he loved me and that we had made our peace before he died."  He raised his head, smiling through his tears.  "It's like this huge heaviness has been lifted off of me.  David loved me.  He really loved me."  He swallowed hard.  "I still miss him terribly, but today, all my memories of him have been fond ones... not ones where we were fighting or arguing... but ones in which we were laughing, playing, talking, and being good brothers to each other.   Remembering him this way is so much easier on me."

I was so happy to hear this.  My young man was really making progress, and I knew a great way to channel his feelings.  I went to my desk and retrieved a book.  "Sorrow, honey, this is a journal.  In it, you can draw or write anything you want.  I think it might be a good way for you to express yourself and give the things you are dealing with focus.  It is for your eyes only, unless, of course, you want to share the journal with someone else.  That is totally up to you, though."  I grinned, handing him the journal.  "I thought maybe you might want to write down your memories of David... maybe even write him a letter."

"Yeah.  I would like to remember everything as I am right now."  He smiled.

"Well, why don't you take some time and work on your journal, then.  Take all the time you need, and when you are finished, you can go see Chance and those kids who are so crazy about you." 

He grinned wide as I said this.  "You really think so?"

It was so sweet, his modesty and humble nature.  "Honey, I know so.  Those children absolutely love you both.  Jew said they asked about you all day yesterday.  They really look forward to time with both of their big brothers, Eric.  You are making a huge difference in their lives, on that you can be certain."  His smile spread ear to ear.  "Of course, I am simply positive Chance is crazy about you, too."  I added.

With a content smile, Sorrow began his journal.  About an hour later, he was ready to rejoin the children and his dearest friend.

Sorrow's Journal

Dear David,

I just want you to know how much I love and miss you.  I have written down everything I have remembered today, of all our times together.  Those memories are treasures because you are a part of them.  I even drew a picture of us together.  I am not the best artist in the world, but I am still pleased with the results.  It captured how I feel about you, anyway.

I am a big brother now, working with some great kids.  They all have unique problems, but Chance and I are doing all we can to help them.  Being a big brother is sweet, but, I think you will always be the best big brother anyone could have ever had.  God knows how much I miss you.  I was not always the best little brother, and for that I am truly sorry.  Somehow, though, I know you loved me, regardless of the childish arguments I would start.

I really wish you were here to meet Chance.  I know you would love him as much as I do.  He has been a guiding light for me, my own little angel here on earth.  He is so full of hope, and I am finding myself to be hopeful just by being near him.   He is quite special to me, to say the least.  Even Pop loves him. 

See, Chance led me to my
new family, one God made for us.  There are so many wonderful people living with us, and they all love Chance and me unconditionally.  We even have two dads!  Dad and Daddy are really something special, and I love them deeply.  Pop and I are finally spending some time together, and I think he will be a great friend.  Man, I wish you could be a part of my life, too, David. 

Things were pretty messed up for me for a while, but since I met Chance, life has been turning around.  I'm sad to say that I had been hurting myself and was thinking about suicide.  I even thought for a long time that you hated me and that I was the reason you did what you did.  Today, though, I remembered the last time I saw you really alive... before you were just living off the machines... when you came to my room that last time.  I don't know how I could have forgotten it, but it is a memory I will now keep in my heart forever. 

I honestly do not know why you did it, David, but I still love you.  I always will.  I was mad at you for a while for leaving me.  Then, I was mad at myself for not being enough to hold you here.  You were everything to me, big brother, and when you died, I was left with nothing.   I'm not mad at either of us now, though.   Yet, I still miss you, nonetheless. 

I wanted to be exactly like you, just in case you didn't know that.  I thought you were the greatest, even better than candy (which if you remember was a big deal for me back then).  I remember all the great times we had playing in my room and in the back yard, like when you would make us a tent by draping a quilt over two chairs.  Man, you were so special to me.  Though you were ten years older, you still were willing to make the time to play with me.  I remember you even would tell some of your friends, like Willie, you had more important things to do than go out with them, only you were staying home to be with me.  Big brother, you really did make me feel special.  I had not felt that way again until the day I met my angel.

Something Chance, my angel, has been saying to me is finally starting to make sense.  He keeps telling me I need glasses so that I can see myself as everyone else does.  Maybe that is what you needed, David.  Maybe if you could have seen just how important you were to me, you would still be here today.  God knows, I really miss you terribly.

As I look back, I realize you honestly were all I had.  Just so you know, I appreciate every single thing you did for me.  You really loved me, and all of your actions toward me expressed this... how could I have forgotten all that you were to me?  You were more than just my big brother, you were my hero.

That is what I want to be for the kids we work with... someone who takes the time to be there for them... someone they can look up to... someone who loves them... just like you were for me.  I guess that is what I really wanted to say in the beginning.  I want to dedicate my life looking out for and helping others, trying my hardest every day to live up to the big brother you were to me. 

There is something we have to do tonight, my dads, my angel, and me.  Believe it or not, we all dreamed about it. That in itself is hard to fathom, but there is more to it.   I'm not sure how or why, but I am changing, David.  I can feel it inside of me, as every day I become more and more different.  I am also becoming aware of things somehow... I really can't explain it just yet, but I know that Chance is like me.  The two of us have a purpose to fulfill together, but we're not sure what it is yet.  I just wish you could be here to see it when the time finally comes.  You'll be with me in my heart, so I guess that will have to do. 

Well, I guess I should get back to the kids, then, so I will close.  I have a feeling, however, that this is the first of many letters to you, big brother.  You always were easy to talk to, you know!

With all my heart and love,
Your little brother, Sorrow


I was gettin' a bit worried 'bout Sorrow cause he was gone a bit longer 'n usual.  But, he comed right on in with Mic just a little while after that.  I could tell by that smilin' face of his that it was a good day talkin' with Mic.  He was carryin' some kinda book with 'im, but he just throwed it down soon as he saw me.  He runned straight up to me, a pickin' me up and swingin' me round in a circle as he hugged me real tight like.  "I finally understand what you mean about the glasses." he said, grinnin' at me all big like.  "I promise, Angel, I'll try harder."

I wrapped my arms 'round his neck, huggin' 'im back, while he kept holdin' me up off the ground.  "Well, it sure took you long enough to figure that out.  I thought that 'n was kinda easy."  I laughed.  "I's real glad you's finally seein' what I's talkin' bout though."  I kissed 'im on his cheek.  "My big ol' angel's gettin' lots better ever day, ain't ya!"

"Little by little, Angel." He gived me a real big hug then.  "Thanks for believing in me and never giving up, no matter how stupid I may be sometimes."

I laughed and knocked my knuckles real easy like on his head.  "You's a bit thick sometimes, but I don't reckon you's ever stupid, Sorrow.  In fact, I knows you's real smart like in there.  You's gonna be knowin' lots more stuff 'fore long."

"Just don't ever leave me, Angel.  I could never live without you."  he said, restin' his head on my shoulder.

"You ain't never gonna get rid of me, ol' boy.  I's always gonna be right with ya."  I knowed he was real worried 'bout losin' me for some reason right then,  so I squeezed 'im tight as I could, restin' my head on his.  "We's gonna always be with one 'nother, so don't you fret no more 'bout it.  I ain't wantin' to be nowheres without ya neither.  We's 'posed to be together 'n all anyways.  You's  knowin' that, too, just like I do."

"I know, Angel, but it is nice to be reassured."  He told me.  We was just  a snugglin' up like that there for a few minutes, then he kissed me on the head.  "I guess we should get to work, then.  Just know I love you, Chance."

I smiled at 'im real big like.  "I love ya too, Sorrow."  I's lookin' at 'im like he was right then, but in my head all  sudden like, I's also seein' what he's gonna be like after it all happened.  I knowed he's gonna be real special then. 

I guess I's gawkin' at 'im too long or somethin', cause Sorrow looked at me all curious like.  "What's up, Angel?  Is something wrong?"  He was all worryin', 'em wrinkles bunchin' up on his forehead.

I just giggled at 'im.  "Nope.  Nothin's wrong at all, Sorrow.  Everthin's just like it oughta be I reckon." He was a lookin' like he wasn't believin' me or nothin', so I just grabbed 'im by his cheeks 'n pulled his face close to mine.  "You's gonna have to quit all that ol' worryin' 'n stuff.  Else you's gonna look real old for you's even growd up."  He grinned, but I knowed he's still not sure.  "If 'ere was somethin' wrong, I reckon you's 'd know 'fore anybody, cause I'd be a tellin' ya first."

He winked at me. " You'd better."  He then looked at me all questionin' like."Why were you staring at me, then?"

"Well, maybe I's just wantin' too look at that ol' mug of yours for a bit.  I can look at ya if I's wantin' to."  I said all smart like, but he knowed I's just playin'.  Then, I told im,  "Maybe I's thinkin' you's awful pretty or somethin'."

He turned all red 'n then started laughin' and pushed me easy like on the shoulder.  "Oh, whatever, Humper!  Let's get the guys fed."
We was helpin' some 'em kids with eatin' 'n all, when I knowed he's there.  Sorrow did too, cause he looked at Timmy 'n said, "I'll be right back, little guy.  Daddy!"  he called out, 'fore he even turned 'round.  He then runned over to Daddy, huggin' on 'im all big like.

I's smilin cause I knowed Sorrow was knowin' more 'n more of that other stuff, just like me.  I told 'at little Sarah I's comin' right back 'n then run over to Daddy, jumpin' up 'n huggin 'em both.  "I's awful glad to see you here today, but I don't reckon I knowed you was comin' 'fore you got here."

Daddy hugged us both in 'em big ol' arms of his, laughin'.  "Well, I was packing this morning, but I got to missing my little men.  So, next thing you know, I was here.  I called your Dad, and he should be joining us shortly.  I thought we might have lunch together if that is OK with you guys."

"Spending any time with you and Dad is more than OK, Daddy."  Sorrow told 'im, wrappin' his arm 'round Daddy's back.  "We are almost finished helping everyone with lunch, so it was just about perfect timing.  Besides, I have some news I want to share with the family."  The way he was a smilin', we could tell it was somethin' good Sorrow's a talkin' 'bout.

"Let's finish feeding those kids, then."  Daddy smiled.  Then, he looked at me 'n Sorrow, "You may have to tell me what to do, though, boys.  I've never actually fed someone else before... well, besides your Dad, but that isn't exactly the same thing.  We use our fingers or lips..." he said, gettin' all dreamy eyed thinkin' 'bout Dad.

Sorrow 'n me both laughed, and I told 'im, "Daddy, it's right easy, just like feedin' yourself, only you's feedin' somebody else instead."

Sorrow 'n Daddy got real tickled at that for some reason, which I still ain't quite sure why.  Then, Daddy pat me on my head.  "Son, never change.  You are such a special little guy, and you make every single day more and more interesting."

Sorrow then said, "I have to agree with Daddy, Angel.  You definitely make life more enjoyable."

I's feelin' all proud like after they said all that stuff.   Me 'n Sorrow showed Daddy what to do to help feed 'em kids, 'n Jena got tickled at Daddy.  He was carryin' on somethin' fierce with 'em kids, but they was all likin' it lots.  I reckon Daddy's kinda silly sometimes, but it just makes ya love 'im even more.  I knowed 'em kids sure did love 'im.  Not like me 'n Sorrow 'n Dad did though. 

Just as we was finishin' cleanin' up, Dad was a strollin' in.  "Lunch is not going to be the same once you boys start  school."  He grinned.  "I want to enjoy all the family time we can."

Sorrow 'n me hugged Dad, then Daddy kissed 'im real long like.  'Em kids started laughin', but it didn't bother nobody or nothin', cause we all knowed they didn't mean nothin' by it.   'Sides, even Jena 'n Jew was gigglin'.   'Em dads of ours can't never get near each other without bein' all over one 'nother.  I guess they's just too much in love.  I knows I's hopin' to be like that with somebody someday, and I reckon then I done knowed who it was gonna be.

We ate us our lunch, then.  Sorrow told us 'bout his 'memberin' David 'fore he died, and we was all real happy for 'im.  That's why he was smilin' all big like.  I reckon he's a thinkin' I's just playin' 'fore, but I's all honest.  Sorrow was real handsome when he was a smilin'.  I guess I's true sayin' he's handsome even when he was all sad like.  But, I knowed I liked seein' 'im like that, with one of 'em great big grins spreadin' way 'cross his pretty ol' face.  It just made me feel awful good for some reason.

We talked 'bout all kinda stuff, but I reckon we all just liked havin' that time together.  We's a family, so I guess that's what we's 'posed to do anyway.  Soon as lunch was finished, Daddy 'n Dad gave us all big hugs bye.  Then, Jena made me 'n Sorrow study hard in 'em books, cause I had to take that ol' test for that school the next day. 

Sorrow raked me on 'em hot coals 'n back 'fore we's finished, and my head was a hurtin' I'd used my brain so much.  If that weren't bad enough, Jena gived me some of 'em tests to do again.  Then, she had Sorrow askin' me 'em questions, but I knowed I was gettin' lots better at answerin' 'em.   Good ol' Roe had made sure of that, and I was tellin' myself to be sure 'n give 'im a great big hug for it. 

Jena checked all my tests, and I was just  plumb full of  'em nerves down in my belly.  She looked like she's awful upset with me or somethin', so I's real worried 'bout it.  "Chance!  What am I going to do with you?"  She said all flat like.  Then, she walked real slow up to me.  'Fore I knowed it, she hugged me up.  "Give you a great big hug and kiss I guess.  You did fantastic, babe!"  She said all happy like, 'n I let out a big ol' sigh.  "You should have no trouble at all tomorrow, so no more worrying about it."

I was right happy, then, but Jew and Sorrow was 'cited even more 'n I was.  Jew picked me up 'n kissed me on the cheek, tellin' me how proud he was of me.  I reckon that's the first time he ever kissed me really, but I knows it meant a lot to me comin' from 'im.  I liked ol' Jew a bunch.  Sorrow hugged me all tight 'n told me I's like 'at ol' Einstein fella.   I laughed to myself a thinkin' 'bout my hair stickin' all out like his's doin' in all 'em pictures.  To be all smart 'n stuff like he was, I don't reckon he knowed how to use 'im a comb. 

I 'sided I's gonna pick with Sorrow some.  "So, you's tellin' me you think I's ugly?"  I said, actin' all hurt like. "And after I done told you you's pretty 'n all."

Sorrow's eyes got all big, cause he thought he done hurt my feelin's.  "No, Angel.  That's not what I meant at all.  You are anything but ugly."  He said, pettin' me on the arm, all sorry like.  "Hey, when did you say I was pretty?"  Then, I reckon he 'membered it. "Oh, yeah.  As if." He laughed.  "Joking does not count, Humper."

I smiled at 'im REAL big, sayin, "Who says I's jokin' 'bout it?"

He's a lookin' at me like I's just crazy or somethin'.  "Yeah, right."  I just kept on grinnin' 'n smilin'.  "You weren't joking, then?  You really think I'm attractive?"

"I guess you's never gonna know now you done called me ugly ol' Einstein." 

He was squirmin' when I's tellin' 'im that.  "Angel, that is so not funny." I kept on a smilin while he just kept on a  squirmin'.   " And, I did not mean it like that, anyway."  He kept on lookin' at me thinkin' I's gonna give in to 'im.  "Angel, come on, now.  Tell me." 

Then, Sorrow grabbed me up 'n started ticklin' me.  I's laughin' so hard, ain't no way I coulda told 'im nothin' noways.  "OK. I'll tell ya."  I says to 'im finally.  He quit ticklin' me 'n I grabbed his face in my hands, pullin' it close to mine.  "Maybe I's pickin', but maybe I's serious.  Guess you's gonna have to figure that 'n out on ya own, ol' boy." 

Sorrow looked like he's not knowin' what to think then. "That is so wrong."  he said finally.  I just smiled at 'im some more.  Then, he laughed, "I'll get it out of you sooner or later."

Then, I started gigglin', tellin' 'im, "Later.  LOTS later.  Like when we's both real old."  He just shaked his head at me, givin' up for a bit, I reckoned.

Jena told me 'n Sorrow we could do whatever we was wantin' to for the rest of the day, so we read some of 'em stories to 'em kids.  Course, I's actin' 'em out.  I liked doin' that, and 'em kids sure seemed like they did too.  Even Jena and Jew was down in that circle listenin' and a laughin'.  It was just good ol' fun if you's askin' me.

Then, we played us some of 'at Simon Says 'n that ol' goose game.  We's all havin' fun with those, 'specially 'em kids.  Course, we's there for 'em kids anyway, so's I guess that was OK.  When it was time for us all to get goin', all 'em kids gave us hugs bye.  Knowin' 'em kids had a good ol' time 'n that we helped 'em out somehow was the best part of doin' what me 'n Sorrow did. 

Daddy met us out in the lot, so me n' Sorrow 'n Dad rode on home with 'im.  'Fore we left, Jena bragged all big 'bout my tests, which made Dad 'n Daddy real happy.  I reckon she was right nice really, and I's startin' to like her lots more.  Course, she wasn't pickin' on my Daddy, neither. 

As we got in Daddy's car, Sorrow looked over at me, all sad like.  "So, are you gonna tell me now?"

"'Bout what?"  I's actin' like I's not knowin' what he's talkin' 'bout.

He pulled me up close to 'im, lookin' me right in the eye, tryin' to look like some sad ol' pup.  "You know what, Angel." 

I's thinkin' to myself Sorrow's real handsome if he's a smilin' or not.  'Em sad ol' eyes was somethin' else, if you's askin' me.  "I reckon you's a smart boy, Sorrow.  I knowed you can figure this 'n out."  I laughed.  He just whined 'n pouted all the way home, still thinkin' I's gonna give in to 'im for actin' all sad like.  But I knowed his game alright.


Thursday was so busy.  I had left to pack as Killian and the boys went on to the mission.  Jena was engaged in her practicum work with Jew, and Ethan had morning classes.  That left only me to begin the packing of our old home.  I started in the living room, which actually did not take nearly as long as I thought it would.  Within an hour, everything was wrapped, boxed, labeled, and neatly stacked. 

Next, I moved into the kitchen.  I had just finished wrapping the dishes when I received the phone call.  This was one errand  to which I looked forward, smiling to myself as I began the drive there.  Along the way, however, the anticipation of it all began to grow.  I was a complete bundle of raw nerves by the time I arrived.  With one look, Nana began giggling.  Grams just smiled, knowing me all to well.  I was so glad the two of them had agreed to help me out with this.

"Kanawha, darling, I believe you need to take yourself a few deep breaths."  Nana snickered.  "Lord, child.  He loves you, so what are you so worried about?"

"I know he does.  But, he is everything to me.  This has got to be perfect, because he deserves nothing less than that."  I responded, as panic began to seep from my every pore.  "I want to create the most romantic evening Love could possibly imagine."  I was desperate, and the two of them just stood there smirking.  "You don't understand, I love Killian so much.  I just have to find the perfect way to let him know how much he means to me."

"I swan, Kanawha."  Grams chuckled.  "Listen to yourself.  HE LOVES YOU, and YOU LOVE HIM.  That IS perfect.  How much closer to perfection can you get than to have the love you feel for someone returned."  Grams said, gently patting my shoulder.
Of course, Grams made complete sense.  But, I was not quite ready to give up my quest for the ideal evening. Seeing this, she continued sharing her insight. "It is just my humble opinion, but rather than trying to be so flashy, why do you not try simply being yourself.  I could be wrong.. after all I am getting rather old... but it seems to me that YOU are the man he loves."
Nana, wrapped her arm around my back.  "Honey, your Gram's is right.  Just think about it.  The two of you were made for each other.  What could possibly be more romantic than spending an evening with the person who completes your soul?"  Then, she grinned.  "Besides, from what you told us of your plans, I believe my little man is going to be awestruck and speechless!  That in itself will make the evening one of the most memorable days in his life."

I knew she was trying to help, but her last statement had me worried.  "Well, I was kinda going for THE most memorable day in his life."

Nana let out a hearty laugh, then pat my cheek.  "Dear, I know my Kal far better than I know myself.  For that reason, I feel safe in saying that's just not going to happen.  See, you have already given him THE most memorable day in his life.  It was the day he fell in love with you."  She paused, letting her words sink into my often thick skull.  "You've accomplished your goal already, child.  Everything else is icing on the cake."

I had to smile, for her logic was flawless.  As I reflected, I knew I felt the exact same way.  Grinning widely, I pulled Nana and Grams into each of my arms, hugging them tightly.  "Thank you both for helping me.  I am so thankful you both have decided to move here with us, because we would be totally lost without your guidance.  I know I sure would be."

They both tenderly smiled, then Grams replied.  "We would not miss this for the world.  Now, let's go see what you have in mind."  With that, we went on with our mission.  After an hour and a half, all the preparations had been made.

I drove back to the townhouse, and continued packing, but my mind kept wondering to my love and our sons.  Finally, I ran from the house to my car, heading to where my heart desired to be. 

I called Killian, who answered his cell abruptly on the first ring.  "Love, I was just thinking about you."  He chuckled.  I was immediately reminded of just how right Grams and Nana were.  No matter what we did, the time Love and I spent together would always be romantic.  Our hearts would never let it be any other way. 

"I just had to hear you voice, Love.  I hope I didn't disturb you too much."  I said in earnest.

Killian let out a big sigh.  "Actually, I was just getting ready to call you, Love.  I guess great minds think alike."

I smiled, feeling the tingles inside that were stirred from the sound of my lover's soothing voice."And great hearts feel the same.  God only knows how much I love you, Killian.  It is simply to vast for me to fathom."  The image of his smiling face played over and over in my mind. "I miss my family, so I was wondering if you thought we might be able to arrange having lunch together."

"You know, with the boys starting school soon, and you going back to your job on Tuesday, I was thinking just that."  He softly chuckled in that sexy way of his, sending shivers down my spine.  "Did I mention how much I love you?  At least a million times this morning, you have crossed my mind.  I don't think you could ever satisfy my need of you, Love."  I knew he had that grin of his on his face.  "Of course, it is most enjoyable when we try."

I giggled.  "Keep that up, Love, and I will take you out to that garage bay and cover you with oil myself."

The melody of his laugh made my heart content.  "Or I might just strap that tool belt on you.   MMM...  I remember the sight of you all to well."  His soft, husky voice was stirring me with a vengeance.

 "Love, honestly, I am going to get a speeding ticket if you keep doing that.  You don't know how desperately I..."

"Oh, but I do, Love.  Believe me."  He softly interrupted.  "Hmm... Just wait till I get home."

"Yeah, I can't wait to get you home."  I chuckled.  "I wonder if that will give us enough time before the meeting this evening."

"With as much anticipation as I am feeling right now, I do not believe it will take that long at all."  Love laughed.

"I know the feeling, Love."  I replied honestly.  "Well, maybe we will have enough time for round two, then."  I quipped.

"Is that a threat, or a promise?  You know, it better be a promise!"  he snickered.

Love and I continued our conversation until I was pulling up into the parking lot.  We agreed to meet where the boys were working.  Excitement overtook my senses, and I literally sprinted in desperation to see our sons.

Sorrow knew my presence immediately, just as Chance always did.  Though Killian and I had been blessed with many gifts, I felt certain that they were nothing in comparison to those developing in our sons.  'Such amazing children.' I thought to myself in pride and admiration.  Their hugs were just what I needed, one of the things I had been longing for all morning.  Killian's kiss was the other, which I lovingly accepted as it was offered.

Our time together was wonderful, but then again, it always was.  I suppose it was just our way, the way of our family.  We each seemed to crave whatever time we could find to be with the others.  The simple act of eating together seemed to make our bonding that much stronger.  Love said that just as we required nourishment for our bodies, our hearts, minds, and souls needed sustenance as well.  Our family meal time  seemed to satisfy all of these needs at once.

As our lunch time ended, I reluctantly left Love and our sons to complete their work, while I returned to packing at the townhouse.  On the way back, I stopped and retrieved the items Grams and Nana so kindly helped me pick out for a romantic day with my love on Monday.  Once back at the townhouse, I smiled as I had found the perfect hiding place for them. 

I had just finished packing everything up in the kitchen when Ethan arrived.  "Hello?  Big guy, where are you?"  he called from the living room.

I stepped from the kitchen into the living room, smiling.  "Leave me to get all the hard stuff done, and you show up just as it is all but finished."

Ethan grinned, quickly making his way towards me.  Wrapping his arms around my waist and resting he head in my chest, he sighed.  "It seems like ages since we've had time for just the two of us.  Not that I am in any way complaining about Shaft and Kal, but I miss my special time with you."

I wrapped my arms snuggly around the man I so fondly regarded as my little brother.  "I suppose I can forgive you for not being here to help me with this kind of warm reception."  I joked.

"Despite the smart ass that you are, I still missed this."  He smiled, looking up at me.  Then, he laughed.  "See, I told you that eventually you would move in with Kal.  And to think you thought I was crazy or something when I mentioned it."

I grinned, remembering all to well the conversation.  "Yeah, but I seem to remember telling you that I would never be that far away.  We are only going to be down the hall from each other, Eth.  Our rooms are side by side, you know.  That is even closer than when we lived here."

He laughed, his eyes lighting up as he did so.  "I still cannot get over how all of this has worked out.  Sis is going to get married someday... sooner or later, they will have to set a date.   I am in love with the most remarkable man I could ever imagine.  And, you have literally found the man of your dreams, along with two of the greatest kids I think have ever existed.  What's more, we have all the other members of the family, to boot."  He contemplated this for a moment, then let out another hearty laugh.  "Finally, to top it all off, we have those beasts your sons call pets."

"Oh, but Chips and Domino love you."  I jested.

"Far too much, I'm afraid."  he quipped.  "Seriously, though, I never imagined our lives would turn out as they have."

"I know what you mean, Eth."  I replied, agreeing wholeheartedly with his words.  "I knew we each had our own paths to walk in life, but who would have guessed our courses were so closely linked, almost to the point that we all walk together."

"In the family way."  He added.  "I guess we walk together in the family way."

His statement humbled me as I felt the power of the message it presented.  Tears formed in my eyes as I looked at him, pulling him close to me.  "I love the way you said that, little brother.  No matter what we face in our lives, we will have our family there to support us.  We will never be alone again."  A thought crossed through my mind as I said this, and I marveled at the importance this would one day have for Ethan.  With Shaft's condition, I knew he would need the loving support of family at some point in their future.  A few tears trickled down my face, but Ethan gently wiped them away.

His eyes were flooded with tears, but he smiled despite them.  "Let's not think about that right now.  Whatever time we have, I will be blessed in sharing it with Shaft."  He softly replied, practically reading my thoughts.  It never ceased to amaze me just how intuitive Ethan was.  He and Mic had a special gift in seeing into people, and I knew they would both be instrumental in helping many through their work.

"Love, the boys, and I have something very important to do this evening,
Ethan.  I believe your intuitive nature and Shaft's attention to detail could prove to be valuable.  Do you think you could both join us?"  I explained to him about the dreams the four of us had shared, and the conclusions we had gathered from them.

"Wow!  It must be really important for you to be there, then."  He replied.  "Count us in, big guy.  We will do anything we can to help."

Ethan and I packed away my room, and then his.  We began with Jena's, but it was time for our men to be coming home soon.  For that reason, we decided to call it a day.  Ethan called Shaft, telling him he would be by to pick him up shortly from the animal hospital.  I then headed over to the mission to retrieve my little family.  Though I loved the idea of seeing them all, to be truthful, my mind was on one thing.  The quicker I had Killian home, the quicker I could have him all to myself.  It was well worth the effort!


After our lunch together Thursday, I quickly finished up my paperwork then headed out in the van.  As Kanawha had to return to his work on Tuesday, I arranged to take Monday off to spend time with him.  For that reason, I wanted to make this day spectacular, something he would always remember.  As I arrived in the downtown business district, I pulled over to the parking garage where I was to meet Nana and Grams. 

I was so excited as I stepped from the van.  "Nana!  Grams!  I am so thankful you agreed to help me with this." 

Nana chuckled, "Kal, honey, we would not miss this for the world.  It is not everyday we are asked to help out our grandson."  Then, she sized me up.  "I believe you are in that hyperactive mode of yours again, aren't you, child?"

Grams snickered as I blushed.  "I suppose I am Nana, but I just cannot help it.  Love means the world to me, and I really want to knock his socks off with our day together." I enthused.

Grams gave me a tight hug.  "Kal, I know my grandson well, and I can assure you that he is completely sockless now that he has your love to make him complete."

Maybe my mind works in unusual ways, but I envisioned my love looking frantically through our drawers trying desperately to find him a pair of socks.  The image had me tickled.  "Sorry, just an odd mental image, there."  I explained.

Then, Nana shocked me. "Perhaps socks are not the clothing you are really seeking to remove from Kanawha."  I was seven shades of embarrassed, which only brought about hearty laughs from the peanut gallery.

I laughed, deciding to play along with her ploy, trying to turn the tables on her.  "Well, I guess that was a big part of the plan, Nana."

"I imagine that is an easy task for virile men your age."  Grams replied, completely stone faced.  "I would wager that if you simply suggest sex, my Kanawha would be ready and waiting."  I was completely mortified at this point.  Grams let out a loud chuckle.  "I swan, Kal.  You made that much too easy.  Let that be a lesson to you.  Never try to pull one over on a senior."

Nana joined in the laughter.  Then, she kissed my cheek.  "There, that's better.  Now you are more rational.  Lord knows, we would never get anything accomplished with you being so hyper." I had to agree with her on that.  "So, child, what are your ideas?" she asked, returning to the nurturing Nana I needed so much.

I became again somewhat embarrassed. "You will probably think it is corny.  Promise me you won't laugh."  They both readily agreed, so I explained my ideas, probably going into far more detail than was needed.  When I finished, they were both expressionless.  "Well?"  I prompted.

Grams was the first to respond.  "How long have you been planning this, Kal?"

"Honestly, the idea crossed my mind first around five minutes after Love and I met in the bookstore.  Since then, I have toyed around with it, developing more details." I construed.  A flash of panic then struck me.  "You think it is silly, don't you?"  I said in defeat.

Grams hugged me tightly again.  "Kal, I think it is honestly one of the most incredible things I have ever heard.  I am so thankful Kanawha has you for a mate."

"So, you think it is worth a shot, then?"  I asked, unsure of the idea myself.

"Child, you will knock poor Kanawha so far, he will be orbiting Pluto after this."  Nana smiled. 

I sighed with relief.  "Oh, thank goodness.  I was really worried I would have nothing worthwhile for Monday."

Grams gently took my arm, and Nana followed suit, taking my other arm.  "Let's put this plan into action."  Grams grinned, leading me towards the stairs. 

We had four stops to make in total.  As we finished up, Grams giggled as she looked into my buggy.  "Do you think that will be enough?"

I pondered it a moment, then grabbed ten more.  "Maybe your right.  But this should definitely do it."

Nana bellowed in laughter.  "Kal, honey, I believe Grams was being sarcastic.  Perhaps you are going a bit overboard with these." she gently stated, pointing into the buggy.

"I don't think that is possible, as far as Love is concerned."  I smiled, thinking of how wonderful my Kanawha really was.

We finished everything up, and I loaded the items for Nana and Grams.  "Don't worry Kal, we have a safe, puppy-proof place to store these until you are ready for them."  Nana said as they climbed into her car.  "We will see you at dinner.  Just enjoy the rest of your day, honey." 

I shut their car doors for them, and waived as they drove away.   Then, I headed back to the mission, smiling contently that everything was set.  I prepared a few skills checklists before calling it a day.

As we exited the building, I was happy to find Love there waiting on us.  I figured he was anxious to get home.  Lord knows I was.  As I thought about this, I remembered what Grams had said, and I had to laugh.  It was true.  Kanawha was always ready, willing, and able, but, then again, so was I.  Sharing in the pleasures we created together was something I always desired.

Chance and Sorrow quipped back and forth about something as we drove home.  I had to remind Love of the speed limit a few times, and his grinning face was priceless.  As we arrived home, we hugged the boys and told them we would see them at dinner.  They giggled as we rushed into the house.  Half-way up the steps, we were greeted by 'the grandpups' as Love called them, so we stopped to pet them for a moment or two.  Then we headed to our room.

It took maybe a minute for Love and I to disrobe, but that was a minute too long.  Are need for one another was far too great.  The first time of bliss came rather quickly.  The second one, however, took much longer.  Our urgency had dwindled down somewhat, so we were better able to enjoy our exploration of one another's bodies. 

I'm not really sure which it was.  Perhaps Roe was right in that spending time apart made us better appreciate our time together.  Perhaps our continued practice was making us better lovers.  Or, perhaps our love was growing by leaps and bounds with every passing minute.  Whatever the reasoning, the results were the same.  Be it holding hands, cuddling, kissing, or pleasuring our bodies, neither Kanawha nor I could ever get enough of one another.  That unyielding desire and passion was always present.

We were ready to rejoin the world just as dinner was placed on the table.  Shaft and Ethan met us in the hallway, each of us displaying knowing grins of understanding.  They, too, experienced a growing need for the other. 

As we sat down at the dinner table, the rest of the family smirked at the four of us.  Finally, Ethan spoke up.  "What?  Is there something wrong with us wanting to spend time as a couple?"  I believe they were fairly shocked by his sudden boldness.

"Actually, guys, we all think it is quite romantic."  Cole smiled.  "We were discussing what a joy it is to see you four so happy.  As far as spending time as couples, I sure hope it is OK.  Jena, Jew, Allen and I are double dating this evening, you know."  She laughed.

"Oh."  Ethan replied, tinged somewhat from embarrassment by his comments.  "I would apologize, but I can't quite get the words formed around my foot." 

Everyone laughed and said they understood how it must have seemed to us.  They, in turn, apologized for any misgivings.  Dinner resumed, and we had a great time discussing our day and plans for the evening.  Mic, Hela, Grams, and Nana were going shopping, and Roe, as usual, had a date lined up for the evening.  After cleaning up, the six of us said our goodbyes and departed for the meeting.


Chance and Sorrow were sharing playful banter during the ride to the meeting.  Ethan was snuggled close to me, as the back seat was rather full, but I did not mind the closeness in the slightest.  Kal and Kanawha kissed at every stop, which had us all giggling. 

The twinkle in Sorrow's pale blue eyes as he jested with Chance brought a smile to my face.  He was improving so much, and there were few signs of any depression at all now.  Though he and Chance were both such loving young men, they both possessed a rowdy, playful nature as well.  This was becoming more and more prominent as Sorrow progressed in his recovery.

I was brought out of my thoughts as Sorrow pulled me close to him in a hug.  "I'm glad we get to spend some time with you two this evening."  His smile was spread wide across his face, which I thought made him extremely charming. 

Ethan seemed to notice this, too.  "Well, if that isn't a million watt smile, I don't know what is." he grinned, speaking low enough so that Kal and Kanawha could not hear the conversation.  "You may find a few admirers this evening.  Just remember, say 'no'."  My darling man then became rather serious as he looked into my eyes.  "What are we going to do if someone tries to cruise on them?"

Sorrow laughed quietly.  "I hardly think that will happen, guys.  I won't be attracting any attention, not like that anyway.  As for Chance, I don't believe he is interested.  So, it is hardly anything to worry about."

Ethan and I looked at Sorrow in amazement.  He honestly had no idea how handsome he was, especially when he smiled.  "I wouldn't count myself out if I were you, guy."  I replied softly, stretching my arm around his back, rubbing it gently.  "You are far more attractive than you realize."

"You think?"  he said in disbelief.

"Does the term 'eye candy' mean anything to you?"  Ethan interjected.  Sorrow rolled his eyes, blushing a bit.  Ethan pat his hand that rested on my shoulder.  "I think that is a pretty accurate description.  Believe me.  You will definitely turn some heads, not that I am so sure I like that fact."  Then, my lover thought for a moment, nervously biting on his lip.  "Maybe you should try not to smile... not at all, in fact.  I would really hate to see Kanawha hurt some guy for moving in on one of his sons."

Chance laughed.  "You should've seen Daddy with 'em people at that ol' store. He'd 've ripped 'em into little pieces if they'd 've done somethin'."

I recalled Chance's retelling of Kanawha's protective nature while they took him shopping the first night he came into our lives.  I realized that was a serious possibility, though I still found it amusing.  "Well, hopefully it will be more like a real meeting rather than a gay mixer."  I half-way joked.  "Besides, we are here to help out.  There must be something going on, so maybe we are just overreacting, Ethan."

Ethan sighed.  "Lord, I hope so.  I guess I am just being overcautious.  But in my defense, I worry about our young men."

Sorrow pulled Chance upon his lap.  He then reached around me and yanked Ethan sideways, wrapping his arms around the three of us in a tight embrace.  "That is why Chance and I love you guys so much.  You two are more like us than anyone else in the family.  Well, besides Dad and Daddy, but that is in a totally different way."

Ethan giggled.  "You mean in age?"  He asked.

"Yeah, I guess that is what it is.  You guys know what it is like to be teens."  Sorrow thoughtfully stated.

Ethan and I were flooded with laughter, but I guess we did look the part.  Actually, we acted the part quite a bit, too.  They had no idea that we were both actually older than their dads, and I wondered what this knowledge would do.  I suppose they never connected that Jena and Cole were our twins, not just our sisters, which would make us older than dirt in their teen perspectives. "Well, guys, I think that is the greatest compliment either of us has ever been given."  I grinned, winking at Ethan.  "One of these days, we are going to have to tell them."  I whispered.

Soon, we arrived at the meeting place.  It was an old bar and grill in the downtown business district.  Evidently, the group rented it out for the Thursday night meetings.  When we first walked in, I believe everyone was a tad surprised.  There was no one who seemed to be over twenty, save an older gentleman who I figured was in his mid fifties.

A rather attractive young man, I wrongly guessed to be between 18-20, walked excitedly up to us.  He vigorously shook Kanawha's hand.  "I can't believe you actually came, Kanawha.  Man, this is great!" He then turned to shake Kal's hand with equal enthusiasm. "Nice to see you, too, Kal.  And you brought some company. Kewl."  he replied happily. 

Kanawha looked rather relieved, for whatever reason, as he smiled at the young man.  "TJ, I would like you to meet two of our good friends, Ethan and Shaft." he introduced, pointing each of us out.

TJ smiled warmly, greeting us both with firm handshakes.  "It is nice to meet you both."  Ethan and I returned similar pleasantries.

Kanawha continued his introductions.  "These are our sons, Chance and..."

"Sorrow!  Is that you?  How have you been, guy.  I haven't seen you for a couple of years.  Man, you have really grown some."  TJ grinned, placing his hand on Sorrow's shoulder.  "You filled out nicely, too."

"You two know each other?"  Kal asked.

"Yeah, Dad.  We went to grade school and middle school together.  Well, kinda, anyway.  See, TJ is a couple years older."  Sorrow explained.

"Your in high school?"  Kanawha asked.

"I start my junior year next week, and I turn sixteen this fall.  A lot of people think I look a little older than I really am."  TJ replied.  He then turned back to Sorrow.  "Hey, you'll be a freshman!  Maybe we will see each other around, do lunch and all together."

"That would be great."  Sorrow smiled, and I believe TJ was rather dazzled by our Sorrow.  "Oh, where are my manners.  This is my angel, Chance.  He will be a freshman, too."  he said, as he wrapped his arms around Chance's waist from behind.  Seeing this made me smile, for our boys were rather cute together, at least I thought so.

TJ shook Chance's hand, looking him over for a moment.  "I don't believe I have met you before.  I would definitely remember if I had.  I never forget a face, especially one as adorable as yours."   Chance blushed as TJ turned back to Sorrow.  "Your a lucky man, that's for sure."

Sorrow seemed worried, as he tried to clarify their relationship.  "Well, we're not..."

But, Chance interrupted him.  "We's both lucky, I reckon." 

Ethan chuckled lightly, for Chance only further insinuated that they were a couple.  "Let's just hope the misunderstanding continues."  He whispered, leaning his head on my shoulder.  "That will save us a lot of worry."  I grinned in agreement. 

 TJ smiled at Chance.  "I would imagine so.  Having each other and two nice guys for fathers..."  He trailed off, becoming a little confused.

We all began laughing.  Sorrow finally spoke up.  "TJ, that is a long story, one I will be more than happy to share with you."

"I look forward to hearing about this."  TJ replied.  "But, I guess I should tell you a little about our group and introduce all of you."  He looked at Ethan and me again.  "I don't believe I have seen you guys around school, either.  Will you both be new freshmen, too?"

We adults in the group found this very amusing.  "No, bud.  Ethan and I go to a different school."  I replied.  "We actually go to the university."

"Really?" he asked somewhat in disbelief.  We both nodded our heads.  "Well, that's kewl.  We have three members that have just began college.  They were seniors at the high school last year but have agreed to stay and help us out." 

"They are both really smart guys." 
Sorrow started.  "I think they skipped ahead a few grades or something."  Kal and Kanawha were beside themselves, as were Ethan and I.  We all fought hard to stifle our grins and laughter.

Studying us a little further, TJ smiled.  "Well, that would explain it."  

"So, tell us about this group, TJ."  Kal said, changing the subject.

"Oh! Sorry about that.  You are probably wondering why I asked you two to join us.  I suppose I should start out with the whys of the group."  TJ began.  "Two years ago, a few gay students were being harassed.  I guess you may think it as nothing out of the norm for high schools, but the harassment was very severe for these guys."  Tears formed in his eyes as he gathered his thoughts.  "Miles, one of the gay students, was attacked walking home from school one afternoon.  At least, that is what the police gathered.  They found his body in the woods a few days later, and the word Fag was carved into his chest.  His murder, just in case you were wondering, is yet to be solved.  Anyway, two weeks after Mile's body was found, his boyfriend, Terry, hung himself in his garage."

"Before all this happened, there were very few of us who were willing to stand up and be counted.  With all of the harassment, we tried our best to hide ourselves in the normal student body."  he explained, looking at each of us as he spoke.  "After Miles' and Terry's deaths, though, we all felt like such cowards.  Jake, Bobby, and I got together.  We recruited a few others and began this support group.  For the most part, we function with no support whatsoever from the school.  They will not even let us meet there after classes or before home room." 

He paused and looked around the room at the group.  Then, he returned his focus to us.  "The school responded to the deaths with a zero tolerance policy, but all they really do is overlook everything that happens.  What we try to do in the group is to give each other encouragement and understanding.  During school, we watch out for each other and try our best to educate the student body.  Most of them do not listen, but at least a few have.  We have four non-gay members, so I guess that makes the effort worthwhile."  TJ smiled.  "We have thirty-two members in all, counting Max over there."  He said, pointing out the older gentleman. "He owns the building and allows us to use it on Thursday nights."

TJ looked at Kal and Kanawha intently.  "That is why I invited you here.  See, we want to get adults involved in making our community a safer place to live.  Most of us do not have support at home, and many are not even out to their parents yet.  There are only four of us who are even old enough to vote, so we are not taken very seriously." 

He continued to hold his gaze on Kal and Kanawha.  "You both seemed like such nice people.  The way you were holding hands and being affectionate to one another in public made me think that perhaps you guys would understand and want to help us out.  See, we could also use advice with our problems from an adult's perspective.  The way you two are with each other, well, I found it inspiring.  I felt you would be ideal role models, and you would be safe to invite to a gay teen group meeting."  He looked at the group again.  "These guys have been through so much already.  I don't want to add to it by inviting someone here who's only interest is to hook up with some hot teen action."  Pointing to Kal and Kanawha's hand-holding, he continued.  "From seeing this, I knew you two had everything you wanted in each other.  You just seem like our best hope for getting things going in the right direction."

"Walk it hand-in-hand." Kanawha mentioned to Kal.  Then, he hugged TJ firmly.  "We will do all we can.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, by the way.  That means a great deal to me."

"I think it is very noble of you to do this.  It shows great character." Kal smiled.  "I think it is a worthy cause in itself, but the fact that our sons will be attending this school and live in this community makes your work even more important to us."

TJ was elated.  "I just knew there was something special about you both from the moment I first saw you in the park.  I just know things are going to get better from here."


Running into TJ was interesting.  Though he was a couple of years older, I knew him somewhat from school and sports. TJ was a great baseball player, and he was the shortstop for the high school team.  I had always thought of him as a nice guy, but I knew he was magnificent when he told us about his cause. 

He introduced us to everyone in the group, and we all spread out to talk with them.  Chance stayed at my side, holding my hand tightly.  TJ kept grinning at the two of us, and I knew he assumed we were a couple.  I never did mention to him our actual relationship, though I did explain about our dads.  He was really cool about it, and even commented on how fortunate we both were in having such wonderful fathers.

TJ pointed out Jake,
one of the group founders, and talked about him quite fondly.  It was obvious TJ deeply respected him, in almost a worshiping way, to be honest.  I wondered if there might have been more to this.  He led us over to Jake, making introductions before gallivanting off to check on the other members.

As he retreated, I looked at Chance who joined me in my grin.  TJ was a very handsome guy, and he had a heart of gold.  He stood around 5'11" tall, about Dad's height.  His hair was dark like Shafts, though straight rather than curly.  His eyes were a warm brown, and they twinkled when he laughed.  TJ had a slim, yet athletic build, much like what you would expect from a shortstop. 

I sat down to talk with Jake and Kevin.  There were no other seats around, so Chance sat on my lap, which brought a wink from TJ who was checking on us from across the room.   Jake was a big guy, bigger than Daddy, actually.  He stood at 6'7" with a very broad build.  Daddy was very muscular and defined, where as Jake was more stocky.  His dark blond hair was cut in a flat top, and his green eyes sparkled any time he smiled.  He was a nice looking fellow, I thought, but I was not interested in him in any way besides maybe friendship. 

Kevin, on the other hand, stood around 5'9" with red-brown hair cut much like Ethan's.  He had light brown eyes and lots of freckles.  He was such a nice guy, and he was very effeminate, much like Roe, I thought.  I was not interested in him either.

"No offense, Jake, but you look like you should be on the football team."  I smiled.

His face became rather blank.  "Well, I used to be, up until we started the group.  After I outed myself, though, everyone I thought were my friends turned their backs on me.  I guess fags and football do not mix."  he laughed, but I knew the pain that existed behind it.  "None of them were brave enough to say it to my face, though.  They only made crude comments behind my back.  Not one of them wanted to hang out with me after that, either."  Though he was definitely hurting over something, I knew this was not what was really bothering him.  I thought through sharing experiences, he might open up.

I held onto Chance tightly, who gently stroked my hand he still held in his own.  "Believe me Jake, I know what it is like to be lonely.  I had no one until the day I met my angel."  Chance smiled at me and rested his head on my shoulder.  "I was going through the worst part of my life, and I had even considered killing myself."  I looked my angel in the eye.  "If you hadn't shown up when you did, Angel, I hate to think of what might have happened."

"I's glad when I met you, too.  You's the only real friend I's ever had."  Chance grinned, wrapping me into a hug.  He looked at Jake and Kevin.  "See, I's just an ol' street rat 'fore my dads found me.  I didn't have me no home or nothin' like that.  I know what you's talkin' 'bout with people actin' like you ain't nothin' 'n all.  That's just what most of 'em did when they seen me."  He gazed into my eyes once again.  "I was awful lonely 'fore you, Sorrow."  Chance said bashfully, resting his head on my shoulder again.

Jake and Kevin smiled at each other.  "You are just too adorable."  Jake said to Chance.  "I imagine it is hard to be sad around someone like you."

"He has worked miracles in my life."  I glowed, knowing what a blessing from God I held in my arms. 

Chance blushed and smiled.  "It ain't all like that.  You's done lots for me too, Sorrow.  I's a might lucky you came in 'at mall when you did.  'Else I'd still not have no kinda friends.   I reckon I's be an ol' sad sack if 'n it weren't for you."

Kevin and Jake laughed.  "Chance, doll, you are so precious.  I absolutely love the way you say things.  You have to meet Alex.  He will simply love you."  Kevin raved, standing and motioning for Chance to join him.

Chance looked at me, somewhat uneasy.  I kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear.  "Go ahead, Angel.  It will be fine."

He grinned widely.  "All right, then, but you's better save me my ol' comfy seat." he replied, patting my leg gently.

"I don't know, Chance.  I might just take your seat and give you mine in trade."  Jake joked.

Chance looked him in the eye, smirking.  "Then I's might just have to hurt ya.  I might be small 'n all, but I think I's could take ya."

That reminded me of his confrontation with Blade, and I laughed.  "He's right, Jake.  Don't let his size fool you.  You can ask Blade about that sometime, if you don't believe me."

Jake looked stunned.  "You mean Blade, the freshman on the football team?"

"The one and only.  He so had it coming to him, though."  I chuckled. 

Jake put his arm on Chance's shoulder.  "I am definitely going to have to get to know you better, then.  It seems you are full of surprises."

"I reckon that'd be nice."  Angel smiled.  Then he looked at me.  "I's be back for my seat in a minute."  With that, he followed Kevin.

I was enchanted as I watched him make his way across the room.  He simply oozed kindness, putting others at ease almost immediately.  That was only one of a million things I loved about my angel.

"You really love him, don't you?"  Jake asked, pulling me from my trance.

I pondered the depths of my feelings for my angel, and tears filled my eyes.  "With every fiber of my being.  He is my everything."

Jake wrapped his arm around my shoulder and looked at Chance.  Then, he turned and stared into my eyes.  "Boy, he sure loves you.  It's written all over his face when he looks at you."  He sighed.  "What I wouldn't give to find a love like that."

I was getting ready to explain our relationship, when I noticed TJ looking over at us, again.  From the look that was in his eyes, I understood.  "I believe you already have that, Jake.  Maybe you are not aware of it, though."

"With who?" Jake asked in bewilderment.  I turned his head to TJ, who smiled and made a casual waive at him.  Jake's responses mirrored that love.  "TJ?  No, guy.  We are just friends."  he grinned, still looking at his friend.

"Look, believe me or not.  I can tell he loves you.  Can you be honest enough to tell me how you really feel about him?" I asked.

Jake became tearful and looked down at the floor.  Softly, he replied. "You know, he is the reason I outed myself.  He was so passionate about forming this group, I couldn't say no.  I just melted when he looked at me with that sad, lost puppy face he makes sometimes." He raised his head and looked at me.  "Seeing him happy was worth loosing every other friend I thought I had, though.   Even the shit I get from my parents is all worthwhile when I see him smile during our group sessions.  He's a really great guy, you know.  But, I don't think he feels that way about me."

I grinned at Jake.  "My question was, how do you honestly feel about him?"

"He is so beautiful.  Not just in his looks, but who he is as a person.  He's just too far out of my league."  He said dejectedly.

I laughed, and he looked at me quizzically.  "First of all, you are quite a handsome fellow, yourself.  But, you also seem like a nice guy, so I do not see the problem.  Secondly, you never did answer my question, Jake.  How do you truly feel about TJ?"

"Well, I don't know."  Jake hesitated.  "Look, what if he doesn't love me, too?"

I turned his head back to TJ and softly spoke, "But, what if he does?  What if he feels exactly the same way about you, but is just as afraid to tell you?  What if you both wait too long, and you end up loosing your chance to be together?  What then?"  He looked at me with uncertainty.  "Look, you can believe you are lonely and pining away for the people you thought were your friends.  Or, you can be honest with yourself and admit that you are in love with a wonderful guy named TJ.  That is truly the loneliness you feel, because you want him to love you in return, right?  The best part of it all, though, is that he does, Jake.  I just know he does."  Jake and I talked for a few more minutes, as he slowly worked up his nerve to do what he had been longing to do for over three years. 

Chance came bouncing back.  He took one look at Jake and then glanced over at TJ.  "You's ever gonna tell 'em or not?  I knows that'd be one thing he would be smilin' 'bout for the rest of his life.  He's lovin' you, Jake." Chance took Jake's head in his hands.  "Don't be doubtin' 'n all now.  You's gotta try.  All you's gotta do is tell 'em.  It's what he's been a waitin' for.  What you's been waitin' for too, I reckon."  Chance pulled him to his feet. "Now get to tellin' 'im."  He still looked nervous, but Chance motioned for Jake to bend lower and lightly kissed him on the cheek.  "Don't be givin' up on what you's dreamin' 'bout.  Ol' TJ's the one for you.  Now get to tellin' 'im how you's a feelin'."  Jake smiled and slowly made his way to TJ.  He turned around twice on the voyage to his future mate, but Chance and I both sternly pointed back to TJ.  Finally, he was standing beside TJ, who was obviously happy to be near Jake, the guy he secretly loved.

Angel sat back on my lap and wrapped his arms around my neck, resting his head against mine.  "These ol' fella's gots lots of troubles.  At poor ol' Kevin has a dad 'at ain't too happy with 'im bein' all gay like that.  Alex, Kevin's friend, he got throwed out of his home cause he told 'em parents of his 'bout 'im likin' Kevin.  He's got 'im some friends who's lettin' 'im stay a night or two with 'em each week, though, so's he's got 'em somewheres to go each day.  I told 'im he could come stay with us, but he says he's fine.  Least he ain't out on 'at ol' street.  Mike's this fella who's gettin' all beat up by 'em mean ol' boys livin' near 'im.  We's found a big ol' boy that's livin' not too far from 'im that says he's gonna start walkin' with Mike when he's gotta go somewheres.  'At Jeff should keep Mike safe for a little bit."

"At least Jake and TJ's problems were somewhat simple to fix."  I smiled, turning Chances attention to the two of them holding hands, waiving at us.  We both waived back and chuckled.  "I think they make a nice couple."

"They's meant to be together 'n all, just like us, so's I know they's gonna be real happy now."  Chance giggled. 

"Well, maybe not exactly like us, Angel."  I replied with a wink.

Chance looked at me seriously.  "They's 'xactly like us."

I was thinking of a way to explain this to Chance.  I reflected upon everything Jake and I had discussed as I looked at the two of them together, hoping to find the answer there somehow.  However, before I could respond, Angel looked me in the eyes.  "Yep." was all he said.

 "Yes, What?"  I asked.  He just looked at me with this wide grin, tapping his knuckles lightly on my head.  Then, it hit me.  "You mean, what we were talking about earlier?"

He put his forehead against mine, looking me directly in the eyes.  "I's gotta show you somethin' first, though."  He raised his hands to the sides of my head, and I understood.  The vivid images flashed through my mind, and I smiled at him.  "Now you knows all of it." 

Worry lined his face as he awaited my reply.  "You two make a lovely couple."  I grinned.

He seemed relieved.  "Well, I reckon you's got you one fine lookin' boyfriend, too.  Awful handsome."  Chance smiled.

I laughed and tickled him lightly.  "Oh, you think so, do you?"

He squirmed, laughing hysterically for a moment.  I stopped tickling him as he gazed into my eyes, flashing me a lopsided grin.  "Nope."  He replied modestly.  "But I knowed you's thinkin' so."

That was such an understatement.  To me, he was the most beautiful thing I have ever encountered.  "That I do, Angel.  That I do." Slowly, Chance and I shared our first real kiss.


"Have you noticed that most of these kids look older than us."  Shaft whispered softly in my ear.

"That and the fact that most of them are quite a bit taller than we are."  I giggled. "Most of them, though, have asked me if we were new freshmen.  The other's thought we might be sophomores."  We had talked to at least seven group members so far, and were waiting for the current two to come back to the table.

My lover laughed.  "We really are going to have to tell Sorrow and Chance at some point, honey.  I just hope they still want to hang out with two old geezers like ourselves."

That thought sent a panic clear to the core of my being.  "Lord, what would we do if they didn't?"  I was very fond of both our young men, and I truly enjoyed our unique relationship with them.  "I would miss them terribly, because I, for one, like being with them."

Shaft looked a little concerned himself.  "So do I, Ethan.  I just hope they don't think we have lied to them or betrayed them in some way.  I mean, the only reason why we haven't told them is so that they would have someone in which they felt they could confide... Someone they  perceived to be close to their age who would understand."  He looked at me seriously.  "Do you think we have deceived them?  I pray they do not feel that way when we tell them the truth."

Before I could answer, Dwayne and Carter were back, bringing us all a soda.   Dwayne and Carter were brothers, Dwayne being a junior, while Carter was a freshman.  To me, they did not look anything alike, nor did they have many similar mannerisms.  Carter was 6'3" and lanky, while Dwayne was 5'9" and very muscular.  Carter had dark hair and pale skin, while his brother was light blond and well tanned.  Neither was what I would call physically attractive, but they were both very kind hearted... which I believed made them quite attractive, nonetheless... only in totally different ways.  Carter was more concerned about your physical needs, such as offering you a chair or a soda.  Dwayne was more emotionally oriented, offering understanding and compassion.  Dwayne was a straight boy, while Carter was gay.

 "Thank you, guys.  That was so kind of you both to get us drinks."  I smiled.  "I still think it is wonderful that you come here with your brother like this, Dwayne.  I imagine Carter is thankful for your support."

Carter blushed.  "Actually, I have only been here two other times.  Dwayne comes regularly, and he was the one who twisted my arm to get me to attend."

Shaft grinned and pat Dwayne's shoulder.  "Good for you.  I take it you were learning more about the gay life to relate better with your brother."

Dwayne hung his head in embarrassment.  "Well, it is nothing heroic or anything like that.  Carter is my best friend.  I knew he was gay long before he ever told me.  I wanted to be ready to help him when he needed me."  He looked up at his brother and smiled.  "He has always been there for me, so it is only fair for me to return the favor."

I chuckled.  "We both have sisters that we feel the same way about.  So, we know exactly what you mean."

"Did they come with you tonight?"  Dwayne asked, in a supportive manner.

I, for one, was glad Jena had not attended the meeting.  I knew I would never have heard the end of her kid-sized jokes had she known so many of these guys assumed we were their age or younger.  "No, we came with friends."  I pointed out Kal and the big guy.  "Those two over there are Kal and Kanawha.  Kanawha is the taller one."  I looked and saw Chance and Sorrow sitting in a chair together, pointing them out.  "Those two over there, they are their sons, Chance and Sorrow.  Chance is the smaller one."

"You mean the two guys kissing?"  Carter asked.

"What?"  I replied, turning to see our little men indeed kissing.  'What the hell? ' I thought to myself, totally blown away.  Finally, I was able to speak again.  "Well, I'll be."  I muttered.  "I guess Chance was not misleading anyone with his comments, after all."

"I think they are adorable together."  Shaft giggled.  Then, he noticed my blank expression, for I was not sure how I felt about the turn of events at this point.  "Honey, it was bound to happen.  They are every bit as made for one another as the rest of us couples are.  I just wonder how their dads will take the news."  I knew Shaft was right in his observations, but you have to realize, I never saw this coming.  Maybe I was naive, but it was a shock for me.

"But, they are brothers, aren't they?"  Dwayne asked, somewhat appalled by the idea of incest.

I laughed, seeing the look on his face.  "Well, no, not really.  Kal and Kanawha are their dads because they are the men who took them in, gave them a home, and are raising them.  But, Sorrow and Chance are not brothers, at least not biologically."  I looked at Shaft, suddenly wondering about it myself.  "Honey, what will that do legally when they adopt Chance and have permanent custody of Sorrow?" 

"They will be Sorrow's legal guardians and Chance's parents.   I am not sure, but legally, I still do not think they will be brothers."  Shaft replied, starting to see the twist in all this.  "I honestly have never thought of them as brothers, more like best of friends."  When, Shaft said this, I was completely fine with the idea of Chance and Sorrow being in love.  I had considered them Kanawha and Kal's sons, and our little men.  I never truly conceptualized them as being brothers, though. 
I smiled at my darling Shaft, assuring him that he had eased my mind completely of any concerns I might have held.  He winked at me, snuggling his head on my shoulder.

"How long have they had them?  I'm not meaning to be rude, just being curious."  Dwayne stated.

"Not quite two weeks."  Shaft answered.

"Oh, well that is totally different, then."  Carter smiled.  Dwayne joined him with a similar grin.  "They were not raised like brothers or anything.   It would be like your boyfriend's parents letting you live with them.  Only, they treat you as if you were one of their own children."

Carter's explanation caused visual images to flash through my mind.  I cringed at the thoughts of our little men having sex.  Then, I envisioned Big Daddy Kanawha giving them both sex talks, and I was assaulted with strong bouts of laughter.  I suppose I was totally overreacting, as usual.  I mean, they had just shared their first kiss.  That's all.  As I contemplated this further, I knew our boys were pretty responsible.  I decided that I, for one, would have faith in them to make the right decisions for themselves.  I knew wholeheartedly that they would come to us for guidance as it was needed.  Of that much, I was certain.

"Yeah,  now that is not gross at all."  Dwayne laughed.  "How long have they been in love?"

"Very recently, I would imagine."  I replied.  "This is actually the first we knew of it ourselves, so I suppose just moments ago."  'Were there signs to this budding relationship that I missed?' I asked myself.  'Ethan, you are usually so intuitive.  How could you have missed this one?'  Then, I decided that it did not matter.  They were in love, and that was now a reality.  I glanced at them, holding hands and gazing at one another with that lovestruck look.  They honestly were adorable together, and I was happy for them.

"See, that is what I want for Carter."  Dwayne smiled.  "I want him to find a nice guy and fall in love.  After next year, I will be away at college, and I cannot stand the thoughts of him being lonely."

"Dwayne, I'm not ready for anything like that.  I'm still admitting to myself that it will be a guy."  Carter explained.  "I really appreciate the thoughts behind it, and maybe I will be ready before you leave for college."

"Well, at least promise me you will make a friend.  Mom and Dad just don't understand, Carter.  You have to have someone to turn to when you need help."  Dwayne said, hugging his brother.

"TJ was right.  The one thing I have noticed with many of the guys comments is that they have little support from their family."  Shaft quietly noted.  "Maybe there is something we can do to help change that."

"I sure hope so."  I said, remembering my fear when I first came out to Kanawha and Jena.  They were completely supportive and understanding.  My mother and father had a bit of difficulty accepting things.  In fact, my father still had little to say to me.  At least mom finally came around.  "Sometimes, though, people just are not able to see past the differences to see the person."

"Honey, just have faith and keep trying.  Someday, he is bound to come around.  And, if he doesn't, at least you made the effort.  That is something for which you can hold your head up proudly.  The way I see it, he is the one missing out on the wonderful man you are."  Shaft soothed, wrapping me in his arms.  

"So, you have problems with your parents, too?"  Carter asked, as Dwayne leaned forward to assume a supportive sitting position.   I smiled to myself, thinking what a wonderful therapist Dwayne would one day make.

"My father.  He has found the idea of having a gay son to be more than he can withstand, so, we rarely speak.  I still try, but it really hurts when he just ignores my olive branches and walks away."  I sighed.

"Mom and Dad are  like that with me now.  Before, though, it was worse.  They would try to be nice for a moment, but would then start yelling and screaming about me being a nasty, perverted faggot."  Carter said sadly.  "At least they are not yelling anymore.  They just ignore the fact that I even exist.  When Dwayne and I went school clothes shopping, Mom gave him the money, saying 'This is for you, son, and for your brother.'  Any reference to me is through Dwayne, and I am always his brother, never their son."  Carter teared up and turned to Dwayne.  "I am so sorry you have been stuck in the crossfire.  It is not fair for you to have to suffer as you have been, especially on account of me.  I still think you should abandon ship while you have the chance."

Dwayne held Carter close, rocking him gently.  In that moment, I found them both to be truly beautiful, thinking any girl and guy the two of them respectfully found would be quite lucky.  "I would never betray you the way Mom and Dad have, Carter.  I would gladly abandon them if we had other options for a place to live."  Dwayne then began to sob.  "I ache every time I know you are hurting, little brother.  I just wish I could make them stop." 

Dwayne's words reminded me so much of how Jena reacted with our parents.  She was the only reason my father even tolerated my presence.  Jena had refused anything to do with him so long as I was not welcomed in 'his' house.  I looked at Shaft, and we both stepped over to the boys, hugging them gently.

"Dwayne, if you and Carter ever need a place to stay or someone to talk to, just come to our house."  Shaft soothed.  "We will do all we can to help, buddy."

I pulled out a pen and two slips of paper, writing down our phone numbers and address for each of the boys.  "Use these any time you want, guys.  You are more than welcome to stay, or even to just come over and hang out.  There honestly does not have to be a reason for you to call or come by at all.  Just know we are here for you."

Dwayne cuddled Carter to his chest as he looked at shaft and me.  "Thanks.  We may just take you up on the offer, sometime."

Shaft smiled, gently running his fingers through Dwayne's hair.  "You both are always welcome." 

'How could someone treat such great kids so horribly?' I wondered, again reminded of my father.  In that moment, my eyes were opened to something Shaft had been telling me since our first night together.  I did not need Dad's or anyone else's approval.  I had spent most of my life trying desperately to feel like I had lived up to everyone's expectations.  As I held my lover's hand, I realized that he was completely right.  I needed to live my life by my own standards and learn to give myself the approval that I really needed.

I kissed him passionately, and his smiling face greeted me in the most endearing of ways.  "Might I ask why I am being blessed with a kiss that fantastic?"

"Because YOU are so fantastic."  I grinned back.  "Till my dying breath, I love you, Shaft."

Shaft's face brightened as we drew closer to one another.  We ended in a kiss of unyielding passion.  We were rudely brought from our union, however, by the ramblings of two smart asses.

"We's can't take you guys nowheres without you's gettin' ready to go a humpin' on one 'nother."  I turned to see Chance widely grinning, proud of his banter.

"Yeah, you would think you guys could get a room or something if you need to do that." Sorrow added playfully.

"Oh, like you're ones to talk."  I snickered. 

They both blushed quite a bit.  Chance finally quipped.  "Well, I reckon kissin' and a humpin' 's two different things.  We's just kissin'.  You's grindin' up 'n all that stuff." 

Shaft grinned.  "So you say.  How do we know what you boys have been doing?"

Chance and Sorrow both wore matching looks of shock on their faces.  "I don't reckon we's gonna be doin' nothin' like that stuff no time soon.  We's still just kids, really.  All's we did is just kiss 'at one time over there."

"Just because we know we are meant to be together doesn't mean we are planning on being together right away."  Sorrow replied, taking Chance's hand.  "We have our whole lives ahead of us.  I suppose that will happen at some point, but it will be when we both feel ready for that level."  Then, he grinned.  "Honestly, I'm not sure we even know exactly what to do when we get to that level."

Shaft and I smiled at each other, then grabbed the boys into a big hug.  "Oh, thank God!"  Shaft cried out in relief.  "You're right, guys.  You have your whole lives ahead of you.  When the time is right, you will know.  Just wait for it."

"Yeah, just like your dads did."  I looked at Shaft and winked playfully.  God help me, but I loved him so much.  "Just like we did, too."

Chance laughed.  "Well, it ain't like we's stupid or nothin'.  That's what we's plannin' on doin'."  Then, he  grinned at Shaft and  me.  "I reckon we's learned lots of stuff from ya already.  I knows we still got lots more to learn yet."

"Anytime we can help you, don't hesitate to come to us."  I smiled.  "However, if it is a question regarding sex, I think you should ask your Daddy."

Both Chance and Sorrow bellowed with laughter.  "Now that will be an interesting talk!"  Sorrow snickered. 

"But knowing Kanawha, it would be very thorough."  I giggled.

Chance shot out with laughter.  "I's reckonin' poor ol' Dad 'd be just too shy like to be tellin' us much 'bout stuff like that 'n all."  Then, an impish grin crossed his face.  " That'd be who we oughta ask, then!"

Shaft chuckled.  "Just promise me that if you ever ask Kal, do so in front of me.  I have to see him sweat it out!  That would be too good to miss."  The idea was funny, though I could still see the big guy lecturing the boys.  One thing about Kanawha, he never did anything half-way.  He went at everything full force, which was one of the most endearing things about him.  I just knew our boys would know way more than they ever desired to know once he was finished with his sex talk, and that thought still made me giggle.

As my senses came back to me, I turned and smiled at Dwayne and Carter.  "Sorry guys.  I guess I should make some introductions.  Dwayne and Carter, meet Sorrow and Chance."  I said, pointing out each person during the introduction.  "Dwayne is a junior, while his brother Carter is a freshman, like both of you."

Chance was his usual charming self.  "Well, I reckon it's right nice to meet you two boys."  He smiled, shaking their hands. "I hope we's all seein' ya 'n stuff in that ol' school."  Both Dwayne and Carter smirked as Chance made his unique impact upon them.

Sorrow looked them over, then glanced at Chance, grinning.  "I have a feeling we will see each other quite a bit in the future."  He shook the two brothers' hands.  "It's nice to meet you both."

Chance stepped over to Carter and placed his hand on his shoulder.  "You's gotta get over bein' all shy like and start to talkin' with some of 'em boys that's here.  There's lots of 'em that's needin' to find 'em some friends." He looked at Dwayne, then back to Carter.  "All your brother's a wantin' for ya to do's just try.  You's a nice ol' guy, only ya gotta let 'em other fellas know 'bout you 'n all.  Ain't no reason to be scared, cause 'em fella's is just like you.  They ain't gonna be all mean to ya or nothin' like you's mom 'n dad's bein'.  You can't give up on account of 'em."  Chance rubbed Carter's arm supportively.  "I just knows you's gonna have lots of friends if you'd try talkin' to somebody."

Carter looked bewildered, which had Sorrow chuckling.  He wrapped his arms around Chance, explaining, "Angel gets ahead of himself sometimes.  He's pretty insightful, I guess you could say."

Chance replied, winking at Sorrow.  "I reckon we's both like that."

"I have to say,"  Dwayne said, with an expression of awe across his face,  "that is an amazing talent you have."

Chance just smiled.  "You ain't met Dad 'n Daddy yet.  Now they's somethin' else."

"You two will meet them in just a few minutes,"  Sorrow added,  "right after Jake and TJ come by."

Shaft rubbed my back lightly as I had to agree with what I knew he was thinking.  "Our two boys are probably even more made for each other than any of the rest of us could ever boast."  I lightly said.


"Relieved that I won't be hit on?"  I chuckled, as Love smirked at my reply.

"Hey, you can't fault a guy for wanting to protect his family."  He grinned.  Then, his face went serious.  "Love, we really have a lot to do here.  These kids have some serious issues.  I can feel it all... their pain, confusion, hurt, grief... it is overwhelming."

I surveyed the group that was around us, reaching out and being flooded with images of horrible memories.  "They have been through so much, Love.  I just pray we can make a difference."  I replied, grasping tighter to my lover's hand.

Kanawha smiled in that sexy way of his, wrapping me in his arms.  His kiss was a welcomed comfort, though it attracted some attention.  As we broke our lips apart, Love and I had an audience.

"Wow!  That is really sweet."  a young man softly said.  He stood around 5'3", with auburn hair and bright blue eyes.  His skin was pale, and his frame was small and delicately thin. 

Kanawha grinned at him.  "We need to introduce you to our sons, then.  They seem to find our affection humorous."

He gave a weak smile.  "Well, it's almost like a fairytale to me."  He looked us over shyly, then grinned a little more.  "I have never met an older gay couple before.  I'm glad I know they exist, at least."

Love and I both laughed, the idea of being an 'older gay couple'  playing images through our minds.  "I don't know that we are ready to feed the pigeons on the park bench just yet, but I appreciate the complement all the same."  I chuckled.

"Old at 26."  Love noted in humor. 

"So you guys are 26?"  he asked.  We both nodded our heads, and he giggled.  "Honestly, I didn't think you were that old, but then you said you had sons, so I assumed they were here with you, out in the group somewhere.  From that I figured you had to be much older."

"Actually, Sorrow and Chance are both here.  They will be freshmen."  I smiled, watching the confusion gather around his face.  I laughed, explaining our situation briefly.

"So, are either of them gay?"  he asked.

Love and I smiled at each other.  "Well, actually they both are, though I am not sure Chance has figured that out for himself yet.  They both love each other a great deal.  Sometimes, it is like they are best friends, almost brothers.  Other times, it is much deeper than that.  But, Love and I both know they will eventually fall in love with one another."  Kanawha explained.  "They are destined to be together, in a very special way."

"They have enriched our lives so much, too, despite the problems each of them have faced." 
I added.  "Truth is, they have helped each other through most of this.  We have just offered our love and guidance as needed. The whole family has, really."

"Wow!  They are two lucky guys, if you ask me."  He replied.  He scanned through the group.  "Most of the guys that come here have no one at home to offer any kind of understanding or support.  We do what we can, but we hardly know everything.  Many times, all we can do is listen.  Some of the problems are too far beyond what we know to do."  He turned back to us, a worried look spread across his face.  "That was one of my fears when we started the group.  TJ and Jake believed that something was better than nothing, and I still have to agree with them.  I just wish we were better trained in dealing with some of the problems."

"So, you must be Bobby, then."  Love smiled. 

"Yes.  Sorry, I guess I should have introduced myself."  he grinned, blushing a bit.

"I am Kal, and this is Kanawha."  I laughed.  "I suppose we should have introduced ourselves, as well."

A look of realization spread across Bobby.  "Oh, so you are the guys TJ has been going on about for the last week.  Ha!  I should have figured that out."  His smile was enchanting.  "He was right, you know.  You do seem like a wonderful couple."

As we talked, Love and I were both amazed to find that little Bobby was a seventeen year old senior.  He looked so young, but then, I thought of Ethan and Shaft.  I just knew they had to meet Bobby.

It happened all on its own this time.  I was hit with images of Bobby's experiences with his peers through his high school years.  Tormentors was a more accurate description.  He had been pushed, shoved, tripped, degraded, threatened, mistreated, beaten, humiliated, and even locked up in a locker on a few occasions. 

Love caressed my hand, as he was sensing my state of mind.  I pat Bobby on the shoulder.  "You've been through a lot, haven't you?"

He smiled at me.  "Yeah, I guess I have had more than my share of run in's with bullies and those with closed minds.  But, I have learned and grew from the experiences.  They have helped me to understand what so many of the others have been going through."  He looked over at a few other boys.  "Some of them have had it far worse than I have, so I consider myself lucky."

Kanawha winked at me, assuring me that Bobby was emotionally in tact, so I did not pursue the issue with him further regarding his experiences.  "I imagine these boys are fortunate to have a friend like you to be there when they are in trouble."  I bragged.  "I would think they are lucky, too."

His grin kept spreading across his face.  "TJ, he is the charismatic one, the one who leads everyone.  Jake is the smart one, the one who finds information and sources of help.  I guess I am the understanding one, the one who identifies with much of the suffering."  he explained.  "Not that TJ and Jake have not suffered, but I guess with my size, I am a much easier target."

Love smiled at Bobby.  "I would wager that you are the strong one, the one who holds them all together." 

Bobby, in turn blushed.  "That is what Jake and TJ say, but I don't really see it like that."  He then looked over at the same boys again.  "Say, I was wondering if you would maybe listen to them and see if you could help those guys.  I've gotta tell you, it is hard to get them to open up.  I am just not sure what to do for them."  His worry was evident, and I grew more impressed by this young man by the minute.

"Anything we can do to help."  Love replied.

Bobby led us over to meet Dakota and Juan.  Dakota looked to be around 5'8" with light blond hair and brown eyes.  He possessed a stocky build, and was a sophomore this year.  Juan had dark brown hair and gray-green eyes.  He stood at about 5'10", but was very thin.  He was also to be a sophomore. 

Bobby engaged them in conversation, but their depressed states were evident.  He made his introductions of Love and I.

"It is nice to meet you both."  I offered, as we shook their hands.

"Yeah, hi."  Dakota said shyly.

"Nice to meet you, too."  Juan added softly.

The two nervously looked around, then sat back down in their seats.  Love pulled Bobby, himself, and I up three chairs.  Love looked at me a moment, then took my hand, caressing it gently.  "So, are you boys looking forward to the new school year?"  he asked. 

"Yeah, right."  Dakota scoffed.  "Another year of being the joke.  Only now, I get to be the joke alone."

"At least you are not the punching bag,"  Juan replied.  "or worse."

I looked at Dakota as he prepared to retreat into his own world.  His disheveled clothes spoke volumes.  I knew that expression he wore.  It was the one I had when my parents died.  A few of his memories played in my mind.  I saw the anguish with which he lived, as so many of his peers ridiculed him.  There was one constant in the images though.  "You miss her a great deal, don't you, Dakota?"

His eyes glazed over with tears.  "She's been my best friend since as far back as I can remember.  Now, she's gone, and I just don't know how to live without her.  I am reminded of her every day, at least a hundred times a day.  Just little things, but they bring back so many memories."

I reached out and pat his hand which fidgeted nervously on the table.  "I know what you mean.  When I lost my parents, I guess it took around three months before I realized they were never coming back.  For so long, I spent most of my time in grief-stricken tears."

Love squeezed my hand softly.  "Boy, I remember those days.  It was so hard to even think straight.  It seemed like everything reminded me of my parents, Grandpa Brightmoon, or Grandma and Grandpa Darkstorm."  He looked at me sadly, smiling as best he could.  "I still think of them often, but I guess it has become a little easier over time."

Dakota began to open up, as Love and I shared our experiences.  The poor kid was so stricken with grief.  His friend, Rebbecca had passed away in late May, dying from an aneurysm in her brain.  >From what he stated, Love and I both knew he felt guilty for surviving. 

As he broke down in tears, I brought him to us, Love and I holding him in a tight embrace.  Love soothingly told him everything was going to be alright.  As he calmed down, we explained about many things he could expect to experience during his recovery. 

The numbness he had been feeling was giving way to sorrow.  I told him he could expect to be angry at times, as well.  Love explained that he would probably ache for Rebbecca for a while, wanting to be alone and taking little interest in things around him.  We both assured him, though, that he would find a new meaning or purpose to enter life again.

Love smiled at me, then suggested that Dakota dedicate this year in memory of his Rebbecca.  Dakota then began telling us about things he and his friend had planned on doing.  He also told us about some of the causes she believed in and moral issues she felt strongly about.  Love smiled, asking Dakota to think about doing some of these things in honor of Rebbecca.  He seemed much more hopeful after this, but I gave him our numbers and the number to the mission, explaining about some of the services we offered, often freely to anyone in need.

During our talk with Dakota, Juan had sat there taking it all in.  Tears streaked his face as he hugged Dakota tightly.  "You don't have to be alone, you know.  I will gladly be your friend if you will have me."

"Look, it's not your fault, OK?"  Dakota soothed.  Juan broke down into deep sobs.  Slowly, Dakota brought Juan over to love and I, sitting him on Love's lap where we all embraced him.  Dakota smiled at Love and I.  "You can trust them Juan.  Tell them what is going on." 

Juan cried for some time, as he kept saying over and over that he was too ashamed.  Some of his experiences began playing in my mind, and I knew why he felt such shame.  "Juan, honey, there is nothing you could ever do that would make either of us not care about you, or love you for that matter.  You may think we are crazy, but we both love you, guy."

Slowly, he lifted his head, looking me in the eyes.  Seeing my sincerity, he reached out and hugged me tightly.  Through his sobs, Juan began.  "Some of the guys in my neighborhood are rough.  They beat me up when they see me out somewhere.  Even at school."  He paused, sobbing heavily.  "I can live with the beatings, but its the other stuff."

Love looked at me, and I nodded my head, answering his unasked question.  As tears filled his eyes, Kanawha asked the tough question.  "What kind of stuff, Juan?"

His cries increased dramatically.  We comforted him as best we could.  Finally, Juan spoke up.  "When they have beaten me down, some of them force me to do stuff."  I wanted so much to stop here, but I knew he needed to get this out.  "They make me give them head."  His sobs became strong again.  "The last time, one of them tried to..." 

Visual images of the experiences again raced through my mind.  Once, Juan was even attacked in one of the stairwells at school.  After being forced to service his attackers, they urinated on him.  There was another disturbing fact about that memory, and my stomach churned when I realized what it was I was seeing.  Then, the image of the last attack ran through my mind.  One of the boys was ripping Juan's pants down to rape him.  Luckily, someone was coming down the alley, causing his attackers to flee before the act was actually started.  I thanked God for that much, at least.

"It's alright, honey.  They didn't.  And, your safe now."  I soothed, but in my heart, I was wondering for how long.  "Juan, buddy, listen to me for a minute."  He looked up at me, trying his best to control his sobs.  "Why have you not gone to the police about this?"

"No!"  he cried.  "I can't do that.  My family and everyone else would know about it, then."  His fears seemed to subside some, as he explained.  "They have to tell my parents, and in my neighborhood, everyone would know about what happened to me."  He looked at me sadly.  "I just want to forget about it.  I want to get over it and move on with my life."

"But, we have to do something."  Love softly replied.  "We have to get that trash off the street so you and everyone else are safe."

"If there is another way, then maybe."  Juan said sadly.  "But, I can't go to the police."

Love and I both knew this was like riding a dead horse.  Juan was not willing to report this, and without his cooperation, nothing would come of it.  I said a prayer as I wrote down our numbers and address for him.  It was one of those times where I had to trust in God to handle the situation.  "Maybe we can figure something else out.  Just promise me you will hang on, and you will call this number to talk with my friend Mic tomorrow.  Call us if you need anything, and don't go out into the streets alone.  And, at least think about going to the police some more.  OK?"

"Yeah, sure."  Juan replied, drying his eyes.

"And, just so you know.  None of this was your fault, Juan."  Love said, patting him on the shoulder.  "You have to believe that, buddy.  None of this was your fault, and no one can hold this against you."  Juan gave a half-smile at this.  "Love and I still love you, if that means anything.  There is nothing that could ever change this."

He brightened up a bit, hearing Kanawha's words.  "Actually, it does."  He hugged us both. 

I noticed another small kid who kept glancing at us.  He seemed in his own world, though.  "Who is that?"  I asked.

Dakota looked, then replied.  "That is Wyatt.  He can't hear you though, cause he's deaf."  Dakota looked at us.  "None of us know sign language, so we communicate with him on paper.  I'll explain to him what went on here, cause I know he will be asking."  He grinned.

Wyatt was an adorable young man.  He had light brown hair that was sticking out all over in a messy style.  His soft green eyes shimmered in the distance.  I motioned to him, and he stood, walking to join us.  Wyatt was around 5'6" tall with a stocky build, somewhat chubby in fact.  Like I said, he was adorable.

As he approached us, his hands began moving.  Oddly, though, I knew the patterns from somewhere.  Somehow, in my mind, his arms, hands, and fingers appeared as lines, and I became overwhelmed.  The patterns were the same as the symbols I had seen every time I read someone.  He asked if I knew sign language.  Before I could think, my hands replied that I did.  Wyatt's eyes lit up, and we began conversing.

"I didn't know you could speak sign language."  Love smiled, rubbing my shoulder.

"Love, neither did I!"  I replied amazedly.  "But, the motions of it... they are the symbols that I see."  I explained. 

Love chuckled, and I joined him in his laughter.  "I guess you were right, Love.  God makes a way for his will to be done."  Kanawha noted. 

This made me smile.  My Love had grown so much, and I realized he was leading me as often as I was leading him.  We were equals, walking our path hand-in-hand. 

Dakota smiled and asked me what Wyatt was asking, so I interpreted it for the group, as they all had become interested in what Wyatt had to say.  When one had something to ask Wyatt, I would ask it for them, telling him Wyatt's reply.  At one point, I asked Wyatt if he would like to meet some of our family, and he was delighted.  I looked around and spotted Sorrow.

We, as a group, headed over to meet them.  I introduced everyone, interpreting for Wyatt.  Sorrow and Ethan introduced Jake and the others we had not met.  Dwayne smiled and said something to Sorrow and Chance about amazing talents.

"Kal, when did you learn to sign?"  Shaft asked.

"Oh, Dad's just gifted in knowin' 'bout 'em languages 'n all."  Chance offered.  "Well, this 'n, anyway."  He smiled at me.  "You's gonna know one more of 'em 'fore long."

I looked at our son perplexedly.  "You knew I could do this?"

Sorrow chuckled.  "Yeah.  We both did.  Didn't you?"

"Um, no."  I said in shock. 

Love hugged me from behind, laughing lightly.  "We have amazing children, Love.  With all we have been through, how can you be surprised?"

Thinking about this, I had to agree with my love. 


'At TJ was real happy seein' Dad could talk with 'at boy Wyatt.  "Now, I know inviting you two here was a Godsend.  It has been so hard to include Wyatt in the group, because it takes so long to write everything down.   By the time you have it written, other things have happened that you yourself miss and cannot relay to him. "

Dad smiled at 'im, sayin' "I am honored to be here.  You have a great group of guys, TJ."

Daddy wrapped his big ol' arms 'round Dad from behind 'im.  "I agree with you, Love.  This is a wonderful idea."

TJ smiled, 'n Jake come over to 'im, huggin' im up like Daddy was doin' to Dad.  "Well, it could be better.  Do you guys have any ideas on how we can improve it?"

I got to thinkin' 'bout that, 'n 'fore I knowed it, I's shootin' off my mouth.  "Well, you's all talk in little groups, which I reckon is alright 'n all.  But I figure you's need to do some of the talkin' in one big group."  They looked like they's thinkin' 'bout what I's sayin, so I told 'em.  "Like 'at ol' Mike fella who's gettin' all beat up 'n stuff.  'At Jeff said he'd be a willin' to come over 'n walk with 'im so's he'd be all safe like.  I reckon you'd 've found ya more of 'em boys willin' to help if he was tellin' everybody 'bout what was goin' on."  I looked at Dad 'n Daddy.  "Like when we's all eatin' at the table.  Everbody tells 'bout what's goin' on 'n stuff.  I don't reckon most of these ol' boys gots 'em a family like we do, but I reckon that's what they's needin' when they's comin' here."

Daddy smiled at Ethan.  "In the family way."

'At ol' Ethan started laughin'.  "Somehow, I knew that would come back on me."

"Well, that's what I's sayin' really.  You oughta be more like a family 'n less like a group, seein' that's what they's all needin'."  Then, I got to thinkin' some more.  "You say they won't let you all meet at that ol' school none.  We's don't really meet none too much, 'cept when we's eatin.  I guess we do some stuff together 'n all, but mostly we's just all eat together 'n stuff.  Why can't you fella's bring you somethin' 'n eat your lunch together like we do when we's workin' at the mission?  Then, you's all got lots of time to be talkin' with one 'nother.  They's gotta let you eat, so's I don't reckon they can keep you from meetin' if you's eatin'."

Sorrow come up 'n hugged me up, kissin me on the cheek.  "I think Angel is right, guys.  What these boys need is a family, something from which they feel they belong and are loved."  Dad 'n Daddy said they thought so, too.  So did Ethan 'n Shaft.  I reckon my family was a stickin' together.  I just knowed that was what these fellas was a needin' to do.

'At Wyatt fella started movin' his hands all fast like, 'n Dad told us what he's a sayin'.  "Wyatt says that you do not all have lunch together at the same time, but  you could all eat breakfast together.  From there, everyone who has lunch the same times could sit together and discuss further what was started in the morning.  He says that he thinks everyone would be safer eating lunch together, too.  He says that if you all planned your schedule right, everyone could have at least one buddy in each class to be of some comfort and protection."

I hugged 'at fella, thinkin' Wyatt was pretty smart.  Him a talkin' with his hands 'n all like that was kinda neat I thought.   I told Dad to tell 'im so, 'n he just smiled back at me. 

Some little guy named Bobby come by, 'n Jake 'n TJ told 'im what we was talkin' 'bout.   He thought  on it a minute or two, then smiled at me.  "So, which son are you?"

"I's Chance."  I pointed at Sorrow.  "This'n is Sorrow."

"Well, Chance, I can see why your dads are so proud of the both of you.  That is an excellent idea."  that little Bobby guy said to me.

He went over to 'at Max fella 'n got 'im a microphone like we's got in the movie room at home.  Then, he asked all 'em boys to move their chairs round in a circle.   Bobby asked me to come up 'n talk to everbody, but I's a bit nervous 'bout that.  Sorrow come up with me, though, 'n he held my hand while I talked with 'em.

I told 'em all bout how I's livin' 'fore, 'n how I met Dad 'n Daddy.  Sorrow told 'em 'bout us meetin' at that ol' mall 'n  'bout his life.  Then he told 'em how he's livin' with us now.  We both told 'em boys 'bout our family 'n all the stuff we's doin' together.  Then we told 'em 'bout what all we's talkin' bout 'fore 'n what that Wyatt guy said with his fast ol' hands 'n all. 

Somethin' else come cross my mind, so I told 'em 'bout it too.  Our family was all different kinds of people.  None of us was the same or nothin' like that.  I told 'em they might wanna talk with some of 'em other kids that might not be gay or nothin', but still feels like they's different.  I reckoned lots of 'em kids got picked on 'sides gay ones, and I figured they might be interested in helpin' make things better for everbody.  I knowed they'd get lots more help that way, anyhow.

I guess they liked what I's sayin', cause they all started talkin' bout it 'n sharin' other kinds of stuff together.  I smiled cause they's soundin' an awful lot like a family to me then.  They talked like that for a good bit, then 'at little Bobby fella said it was time for some fun. 

They all started singin to music, lookin on this tv readin' the words 'n all.  Some of 'em sang alone 'n some of 'em sang together.  I's surprised when Sorrow got up there to sing, but I reckon that was a real pretty song.  He said his Pop used to sing it to 'im 'n David when he was little.


As the music started, he grabbed me by the hand, takin me with 'im.  He walked over to Jake 'n TJ 'n he started singin'.
Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for

'At Jake kissed TJ.  Then, Sorrow looked at me.

With a friend to call my own
I’ll never be alone
And you my friend will see
You’ve got a friend in me

He kissed me, all soft like.  Then, we walked on to Alex 'n Carter 'n Dwayne.

Ben, you’re always running here and there
You feel you’re not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don’t like what you find
There’s one thing you should know
You’ve got a place to go

'Em fella's started cryin' but hugged 'im while he's singin to em.  They knowed he's tellin' em he's their friend 'n all.   Then, we walked up to Dad 'n Daddy 'n Ethan 'n Shaft.

I used to say, I and me
Now it’s us, now it’s we

They hugged Sorrow, cause they knowed he was talkin' bout us bein' a family 'n all.  Then we's standin' in front of some of 'em other fella's.  A few of 'em was ones 'at  come over with Dad 'n Daddy.

Ben, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I’m sure they’d think again
If they had a friend like Ben
Like Ben
Like Ben

'Em fella's was cryin too, but 'at Juan guy hugged Sorrow real tight like 'n told 'em thanks.

The song was over 'n all, but 'em boys just kept on cheerin' for Sorrow.  He was a real good singer, if you's askin' me, cause he sounded like one of 'em ol' angels.  But I reckon those words was meanin' lots to 'em boys.  I knowed they's  meanin' an awful lot to me 'n all.  They kept on cheerin' though, so Sorrow sang one more song, but this 'n he sang just to me.  He had me stand right 'side 'im 'n he was a lookin' at me the whole time he's a singin'.


I found my way out of the darkness
After all this time
Now I see your smiling face
Looking back at mine
I was always told
That love can be blind
Now I understand that
Love can be kind

Cause you're my angel
Gotta make you see
I'm the one for you
You're the one for me
Cause you're my angel
Gotta let you know
Now I've found you
I'm never letting go
Cause you're my angel

Sometimes I'm empty
I'm weak or in despair
But it's enough to know
That you are always there
And I'll love you cause you
Can see inside my soul
You bring me comfort
When I'm standing all alone

Cause you're my angel
Gotta make you see
I'm the one for you
You're the one for me
Cause you're my angel
Gotta let you know
Now I've found you
I'm never letting go
Cause you're my angel

You're my angel and
You're always there
You're always there

I was always told that
Love can be blind
Now I know that 
Love Can be kind

Cause you're my angel
Gotta make you see
I'm the one for you
You're the one for me
Cause you're my angel
Gotta let you know
Now I've found you
I'm never letting go
Cause you're my angel

I's cryin' listenin' to 'em words, cause they was like Sorrow had been when he was all sad like.  He was really thinkin' I's the reason he was gettin' all better like.   That song even said I's his angel, just like he's always callin' me 'n all.  I reckon I knowed he was meanin' all 'em words 'n that was what was meanin' so much to me.  When he was finished, he gave me a big ol' kiss which was REAL nice, if you's askin me.  'Em ol boys was a cheerin' big time then.  So was Ethan 'n Shaft.  Dad 'n Daddy was smilin, clappin' for us I reckon.  I kissed Sorrow one more time, then we's went back 'side our family, lettin' some of the rest of 'em boys sing. 

When we left that meetin', I reckon we all had us a bunch of numbers to be callin', checkin' up on some of 'em boys.  We was 'bout half way home I reckon when 'at TJ called my little pocket phone.  I's 'cited somebody's a callin' me, so's I answered it real fast like.  Sorrow was laughin' at me, though. 

TJ told me he was real glad we all come to that meetin' and thanked me for tellin' 'em what I was thinkin'.  He told me to tell our dads he'd be callin' em later to tell 'em thanks 'n I did.  He told me to tell Sorrow he sang real good, which I did.  Sorrow got all red like, but told TJ thanks, puttin his head next to mine listenin' to 'im talkin' with me.  Then, he asked if me 'n Sorrow wanted to go to a movie with 'im 'n Jake the next evenin'.  He asked us to see if Ethan 'n Shaft wanted to go too. 

I let Shaft talk to 'im, while I asked Dad 'n Daddy if we could go.  They told us we could, long as we's careful.  Daddy winked at me 'n Sorrow, tellin' us how proud he was of us for helpin' 'em boys 'n all.  So did Dad. 

After Shaft talked to TJ, he asked if he could use my phone to call 'em brothers 'n see if they was wantin' to go.   Lots of 'em boys had pocket phones 'n I's real glad Daddy got me mine then.  That Dwayne fella was awful 'cited 'n so was Carter.  We 'cided to ask if Dakota and Juan wanted to go with us too, so Shaft called 'em both 'n they said they'd come too.  We's gonna have a great ol' time then.

We got home 'n Sorrow 'n me took 'em pups out  'fore we got ready for bed.  I gived Roe a hug, tellin' 'im how everthin' went today while I was practicin' with Sorrow.  I thanked 'im for his help, huggin' him again, and he kissed me  on the head, tellin me I's welcome. 

It was gettin' late, so we washed up 'n brushed our teeth.  Dad 'n Daddy tucked us in, sayin' prayers 'n all like usual.  They kissed us both 'n went on to bed too. 

I's a bit worried 'bout that test I's gonna be takin'.  Sorrow kept tellin' me I's gonna be fine, but I's still nervous 'bout it.  He kissed me REAL good like, then I snuggled up to 'im, puttin' my head on his chest.  He just held me real tight like 'n we's sleepin' for I knowd it.  

When I woked up the next mornin', Sorrow was watchin' me, scratchin' my back real gentle like.   He smiled 'at great ol' big grin of his 'n I just knowd he's the prettiest thing I's ever saw.  "Morning Angel."  He said all happy like.  "Do you feel any better?"

I wasn't none to worried no more 'bout that ol' test cause I just knowd I's gonna be just fine with it.  "Honest, I's feelin' lots better now.  I reckon my big ol' angel 'n pillow done chased all 'em nerves away."  I's smilin' right back at 'im.  "I knows you's what I's needin' to feel better 'n all.  You do lots of stuff for me too Sorrow, whether you sees it or not."

He run his fingers in my hair 'n pet my face.  "Anything for you, Angel."  Then, he hugged me up real tight.  "God knows, I'd be completely lost without you, Chance."

"We's family, you 'n me.  We's part of this big ol' family 'n part of Dad 'n Daddy's family too.  But we's our own little family, 'n I knows we's forever.  So I don't reckon you's gonna be lost no time too soon."  I told 'im, pushin' his hair out of his pretty ol' face.  Then I laughed.  "Even if you was, I'd just find ya 'n whip you up 'fore wonderin' off on me.  I could take ya, you know."

Quicker 'n I's could blink, Sorrow flipped me over 'n was pinnin' me down on the bed.  Then he started ticklin' me somethin' awful.  "Oh, you think now, do you?  I don't know Angel.  I believe I might just be able to take you back."

I was laughin' real hard then, but I still told 'im,  "Only if I's lettin' ya."

Then he tickled me real strong 'n I was squirmin' everwhere.  "So you are just pitying me, are you?"  Sorrow said laughin'.

>From out of nowhere, 'em pups jumped up on 'at bed 'n started lickin' us both.   We's both laughin' real hard 'bout that.  Finally, we got 'em all calmed down like.  "Honest, I think 'em ol' pups can take us both real easy."  I says to 'im.

"I know you're right on that one.  I guess we should take them out."  Sorrow smiled.  'Em pups perked up when he said take 'em out.  I guess they knowd what that meant then.  Sorrow climbed out of bed 'n turned 'round 'n picked me up in 'is arms, liftin' me out of 'at bed.  I kissed 'im mornin', but I don't reckon it was near as good as the night 'fore.  "Maybe we should brush our teeth first."  Sorrow said, knowin' we both tasted kind of funny like.

After we brushed our teeth 'n swished 'at ol' nasty blue stuff 'round in our mouths, I kissed 'im again.  "That was lots better."  I says to 'im.

He looked all serious like.  "I don't know, Chance.  I still don't think we have it right."  Then, he kissed me again but lots longer that time.  "That was much better.  I still think we need to practice, though." he said smilin' all big like.

"You's gettin' to be an awful lot like Dad 'n Daddy 'n 'em boys."  I laughed at 'im cause he turned real red like.  "Let's get these ol' pups outside." 

We headed down the steps and through the kitchen to take 'em pups out.  Dad 'n Daddy was gettin' ready to make breakfast for everbody with Hela.  They all gived us hugs 'n 'em pups licked 'em all good mornin' too.  Then we took Chips 'n Domino on outside.  After they was finished 'n we fixed em breakfast, me 'n Sorrow run up to our room 'n took us a shower.  He helped me find somethin' to wear 'n we got dressed.  By then, they's just about finished with breakfast.  Ethan 'n Shaft met us on the steps, both of 'em laughin' cause me 'n Sorrow just took us a shower.  I reckon they's just payin' us back, so we just laughed with 'em.

Jew 'n Jena was already in the kitchen, and he picked me up huggin' me.  They both kissed me, wishin' me luck on that ol' test.  I hugged 'em both back 'n thanked 'em for helpin' me.

We all had us our breakfast, talkin' 'bout last night 'n all.  Everbody seemed like they had 'em a good time.  They all was real interested in hearin' 'bout that meetin'.  We 'cided to ask TJ if they could all come with us next time.  Our family was good 'bout helpin' each other, so I reckoned 'em other boys could use all of us.

Everbody hugged us bye.  They all wished me luck on 'at test 'n stuff.  We rode over to the school talkin' 'bout everthin' we could think of I guess.  When we got there, Dad gived me a big ol' hug.  "You'll do just fine, son.  Don't worry about it and try your best.  That's all anyone could ask of you."  he said 'n kissed me on the forehead.

Daddy picked me up 'n gave me one of 'em big ol' hugs of his.  "We're always proud of you, son.  We love you more than you could ever know."  Then he kissed me on the forehead too.

Once Daddy set me down, Sorrow hugged me all tight like.  "I'm not going to wish you luck, Angel, because luck has nothing to do with it.  I know you will do fine.  Just have faith in yourself."  He kissed me all soft like 'n hugged me again.  "We'll be waiting for you, Angel.  I love you."

I knowd they was the best family a boy could ever have.  I smiled at 'em all 'n told 'em I loved 'em.  Then I went in to take that ol' test.  It was a real long time till I's finished.  I reckon I knowd most of 'em questions from practicin' so much.  I wasn't nervous or nothin when they asked me 'em questions out loud.  I wasn't even gettin' all mad bout havin' to write out that ol' English stuff.  I's just real calm like knowin' my family was waitin' for me.

When I's done, that lady took me back out to my dads 'n Sorrow.  She said it'd be 'bout an hour, so we all decided to go get us some lunch.  We went to this place 'n got us some tacos.  I ain't had no tacos 'fore then, and I was havin' a time eatin' 'em.  So was Dad, but Sorrow 'n Daddy seemed like they's doin fine.  Ever time you would try to bite one of 'em suckers, they'd just fall apart 'n all the stuff would fall out of 'em on your plate.  Dad got us two some forks 'n we ate 'em like what he called a taco salad.  They's real good, just awful messy. 

"So, how do you think you did, Angel?"  Sorrow asked me 'fore he started eatin' his next taco.  He was awful cute cause he had a little bit of that white stuff on his cheek.  I wiped it off of 'im laughin'.

"I reckon I did just fine.  I knowd lots of it from practicin' 'n all."  I told 'im.

"Son, we're both proud of you regardless of your scores."  Dad said.

Then, Daddy got this big ol' grin on his face.  "But, knowing how smart you are, we will be able to gloat about those scores of yours.  I just know you did really well."

I laughed 'bout that.  "I don't know if I's 'd go that far, Daddy, but I reckon I did good enough to get in that school."  Then I smiled at Sorrow.  "I's got me a little faith in myself."

He smiled 'n kissed me on the cheek.  "No where near as much as we have in you, Angel." 

That made me feel real good.  I guess that is part of bein' family too.  You believe in one 'nother helpin' each one believe in hisself.  I just knowd that's what they's doin' for me.

After we's finished eatin', we went back to that school.  That lady took us back in this room to meet with this man and another lady.  He said he was Mr. Jackson, the new principle.  She said her name was Miss Cooper, and I thought she seemed real nice 'n all. 

"Chance, we were impressed with your scores, as you did quite well on your tests.  However, you made a few notes that we found rather interesting, particularly on your Math and English tests."  that Mr. Jackson said.

"I just knowd I should've not done that."  I whispered to Sorrow.  He took my hand 'n rubbed it all easy like.

"Well, Chance, we are glad you did."  Miss Cooper said, hearin' what I's sayin' to Sorrow.  "It is our understanding from Miss Lafferty that you want to be in classes with your friend Eric.  Well, Eric is in several advanced placement classes."  I wasn't for sure, but I figured since Sorrow was so smart 'n all, he was in 'em classes for 'em real bright kids.  I guessed then we wasn't gonna get in none of 'em classes together.

"Don't look so downhearted, Chance.  On your math test, you made a few comments I found very enlightening about your true potential.  On one set of the problems, you were asked to select what all you could buy with  the only five dollars you had from the local restaurant.  You answered the questions correctly, but your note was priceless."  He laughed.  Then, he told my dads what I had said 'n I got real embarrassed.  "He basically said that if it were him and he only had five dollars, he would not waste it on a single meal.  He said that a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread would feed him for several meals, which he felt was the better choice."  Mr. Jackson smiled real big like at me.  "Honestly, son, you're right.  Your note let me see that you have the ability to think beyond the scope many in your age group cannot even begin to comprehend.  For that reason, I am going to allow you to be placed in the math and science classes with your friend Eric."  Then he looked at Sorrow.  "I trust you will help your friend if he has any trouble."

Sorrow smiled real big, huggin' me tight like.  "Yes sir.  But, I honestly don't think he will have much trouble at all."

"With as much as he has accomplished in ten days, I believe you are right."  Miss  Cooper said.  "Chance, your paper was wonderfully written, but it was your note that really spoke to me."  She smiled at me.  "It was in a completely different voice than the paper, one I believe I heard you using while talking to your friend.  Personally, I find that voice to be heartwarming, true, and quite unique." 
She got real teary like all the sudden.  "What you wrote in your note, however, was very moving.  You have a great understanding about family, Chance, and your ideas about helping those boys came across beautifully.  I wish you luck in that."  Then, she smiled again.  "In the advanced English, we are going to be doing a bunch of creative writing assignments and persuasion papers about social issues.  I think you will do just fine, so I am allowing you to enter the AP English class with Eric, as well."  Then, she grinned real big.  "That means you and Eric will have all of your classes together, Chance."

I's cryin' I's so happy.  I run 'round the table 'n hugged 'em both, thankin' 'em for lettin' me be with Sorrow.  They both laughed 'n told me they's lookin' forward to havin' me in that ol' school.  "I think our students can learn a great deal from Chance's unique perspective."  Mr. Jackson said to my dads.  "It will be an honor to have him."

After we was finished in that office, we was all so 'cited 'bout everthin'.  We all got out our pocket phones 'n called all of the family to tell 'em what happened.  I called Jew 'n Jena and told 'em 'bout all they said.  They was both real happy.  Dad called Shaft 'n Roe 'n Ethan, tellin' them 'bout it.  Daddy called Grams 'n Nanna 'n Hela, which we could all here Hela yellin' she's so happy.  Sorrow called Mic 'n Cole, 'n Cole said she'd call Allen 'n tell 'im the good news. 

Then, I called Pops while Dad called Valerie 'n Ed.  "Pops!  Guess what?"  I says to 'im.

"The school burned down and you didn't have to take your test?"  'At ol' Pops was gettin' silly, I reckoned.

I laughed real big thinkin' bout that.  "No.  I got in 'n they's lettin' me take all 'em same classes as Sorrow!"

"Wow!  Chance, that is fantastic news!"  he was real 'cited like, too.  "I guess we will have to do something special after we go shopping tomorrow.  So, what does your dads and Eric have to say about the genius in their midsts?"  Me 'n Pops talked for a little bit, then he talked with Sorrow some.  Dad gave me his phone, cause Ed 'n Valerie was wantin' to talk to me.

"Chance, darling.  We are so proud of you."  She said to me.  "You are a miracle in the making, just like Sorrow."

"Buddy, I am so happy." Ed said, all 'cited like.  "I don't know what I am going to do having two helpers that are smarter than I am.  Maybe I should just turn the business over to the two of you." 

I just laughed at ol' Ed.  "I reckon you's know way more 'bout all that stuff 'n either of us do.  'Sides, we like workin' for you boss."  I told 'im.  We talked for a bit, 'n Valerie said to be sure 'n bring all 'em boys by 'fore we went to the mall so's we could eat dinner.  They's gonna fix up somethin' special for me.

After gettin' off all 'em phones, we all went 'n got in the car.  I wondered where we was goin', cause I knowd it wasn't the way home or nothin' like that.  Then, I seen that big ol' wheel ride thing 'n I knowd just where we was at.

Dad 'n Daddy took lots of pictures of me 'n Sorrow as we was racin' 'round that ol' track in 'em little cars.  That was so much fun, even more than the time 'fore when we come there.  It wasn't near as crowded, so we gots our turns lots faster.  We rode lots of 'em rides too.  This one nice ol' lady even snapped a few pictures of me 'n Sorrow 'n our dads for us.  Daddy won Dad a teddy bear 'n an ol' fox throwin rings on 'em bottles.  It wasn't no real fox or nothin' like that.  It was one of 'em stuffed 'n's like that ol' teddy was.    Sorrow won me a stuffed little rabbit throwin baseballs at this circle thing.  I 'cided I's gonna call 'at bunny Lucky, which Sorrow thought was real funny with me namin' it 'n all.  Me 'n Dad didn't win none of 'em games, but we had fun playin' anyways.

After a while, it was time to be gettin' back to the house to meet Ethan 'n Shaft since we's meetin' all 'em boys tonight.  We asked Dad 'n Daddy if they was comin', but they said we should have a night out with just us fella's.  I kinda wanted them to come with us, but me 'n Sorrow figured they was wantin' to spend 'em some time alone.  We giggled a little bit 'bout that, but we sure tried not to.

When we was gettin' in the van to leave, Daddy picked on Shaft, askin' if he was sure he could reach to work the gas 'n brake.  Ethan told 'im, "Believe it or not, smart ass, shorter people drive every day."  He then hugged 'im, asking if they's sure they was not comin' with us. 

Daddy just laughed.  "I guess Love and I will find something to entertain us.  You boys have a good time, and be careful."  We hugged both our dads bye then headed out to pick up the rest of 'em fellas. 

When we got to their houses, we told 'em to  see if they could stay the night and to get 'em some clothes.  All of 'em was 'cited about havin' a sleep over 'n all.  I reckon this was my second one, seein' how Sorrow had stayed with me 'fore he moved in 'n all.  After we picked up Dakota, we headed over to Valerie 'n Ed's for dinner. 

They had fixed us up some fried chicken 'n broccoli.  There was macaroni 'n cheese 'n all kinds of other stuff.  'Em boys liked Valerie 'n Ed a good bit, 'n they told 'em both how good that food was. 

Valerie come by 'n told me 'n Sorrow, "You boys have fun tonight, and remember:  Help comes from places where you least expect it."

I knowed she 'n Dad both saw stuff 'bout people in their heads 'n all.   Me 'n Sorrow did too, but what we was seein' was different 'n what she 'n Dad was seein' somehow.  We didn't have to wait too long to find out what she's meanin' though.

After eatin', we all thanked 'em for our meals.  They wouldn't let none of us pay for nothin', cause they said it was a dinner special for me doin' so well on my tests.  I had to 'xplain to 'em other boys 'bout it 'n they seemed impressed or somethin'. 

We went to that game place first.  Ethan was beatin' most all 'em boys.  Sorrow was pretty good at 'em kinda games, but I reckon I's better at 'em.  He was better 'n me at 'em games we was playin' earlier though.  I beat that TJ 'n Sorrow kissed me.  While he was kissin' me though, that ol' Blade 'n 'em other fella's come down the mall.  They was broodin' when they seen 'im kissin' me, but walked on.

I told Sorrow I'd be right back, and I guess he thought I had to pee or somethin'.  I walked down that mall till I found em boys.  "Look, Blade.  If you's got somethin' to say to me, then say it.  'Else you should just go on.  Sorrow's been through lots of things, though.  I don't reckon he needs to be hearin' your ol' mouth 'bout none of it neither.  None of 'em other fella's do for that matter. "  Then, I looked at 'im real serious like in the eyes.  "You say somethin' to Sorrow or 'em other boys 'n I'll not be so nice to you this time. 'Specially if you's say somethin' to my Sorrow."

He looked at me all mean like, then said, "Whatever, fag."  When I looked back at 'im all mean, he told 'em other fella's, "Come on guys.  Let's go."  Then, they just walked on.

I went back to Sorrow, kissin' 'im when I got there.  We played us some more of 'em games for a while, all laughin' 'n havin' us a good ol' time.  Then, it was time for that movie to start, so we headed there.

We paid 'at girl again through that hole, then gave her back 'em tickets soon as we got inside.  I still thought that was kinda silly.  Sorrow got us both a big popcorn 'n a soda to share.  He said it would be lots more fun like that.  Carter 'n Dwayne sat together, with that Juan sittin' side Carter 'n Dakota sittin' 'side Dwayne.  Ethan 'n Shaft sat next to Dakota, 'n I was 'side Shaft.  Sorrow was 'side me, then Jake 'n TJ was 'side of 'im.

'At movie was real good.  It was 'bout all these people disappearin' 'n all.  They's 'd show up dead 'n all later on, but nobody could figure out who was killin' 'em or why they's gettin' killed.  In this one part that was real scary like, Sorrow put his arm 'round me 'n I snuggled up to 'im.  We heard some fellas sayin' some rude stuff, but they was all quiet like when any of us would look 'round.  I seen that ol Blade in there, and he was a watchin' me 'n Sorrow.

I's real surprised when it turned out to be this ol' lady who was a killin' all 'em people.  This movie was good, but it wasn't nothin' like 'at last one with the guy with 'at ol' knife.  I felt kinda sorry for 'at ol' lady cause she wasn't right in the head, bein' all crazy like.  They killed her though cause she tried killin' em cops.

When the movie was over, we all got up and headed outside.  We was talkin' 'bout that movie when these big ol' fellas came up to us, callin' us fags and sayin' they's gonna whip up on us.  Me 'n Jake 'n TJ was ready to fight 'em, but Sorrow said they wasn't worth it or nothin' like that.  The other fella's agreed, so we was turnin' to leave. 

I's turnin' back 'round cause somethin' told me to be careful.  One of 'em guys was gettin' ready to hit Sorrow in the back of the head.  'Fore I could do anything, though, that ol' boy went flyin' cross the lot with somebody stuck to his legs.  I's real surprised to see it was 'at ol' Blade.

'Em other boys was right there, starin' down 'em boys that was pickin' on us.  "I think you guys should go before you get the shit kicked out of you." Blade told 'at fella who was gonna hit Sorrow.  Seein' all of us, I reckon 'em boys got scared 'n took off. 

Blade was all scuffed up, bleedin' 'n all, so  I took my shirt off 'n gived it to him to put on 'em scrapes.  He looked at me all mean like, then he grinned at me, givin' me back my shirt.  "I don't want to ruin your good shirt, but thanks." 

I wrapped it real tight 'round his arm.  "Well, you can't go 'round bleedin'.  I reckon I's oughta be thankin' you for lookin' out for Sorrow.  Why'd you do it though?  You's mean to us 'fore."

He looked at me 'n Sorrow for a minute.  "I guess for fags, you two are alright."  He was grinnin', so I don't reckon neither of us was mad cause he called us fags.    Then, he put his hand on Sorrow's shoulder.  "Maybe I am all wild 'n crazy about your boyfriend."  He said to me.  "Or, maybe what you said hit the right nerve.  Look, I am an ass, and I know it.  I won't deny that or try to make excuses.  I am who I am."   Then, he looked at Sorrow.  "No matter what, fag or not, you will always be one of us, Sorrow.  We look out for our own."  Then, he looked back at me.  "I guess we can even tolerate that mouthy little boyfriend and body guard you have, Sorrow.  Just don't be such a stranger."

He was walkin' off, 'n Sorrow looked at me.  I shook my head at 'im, smilin'.  Then Sorrow run over to 'em and asked if they wanted to come over to the house 'n stuff with us.  'Em other boys said they needed to be gettin' home, but Blade 'cided he would come with us.  Shaft offered the other guys a ride home, and they's 'cided it was lots better 'n walkin'. 

It was crowded in that van, so I's sittin' on Sorrow's lap.  Dwayne was sittin' on Blades lap, too.  He giggled a few times then finally said, "Look, you don't have to be so tense.  I'm not gay.  My brother Carter is."

Blade got embarrassed 'n started laughin'.  "I guess it shouldn't matter, and maybe it won't with time.  Right now, though, that makes me feel a lot more comfortable."

We laughed 'bout that, and Sorrow seemed like he was hopeful for Blade.  He snuggled up to me, real close like.  "This is all because of you, Angel.  You inspire people to be better."  he whispered in my ear.

I just looked at 'im like he was crazy.  "I don't reckon I did much of nothin', honest.  He just 'sided to be a real friend I guess is all."

He kissed me on my neck real easy like.  "I don't know, Angel, but I love you for it, regardless."


It was quite a surprise to be rescued by Blade of all people.  I thought to myself that miracles would never cease, but then I was reminded of my life.  Miracles were a very real part of it, so who was I to doubt the workings of God.  Blade watched Chance and I quite a bit while we dropped off the cronies.  When we were finally on our way home, he spoke.  "You know, I believe this is the first time that I can ever remember you being happy."

I was elated, wrapping my arms tightly around Chance.  "That is all because of my angel.  He brought me back to life, I guess.  I know he gives me every reason I have to smile."

He thought a moment.  "I have known you for years, Sorrow.  But, now, I realize I really don't know much about you at all.  I'm sorry for that."

"There is a lot about you I am sure I don't know either, Blade.  Maybe we will finally get to know each other for real this time."  I smiled.  Dwayne and Blade began talking about football, which was a subject he could talk about forever.

As I sat there, I became aware of the critical role Blade would play in a major event.  Chance smiled at me.  "Yep, I's knowin' that now, too.  He's gonna be a hero to lots of people, all cause you help 'im find his way."

"We, Angel, we help him find his way."  I grinned.  "Who would have guessed before, though?"

"Not me, that's for sure."  Chance giggled softly.  "But, I reckon everybody has a savin' grace to 'em.  Blade ain't no different."

When we arrived back at the house, Dad and Daddy met us on the porch along with Domino and Chips.  The pups attacked everyone with their friendliness, and even Blade found them to be fun.  "I suppose we owe you a big thanks for standing up for our son."  Dad said to Blade.

"Not really.  I owed him and Chance one, anyway.  I was the ass who harassed him at the arcade.  I'm sure you have heard about me."  Blade replied.

Daddy laughed.  "Well, at least you are honest.  I can respect that."

We introduced everyone once inside, and I think TJ and Jake were especially fond of Hela.  Blade, on the other hand, found Roe to be quite amusing.  I think everyone did really.  Mic talked some to Juan, saying it was nice to put a face with the voice.  I assumed he had called her like Dad asked him to do last night.  Everyone, however, really liked Grams and Nana.  For older people, they were so much fun.

TJ asked Dad and Daddy if they would bring the whole family to our next meeting.  Then, he went over to Jew and started talking baseball.  Jew, of course, was more than willing to oblige.  Jena and Cole were ogled by Blade and Dwayne, which they both found to be amusing.  Ethan and Shaft called them both cradle robbers, which prompted Jena and Cole to chase them, creating a most humerus scene. 

We all went up to the movie room, which all the guys, including Blade, thought was impressive.  Hela and Mic brought up some snacks, and we all played board games with the grown ups.  Then, Grams and Nana entertained us with stories about their past adventures as little girls.  Like I said, everyone loved them.  They were just awesome people.  We all played around with some music for a while, and Domino and Chips howled again every time Roe sang.

Soon, it was time for bed, as Chance and I had to work feeding the homeless in the morning.  All the boys asked if they could help, so I called Ed.  He was thrilled to have so many volunteers.  Blade said he would come, too, once Chance cornered him.  Even though I knew how Blade would one day turn out, he was still a bit much to take at times.  

We pulled a bunch of mattresses into the movie room, and even Shaft and Ethan joined us in our sleep over.  I snuggled up, resting my head on Chance as we normally did.  Blade, of course, had something to say about it.  "Do you guys always sleep like that?"

"Yes, why?"  I replied, expecting some smart remark.

He laughed.  "Well, it is kind of cute, actually.  You look like two puppies or something."  Then, he laughed even harder as he looked around the room.  "I have definitely been hanging around you fags for too long."

That prompted it, and the war was on.  It was the biggest pillow fight I imagine ever existed.  After about twenty minutes or so, we all settled back down, deciding to get some sleep.

"Thanks man."  Blade said to me.  "This has been fun."

TJ was snuggled up to Jake, both on their sides.  "I have to agree.  This has been a real blast."  TJ enthused.  "We should do things like this more often."

Everyone else made similar comments, except for Dakota, who was sound asleep beside Blade.  Blade pulled the covers over Dakota and smiled at me.  "I guess you are all OK."

"You mean, for fags?"  I joked.

"No."  He smiled.  "I mean for people.  You are all kewl regardless."  I kissed Chance goodnight, and Blade chuckled.  "I could live without that, though.  You guys are worse than my parents."

We soon all fell asleep.  As morning came, we were all awakened to the smells of breakfast.   I noticed Shaft and Ethan were missing, but figured they had gone to their room for privacy.  I prompted the troupes to wash up and get downstairs. 

As we entered the kitchen, I saw Shaft and Ethan were actually up, and they had taken Chips and Domino out already.  They were the one's fixing breakfast.  "Don't look so surprised."  Ethan laughed.  "I did most of the cooking for your Daddy, Jenna, and me.  Trust me, you will love it."  he said, handing us all platters to carry to the table.  Dad and Daddy soon joined us.  Everyone else filed in shortly thereafter. 

TJ looked at Dad.  "So, you guys seriously eat like this all the time?  Together, I mean."

Dad smiled.  "Yes, buddy, we do."  Daddy, of course had to get a hug in.  "It is a great way to start the day, being surrounded by those you love and who love you back."

We had scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, hash browns, gravy, biscuits, muffins, but no grits, thank God.  They were not very good, that was for sure.  To my dismay, Daddy brought each of us guys a bowl of those grits.  Chance and I giggled along with Dad.  "Eat up boys."  Daddy said.

They all looked at the grits for a minute, swishing them around with their spoon.  Then, they all tried them.  Chance and I both swallowed hard, quickly reaching for our juice.  "To family."  I smiled, then downed the juice swiftly. 

As the boys followed suit, Chance mouthed "Drink lots of juice." and they all snickered.

Breakfast had a lot more conversation than usual, seeing as we had so many friends with us.  There was always something new to learn about another person.  I guess our family knew this all to well, for they seemed to always ask about everyone else.  It was one of the things I had grown to love about living in the old hotel, actually.

Once breakfast clean up was finished, we all headed upstairs to various bathrooms for quick showers.  Then, we all dressed quickly and met in the living room.  Shaft and Ethan were coming with us, as were Dad and Daddy.  We all loaded up in the van and headed to work.

Pop was there waiting on us.  I introduced him to everyone, and he seemed pleased that I had made some new friends.  He looked at Chance and me a moment, then pulled me off to the side.  "Did you finally tell Chance how you felt about him?  I can tell there is something different there."

"Well, not exactly."  I said blushing.  "We just both figured out how much we meant to each other, I guess.  So, you knew?"  I asked him.

He just laughed.  "Eric, it was apparent to me when I came to pick you up at the mission.  I could tell you loved Chance, but Chance's love for you practically screamed at me."  he smiled.  "I think it is wonderful, and I am glad you are happy.  That is all that matters to me."  Then, he looked at Angel again.  "Besides, I love that kid.  He just has that way about him."

I laughed in agreement.  "That's why he's my angel, Pop."

Ed had everyone started with a task, while Valerie had Pop, Dad, and Daddy helping her out front.  It seemed like it took no time at all till breakfast was finished.  We then boxed everything up and had it ready to hand out.

Soon, the masses were at the door, and everyone soon learned why Chance and I found this to be such a wonderful job.  I don't think I have ever seen Pop smile so much, not that I really had much experience seeing him over the last several years.  Nonetheless, it was nice to witness.  Blade even seemed like he was enjoying it, that is, until some of the homeless teens came in.

"Man.  I didn't realize guys our age lived out on the streets like that."  He commented sadly.

Chance pat him on the back.  "I used to be one of 'em Blade, till Dad 'n Daddy found me."

Awkwardly, he wrapped his arm around Angel.  "I didn't know, Chance.  I feel like a real shit now for picking on you before."

"I don't reckon you knows much 'bout somebody till you get to know 'em really.  You's gotta listen to 'em and share with 'em stuff 'bout yourself 'n all."  he smiled.  "Lots of 'em is good people really, just had 'em some bad luck 'n all."

Blade began talking to a few of the teens, and I wrapped my arms around my Chance.  "Angel, I swear.  It is you who inspires people to be better."  He just laughed at me.

Pop, Dad, and Daddy talked with several of the older crowd.  They introduced many of the guys to someone, involving them all in a conversation here or there.  It was really nice to see, as they were each becoming involved in helping out others.  Ethan and Shaft were talking to this one elderly lady who kept patting them on the cheeks, telling them how cute they both were.   A couple of the teens were talking with  Jake and TJ, who seemed to be enjoying the conversation, too.

Valerie came up behind us and looked at Blade, as he laughed and carried on with a couple of homeless teen boys.  "See, you never know who God will choose to be a source of help."

"He's gonna be somethin' special to lots of these people someday soon.  I just hope we's can get 'im ready like we's 'posed to."  Chance smiled.

"I have no doubts you will, boys."  she grinned.  "Helping Blade is but one of many things you two will do.  There is a great purpose God has called you for, boys.  But, along the way, you will help many people.  I believe you know about one of them already."

I smiled at her.  "Yeah.  Chance let me in on all of that last night.  I'm just glad things will get better then.  They are really nice people, you know." 

"There are still a few surprises for you yet, my darlings.  Just never give up trying and always hold tight to your faith."  she said softly.

Valerie went out to refill everyones cups with coffee, and Chance and I took out juice for anyone who wanted some more.  It was busy, but in a wonderful way.  It was like we were building a real community, in a way like our family was made.  There was a great deal of caring and understanding that was passing around us.  Everyone seemed to be more focused on someone else rather than themselves.  It was nice to see happening.

Pop came to Angel and me, thanking us both for inviting him.  He seemed to understand just how important this work was to so many people.  I was proud of him, actually.

Once everyone was fed, we began cleaning up.  It did not take too long since there were so many of us working today.  Chance and I carried out the trash along with TJ and Jake.  "Another great day, Angel."  I wrapped him tightly in my arms.  "Though I wish it were more, we at least made sure they were all fed."

Chance kissed me gently, and I began to tingle all over.  It happened every time he kissed me.  "We's at least makin' some difference in their lives.  That's more 'n they had 'fore all this, anyway."  he smiled.  "I reckon they's all happy 'bout it, so's why can't we be happy too?"

Two very big arms lifted Angel and I up off the ground, pulling us into a vice grip of a hug.  "Thanks for letting us come today, guys.  I think we learned more than we bargained for today."  Jake said softly.

"I suppose we get too wrapped up in our own problems sometimes that we forget about everyone else.  Having someone else to turn to makes it a whole lot easier."  TJ added, grinning at Jake.  "It was nice for someone to turn to us for help, too.  It makes you feel worthwhile, I guess."

I grinned at both of them.  "That is what it is all about, guys.  Family that is.  You always have someone to turn to when you need them, and there is always someone who cares for and loves you.  In return, you do the same for your family."  I kissed my angel on the head.  "That was what Chance was meaning.  This is what the guys from the group need, a way to find the family they are missing at home."

We talked for a few more minutes, then made our way to the van.  We all went back to the house to get cleaned up.  Pop followed us in his car, bringing Ethan, Shaft, and Juan with him.  Once cleaned up, we all went to the mall, as I needed to find some clothes for school.  I have to say, it was a fantastic time.  We were all bonding, becoming friends.  Soon, I knew we would be like family.

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

Words and music by Walter Scarf and Donald Black  ©  1972

Your My Angel
Words and music by  Mikey Graham  ©  2000