Catherine and Cam finally were allowed to see Kevin when Father Andrew arrived at the emergency room at Marin General to administer Holy Unction. Swathed in bandages almost from head to toe, and hooked to a variety of monitors and machines, Kevin's pale face peeked out at the top of the broken body on the bed. Unconscious, the boy's chest barely moved as he breathed.
Cam wept silently. He stared at his friend, mesmerized by the horror of what he saw.
Father Gilbert put on his stole, and taking his oil stock, he dipped his thumb into it and anointed Kevin's forehead and the backs of his hands with the holy oil as he said the ritual prayers for healing. Then the three of them held hands and said the Our Father and the Hail Mary together. The priest blessed Kevin, and they walked back to the front entrance of the emergency room together.
"I don't want you to give up on Kevin, no matter what the doctors say or how bad it looks," Father Andrew told the MacKenzies. "Kevin is a child of grace and light, and so are we all. Our prayers are powerful, and I'm going to set the prayer chain at the parish in motion. We'll have a vigil for his recovery. Above all, don't you two stop praying for him."
Cam remained mute as Catherine assured their priest that they would follow his advice. Father Andrew left.
"Do you want to go to the chapel with me?" Catherine asked Cam, holding him and giving him a kiss.
"If it's all right with you, I'll stay with Kevin until you come back, and then I'll go."
"All right, sweetheart," Catherine said. Turning, she walked away, following a blue line in the tile floor which supposedly led to the chapel.
Cam went back to Kevin's room, and sat down in a chair at his bedside. He looked at what he could see of Kevin's face, and almost against his will, he began to pray for his friend because he didn't know what else to do. His mind drifted as he prayed, and he began wondering who could be vicious enough to do what they had done to Kevin. When Catherine came back twenty minutes later, she found him sitting there beside the bed, unmoving, unblinking, watching his friend breathe, willing him to live.
Cam got up and gave his mother his seat, and wandered off to find the chapel. He followed that blue line in the floor, and finally found the right door. Going in, he sat in the first of the four pews in the dimly lighted little room, closest to the altar. He was alone.
He didn't pull down a kneeler. He just sat there looking at the backlighted stained glass window, which pictured Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. "Holy, Holy, Holy" was carved into the front of the altar, and the sanctus light told him that the Blessed Sacrament was in the tabernacle behind the altar.
"Well, I s'pose you're here," he finally said aloud into the silence. "The priests and nuns say you're everywhere. If that's true, I don't know how you could let this happen to Kevin. He's a good person, you know that. And he was on the way to becoming the kind of person you say you want all of us to be. He wasn't perfect, but he was trying to do better. If you take him, he won't have a chance to do that, you know, at least not on earth. How can he do right by Heather and the little baby if you take him...?"
Cam stopped talking and the tears began to trickle down his cheeks again.
"Yes, I'm selfish, I'm asking you to spare his life because I love him. I can't believe you'd punish him and me because we love each other. We're the way you made us, you know, and that wouldn't be fair. I know things aren't always fair in life, but you're supposed to be. So what's the deal, anyway? You know very well that I didn't want to fall in love with him. You know how hard I fought it. I fought it all the way. But it's too late now. I'm not gonna stop loving him now no matter what, so you can just forget that! But I'll make you a promise for both Kevin and me if you'll save him. Maybe it's only a little thing, but I promise you that we'll never curse again using your name or the name of Jesus. I promise you that we'll become seekers of your truth, and we'll go to church somewhere every Sunday without fail from now on. The sisters who taught Kevin and me in grade school said that when we pray we're not supposed to bargain with you. Well, tough shit. I'm offering you something good here--Kevin and I will get serious when it comes to paying attention to you. You have everything in the universe in your hand, but you can't have our wills unless we give them to you. You'll have them, freely given, if you hear my prayer.
"I not trying to make this all about me, but some of it is, you know. I've never felt this way about any human being before, and I need him here to love him and for him to love me. He can help me learn how to love him and other people better. I promise that when we find out how to go about it, we'll have our relationship blessed, somewhere, somehow, if you'll let us. Please. I'm asking you...I'm begging you...to let him live. I'll serve you all my life if you do, and I'll serve Kevin and his child, too. Please. I'm not lying. I'm asking this through Jesus Christ. Amen."
He continued to sit there, listening to the surrounding silence. He had stopped crying, and he wiped his face with his handkerchief, suddenly realizing that the pain in his gut had subsided. Getting up and leaving the pew, he genuflected and left the chapel.
When he arrived back at Kevin's room, Catherine was still sitting there, looking very tired and sad. She stood up when Cam came in, but Cam didn't want to sit down.
"Mom, you should go home now and get some sleep," Cam said, talking to her as if he were the parent and she were the child. "Kevin is going to be OK, I think. I'm gonna hang around the rest of the night, but I don't want you to worry. Just swing by and pick me up before you go to the university so I can go home and shower and change my clothes. I'll drive myself back here, and I won't be going to school tomorrow." He looked at his watch. "Er, today, I mean."
He bent down and, avoiding the intravenous needle in it, he kissed the back of Kevin's hand--that strong hand which had gently, powerfully caressed Cam's body during the few times they had made love so far. He didn't care that his mother saw him kiss his friend's hand, his lover's hand.
* * *
Catherine had no sooner left the hospital than a tall, fat, red-faced man in a suit, a police badge hanging out of his breast pocket, came into the room. He nodded at Cam.
"I'm Detective McConnell. Who are you?"
"Cam MacKenzie. I'm Kevin's foster brother."
"He hasn't regained consciousness yet?"
"Did Kevin have any enemies that you know of?"
McConnell shook his head. "This doesn't look random to us. Whoever did it didn't steal anything from the boy. And they obviously weren't after the car, smashing it up the way they did. So we're looking for a motive."
"I wish I could help you," Cam said. "I don't think we're going to know much until Kevin regains consciousness."
"Don't you mean, if he regains consciousness?"
"No, he's going to wake up," Cam said firmly.
"I hope you're right." The detective dug into a pocket a brought out a card. "Call me when he does, will you? I'll leave a card with the front desk as well."
"Thank you, sir."
The detective left, and Cam sat down in his chair and studied Kevin's form as he lay in the bed.
"Kevin, this is Cam," he said conversationally. "I'm just hangin', man. I'm waitin' for you to wake up so we can talk. I know how tough you are, and I know that whatever happened to you isn't going to keep you down. Listen, now, this may sound a little strange, but I just talked to God in the chapel, and I made some promises for both of us. So after you heal up, we're going to have some things we have to do, but we can do them together. I hope you know how much I love you, and so do Mom and Dad, too, and John, and practically everybody who knows you. So don't think you're going through this shit all alone. You're needed here, and it's not your time yet, I know that. So if you could just give me a sign you're stickin' with me, that would really help me out right now, 'cause I'm a little worried. Do that, and I'll let ya rest. Otherwise, I'm just gonna keep talking. And that could get pretty boring for both of us."
Kevin's left hand, the one with the intravenous needle in it, twitched. Cam stared at it. It twitched again, and then Kevin groaned and slowly opened his eyes.
"Yes, God," Cam whispered, leaning forward and pushing the call button pinned to the side of the bed. He stood up and peered into Kevin's eyes.
"It's me, Kev. Cameron. I'm here."
"Cam...?" Kevin whispered.
At that point, a nurse and a doctor came running into the room, and an exultant Cam was quickly banished to the waiting room. He took out his cell phone right away and called Catherine, who answered at home on the first ring.
"Yes?" she said.
"Kevin's awake, Mom!! He woke up!!" Cam was laughing and crying at the same time.
"Oh, honey, I'm so relieved and so happy!" Catherine said. "You knew more than any of us about what was going to happen, didn't you? Do you want me to come back to the hospital?"
"No." Cam stopped crying, but the big smile pasted on his face stayed right where it was. "They kicked me out of his room, so you get some sleep. I'll call you when they know something. You might want to call Michael Stoltz in a while, though, and let him know what happened. I'm gonna call Dad in a few minutes. He goes to work early."
"All right, sweetheart. I'm so grateful that Kevin woke up. And I'm grateful to have you both for my sons, Cam. I hope you always remember that. Thank you for letting me know, and I'll pick you up in a few hours. In fact, why don't you just call me when you want to come home?"
"All right, Mom. Thank you for everything!"
Catherine finished getting ready for bed, but when she lay down, she couldn't sleep for thinking about what had happened to Kevin. After tossing and turning for awhile, she got up, put on her bathrobe and went down to the kitchen. Turning on the stove under the teakettle, she got out a teapot and put a tea bag in it. She sat down in the breakfast nook and waited for the water to get hot. When the kettle whistled, she let the tea steep for a few minutes in the teapot, poured a cup, added milk and sugar, and then sat down at the table again.
Sitting there drinking the tea reminded her of her girlhood tea parties with her mother in their roomy apartment in New York City when she was growing up. Catherine was an only child. Her mother had been a housewife. Her father had been a professor of psychology at Columbia University, an eccentric man who was both erudite and crazy as a loon. Catherine hadn't known any better. She had loved her father dearly, and thought his eccentricities were normal. He loved his family, too, in his own peculiar way. She grew up and eventually realized that her father was "just a bubble off plumb," but it never affected the way she felt about him. In fact, a byproduct of her upbringing had been that she was a very tolerant person when in came to human behavior.
She had met Alex in college at UCLA, and although she had dated widely, he was an interesting, even intriguing person, and persistent in wooing her. He had been a jock in high school, and had a handsome face and a fine physique. He was also funny and creative, and she fell in love with him. They married after graduation and she worked while Alex did graduate work at the film school, and eventually they moved to San Rafael where Alex had been offered a job directing educational films. There had been no hint that he was anything but heterosexual in his orientation. Cam had been born not long after they moved into the house she and Cam still lived in.
Catherine knew that Alex never fell out of love with her, nor she with him, but the conjugal fires gradually abated over the years until they were scarcely having sex at all. She missed that terribly. Something was definitely troubling Alex, she knew that, but never succeeded in getting him to open up to her until after he had been seeing a therapist for an extended period. When he finally owned up to his sexual orientation, she had been shocked right down to her toes. Shocked and hurt. She didn't collapse as her marriage continued to disintegrate, but it was more out of a sense of duty to Cam and to her work at St. Francis that she had persisted in functioning. After Alex had separated from her and moved to Los Angeles, for a long time she moved through what seemed to be a dream world, with neither joy or pain. There were no money problems, as she had received a tidy inheritance from her parents' estate thanks to the books on psychology her father had written. And Alex continued to give her any money she needed and a lot that she didn't need. She knew she would always love Alex. But it was Cam who had kept her sane, along with next door neighbors Michael and Lynda Stoltz and their boy Kevin.
She was often amused by the contrasts between Kevin and Cam, who had been raised by parents with similar values and approaches to child rearing, nurtured by the same schools and community, and who attended the same parish church. The two boys had always been close, although their personalities were quite different. Cam was a combination of a laid back dreamer and an activist, and he had such a tremendous influence on his peers that it was nothing short of extraordinary. A leader. If he told you to jump out the window of a ten story building, you tended to believe that it was in your best interests to do so. Even adults seemed to take delight in doing his bidding when they could do so without losing face. He was clever and intelligent, and his academic record was nothing short of outstanding. He was also a boy who never had to be urged to fulfill his religious duties.
Kevin, on the other hand, was the supreme pragmatist, extremely focused and goal directed. Once he had identified a goal to be reached, there was little else on his mind until he attained it. He was physically powerful boy with a beautiful body who had worked hard to make it that way and keep it that way. He was always nice to everybody, and was well liked. Like Cam, he had compiled a superior academic record throughout his school years. Unlike Cam, he was no more religious than he had to be. If it hadn't been for Cam, once he hit high school he probably would never have gone to church except under parental duress.
Where they were identical was in their love of sports. That shared a passion and competence at athletics made them stars at whatever sport they tried their hand at. And they had always been best buddies.
Catherine had seen Cam kiss Kevin's hand at the hospital. He hadn't tried to hide it. And she couldn't help wondering exactly what that meant. Tough and to some degree competitive high school jocks didn't usually show affection like that for one another in that way, she didn't think. She knew they loved each other, but was there more to their relationship than a love between two young men who were friends? She just didn't know. Perhaps, she thought to herself, she was oversensitive about such matters because of her experience in her marriage.
Despite her loyalty and adherence to the Roman Catholic Church, she was, for good or ill, somewhat of a free thinker with an excellent and far ranging mind. So, if it did turn out that Cam and Kevin were more than friends, she could and would accept that. Her support for church doctrine on such issues as homosexuality was tempered by what modern science was continually learning about it and by her own strong belief in the right of individuals to live their lives largely as they saw fit. What she had learned to that point in her existence was that there were some areas of life in which human beings should not be forced into a mold by others. Whatever the hierarchy of her church might believe on such issues, in her mind they would do well to remember in their teaching that the people in the pews also constituted the church, not the clergy alone. The old dictum that the laity should "Pray, pay and obey" was not an admonition Catherine followed. Her rejection of it wasn't a popular, accepted point of view at some of the smaller Catholic universities like St. Francis, but too bad! She wasn't very polite when she argued the matter with her peers or superiors, either.
Yawning, she finished her tea, put her cup in the sink, and then returned to bed, sending up a quick prayer of thanksgiving for Kevin's return to consciousness. She fell asleep quickly.
* * *
The powers-that-be at the hospital had decided that Kevin was responding to treatment well enough to be moved from the emergency room to their ICU, and once he was settled there, they let Cam into his cubicle. Before he went in to sit with Kevin, Cam called Alex in L.A. from the waiting room. As Cam thought he might, he caught Alex and John on their way to the studio. It was 5 a.m.
"Hey, Cam. It's a little early in the day for you to be on the phone, isn't it, buddy?"
"You know me too well," Cam said. "Listen, I have some bad news."
"More bad news? I thought I'd had my quota when I heard about Heather."
Cam steeled himself. "Unfortunately not. Kevin's in the hospital. Somebody pulled him out of his car last night when he was on the way home from telling Heather's parents she was pregnant, and they beat him up pretty bad. At first the doctors didn't think he'd make it, but he's regained consciousness and they've moved him out of the emergency room into the ICU. He has a bad concussion, a broken arm, and a broken leg. He said my name when he woke up, though, so I'm hoping there's not any brain damage."
Alex groaned, and Cam heard him tell John what had happened to Kevin.
"Cam, I think I'd better come up there today," Alex said.
"Can you get away? I know that seeing you would give Kevin a big lift."
"John can handle the shoot today. I want to see Kevin. I'll call you from LAX and let you know when I'll be getting into San Francisco. I'll copter out to San Rafael, though, so all you'll have to do is pick me up at the San Rafael airport."
"Outstanding! I love ya for doing this, Dad, and it'll mean the world to Kevin. Thank you."
"I can't stay overnight. I have to come back to L.A. So, I'll talk to you later this morning, Cam. Love ya."
"Love you, Dad."
Alex snapped his cell phone shut and turned to John, seated beside him in the limo.
"Kevin was on his way home from telling his girlfriend's family that she's pregnant when he was ambushed. It's just too much of coincidence that somebody beats the boy up on his way home from that conversation. I have a suspicious mind. I think that somebody in the Butler family had a hand in this."
"Could be," John said, nodding his head. "I wonder if Kevin can identify who did it."
"I'll find out when I get up there," Alex said. He turned his head and kissed his partner and gently touched his face. "You'll be okay on the set today?"
"Yes. I'll just follow the schedule we talked about last night."
On the rest of the ride, the two men talked about some of the finer points of the day's shoot. When they reached the studio, Alex kissed John goodbye and instructed the limo driver to take him to LAX. Two hours later he had arrived at San Francisco International, chartered a helicopter, and was on his way to San Rafael.
Catherine had picked up Cam at the hospital on her way to work and dropped him off at home. He had showered quickly and changed clothes, and then drove his Camaro to the airport. Cam was waiting for him in the terminal when Alex debarked. The man folded his son into his arms and just held him for a long moment. Then he kissed the boy's cheek.
"I'm really glad to see you, Cam. I miss having you and Kevin around, y'know," Alex said.
"Same here, Dad."
"Anything new on Kevin?"
"He's awake and talking. They'll operate and set his arm and his leg this afternoon now that they know his brain is working. He's a lucky duck, actually. He could very well have been brain damaged."
"Let's get to the hospital, then," Alex said. "I want to see him before they start prepping him for surgery."
They walked out to the parking lot and got into the Camaro. Cam pulled out of the lot and headed across town.
"Do the cops know who did this to Kevin?" Alex asked.
"I don't think so. After thinking about it, I have my own suspicions, though," Cam said.
"Me, too. Does the name 'Butler' ring a bell?"
"Yep," Cam said, glancing at his dad. "My very thought. I think it was Heather's brothers."
Alex sighed and shook his head. "I can understand being pissed off, but jeez, this is just stupid."
"I know it. I guess we'll find out the truth soon enough."
"Yeah. How's your mother taking all this?"
"You know how strong she is," Cam said. "She's upset, of course. But she's been hangin' in and praying for Kevin. And she kinda got me motivated to do some praying myself last night in the chapel. Promise me you won't laugh at me..."
"Laugh at you for praying?" Alex said. "Get serious!"
"Well, I really prayed for Kevin last night and made some promises to God, and when I went back to the Emergency Room, he woke up soon after that. I don't take the credit, I don't mean that. Father Andy had been there, too, and anointed him and prayed for him."
"It all helps," Alex said. "Did your mom call Michael Stoltz yet about the assault?"
"She was going to, but I don't know if she did yet or not. I think Kevin told you when you two talked that Mr. Stoltz had been kind of nasty to Mom on the phone about the pregnancy. Kevin had predicted that his dad would either want him to marry Heather or encourage her to have an abortion, and he was right. Mom wouldn't agree to push Michael's agenda, and Michael was angry about that. Anyway, I don't think Kevin himself has talked to his dad about the Heather situation yet."
They arrived at the hospital, parked, and made their way to Kevin's cubicle. Kevin saw Alex come in and began to cry the minute he saw him.
"Dad..." he said.
Alex didn't say anything at first. Leaning down over the bed, he kissed the part of Kevin's face that showed through the bandages.
"Hey, tough guy!" he said when he straightened up. "I hear you're doing real well."
Kevin coughed. "I don't know about that, Dad. Thank you for coming all the way up here to see me, though. You don't know how good that makes me feel. Cam must have called you."
Alex pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Yes, he did. I have to go back soon, but I wanted to spend a little time with you, son. John and I miss you. John would have come, too, but one of us had to stay for the shoot today."
"I wish I were down in Malibu right now, running on the beach with you and John and Cam," Kevin said.
"You will be soon," Alex said.
"Dad, can I talk to you alone for a minute?" Kevin asked. "Cam, I have something to say to Dad that I don't want you to hear. That way you won't have to testify in court about it, if it should come to that. It'll just take a minute."
Cam looked uncertainly at Alex and Kevin, and then stepped out into the hall.
"Dad, Heather's brothers did this to me," Kevin said.
"I thought they might have," Alex said, looking grave.
"The prosecutor's office might want to charge them with attempted murder," Kevin said.
"Don't you think they deserve it?"
"They deserve to be punished, but not for twenty years, or maybe even life," Kevin said slowly. "That's not right, either. Y'know, I'm not blameless in this whole deal. So, will you contact the DA's office for me? Tell them that if they want me to identify who did this to me, I want a deal for the guys that did it so they're charged with battery instead of attempted murder. I don't want them to spend more than a few years in jail at most, so that they can still have some kind of life when they get out. Will you do that for me?"
"If you're sure that's what you want."
"That's incredibly generous of you, Kevin, considering what they did to you."
Kevin was about to respond, when the large frame of Detective McConnell appeared in the doorway.
"Who's the 'they' who did this to you, Kevin?" the detective asked, having overhead Alex's last remark.
Kevin looked at Alex, saying nothing.
"Detective, may I speak to you in the hall for a moment?" Alex asked
McConnell nodded, and as they went into the hall, Cam went back into the cubicle.
"I'm Alex MacKenzie," Alex said, shaking hands with the man. "My former wife is Kevin's legal guardian."
"Kevin tells me that he may know who beat him up, but if that's the case, there may be some conditions to his revealing that information. He wants to talk to somebody from the DA's office about the potential charges. I would suggest that you get somebody down here pronto before he goes into surgery this afternoon."
"What's this bullshit?" McConnell demanded. "Did you talk him into this? I can have you charged with obstructing justice, y'know."
"I'm not obstructing anything. But let me call an attorney for the family if there's going to be a problem getting an Assistant DA down here." Alex reached for his cell phone.
"God damn it, wait a minute," McConnell said. "I'll talk to my lieutenant."
McConnell walked off as he dialed his cell phone. When he returned, he walked around Alex and went into Kevin's cubicle.
"Is it true you want to see a DA before you'll tell us who did this to you?" he demanded.
"Yes," Kevin said.
"Don't be a jerk about this, boy," McConnell said. "We're just trying to get the guys who did this to you."
"I know," Kevin said.
Alex had followed the detective into the room and walked around to the far side of the bed.
"This interview is over," Alex said. "The boy is a minor, and a crime victim, and you no longer have family permission to question him. Are you getting an ADA down here or not?"
"Son of a bitch!" McConnell said. "This is why I love this job so much. There will be an ADA down here in about an hour." He turned on his heel and walked out, looking disgusted.
"Thanks, Dad," Kevin said.
"What's going on?" Cam said, looking confused.
"I'll tell you later," Alex said.
He and Cam sat down, and began talking to Kevin and to one another. Kevin dropped off to sleep before long. An Assistant District Attorney arrived about 45 minutes later. Cam stood up and gently touched Kevin's cheek, and he opened his eyes.
"Hello," a young Chicana woman in a business suit said. "I'm Ana Diaz from the district attorney's office."
Alex introduced Kevin and Cam to her, and then himself.
"I understand that you have some information for our office, Kevin," she said.
"Yes," Kevin said. "I'm willing to identify those who did this to me if you're willing to discuss what the charges against them will be. Let's get this done, because I'm tired right now."
"Why do you care what the charges are?"
"Do you want the information or not?" Kevin demanded.
The ADA sighed. "Yes, we want it."
"All right," Kevin said. "What charges will you settle for, and what sentences?"
"We think whoever did this to you should be charged with attempted murder. That can carry a sentence of 20 years to life."
"No deal," Kevin said. "Talk fast. I don't feel good."
Kevin and Ms. Diaz continued negotiating with Alex and Cam looking on. Cam, listening intently, didn't fully understand what was going on at first, but finally got it. Kevin and the ADA eventually agreed, as Kevin wanted, that the charges would be aggravated battery, with a sentencing recommendation of two to five years to be served in a minimum security prison.
"You're a tough negotiator, Kevin," Ms. Diaz said. "All right, who did this to you?"
"Jason and Zach Butler," Kevin said without preamble. "They live on Palm Drive here in town."
"Thank you," Ms. Diaz said, picking up her purse and briefcase off a chair. "I don't understand why you care about these two guys, but I want to thank you for your cooperation and wish you a speedy recovery."
"You're welcome," Kevin said, closing his eyes.
The ADA left after saying goodbye to Alex and Cam. Cam moved closer to the bed and put his hand over Kevin's hand.
"Why did you do that, Kev?" he asked.
"Zach and Jason are too young to spend their whole lives in jail," Kevin said. "I didn't want that, so I took care of it."
"I don't agree with what you did," Cam said, "but I admire you for it. Remind me never to try to argue with you again. You're good!"
"I'll hold you to that," Kevin said. His eyes smiled even though his mouth couldn't.
Alex and Kevin visited for a few more minutes until a nurse came in and told Alex and Cam they had to leave.
"I love ya, Kev," Alex said. "I'll be praying for you, and I'll come up to see you again." He bent down and kissed the boy's face.
"You're gonna do fine, bud," Cam assured his partner, bending down and kissing him as well.. "I'll be waiting for you here when you get out of surgery."
Alex and Cam walked out to the parking lot together and got in Cam's car.
"Recovery is going to take a good long while," Alex commented as his son pulled out of the lot and headed for the airport.
"I know. I'm going to take care of him as best as I can. We'll have to get a nurse for him when he comes home, and a tutor so he won't fall behind in school."
Alex fell silent for a moment.
"Cam, I'm kind of prying, here," Alex finally said hesitantly. "But are you and Kevin more than friends?"
Cam stared at the road without speaking.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," Alex said.
"Yes, we are more than friends," Cam finally admitted. "We were going to tell you when we moved into your house, but it might as well be now. We love each other, and we're going to stay together. There's just no doubt of that."
"Is Kevin really gay?"
"That's a conversation you need to have with him," Cam said. "But I am, without a doubt. I've loved Kevin since I first started to think about sex." He turned and looked at his father. "Are you disappointed?"
"That would be a little hypocritical of me under the circumstances, wouldn't it?" Alex said.
"I'm glad of that. Kevin told me that he didn't want to go through what you went through before you came out, and I feel the same way. So, you helped us be honest about our feelings for each other long before we probably would have, if we ever would have. I'm grateful for that, Dad."
"So you're really not disappointed?"
"Cam, why should I or anyone else be disappointed when human beings are true to who and what they really are? If some people are disappointed, that's their problem. But I wouldn't be a good father if I weren't a little, uh, apprehensive about what you and Kevin will face in life. There are jerks in this world who love to discriminate against anyone who's different, you know that. I don't want you to be hurt."
"Under the circumstances, that's kinda funny. Kevin is gay, and he's lying in the hospital for having sex with a girl and getting her pregnant. Is that ironical, or what? Anyway, as far as our being in danger because we're gay, you already know how tough Kevin is, and I'm tougher than you think. So don't worry about it."
"'Don't worry about it?' Easy for you to say. You're my boys, and I want to protect you both. Get over it."
Cam grinned, and looked over at his dad.
"I'm over it, already! But thanks. We know you care about us. And we appreciate it. By the way, you can tell John about Kevin and me if you want to."
"All right, I will. Does your mother know?"
"No. I think she suspects, but we haven't told her. I'm afraid to, to be honest."
"I can understand that. But don't sell her short. She's one resilient lady. She loves you more than you can possibly know. And she's intelligent and educated enough to know that each of us is given our sexual orientation in life, we don't ask for it. So when you're both ready to talk to her, go for it! That's my advice, and if you don't take it, I'm gonna beat you. And then John will beat you. Count on it."
Cam laughed. "That would be a first. I don't think you ever hit me when I was growing up."
"Don't make me make up for lost time, then," Alex said. "I hope you know that I'm proud of you, son. And I'm going to be proud of you and Kevin as a couple."
Alex looked out the window at the northern California landscape.
"I wish we had time for a run together today," he said. "It was so great having you and Kevin with John and me in Malibu for a few days. We enjoyed the hell out of it, despite our difference of opinion about your little party before you left."
"I know," Cam grinned ruefully. "Anyway, it's gonna be great to get back there. I'm worried about leaving Mom behind and alone, though, when Kevin and I move."
"I know you are. Just remember, that day comes for every parent at some point. But I agree that your mom needs our support. Let's figure out how to do that, OK?"
Cam pulled up to the curb in the departure section of the airport and put the car in neutral as the motor idled.
"Cam, this next three or four months are going to be hard on Kevin while he heals up, and on you, too. Take good care of your boy and of yourself. Be patient with Kevin, because he's a jock, and he's going to be very frustrated about being immobile for so long. When things are tough, just remember why you love him. He's worth everything you do for him."
"I know he is. Damn, you're smart for an old guy!"
Alex laughed and leaned over and kissed his son's cheek, hugging him.
"Thanks for coming up here, Dad," Cam said. "It was more important to Kevin than you know. And to me."
"I wanted to see both of you."
"Say hello to John for me," Cam said. "Tell him Kevin and I will be down there in Malibu before he knows it. And boy, then is he gonna be sorry he agreed to let us live with you guys."
Alex laughed again as he stepped out of the car. "Bye, son."
He walked away and disappeared into the terminal.
* * *
Kevin had emerged from surgery with his broken bones set perfectly, with no special challenges for the orthopedists who had worked on him. The surgeons had used soft casts to immobilize both his leg and his arm. The neurologists had also determined that his brain function was normal, so the bandages in which his head had been swathed were gradually removed except for those covering the more serious abrasions. After a few days, Kevin was moved into the post surgical wing of the general hospital.
Cam had been thrilled to see his friend's face emerge from a sea of bandages and hear him start to engage in his usual banter again. At the same time, the next three weeks were stressful and exhausting for Cam as he tried to keep current with his classwork, maintain his slot on the varsity soccer team, and spend every spare minute he could with Kevin. Cam took to bringing his books to the hospital at each visit.
Every member of the soccer team had stopped by the hospital to see their best midfielder as he was allowed visitors. Sometimes they showed up alone, sometimes in groups, but the hospital bent the rules on the number of visitors permitted in the room at one time as long as the guys were quiet and well behaved. Even the coach showed up. The visits were a great morale booster for Kevin as he began to look forward to going home.
Kevin had talked with his own father several times on the telephone, and the man had had sense enough not to upbraid him about the Heather situation in light of his injuries. But he hadn't offered to fly out to California to see him, either. Kevin didn't want to hold any grudges, but that lapse on his father's part was filed away for future reference. Alex and John Kelley had come up together to spend a day with him at the hospital before he was released, and John had been his usual delightful self. Cam and Kevin were liking John more and more as they got to know him better.
Catherine had been busy herself. After determining from Kevin that he wanted to stay in his own room while he was recuperating, she had ordered a hospital bed for his bedroom and a wheelchair and crutches for him. Being upstairs would discourage any abortive attempts for him to leave the house prematurely, she figured, although it wasn't as handy for serving his meals as converting a room downstairs into a temporary bedroom would have been.. She had also hired a practical nurse to care for him during the day while she was at the university and Cam was at school. She bought him a brand new laptop computer because he wouldn't be able to use his desktop comfortably for at least several weeks.
The two Butler boys had been immediately arrested and charged with battery. Heather had been irate with Cam about that when she saw him at school until Cam informed her that it was only thanks to Kevin that her brothers weren't charged with attempted murder. She shut up pretty fast. She told Cam then that she was sorry she hadn't been to the hospital to see Kevin. But she didn't say she was going over there, either.
Three weeks to the day after Kevin had been brutalized and on the brink of death, an ambulance took him home to the MacKenzies'. He was carried upstairs on a stretcher and put in his new bed. He sighed with relief to be back in the house where he knew he belonged.
Cam was ecstatic when he arrived home from school and soccer practice that day to have him home. After Catherine had disappeared downstairs to fix supper, Cam had covered Kevin's face with kisses as the latter had grinned and squirmed a bit.
"Have mercy," Kevin said as Cam worked over his face. "What would I be getting if I had even more broken bones?"
"At least another ten minutes of affection," Cam said, laughing. "I'm so happy to see you back here, dude, I can hardly stand it." He walked to the door and made sure they were alone, and then went back to Kevin's bedside. "Are ya horny?"
"What do you think?" Kevin said. "After three weeks, any form of mammalian life is lookin' good to me."
"We'll take care of that little problem later. You can count on that."
"Thank goodness," Kevin said. "Cam, I..." He stopped talking and looked down at the bed.
"I'm really grateful for everything you've done for me since I was hurt. I know I've been a pain in the ass sometimes, but you've been so good to me. And Catherine and Alex and John and everybody...I'm just so thankful to be a part of this family, I can't tell ya..."
"Well, you are a part of this family, and that's never gonna change."
"Thanks," Kevin said. "Next subject: Have you been working out at all?"
"Not here. But I managed to go to the gym at school a few times and run through some of the exercises you gave me. Not as much as you would have made me do, but I did make an effort."
"Good! Now that you're back under my watchful eye, you'll do better. Getting you to work out is one reason I wanted to stay up here where the weights are, rather than downstairs. You bear watching! For many reasons. Mostly 'cause I love lookin' atcha."
"You're really cute when you get that determined look on your face," Cam said.
"Don't be changing the subject," Kevin said.
"All right. Now, I have a couple things I need to talk to you about, but if you're tired, they'll keep."
"No, I'm OK. I can nap later."
"Good," Cam said. "First, Mom hired a tutor to come in twice a week during the day to help bring you up to speed in your school work. I got a list of readings from your teachers so you and the tutor will know what to concentrate on.
"Second, Mom also hired a nurse to be with you during the day when she and I will be gone. I asked her to get somebody ugly so you can concentrate your thoughts on me while I'm not here. The lady starts in the morning. I'm just kidding about her being ugly. She's pretty nice looking, actually. So both of you should probably wear a blindfold when she washes your dick."
Kevin reddened. "Oh, man!" he said.
"After I come home from school every day, I'm gonna be taking care of your needs. We have all the right equipment"--Cam reached down under the bed and brought up a urinal and a bedpan, and then also held up his hand formed as if to grasp a penis--"to address your every problem."
"It's gonna be kind of embarrassing to have you doing all that stuff for me," Kevin said.
"Under the circumstances, dare I say, 'Tough shit?' We're all carbon based organisms, dude. What can I tell ya?"
"When I was in the chapel praying for you after you were hurt, I made God some serious promises for both of us," Cam said.
"For both of us?" Kevin said, grinning. "What if I don't agree?"
"You'll suffer a sudden relapse from which you won't recover," Cam said. "They'll find your cold, horny body right here in this bed, sporting your last erection and silent at long last."
"That's a little extreme, doncha think?"
"It won't be my work," Cam said. "Talk to the man upstairs about it."
"There's someone living in the attic?"
That made Cam laugh. "I have to admit I've missed your wiseass remarks, dude!"
"All right, I know you have something serious to say. That pitiful little goatee of yours is trembling, that's how I know."
Cam laughed again.
"I do have something serious to say, and I want you to take it seriously," Cam said. "But I don't think you're in a serious mood, so let's talk another time."
"No, I'm sorry, bro. I'll shut up."
"Yeah." Kevin pantomimed locking his lips with a key.
Cam sighed. "All right. Here's the deal. The doctor had told Mom and me that you might not make it through the night when we went to the hospital. I was scared, so I went down to the chapel at the hospital and prayed. You know that already. I made God some promises if he would let you live: first, that you and I would never misuse the names of God or Jesus again; and second, that we'd get serious about our obligation to go to church on Sundays and days of obligation. I didn't say which church. And I also mentioned to him that if we stick together, we'd try to find a way to have our relationship blessed. That's only if we manage to make it through your recuperation as a couple, of course. Given your bad attitude, that's kind of iffy." Cam grinned. "Anyway, that's what I promised. Will you help me keep my word?"
Kevin wasn't laughing anymore, and looked up at Cam.
"I love you so much, man!" Kevin said. "I can't begin to tell you how much I love you. Yes, I'll honor your word. How could I not? You mean everything to me, and I owe God and I owe you. So, yeah."
"Thank you. That takes a big load off my mind." Cam dapped Kevin's good hand. Then he pointed to a rollaway bed in the corner. "I'm gonna sleep in here for the first few nights."
"So you can listen to me snore?"
"To be near you," Cam said. "And to be handy in case you need anything during the night. Listening to you snore is just a bonus."
"Did you say 'boner' or 'bonus?'"
"Well, not to be sappy, but you're the biggest bonus I could ever have in my life!" Kevin said gravely. "You gotta know I mean that!"
"Cam..." Catherine's voice came floating up the back stairs.
"Yeah, Mom," Cam shouted back.
"Dinner's ready. Come down and get some TV trays and take them up to Kevin's room. I'll bring the food up so we can all eat together."
"Okay. Be right down."
"Ah, good eats!" Kevin said enthusiastically. "I was getting tired of hospital food!"
"You're good eats, and you're right here where I want ya!" Cam said as he leaned down over the bed and kissed Kevin on the lips.
"One last thing," Cam said as he walked toward the door to go downstairs. "Dad knows about you and me. He asked me right out about our relationship, and I told him. I told him he could tell John, too. I know we were gonna wait, but I didn't see any downside to telling Dad the truth now."
Kevin frowned. "How did he take it?"
"Good. Worried about what we'll face, but good."
Catherine said grace over the food once it was carried upstairs, and the three of them had a good meal together. Kevin was very happy to be home, as he repeatedly told Catherine and Cam as he ate.
After supper, Kevin and Cam set up the programs on Kevin's new laptop, and plugged it into a phone line. Kevin started using it to do his homework as Cam brought his own books in and sat at Kevin's desk to do his own work. The butterflies which had started flying around in Cam's stomach when Kevin had been hurt were pretty much banished for good.
After their homework was done, Cam locked the bedroom doors. He stood by as Kevin cleaned his teeth and took a leak into the urinal, and then he emptied the urinal into the toilet. He brought back a towel, and half sat and half lay down on Kevin's bed. Cam pulled up his friend's gown and put the towel under him. Then he stroked his partner's dick until Kevin was groaning, hard and leaking precum as he convulsively clutched the sheets with his one good hand. Then Cam bent down and took his friend's big dick into his mouth, and two pumps later began to receive Kevin's long overdue ejaculate. Cam couldn't swallow fast enough, and the semen ran out of his mouth and coursed down into Kevin's crotch and on to the towel.
"Oh, G--!" Kevin, interrupting what he was going to say using the name of the deity, said instead after he finally stopped shooting, "Oh, shitfire! Thank you, man!"
Cam stretched out his body on side of the bed and looked into Kevin's eyes as he deep kissed him. They shared Kevin's sweet load as Cam softly touched his face.
* * *
Cam embarked on what he called his "Project Kevin." In a nutshell, it was intentionally to do anything that needed to be done and could be done to keep Kevin in a positive frame of mind during the time he was housebound and healing.
The whole soccer team showed up at the MacKenzie house on the first Saturday night after Kevin was home. Some of them even stopped by with their dates. Kevin was so pumped that his teammates would do that for him that he couldn't stop talking about it for several days.
That was just the first step in Cam's plan. After discussing it with his mother, he talked to the guys on the team about it. The deal was that a different teammate would come over to Cam and Kevin's house every night for supper so Kevin would have some company outside the family. Cam made up a schedule of who would come over on what night, and posted it in the locker room. When the schedule was exhausted, they started at the top again. Some of their closer buddies like Sean Dailey and Peter Barber and Tom Hull even brought their books over and stayed the evening so they could do their homework together. Sometimes Cam and whoever was visiting that night would work out on Kevin's weight lifting equipment, with Kevin offering free advice all the way, of course. This constant interaction with his teammates seemed to buoy Kevin's mood a lot, and although he was restless, he remained cheerful.
Cam was taking daily care of him sexually, and a week after Kevin was home, the latter finally insisted on fellating Cam after they found a position in the hospital bed that would permit it. Needless to say, that didn't make Cam unhappy at all.
The last thing every night before he went to bed on the rollaway, Cam would make Kevin schooch over in bed and would lie down beside him. He would hold him and hug him and kiss him and tell him how well he was doing as he recuperated. That was the evening ritual. Kevin ate that up.
"I don't know what I'm ever going to do to repay you and Mom for everything you've done for me," Kevin told him one night when they were having their pre-sleep love-in on Kevin's bed. "Having one of the guys on the soccer team over every night has been so-o-o great! But you know what? I can get through anything in my life as long as I have you close to me and I can touch you and tell you how much I love you," he said gruffly, wiping his eyes with his good hand.
Cam was overcome by his feelings for this boy, and lay there with Kevin in that narrow little bed for a long time that night, softly caressing his face and chest. They fell asleep. Waking after several hours, Cam kissed his lover, quietly put up the side rails of the bed, and covered Kevin with a sheet and light blanket before he headed for the rollaway.