STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!
Copyright 2000 by archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.
Tommy awoke early Thanksgiving morning. He was disoriented at first in the unfamiliar surroundings. Outside, the weather was cold and gray, and sleet tapped at the windows. He snuggled under the warm comforter, with only his eyes and the top of his head outside the covers. He glanced around the room. His own room! He had never had his own room. Only rich people could give kids their own room. For a brief moment, he wondered where his mom was, and what she was doing. Was she thinking about him? Tommy doubted it.
He heard other noises. They were not the furnace or the sleet on the window. It sounded like pots and pans and mixing bowls being used in the kitchen. Someone was cooking already. Tommy was a curious boy, and he had to see what was going on. He shuffled to the bathroom first, and on his way back to the room he occupied, he peered into the master bedroom. Matt and Tim were sleeping intertwined. Their legs and arms clung to each other like ivy. It was entirely fitting that they should sleep like this. By each passing day, they grew closer and closer together. Matt had been hesitant to allow himself to grow close to Tim, but in the sunlight of Tims unconditional love, his good humor, common sense and affection, Matt finally lost his hesitation. They were secure and confident in their love for each other.
Tommy then peered in Brians room. He was asleep on his back. Who, then, was in the kitchen? Tommy slipped on a pair of sweat pants to investigate.
"Well, hi there. I dont believe I know you," the woman said. He was an innocent-looking redhead with a sweet boyish face, holding a brown stuffed dog. Looks can be deceiving.
"Where did you come from?"
"From St. Lukes. Im here for the weekend."
"Oh, I see. Well, my name is Gloria. Im Matts mom."
Tim was already awake and heard the conversation downstairs. He shook Matt and said, "Your mom is here."
"Jesus H. Christ," Matt mumbled. He glanced at the clock. It was 8:15. He threw on a robe and went to investigate.
Matts hair was still disheveled from sleep, and the bags under his eyes were big enough to pack and take on a trip.
"Hi, hon," Gloria kissed her son. "Happy Thanksgiving." Without being asked, she poured him a cup of coffee and added sugar and lots of Coffee Mate. She knew he took his coffee black, yet she prepared it the way she drank it. "Sit down at the table."
He did as he was ordered, and Tommy sat in his lap. Gloria brought him the mug of coffee, and a glass of orange juice for Tommy.
"Thank you," Tommy said to her before he downed the juice in two gulps.
"Mom, what are you doing here? I thought you were coming after you got off work." Gloria usually worked the seven-to-three shift.
"I did. I worked the eleven-to-seven shift. I traded with Beverly." Beverly was her African American friend who commuted from Harvey to Palos Community Hospital. They had gone to the same nursing school. "I thought I told you."
Had she told him? He couldnt remember. His mind was still foggy from sleep. Tommy began running his stubby little fingers through Matts hair.
"Your hair is a mess. Ill fix it for you."
"Dinner should be ready by three or so. Then, I promised I would stop by your sisters house for dessert. Are you going, too?"
He knew he probably should go, but didnt want to go alone, and wasnt ready for the inevitable questions if he brought Tim, Brian and Tommy. "Im sure shes not expecting an army." Sensing an impending lecture, he spoke to Tommy. "Why dont you go take a shower?"
Before he left, he hugged Matt again.
"So, another kid?" Gloria asked when he left.
"Yes, mom, another kid," Matt responded sarcastically.
"Can you handle it financially?"
"I think so. Tim makes almost twice as much as I do."
"But what about things like medical coverage. And what if, God forbid, something should happen to you?"
"Do we have to go into this now?"
"Yes. Im concerned about my grandsons and their futures. Im way too old to be raising kids if anything goes wrong." She sat across him at the table. Matt hated her lousy sense of timing.
"I dont know, Mom. Theres legal stuff I just dont know about."
"Time to join the nineties, Matt. I researched it on the Internet." Gloria was proud of her new Packard Bell computer. "Your company has domestic partner benefits, doesnt it?"
"All you have to do is fill out an affidavit and apply. I assume the kids are covered."
"Brian is. Tommy is just here for the weekend."
"The next thing is to hire a lawyer and set up durable power of attorney for each other."
Matt was taken aback. "What does that do?"
"You can make legal decisions regarding each other. For example, if you have a bill that goes to collections, only a legal spouse can discuss it with the collection agency. But if you have power of attorney over each other, you can do it." She sat down momentarily with him at the table. Upstairs, the water stopped running in the shower. "If youre going to raise these kids, youve got to provide as much stability as you can for them. God knows theyve had enough instability in their lives."
She had a point. Matt had been uncomfortable talking with her about his relationship with Tim at first. But, she and his father had raised him to be conscientious and responsible. Matt did want to provide the best for Brian and raise him as well as possible.
Matt sighed. "OK, Mom. I promise Ill check into it after the holidays, OK? I have to hire a lawyer, anyway, for Brians adoption. Ill check into it then."
"OK, Ill accept that." Just then, Brian appeared in his St. Lukes shorts and a T-shirt.
"Hi, Grandma," he said as he hugged her.
Matt rolled his eyes. There had been a time when no one would have dared to call his mom Grandma and live to tell the tale.
Both boys were planted in front of the TV watching the Macys Day Parade. Matt let Tim sleep a while longer, then went up to wake him.
Matt opened the bedroom door and shut it silently once he was on the other side. Tims bare shoulders were visible from under the blanket. He crossed the room to the window. Sleet still pecked at the window. He heard the sound of a car trying to stop on an icy pavement. The weather didnt look that bad out there. But, looks can be deceiving. The streets and pavements were slick with ice.
Matt eased onto the bed, and kissed Tims shoulders and the back of his neck. He loved the masculine scent and heat of his skin. He allowed his hands to explore the smooth chest of the man he loved. He pondered Thanksgivings past, particularly the year before. He had met Tim by this time last year, and was attracted to him, but never did he imagine it would end up like this. In fact, last Thanksgiving he had a hard time picturing himself in love with anyone.
Tims looks were deceiving. Matt had just passed him off as a dumb jock in search of good head at first. And Matt had totally dismissed a relationship with him. Life without Tim was unimaginable now. As they grew together, Matt learned what a deep, caring, sensitive, romantic man that he really was. He still gave into bouts of silliness, but they made life more interesting and his occasional silliness endeared him to Matt even more.
Matt had a passing temptation to give Tim a blow job, but decided against it. His mom was downstairs as well as the two boys. Brians presence had lessened their sexual ardor a bit. No longer did they have sex on a daily basis. It was more difficult to find time to have sex, when Brian had to be ferried back and forth to school not to mention the doctor and dentist appointments, and Catechism at St. Irenaeus, and occasionally to Jakes house. Brian brought his friends over on a regular basis, and they both encouraged him to do so.
Maybe this is what straight couples experience, Matt thought. While there had not been any feedings at 4 AM, Brian did occupy a lot of their time. And there certainly had been challenges, most recently with Brians relationship with Mike. But he wouldnt have traded it for the world. It would have been difficult without Tim, but he could have done it. However, a second boy would have been out of the question if he were still single. How did Tim know that they could and should take in another boy? Was it intuition? Did Tim also possess paternal instincts?
How many more lonely, frightened, abused children were there out there? How many more kids who questioned their sexuality and needed a place to stay? How many were tossed out of their homes just because they preferred to love people of the same sex? How many were sick, hungry and cold on the streets?
There I go, again, Matt thought. Trying to save the world. Tim would stop me. He is my reality check, my anchor. He knows how much I can handle. Is that why hes already pushing to take Tommy in?
Tim rolled over and grinned. "What time is it?" he asked in a froggy voice.
"Time to kiss me." Their lips met, and their mouths parted for a moment. Matt kissed him again and this time thrust his tongue into his hot, moist mouth. Tim sucked on his tongue gently. "I love you, Tim."
"I love you, too. Come on, lets see what my mother-in-law is doing."
Brian and Tommy were seated at the dining room table painting little wooden Christmas ornaments. They smiled at the two men as they approached. In front of them were paints and paper towels and a cup of water that was already tinted grayish.
"Hi, Tim," Gloria said as she kissed him.
Matt leaned over Tommy and observed their progress. "How are you guys doing?"
"Great," Brian answered.
"This is fun," Tommy replied at the same time.
Gloria had brought the craft project with her. It was so typical of Matts mom.
"Were making a memory here," Gloria commented as she smiled at the two men.
Gloria had always made a point of memories, and she used crafts as the vehicle. She was highly creative. She could sew, knit, do origami and paint. There was never much money while he grew up, and he had memories of making Christmas ornaments out of spools. One year, she crafted exquisite origami ornaments representing the Twelve Days of Christmas out of delicate onion skin paper. But it was not the money involved, or the project at hand. The object was the time spent together. Many times, talking about the project became a springboard for discussing other, larger issues. Keeping ones hands busy, Matt mused, cleared the way for discussions.
Matts dad, too, always made a point of making memories, but his method was different. He used games, such as pinochle and Monopoly. Whenever their cousins came to visit, out came the deck of cards or the Monopoly board. Matt recalled how thrilled he was when he was finally invited to the pinochle table with the adults. Unknowingly, his father was teaching Matt and his sister fair play, sportsmanship and how to keep competitiveness within certain bounds.
Matt grinned. His mom was brilliant. He pulled up a chair at the table, and selected a wooden Christmas tree to paint.
"Youre going to paint, too?" Tommy asked in his squeaky voice.
"I thought I might try my hand at it."
"I think I might, too," Tim said as he sat down also. He chose a snowflake.
From the kitchen, Gloria smiled. "Making memories," she repeated. She crossed the living room, turned off the TV, and put in a Johnny Mathis Christmas cassette. Matt and Tim snickered at his musical styling and his obvious gayness at first, but then became absorbed in their project and with the two boys.
"Do you need any help, mom?"
"No, Im doing fine, Matt. You just continue."
Brian asked, "Do you think Mike can come over later?"
"No," Matt and Tim answered at once.
Fearful the response might have been too harsh, Matt added, "I think Leah would like to spend some time with him by herself. Just like we would like to spend time with you and Tommy."
Brian pouted. Time seemed to stand still to the thirteen-year-old. Like all kids his age, he lived in the present and tomorrow seemed like an eternity away.
Matt smiled at him and ruffled his hair. "You can spend tomorrow with him."
After a feast of moist, delicious turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, gravy, corn, green bean casserole, they sat satiated and drowsy in the living room. Neither Matt nor Tim were football fans, and they switched channels relentlessly in search of something to watch. Matt, Tim and Gloria sipped white wine. Tommy sat in Matts lap, and although he struggled to stay awake, he fell asleep. Tim sat on the floor with Brians head in his lap. He stroked Brians hair. Soon, Brian was also asleep.
"He looks just like an angel when hes asleep," Gloria commented. "They both do."
"Dont judge a book by its cover. Looks can be deceiving." Matt was thinking If she only knew where Tommys mouth had been. And if she knew what Brian had done with Mike....
"What do you mean?" Gloria asked.
"Its just that theyve both had difficult young lives. I want to give them both a chance to be kids while theres still time."
"I hope you dont mean that youre not going to give them any expectations to live up to."
"Of course I am. I expect them to be good students."
"What about chores?"
"What about them?"
"Dont play stupid with me Matthew. I know you and Tim are doing all the chores."
She knew the truth. "Im not adopting them to have live-in housekeepers."
"But youre doing them a disservice by not expecting them to carry their weight around the house. Its part of growing up. And theyll be learning important skills theyll need to take care of themselves."
She had another point. But Matts stubborn streak wouldnt let him back down. "Thanks, Dr. Spock," he said sarcastically.
"You and your sister had chores. We had a schedule, didnt we?"
She threw up her hands, as she always did when she was finished arguing. "Have it your way."
"Maybe your mom is right, Matt."
He scratched his eyebrow with his middle finger. "Well discuss it later."
Gloria got up from her chair. "Im going to put the food away. Do you mind if I take some leftovers?"
"Not at all."
"If you let them sleep too long, theyll never get to sleep tonight," she said as she went to the kitchen.
"You know, Matt, if they did some of the chores, we would have more time to spend with them. And it might actually be fun doing chores at the same time."
"Whats so funny?"
"I just remembered. When Karen and I were little, we always did chores on Saturday mornings. Mom had to work almost every Saturday. Dad always put on the same Supremes album while we worked. Maybe thats where I got my Motown fixation."
"Hes a smart man. He was making memories, just like your mom did today. Its time we started some of our own family traditions."
"Yes, it is," Matt agreed.
A few hours later, they were following Gloria to Karens house in Evergreen Park. Brian had decided to ride with her, while Tommy rode with the two men. The sleet had stopped and the temperature had actually climbed a few degrees. The streets were wet, but no longer icy.
Tommy was agitated. Seeing Evergreen Park again excited and saddened him.
"Look! I used to play in that park. And over there, my friend Billy lived." He gave them a tour of the town through his eyes.
Karens small Cape Cod-style house was already warm with the smell of freshly baked pies. She held open the aluminum storm door as they entered. Gloria and Brian entered first, then Tim, Matt and finally Tommy.
"Mrs. Wesolowski?" Tommy said in astonishment.
"Tommy!" She hugged him tightly. "Its so good to see you."
"You know each other?" Matt asked.
"Tommy is, or was, one of my favorite students. I can safely say that now, because hes no longer in the district. Is he coming to live with you, Matt?"
Matt simply smiled and nodded.
After dessert of cherry, pumpkin or mincemeat pie, Gloria decided to head home. Karen gave Matt the remains of the mincemeat pie, since neither she nor her husband liked it. She had baked it because she knew Matt loved it.
It was still only 6 PM when they left Karens house in Evergreen Park. Instead of driving south on Cicero to Park Forest, Matt headed north on Harlem Avenue.
"Where are we going?" Tim asked.
"To make a new memory."
Harlem Avenue intersected with the Stevenson Expressway and he drove north toward the Loop. From there, the highway merged with South Lake Shore Drive in front of McCormick Place. Now, they were traveling the same route they had on their way to Northalsted Market Days.
The sky had cleared, and the buildings sparkled in the night.
Matt drove north on Lake Shore Drive and exited at Grand Avenue. From there, he drove east for a few blocks. Traffic was nonexistent. He parked in a nearby garage on the first level, and since it was a legal holiday, it was free.
They walked north two blocks. The wind was blustery and tall buildings seemed to create their own drafts. Clear miniature Christmas lights twinkled on the bare trees on both sides of Michigan Avenue. Their destination was the John Hancock Building.
"Its been a long time since Ive been to the top," Tim commented.
"Ive never been to the top," said Brian.
"Me neither," Tommy added. "This is so cool." Matt was not surprised. When survival was your motive, things like trips to the John Hancock Observatory were superfluous. He slipped his hand into Matts.
The price was rather steep: $8 each for the adults and $5.50 for the kids. Matt was almost hoping that it would be free, since it was a holiday.
They pushed the button and waited for the elevator. Matt gave them all sticks of Doublemint gum. "The elevators are so fast, your ears will pop. The gum will help equalize the pressure."
At the 94th floor, the elevator opened to a vast expanse of the city. They were alone in the Observatory.
"Wow!" Exclaimed Brian.
"Awesome," Tommy agreed.
Even Matt was impressed. "Ive never been up here at night. This is so cool."
"Its like the stars fell to the ground," Tim said. Matt looked at him. Tim seldom waxed poetic.
A thousand feet below them was a vast expanse of lights twinkling. Some lights were in neat blocks they were the streetlights. A few rogue streets, like Milwaukee and Archer, dared run diagonally across the geometric grid. The major expressways resembled rivers of streaming light with red taillights heading toward the suburbs and headlights approaching the city. The downtown buildings were almost as spectacular. The mammoth Merchandise Mart had two huge horizontal bands of white light at the top. The white Wrigley Building was bathed in spotlights. The new NBC Tower had a nice art deco touch at the top.
"Is that Sears Tower over there?" Brian asked.
"Yup," Matt answered him, and put an affectionate hand on his shoulder.
"Whats that wavy building near the lake?" Tommy asked.
"Thats Lake Point Tower. Its an apartment building. Or maybe it went condo, I dont know."
"Matt, is that Navy Pier over there?" Tim asked.
"No, thats the Planetarium. Navy Pier is over there."
"You love this city, dont you?" Tim asked.
"Yes, I guess I do. Theres just a liveliness about it. I miss living in the city."
"Why dont we move, then?"
"The cost of living is too high, for one. And the schools are terrible. Daley is trying to fix them, but it will take a long time. Wed have to send them to Catholic schools."
"You said them."
"You said Wed have to send them to Catholic school."
"I guess I was already including Tommy."
Tim smiled. "Im glad you are. I already am."
"You know, Ive been thinking. It might not be such a bad idea for you to get your foster license, too."
"I was thinking the same thing."
Just then, Tommy ran up to them. "I dare you to kiss him," he said to Tim.
Ever conscious of his public image, Brian said, "No, Tommy, no. Dont encourage them."
Tim smiled widely. "Theres no one else here." And he leaned closer to Matt and kissed him quickly.
"Yeah! Wooo Hooo!" Tommy exclaimed loudly.
"You two embarrass me," Brian huffed.
"Its kind of like the end of Sleepless in Seattle," Matt observed.
They turned their attention to the live, glittering display below them. From their viewpoint, Chicago looked calm, peaceful, orderly and simply beautiful. Of course, looks can be deceiving. From the John Hancock Observatory, they could not see the murders, arson, rapes, despair, or hopelessness. Nor could they see the joy, bliss, warmth or delight. Chicago was just a display like a huge model.
The boys were silent on the trip home. They were lost in their own thoughts. Tommy was fast asleep again before the Dan Ryan Expressway split into I 57 and the Calumet.
In the front seats, the adults talked in low tones, discussing the issues that Gloria had brought to their attention. In essence, they were planning to tighten the binds that tied them together. Gloria had just asked them to look beyond the exterior of their relationship with each other.
Thanksgiving brings the family into focus. Matt and Tim embraced their family, as unconventional as their little family was. On the trip home from viewing the stars on the ground, they chose and made plans to strengthen their bonds to each other and to the boys entrusted to their care.
Family memories were made that Thanksgiving. Gloria had given him much to think about, even though he and Tim were on the right track as parents. It was important to give Brian and Tommy a sense of responsibility and they should have a part in running the household. And Gloria had reminded them of the importance of creating memories as part of the family history.
That Thanksgiving Matt celebrated with his natural family and his chosen family.
They were one and the same.
Like the cover of a book in Matts store, Matt and Tim had basically looked only at the exterior of their relationship. The two adults had always known that a family can be more than a group of humans who share the same DNA. They were reminded that looks can be deceiving and that a family is made up of memories and commitment and responsibilities.
And, of course, love.
Sorry it's been so long since I've posted here. No real excuse - just life in general. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.
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