Disclaimers: This is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters in this story and real people (appearances, names, etc.) are purely coincidental. This story may contain homosexual material, including love and sex, so if material like this is illegal in your region or if it discomforts you, please leave.

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The Trick Is To Keep Breathing


Three Years Later...

After pouring himself a cup of coffee, Brendan wrapped his arm around Kyle's back, kissed his temple, and whispered, "The day is here."

Kyle smiled with the beginnings of mist in his cognac eyes. He pressed the side of his face to Brendan's.

Kyle baked a batch of banana muffins as Brendan cleaned the house thoroughly.

An hour later, the doorbell rang. Kyle and Brendan looked at each other from across the kitchen with panicked expressions. They then smiled softly, and threw out the disinfectant wipes and went to answer the door.

"Hi, Kyle!" Jacob O'Shonaussey called excitedly and immediately hugged the man's legs.

Kyle hugged the four-year-old boy and greeted, "Hello, Jake."

Jacob then hugged Brendan and said, "Ms. Zulorik said I'm gonna live with you now."

"That's right, Jake," Brendan responded softly, happily. "Kyle and I love having you around. We have spent the last few days getting your room ready."

Kyle began stroking the boy's short brown hair and told him, "That's right. We bought you a bed, and some toys to play with, and some clothes for you to have. Wanna go see your new room?"

Grinning with excitement, Jacob cried, "Okay!"

As Kyle and Jacob practically ran up the staircase, Brendan shook Mina Zulorik's hand and said, "Morning."

"Hi, Mr. Dennafort," Ms. Zulorik warmly said back. "I don't mean to rush this but I have to be back at the office in half an hour. Bit of an emergency."

"Sure," Brendan responded and gestured for the woman to enter the house. "Do what you need to do."

"I'll just do an inspection," Ms. Zulorik replied while looking down at her clipboard. "So three months from today, you and Mr. Hemstad can finalize the adoption with a New York court provided that all D.C.F.S. inspections are satisfactory. You and Mr. Hemstad have been visiting with Jake for the last three months and he has been really taken with you guys, so I'm not worried about that."

Following the woman as she walked around the family room, Brendan asked, "Any idea when we can file with a court?"

"Myself or another D.C.F.S. agent who inspects in nine to eleven weeks, which will be the final inspection, will give you and your lawyer approval to file the adoption petition. Today is July tenth, so the adoption finalization will have to take place on or after October tenth."

"Excellent," Brendan responded brightly. "Can I get you something to drink? Kyle made banana chocolate chip muffins, too, if you're hungry."

Now inspecting the living room, Ms. Zulorik replied, "I'm allergic to bananas. Mind if I have a glass of water?"

Ms. Zulorik was just entering the kitchen when Brendan filled a glass. The woman downed the glass in one sip, which made Brendan giggle.

Smiling sheepishly, Ms. Zulorik said, "It's hot outside."

Ms. Zulorik inspected the kitchen, the dining room, and Brendan had to unlock the library-turned-office door.

"Sorry," Brendan apologized. "We keep this door locked because it's where we film our YouTube videos, edit them, and Kyle has tons and tons of cosmetics and tech products. It has a lot of expensive gear, and if Jake tips a tripod over it could hurt him."

While unsecuring a drawer lock, Ms. Zulorik asked, "Will you and Mr. Hemstad be able to look after Jacob appropriately? You have a business, he has a business, and three YouTube channels between you. Busy."

"Kyle and I have spent the past couple months figuring our schedules out," Brendan answered as the D.C.F.S. agent inspected the many drawers and cabinets. "I have a manager looking after my gym when I need, and Kyle has a C.E.O. for his cosmetics company. I will work on Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's. Kyle will work Tuesday's, Thursday's, and Saturday's. We will be spending evenings and Sunday's together as a family. As for our YouTube channels, we will be filming when Jake is either taking an afternoon nap or when he's down for the night."

"That sounds perfect," Ms. Zulorik stated neutrally. "May I ask why you and Mr. Hemstad chose adoption? According to yours and Mr. Hemstad's tax files, in 2020, the combined earnings for this household was five-point-seven million dollars. You guys have more than enough money to have a child with surrogacy or in vitro fertilization."

"When me and Kyle first started talking about kids," Brendan began with a fond smile, "maybe four or five years ago, Kyle wanted to have his own. I always wanted to go with the adoption path because there are so many kids in the system. Kyle came around, and no longer feels the need to he has to pass on his bloodline because your child is your child, no matter whose blood they have."

Smiling with impress, Ms. Zulorik stated, "Admirable."

Ms. Zulorik then inspected the main floor bathroom, the basement, and then climbed two flights of stairs. She walked through the four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor.

Pointing her pen at the chain, Ms. Zulorik asked, "This is the attic?"

Brendan answered, "Yes. Would you like me to lower the ladder?"

"No, it's fine. The chain won't be reachable for Jacob for a number of years. Well, that is it. I'm all done here. I'll just say goodbye to Jacob and be on my way."

Brendan and Ms. Zulorik went back into Jacob's new bedroom. Kyle and Jacob were still building a castle out of giant Lego blocks and laughing. Ms. Zulorik hugged Jacob, and then shook the hands of Kyle and Brendan.

"That is a really big castle, Jake!" Brendan brightly stated. "Or should I call you 'King Jake'?"

Jake flexed the miniature muscles on his arms and said in a deep voice, "I am King Jake! I rule this land!"

Jacob deemed the castle finished when each wall stood at four feet tall, when he got tired of reaching so high to place more Legos.

"Kyle, I'm hungry," Jacob softly stated.

"Me, too, Buddy," Kyle replied and ruffled the boy's hair. "Shall we go downstairs to have lunch? I make a mean turkey avocado sandwich."

Down in the kitchen, while drinking his grape juice, Jacob sheepishly asked, "Am I really going to stay here?"

Kyle stopped layering turkey meat on bread and Brendan stopped slicing tomato to look at each other. They offered each other soft smiles and went over to the toddler table. They knelt down on either side of Jacob's chair and kissed his cheeks.

Kyle told the child, "We would love it if you stayed with us. We really care about you, Jake."

Blushing, Jacob responded, "Okay."

Kyle and Brendan finished making the sandwiches, and all three enjoyed them. Kyle and Brendan sat with Jacob at the Superman-themed kids table, sitting on the floor.

After lunch, all three sat on the sectional in front of the television and watched an episode of 'PJ Masks'.

"He's asleep," Kyle whispered and giggled.

Brendan looked down at Jacob, who was slumped sideways and breathing evenly. He giggled, and looked back up at Kyle, who was taking a photo. Brendan grabbed the youngster very gently and carried him up the stairs. He gently laid Jacob down in the Lightning-McQueen-car-shaped bed. Kyle was watching from the doorway, with a tear in his eye.

Brendan was smiling infectiously as he went in for a hug and quietly said, "This is really happening."

Smiling emotionally, Kyle responded, "This is happening. We're gonna be dads."

The redhead gave the brunette a smooch on the lips and said, "We're gonna be dads."

After filming a video on Jeffree Star's new mascara, Kyle cleaned the makeup off his desk to film another video but for his tech channel.

"Ladies, gentlemen, this is Hemstad Hardware. My name is Kyle Hemstad, and today I am going to be checking out these bluetooth wireless earbuds made by Apple. I got these in the mail last week in my P.R. unboxing, so it's time to put these to the test. So let's get started.
"So this is the box. These are called the 'AirBuds 2', which is a successor to last year's AirBuds. Simplistic yet elegant design. According to the box, these will work with any device that has bluetooth capabilities, which is surprising considering Apple used to limit as best they could connectivity with non-Apple devices. These look even smaller than last year's model. Apple sure has come a long way since the release of the AirPods five years ago. You can buy a pair of these for two hundred twenty-nine dollars here in the U.S. But I'm not sure how much other countries would be.
"So let's open this up this bad boy. I've got my trusty plastic Xacto here. Okay, this container is pretty much the same as last year, with the exception of the size. Very beautiful plain white AirBuds carrier that doubles as a charger. According to Apple's website, you will get about two hours of audio time before they need to be charged. And this case will charge the buds three times before you need to charge it as well.
"Okay, I've got both my Samsung GX21, which is my daily driver, and my iPhone 2021 to see if these new buds really will work with both iOS and Android devices. So I'll start with my iPhone. Just flip open the lid of the AirBuds... now wait while my iPhone detects it. There we go, hit 'Connect'. As usual, iOS tells us the battery levels of the AirBuds and the case. Now to test the audio using Spotify. Let's see... I'll check out my favourite song, 'Broken' by Shawn Mendes."

Just as Kyle was about to tap the song title to begin playing it, loud wails elicited from his computer. It was the security feed, and Jacob was crying, screaming bloody murder. Kyle shot straight out of his chair and ran out of the office. He bolted up the stairs and into Jacob's bedroom.

Kyle sat on Jacob's bed and gently shook the child. "Sshhh. Sshhh."

Jacob's screaming and crying softened, but he remained asleep. He was going on two hours napping, which left Kyle a lot of time to film two videos and was working on his third.

Kyle continued to hold Jacob's hand and massage his forearm. A minute passed, and then Jacob opened his green eyes. Jacob looked at Kyle, and his face contorted as more tears formed and he jumped into Kyle's arms.

Hugging Jacob tightly, Kyle asked, "Did you have a nightmare, Buddy?"

Heartbroken- or scared, Kyle wasn't sure- Jacob answered, "Uhhuh!"

"Can you tell me what it was about?" Kyle asked and kissed the top of Jacob's head.

"Mm-mm," Jacob responded, sniffling.

"Are you sure?" Kyle asked softly. "When Brendan has nightmares, it always helps him when he tells me about them."

Jacob sniffled and asked, "Grown-ups have bad dreams, too?"

"We sure do. So, wanna tell me what you had a dream about? Remember, Dr. Sahili said that talking about all of our dreams helps us grow mentally and physically."

Jacob pressed his cheek against Kyle's chest and replied quietly, "It was about my mom. She was making breakfast but her eyes was red and her teeth was sharp and she hit my hands because I- because I didn't want my eggs because they was on fire."

Kyle swallowed his emotions down, and told Jacob, "See? Don't you feel better after talking about it? It wasn't real. So do you wanna go downstairs for lunch? I am so hungry."

Down in the kitchen, Kyle made a chicken caesar salad and then diced honeydew melon for dessert. After lunch, Kyle buckled Jacob into the kids car seat and drove off to Minette Park.

As Jacob ran off to the playground, Kyle sat on a bench and greeted, "Hey, Cally. Ronan."

Both Cally Arimon and Ronan Quintox greeted the young man jovially.

"How's it going?" Kyle asked the two mid-thirties parents.

"Oh, not so bad," Cally answered.

"Can't complain," Ronan chimed in. "Gorgeous day. How are you?"

"It's a fantastic day so far," Kyle replied happily. "Filmed two videos while Jake napped. Was filming a third but Jake had a nightmare."

Cally laid her hand on Kyle's forearm and asked, "How many times has he had nightmares since moving in?"

"This was the second one," Kyle answered.

"Two nightmares in, what, six weeks?" Ronan asked.

"Seven," Kyle clarified.

Ronan continued, "Two nightmares in seven weeks is honestly pretty good considering he lived with an abusive mother for three years. I'm not saying it's a great thing, but it could be worse. I mean you did tell us that the social worker told you that Jake was having two or three nightmares a week when he was still in foster care."

"When is his next session with the child psychologist?" Cally asked.

Kyle answered, "Tomorrow at 10:00A.M., but I have work so Brendan will be taking him."

Another week later, Kyle sat at his desk with a bunch of chemicals and ingredients before him in small jars. He stirred his concoction in a small tube using a metal stick. After mixing the black liquid vigorously, Kyle inserted a mascara brush inside.

"Hi, Ky!" Jacob called excitedly as he walked into the room.

Kyle removed his polyethylene gloves, turned around on the stool with a big smile, and said, "Hello, Jake! Hey, Babe!"

Brendan offered the brunette a soft smile, a sweet kiss, and told him, "Jake wanted to see where you work."

Kyle kissed Jake's hair and said, "Welcome to Kyle Beauty laboratory and factory, Jake!"

"It's really, really big!" Jacob said in awe while climbing onto the stool beside Kyle. "What are you doing?"

"I am working on mascara," Kyle answered and showed the child the glass tube. "My company already sells mascara, but I am working on making a better formula. I am hoping that this new mixture will be even more waterproof and longer lasting."

"Why it's gotta be waterproof?" Jacob asked curiously.

"So if someone who is wearing this mascara gets caught in the rain, their mascara doesn't run down their face and get messy. Or if they cry, their mascara will look fine."

Ever the curious little monkey, Jacob asked, "How do you make it waterproof?"

Pointing at four jars, Kyle answered, "In my mascara formula, these four ingredients make it resistant to water. This is beeswax, this is candelilla wax, this is carnauba wax, and this is isododecane."

"What are these other cans?" Jacob asked.

"These jars are glycerin, stearic acid, wheat starch, benzyl alcohol, almond oil, shea butter, potassium hydroxide, xanthan gum, tocopherol, dehydroacetic acid, sunflower seed oil, geraniol, and limonene."

With a furrowed brow, Jacob asked, "All that makes mascara?"

"Yes. I just finished mixing a test tube of mascara. Wanna see if it works?"

"You're gonna put it on that?" Jacob asked as he pointed at the plastic mannequin head that had a set of false lashes glued on.

"I sure am," Kyle replied and brushed the black liquid to the false lashes. "Now to let it dry a bit. What did you guys do today?"

"We went to the post office!" Jacob answered. "There was really lots of boxes and stuff!"

"Oh, was there? Did you help Brendan load the car?"

"Mm-hmm!" Jacob nodded his head quickly. "I carried forty boxes!"

Amused, Kyle looked up at the redhead, who was fighting back giggles, as he asked, "Wow! That's a lot, Jake! Thank you for helping."

"You're welcome. Is it dry yet?"

"Yeah, it should be," Kyle answered and grabbed a bottle of water spray. "Want to test it?"

Accepting the bottle, Jacob asked, "I spray the face?"

"Yep," Kyle answered while sliding the mannequin head in front of the child. "Let's try four spritzes."

"One," Jacob counted each spritz, "two, three, four. The mascara doesn't work."

Inspecting the light grey lines running down the mannequin's otherwise blank face, Kyle responded, "I'll have to keep testing a new formula. Want a tour of the factory?"

"How big is it?"

"It is thirty-three thousand square feet. We could fit our house in this place eight times."

Awed, Jacob said, "Holyyyy."

"Next case!" Judge Catherine Gydeck called.

Bailiff Seth Meinahan announced, "Case number one-one-dash-zero-zero-five-eight-three-two! The adoption of Jacob Robert O'Shonaussey."

While all parties were situating themselves at the seats, Judge Gydeck tiredly said, "Okay, let's get this show on the road. Who do we have here?"

"Mina Zulorik," Ms. Zulorik announced after standing. "Department of Child and Family Services."

Kyle's lawyer stood then and announced, "Samantha Illep, representing Mr. Dennafort and Mr. Hemstad."

"Samuel Brendan Dennafort."

"Kyle Walter Hemstad."

Judge Gydeck then said to the bailiff, "Can you swear them all in, please?"

As the bailiff swore them all in beginning with Ms. Zulorik, the judge began reading the file.

Bailiff Meinahan asked, "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?"

"I do," Kyle affirmed.

"Thank you," the bailiff said boredly as he took the bible back. "You may be seated."

"Ms. Zulorik, I'll start with you," Judge Gydeck said. "When and how did the child come to be in D.C.F.S.'s custody?"

"Your Honour, on the sixth of February, 2021, D.C.F.S. received a physical visit from a woman who shall remain anonymous. The female, henceforth known as Jane, showed me a video image taken that morning depicting single mother Rita O'Shonaussey carrying bags of groceries to her home. Ahead of her was her son Jacob Robert O'Shonaussey, who was crying. Ms. O'Shonaussey appeared to be quite frustrated, and she pushed Jacob by the rear end using her foot. She pushed the child hard enough that he crashed to the ground. Ms. O'Shonaussey then shouted at Jacob to be quiet, but the child remained crying. Ms. O'Shonaussey pushed the child again, the child fell, but this time over the steps of the porch. I was escorted by N.Y.P.D. deputy George Vardorich that day to Ms. O'Shonaussey's home where she was arrested and I took Jacob to the Lenox Hill Hospital. Jacob was treated for a cut inside his top lip that required three stitches, a gash on his left elbow from the push, and a hairline fracture on his right wrist."

Judge Gydeck asked, "Says here that Ms. O'Shonaussey is currently serving a twenty month sentence on the charge of child abuse and a six month sentence on the charge of child neglect on top of that?"

Ms. Zulorik answered, "That's correct, You Honour, along with a twelve month probationary period after release."

Judge Gydeck read, "Says here that Judge Normandy has taken all parental rights away from Ms. O'Shonaussey."

"That's correct, Your Honour, upon my request. D.C.F.S. feels that Ms. O'Shonaussey has subjected Jacob to more than enough physical and psychological abuse any child, let alone a child four years of age, should experience."

"Where was young Jacob taken after treatment at the hospital?"

"He was placed with Harold and Carol Winterbury," Ms. Zulorik replied. "They have raised two of their own children while accepting children for the past decade or so that D.C.F.S. has taken custody of."

"And when did this young couple begin visiting Jacob?"

"Mr. Dennafort and Mr. Hemstad first visited with Jacob at the Winterbury home escorted by myself on the twenty-fifth of April, 2021," Ms. Zulorik answered. "Jacob was very comfortable with them, which he hadn't been with any other potential adopters."

Judge Gydeck turned to the young men and asked, "Okay. Mr. Dennafort, Mr. Hemstad. When did Jacob come to be in your custody?"

Both Brendan and Kyle stood, and Kyle answered, "It was July ten, 2021, Your Honour."

"There is no doubt, not a single doubt, that you both are financially capable of caring for Jacob. But how do you feel that you can care for the child psychologically and emotionally?"

Kyle began, "Your Honour, Brendan and I are very kind, very patient, very caring individuals. We both love Jacob so deeply already."

"On his sixth day living with us," Brendan began with a slightly emotional voice, "we were woken up at 2:30 in the morning by Jake crying like there really was a monster coming out from under his bed. He had been having a nightmare about his mother. Kyle and I were too worried to sleep any more after Jake calmed down and went back to sleep. I sat on the floor beside Jacob's bed. Kyle sat in our office working on his business website with the bedroom security feed live. Jake woke up at 7:00 just fine. It was as if he hadn't had a nightmare."

"I'd like to say that was the last time Jake had a night terror about his mom," Kyle stated, "but it was only the first. Jake has been living with us for three months and two days. He's had four night terrors about his mother. But I am thankful that it's so infrequent, because Mrs. Winterbury has told us that Jake had been having these night terrors as much as four times a week when they took him in."

Brendan carried on, "I suffered abuse- physical and emotional abuse- by my father growing up, Your Honour. It started when my father was drunk or high, and he took his frustrations out on me for my mom passing away from drowning in a river. My father would berate me and beat me only when he was intoxicated. For the first year. From there, he got braver. When I was nine, he gave me a black eye for getting a C in science class.
"I'm not saying that I understand what Jake is going through. I was older than Jake is when my dad beat me. Every situation is different. Every child is different. But I have my own experience with parental abuse if Jake ever wants to talk to me about it. Or just wants a shoulder to cry on."

Judge Gydecker nodded slowly, and said, "It may not mean much to you now, but you have my sympathies, Mr. Dennafort.
"Mr. Hemstad, it says here that D.C.F.S. stopped paying Dr. Rihad Sahili in July because you began paying for all of Jacob's therapy appointments?"

"Yes, Your Honour," Kyle replied. "Even if Jake chose not to live with us any longer, or the court doesn't grant us adoption, I am happy to have helped him as best as I could. Why should the state have to provide care while Jake is in our custody and we are financially capable of doing so?"

"Along with the petition for adoption, Ms. Illep has also submitted an application for Jacob's name change. Changing his surname to Hemstad I understand, but who chose the middle name Peter?"

"Jake did," Brendan answered. "After his favourite superhero Spider-Man."

Kyle threw in, "Jake actually wanted to change his middle name to Spider-Man, You Honour."

The judge, the bailiff, and the two dozen or so civilians in the gallery laughed.

"He would certainly stand out from the rest," Judge Gydeck commented with a chuckle. "Alright, I'm ready for Jacob to testify."

The bailiff left the small court room, but returned a moment later with Jacob's hand gripping his fingers. As the bailiff led Jacob to the witness stand, Jacob waved at both Brendan and Kyle.

Judge Gydeck turned to Jacob, smiled at him kindly, and said, "Good afternoon, Jacob."

"Morning," Jacob responded quietly but not shyly.

"How are you, today?"


"Excellent to hear that, Young Man. Do you know why you're here today?"

"Because Kyle and Brendan want to adopt me?"

"That's right, Jacob. They want to adopt you. Do you know what they told me a moment ago? They told me that you wanted to change your middle name to Spider-Man."

Jacob laughed infectiously and replied, "Because I'm big and strong!"

"You indeed do look to be very valiant and heroic. Can I ask you something, Jacob? Why do you want to change your middle name? Do you not like the name Robert?"

"Because my grandpa is mean."

"Is that your mom's father?"

Jacob nodded his head, and Ms. Zulorik stood to clarify, "Robert O'Shonaussey suffered a stroke in January of this year, Your Honour. He passed away."

"Jacob, do you like living with Brendan and Kyle?"

"Yeah!" Jacob cried with a grin. "Ky always makes a bubble beard on me when I bath. And Bren makes lots of cool voices when he reads to me."

"That sounds like so much fun," Judge Gydeck stated with a soft smile. "What else do you do for fun with Kyle and Brendan?"

"We build Lego castles and airplanes. And I have racing cars and I always win. They teach me how to swim but I still have to use those things on my arms. They always let me see my friends at the playground. And they're gonna teach me to drive the car when I'm fifteen. I'm almost fifteen."

Judge Gydeck couldn't help but to giggle at that, as did much of the gallery.

"When you have a nightmare, Jacob, how do Brendan and Kyle keep you safe?"

"They hug and say they're gonna keep me warm."

"I'm sure they will keep you safe and warm. What is something they do that you don't like?"

"Umm... I dunno. I can have only one bite of a candy bar."

"Well too much candy will rot your teeth out. Do Brendan and Kyle ever shout at you?"

"Only when they're monsters and they're gonna eat my toes."

"Mm. I have tasted kids' toes before, Jacob. And let me tell ya, the most scrumptious ones come from four-year-olds."

Jacob giggled adorably, which made the gallery giggle as well.

"Do you know what it means to be adopted?"

Deep in thought, Jacob responded, "Ky and Bren said that I will live with them until I'm a grown-up if they adopt me."

"That's right. They will be your guardians until you're eighteen-years-old."

"Guardians? Is that a parent?"

"It can be. Kyle and Brendan can be your parents if you want. Do you want them to be your parents?"

For those few milliseconds that Jacob didn't answer, Kyle's world stopped turning. His stomach dropped with the weight of the excitement and uncertainty.

"Does that mean they'll be my dads?" Jacob asked.

"Yes it does. They will be your dads. You will live with them until you go to college or something. Is that what you want?"

"I always wanted a dad."

Grinning, the judge responded, "Well now you have two, Jacob. Based on the testimonies given today by Ms. Zulorik, Mr. Dennafort, Mr. Hemstad, and Jacob O'Shonaussey, it is clear that this is a very loving and caring family unit. It is easily told by the child's actions, affections, and demeanour that he enjoys being around Mr. Dennafort and Mr. Hemstad, and that they are capable citizens. I hereby decree the adoption of Jacob Robert O'Shonaussey to Samuel Brendan Dennafort and Kyle Walter Hemstad."

Brendan instantly wrapped his arms around Kyle's middle, and Kyle wrapped his around Brendan's neck. They cried tears of joy as the gallery clapped.

"The full legal name of the child will henceforth legally change from Jacob Robert O'Shonaussey to Jacob Peter Hemstad. The child is hereby entitled to all rights and privileges and litigations pursuant by the statute."

Jacob, full of excitement, ran down the witness stand and jumped into Brendan's arms. Both Kyle and Brendan hugged him and kissed his cheeks.

Jacob said in awe, "You're my dads."

"We are," Brendan replied with a teary laugh. "You're our son."

Brendan carried the child into the gallery where their family was, with Kyle right behind him.

"Because you're my son now," Brendan began with a sniffle, "my uncle Ross becomes your grandpa because he raised me. And my aunt Laverne is your grandma now."

Ross and Laverne Dennafort hugged and congratulated Brendan, Kyle, and Jacob. Next to hug the three were Mr. and Mrs. Hemstad, to whom Jacob asked if he could call them 'Grandma' and 'Grandpa' as well. After hugging Megan and Elijah, Jacob asked if he could call them 'Aunt' and 'Uncle'. The Hemstad's were extremely happy to have a grandchild/nephew to spoil.

Seven Months Later...

Natasha Dennafort, Ross and Laverne's six-year-old daughter, walked down the aisle sprinkling purple rose pedals and white lily pedals on the red runner. Jacob followed next, with a small white pillow in his hands, bearing the rings.

Wesley Tomlin walked down the aisle with Ingrid Rosen's arm linked with his. They climbed the single step to the landing and separated on either side of Mother Sally Gildan.

Next to walked down the aisle were Christian Hawkings and Megan. And then Warren Altier and Erica Shaler.

Elijah entered the groom preparation room with a big smile on his face. Kyle stopped scrolling through photos of him and Brendan that he'd taken over the years. He smiled tearily at his brother, and they shared a tight hug.

"Brendan's just walking down the aisle," Elijah told Kyle. "C'mon, get ready."

Elijah straightened the red carnation that decorated the lapel of Kyle's heather grey suit. Elijah then pressed their foreheads together and laughed loudly.

Elijah excitedly said, "You're getting married, Bro! Now let's go!"

When the two brothers came out of the room, Canon in D was playing on violin and Brendan was half way down the aisle. Kyle stood, waiting, with tears prickling at his eyes. Elijah walked around the pews to go sit by his parents.

When Brendan reached the last pew, that's when Kyle began walking down the aisle. His eyes were only able to focus on Brendan who stood in the middle of the landing. Kyle could see the tears falling from Brendan's gorgeous blue eyes, and the smile gracing the redhead's lips.

When they stood before each other, facing each other and holding hands, they both giggled tearily.

Mother Gildan began, "Love has brought Brendan and Kyle together.
"But what do we mean by love?
"When we love, we see things other people do not. We see beneath the surface to the qualities, which make our beloved special and unique. To see with loving eyes, is to know inner beauty. And to be loved is to be known, as we are known to no other.
"We who love, can look at each other's life and say, 'I touched his life,' or, 'I touched her life,' just as an artist might say, 'I touched this canvas'.
"Those brushstrokes in the comer of this magnificent mural, those are mine. I was a part of this life, and it is a part of me.
"Marriage is to belong to each other through a unique and diverse collaboration, like two threads crossing in different directions, yet weaving one tapestry together.
"The secret of love and marriage is to be in love and in trust, to know in your hearts that you want only the best for each other.
"It takes dedication, to stay open to one another, to learn and grow, even when it is difficult to do so.
"And it takes faith, to go forward together without knowing what the future holds for you both.
"The true art of married life is an inner spiritual journey.
"It is a mutual enrichment, a give and take between two personalities, a mingling of two endowments, which diminishes neither, but enhances both.
"It is, ultimately, the emergence of the Highest Selves of each person.
"Now, Brendan, do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you swear to love him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others to be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

Brendan, tears threatening to form again, inhaled deeply and answered, "I do."

Mother Gildan smiled at Brendan before turning to the brunette, "Kyle, do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you swear to love him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others to be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

Kyle allowed a single tear to slide down his cheek as he answered, "I do."

"When Brendan and Kyle began their matrimonial journey, I had asked them to write their own vows. To let us all know in their words why they feel they should bond to each other for all of eternity. Brendan."

Brendan and Kyle released their grasp on each other's hands, and Brendan said his vows without the paper in his inside pocket.

"Kyle, do you remember when you first moved to New York?" Brendan asked with a teary smile. "Do you remember what you first said to me at the airport? You said that we could see each other in person whenever we wanted. You were so utterly happy and excited about that. As was I, believe me. No more long distance, no more Skype dates, no more longing for each other. But that's the moment that I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I could see the intense shine of love in your cognac eyes. I could feel the heat of your adoration in our embrace. Being with you for the past seven years has honestly been the most amazing time of my life. Because of you, I have my own family. You are the love of my life, and the father of our son and our future children. And for that, I will always have you in my heart. It beats for you, for us."

Kyle smiled, allowing a couple of tears to fall. He wanted so badly to jump into Brendan's arms right then.

Mother Gildan then said, "Kyle?"

Kyle inhaled deeply before letting out a laugh to stifle the intense feeling of utter happiness and contentment. "Samuel Brendan Dennafort, you are the most beautiful, most caring man I have ever met. You look after not only me, but everybody, with that giant mushy heart of yours. No matter how tired and stressed you are, you do absolutely everything that you can to make sure that I'm not overworking myself. I can't even count how many times you've come home from work in the late afternoon, seen how tense I was, and laid me down to rub my back. There are countless days where I miss you, and you somehow feel it, getting someone to cover for you at work or putting it aside to come home to me. You never fail to make me realize just how passionate your spirit is. How perfectly your hand fits in mine. How our souls mesh together in harmony. You are mine, Brendan. And I am yours."

Brendan sniffled with a smile and a trembling lip as he reached his hand up to his face to wipe a tear away.

"Beautiful," Mother Gildan commented with a smile of awe. "Just beautiful. These two before me really share a deep connection. Now, everybody, would you join me in the Lord's Prayer? Our Father--"

"who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen."

Mother Gildan smiled warmly as he glanced from Brendan and Kyle before turning to the guests, "And now the blessing of the rings. Jake?"

Jake, with his wavy brown hair gelled back, walked up to the priest in his little tuxedo. He held the little pillow up, presenting the wedding rings.

"May these rings be blessed as the symbol of this affectionate unity. These two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever they go, may they always return to one another in their togetherness. May these two find in each other the love for which all men and women yearn. May they grow in understanding and in compassion. May the home, which they establish together, be such a place of sanctuary that many will find there a friend. May these rings, on their fingers, symbolize the touch of the spirit of love in the heart.
"If anyone feels that Brendan and Kyle should not be wed on this day, speak now. Or forever hold your peace."

Both Brendan and Kyle took this opportunity to quickly wipe away moisture from their eyes. After doing so, they offered each other teary smiles.

"Brendan, as you place the ring on Kyle's finger, please repeat after me: With this ring, I marry you."

Holding the wedding band halfway on Kyle' long finger, Brendan obliged, "With this ring, I marry you."

"With my loving heart." - "With my loving heart."

"With my willing body." - "With my willing body."

"And with my eternal soul." - "And with my eternal soul."

After Brendan slid the band fully onto Kyle's finger, Mother Gildan then grabbed the other ring from the pillow held by Jake and said, "Kyle, as you place the ring on Brendan's finger, please repeat after me: With this ring, I marry you."

Holding the wedding band halfway on Brendan's the even longer finger, Kyle followed, "With this ring, I marry you."

"With my loving heart." - "With my loving heart."

"With my willing body." - "With my willing body."

"And with my eternal soul." - "And with my eternal soul."

With voice filled with happiness and pride, Mother Gildan said, "With the power vested in me by the State of Oregon, I now pronounce you husband and husband! Let this union be sealed with a kiss."

Brendan and Kyle, smiling with joy and contentment, closed the small gap between themselves. Their hands held each other by the hips and they eagerly leaned their heads together. Their lips met in a passionate closed-mouth kiss that was searing and establishing, lasting all of three seconds. As their friends and family cheered and clapped, the newlyweds pressed their foreheads together with their softly shut.

Well that concludes this story, guys! I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this journey with me. Thank you so much for the emails! Your support means a lot to me.