A Chance Encounter

by Jason Finigan

This story is set in an alternate reality, and assumes the technology and capabilities of this reality's 23rd century are present in modern-day society.

Portions of this story contain copyrighted characters from other authors. The characters from the following stories are used with permission: A New Day "Dawns © GunRunner; One Door Closes, Frontier, and A New Door Opens © MultiMapper; Sentenced to Life © JeffP; Enterprise Tour and Enterprise Tour: The Early Years © Greybear; Memories: Down Under © Boi From Aus; Ark © Akeentia; and Out Of The Past © DarkStar. The following characters are used with permission: Mark Owens © Slash; Johnny Carter © ND from his story Nick and Ashley.

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


From the last chapter:

"Anything you could do for us, we'd greatly appreciate, Arnold," Craig said.

"During the preliminary hearing, the judge is going to rule on the merits of the lawsuit. Now depending on the judge we get, it could mean the lawsuit will be dismissed entirely, or we could be in for a very rough ride. I've actually been scratching my head of late over some decisions that several Judges and Justices of the Peace have made, and this is a case that, if things don't go our way, could get very ugly."

"Ugly, in what way?"

"Look, I don't want you to concern yourself with that. It's what you pay me to do after all," Arnold reminded Craig.

"True," Craig replied, unable to stop himself from smiling at Arnold's little joke.

"Just trust me, my friend. I happen to know of something that might very well come in handy should it be needed."

"What's that?" Craig asked.

"Have you ever heard of the Safe Haven Act?"

Chapter 16

"The Safe Haven Act? No, I've not heard of it, what is it?" my father asked Arnold.

"To put it simply, the Safe Haven Act was enacted to protect children from abusive or dangerous situations. Primarily, it is intended to protect a child in the case of abuse, or abandonment by a child's caregiver, be it a parent or guardian."

"Okay, but what has this got to do with the lawsuit?" my father asked.

"Trust me, the act may very well come in handy when we go to the hearing," Arnold said. "When is it scheduled for, anyways?"

"Hold on," my father said, putting the phone down to get the letter back from my mother. "It's scheduled for the twelfth of July," he said when he picked the phone back up.

"All right. Here's how we're going to play it out. I want you and your family to carry on as if nothing is happening. The press might get involved if the appellant chooses to go public with this lawsuit, and from what I can read of his character he might just very well do that. It's going to be imperative that you don't speak to them. Anything you say to the press could be used as ammunition for Frank Powell's lawsuit, and it wouldn't put you in very good light."

"I don't know, our boys right now are looking scared out of their wits," my father said, looking over at us.

"It's going to be very important that you try to do all you can to keep them calm, Craig. They're going to need to have their wits about them if they're going to be able to get through this."

"Being bombarded by press isn't going to make that any easier," my father suggested.

"Then it might be best if you find some place where you and your family can stay out of sight for a while. This lawsuit is going to be one the media is going to be all over, which will be very stressful for all of you. One thing you can tell me though, do you remember the name of the officer who arrested Frank Powell at your home?"

"Actually, we do. We have her card here," my father confirmed for him.

"Okay, give me that information so I can talk to her." My father dug out a card from his wallet and began reading off the information that was on it. After talking for a few minutes more, he said goodbye and hung up the phone.

"Well?" my mother asked, her expression telling me that she was very worried.

"He said we're going to have to play this one out, but that he has a couple ideas that he hopes will make sure that Frank Powell's case will go nowhere. But he suggested that the press might get involved with this, and I happen to agree with him."

"Honey, we can't have the press go poking around in our lives. It would destroy the children," my mother said.

"I know," my father sighed. "He suggested that we may have to find some place to lay low for a while. I just don't know where we can go."

"Craig, there's one place that would be perfect for all of us," Tim suggested.

"I'm all ears, Tim," my father said, looking over at him.

"The preserve where we dropped off Powder."

"He's right, that would be perfect," my mother said.

"Craig, hand me the phone and I'll call Lorn and see if he is able to help us out." My father handed Tim the phone, and Tim dialed a number from memory, waiting a few seconds for the phone to be answered.

Not a word was spoken by anyone else in the room. I guess they were trying to digest everything that had happened so far just as I was. It was so overwhelming, and I couldn't help but begin to shake slightly. My nerves were practically shot and inside it felt as if someone was twisting my stomach into many different knots. Looking into Terry's eyes, all I could see in them was fear, the same fear I was experiencing myself. All we could do was sit there, and hold onto each other.

"I'm sorry, Terry," I whispered to him. "I shouldn't have kissed you in the bathroom, then none of this would be happening," I whispered as I began to cry.

"Simon, it's going to be okay," My mother's voice spoke up, causing us to look up at her as she approached us.

"It's all my fault," I cried.

"No, sweetheart. It's not your fault. You did nothing wrong, okay?" my mother said.

"But if we hadn't kissed each other in the bathroom, none of this would be happening right now," I told her.

"Listen to me. How you feel for each other is never wrong. You hear me?" my mother stated firmly, wrapping her arms around the both of us. "Because some people have a problem with people who are different than them, doesn't make what you two did wrong."

"Simon, do you know why most parents have a hard time accepting their children being gay?" Darryl asked me, stepping up beside my mother.

"No," I answered.

"It's because they love their children so much, and are afraid of how others will see them. No one wants their children to be picked on, or beat up, or even worse. But parents of gay and lesbian children have to worry much more than others. They know how much hatred there is in the world. They love their children so much, they want to do all they can to protect them."

"Why can't everyone be like you, Uncle Darryl?" I asked through my sobs.

"I wish people were, Simon. It's just not how things work. All you can do, all any of us can do, is love those close to us, and accept the love they have for us. We're family. Not because I'm your Uncle Tim's husband and he's your father's brother. We're family because we love each other. And now you have a whole new family to love, and who love you. Especially that very special person who's sitting next to you right now. I know you can feel the love he has for you, Simon. Love is never wrong, no matter what anyone says."

"I do love you, Simon. With all my heart," Terry whispered, pressing his lips to mine, kissing me passionately in front of our family. So strong were the emotions coursing through me that all I could focus on was the kiss. It was as if no one else was in the room and it was just Terry and me together.

Before long though, someone's voice broke the spell Terry and I were in. "While I hate to break up such a beautiful sight as you two boys showing each other how much you love one another, we've got some packing to do," Tim said.

"You mean we're going up to see Powder?" I asked, reluctantly ending the kiss and sitting up to face my uncle.

"Yes. Lorn says he has room for all of us at the preserve. He says we would be able to stay there for as long as we needed. It was a little funny actually, as his wife came on the phone and told me in no uncertain terms that we are to pack everything we needed, and get up there tonight."

"Tonight?" my mother asked.

"Don't even think it, Anna. I've seen Lorn's wife when she's like this, and trust me, when she makes up her mind about something, it's best to just go along with whatever she decides."

"I guess, we could," my mother said, seeing the truth of what Tim was saying in his expression. "We'd need to pack the food. I don't know how long we're staying for."

"Mom, what about Sam? Can she come with us?" Emily asked from the couch.

"I don't know, sweetheart..." my mother started.

"Anna, she has to go with you," Pamela said. "If things are going to get as nuts as I'm thinking it might, then the best place for Sam will be away from here."

"What about you and you husband?" my mother asked her.

"We'll manage, and will come to visit."

"Mom, you have to come too," Sam suddenly signed to her mother.

"Honey, it's going to be crowded up there as it is," Pamela answered.

Sam shook her head. "No, mom. You have to come with me." I could tell by the way that Sam was signing urgently to her mother that something was worrying her.

"Pamela, it's okay. I asked about you and your husband as well. There's plenty of room. And I agree with you that Sam can't stay here with her condition. At the same time, she needs her mother and father as well," Tim told her.

"You're right, Tim. I need to call my husband then," Pamela said. Tim walked over to her, and handed her the handset.

While she was dialing the number to her home in the phone, I stood up with Terry. "I guess we'll need to get some clothes ready," I said.

"Don't forget to bring anything you think you might need at the house. I would seriously recommend bringing the computers."

"The computers? Why bring those?" my mother asked.

"Extra insurance," Tim answered.

"I don't get it. While I'm sure the kids would love to have access to a computer up there, why would it be necessary to? Surely there's more they can do besides play on the computer all day," Terry's mother asked.

"I'm not so much concerned about what the children will be able to do to occupy their time up there. I'm actually thinking about your safety. I hate to say it, but there's very little these extremist religious types won't do, including breaking into the house. There's a whole lot of information they can get from your computers without you realizing it."

My mother looked shocked by what Tim had said, but that shock soon turned to anger. "Well, that settles that then." She then turned to Terry and me. "Simon, I need you two to disconnect and pack your computer. And get your father's computer packed as well."

"We're on it, Mom," I said before dashing out of the living room and up the stairs with Terry.

As soon as we reached our room, instead of packing up the computer however, I ended up sitting on the bed instead.

"I can't believe all of this is happening," I told Terry, as he sat down beside me.

"Neither can I, Simon. But they're right, you know. So long as we have each other and the people that care about us, that's all that matters."

"It shouldn't be like this, though," I said defiantly, causing Terry to pull me into a tight hug.

"No it shouldn't, but as the saying goes, life isn't fair. You know, before I realized I was gay, I used to have lots of friends who I'd go play with or who'd come play with me. Then things changed and when they were off talking about girls, I just couldn't bring myself to join in. I couldn't tell them that I didn't have the same interest in girls that they did, and that's when they started to push me away. Slowly at first, but eventually not even acknowledging my presence."

"I'm sorry, Terry. I don't know how you could have felt. I didn't have many friends to begin with, and my best friend, Brad, well he was always different anyways."

"You know what was worse, though? It was being afraid of what my parents would do if they found out that I liked guys instead of girls. If my friends abandoned me like they did, it would have killed me had my parents been the same way, and I don't know what I would have done," Terry said softly. I could tell he was close to crying, and it just made me lean into him more, and hold him tighter against me.

"And then we met," I whispered.

"Yeah. And I realized then that I couldn't hide who I was any longer. From the first moment I saw you, I saw someone so beautiful, and so gentle. Even had you not turned out to be gay like me, I knew that we would have been the best of friends, and it was enough for me. When you came out to me that night in the camp after I told you my secret... it was as if all my prayers had been answered. You set me free, babe."

"We set each other free, I think," I told him.


"Yeah?" I answered. He then did something that I would forever remember for the rest of my life. He began to sing.

Tell me can you feel my heart beat
Tell me as i kneel down at your feet
I knew there would come a time
When these two hearts would
entwined just put your hand in mine

For so long I have been an island
When no-one could ever
reach the shores
And we've got a whole lifetime to share
And I'll always be there, darling this i swear

So please believe me
For these words I say are true
And don't deny me
A lifetime loving you
And if you ask will I be true
Do I give my all to you
Then I will say I do

I'm ready to begin this journey
Well I'm with you with every step you take
And we've got a whole lifetime to share
And I'll always be there
Darling this i swear

So please believe me
For these words I say are true
And don't deny me
A lifetime loving you
And if you ask will I be true
Do I give my all to you
Then I will say I do

Come on just take my hand oh come on
Lets make a stand for our love
But I know this is so hard to believe
So please

So please believe me
For these words I say are true
And don't deny me
A lifetime loving you
And if you ask will I be true
Do I give my all to you
Then I will say I do

("I Do" 2007 Westlife and Sony / ATV Music Publishing (UK) LTD. Available on the Westlife album "Back Home")

As he sang the last words, there was no stopping the flow of tears falling from my eyes. All I could do was sit there on my bed in his arms and cry. But they weren't tears of sadness this time. These tears were tears of joy.

"That... that was so beautiful," I said haltingly. "I never knew you could sing like that."

"I don't normally," he answered shyly.

"Thank you, babe. Thank you so much," I said, and wrapped my arms around him, pulling him into a long loving hug.

"For you, my love, any time."

For several minutes we sat there on the bed, holding one another. All our worries over the lawsuit just seemed to melt away. For right at that moment, it was just the two of us. Two lovers giving each other so much of themselves in that one hug.

"I love you, Terry," I whispered, releasing him from the embrace, but now holding onto his hands.

"I love you too, Simon," he whispered back, leaning over slightly to give me a small kiss on my lips.

"I guess we should get the computer packed up," I sighed reluctantly.

"Yeah." With that we both got up from the bed and headed over to the computer desk. Together we started unplugging all the wires hooked up to the back of the computer, and finally unplugged the cords from the power bar on the floor. From the closet, I brought out a box and placed the speakers, the mouse, the keyboard, and the mouse pad into it along with all the power cords. Terry then picked up the computer, while I grabbed the monitor and the box. I followed Terry out of the room and down the stairs. We placed the computer by the front door, then headed down to the basement where my father's computer was hooked up and proceeded to disconnect that one too. My father had saved all the boxes the computer came in, so it was just a matter of putting the computer components in the appropriate box before bringing everything back upstairs, placing it next to my computer by the front door.

Returning to the living room, Terry and I saw that Tim and Darryl had already re-packed their bags, which were sitting beside the couch. Dale was sitting in the living room beside Tim and Darryl, while my father and Terry's father were in the middle of a quiet conversation near the window. Sam and her mother were nowhere to be found. In fact, neither was Emily nor Terry's and my mother.

"Excuse me, Dad?" I spoke up, politely getting my father's attention.

"Yes, Simon?"

"Where's Mom?" I asked.

"She went next door with Terry's mother, Sam, and Sam's mother to pack up some clothes."


"You know, we should probably do the same, Babe," Terry suggested.

"Not a bad idea, boys," my father agreed. "Did the two of you mange to get the computers disconnected?"

"Yeah, Dad. They're sitting by the front door," I answered.

"Good. You two head on up stairs. But grab a garbage bag from the kitchen first."

"Okay, Dad." Terry and I headed to the kitchen where I opened up one of the cupboards below the sink to get one of the small black garbage bags. I didn't know how long we were going to be up at the preserve, but guessed it would probably be long enough to require bringing at least a full week's worth of clothes. The two of us then went back up the stairs and into our room where I began to fill up the bag with as many of the clothes as I could fit, making sure I had ample sets of pants, shorts, shirts, and socks and underwear. Terry hadn't brought much over from the camp, but what he did bring over had already been washed, probably by my mother, and was inside his backpack beside the bed.

It was amazing how much a bag of clothes actually weighed. Terry had slung his backpack on his back, and helped me carry the bag of clothes down the stairs. A couple of times I almost slipped on one of the steps, but managed to steady myself before I fell.

At the bottom of the stairs, my father was waiting for us, and upon seeing that I had packed everything, he went to the front door and held it open for us as we brought it outside.

"Just put it in the trunk, but watch out for the computers," my father told us.

"Is it open, Dad?" I asked him.

"Yes, it's unlocked," he replied.

Opening the trunk of the car, we saw that my father had already carefully put the two computers into it. My computer was covered with a large blanket, while my father's was already protected by the boxes it was in. Terry and I put the garbage bag full of clothes in first, pushing it as far back as we could, then Terry took off his backpack, and put that in the trunk as well. Before heading back into the house, I closed the trunk, making sure it had properly caught on the latch.

"There's my mom," Terry pointed out nodding in the direction of the McKendrick's home.

"Let's go see if they need a hand," I suggested, noting that they were bringing out a fair number of suitcases from the house.

"How many suitcases are they bringing?" Terry asked in astonishment, as he saw the pile of suitcases already piled by the trunk of Mrs. McKendrick'' car.

"I have no idea," I replied softly. "I wonder if Mr. McKendrick is home."

"I don't see his car," Terry replied, looking around.

When we reached the car, my mother was just starting to put the first of the suitcases into the trunk of the car.

"Did you get everything packed up, Simon?" my mother asked me, noticing Terry and me walking towards her.

"Yep. Both the computers are in the trunk, and Terry and I packed up our clothes."

"Good. You boys can help Mrs. McKendrick with the rest of her bags. She still has a few to get," my mother told us.

"Sure thing, Mom," I said, inwardly groaning as I had no idea where all this stuff was going to go. From what I could see of the trunk, there was no way all of this was going to fit inside.

Terry and I headed for the front door of the house pretty much at the same time as Mrs. McKendrick came out carrying yet another suitcase. This one had to be pretty heavy, as she was struggling with it slightly.

"Let me get that for you, Mrs. McKendrick," Terry offered, reaching out for the suitcase.

"Thank you, Dear. I don't know why these things have to be so heavy," Mrs. McKendrick said, sounding as though she was out of breath.

"Where's Sam and Emily?" I asked her, as Terry took the suitcase from her and walked back to the car with it.

"They're inside. Emily's helping Sam pack a few things."

"You mean none of those suitcases has her stuff in it?" I asked

"No. This is all my husband's and mine."

"Oh. Okay," I said.

There were only a couple bags left, and they were relatively small, which I was quite thankful for. I picked up the heaviest one, which was a large gym bag, while Mrs. McKendrick picked up a small travel bag, and together we headed for the car. Terry and my mother were busy packing everything in, and I was astonished at how my mother was able to find room for most of it. Several of the suitcases had to go in the back seat, but the majority actually fit in the trunk. I placed the bag I was carrying onto the pile in the back seat and stood out of the way so Mrs. McKendrick could put the last bag in as well.

"Would you boys mind checking on Sam and Emily for me please?" Mrs. McKendrick asked us.

"Sure," I agreed, and with Terry, I headed back towards the house. We headed up the stairs and into Sam's room stopping in shock just inside the doorway.

There on the bed were Sam and Emily, surrounded by a whole bunch of different books, excitedly going through each one. There was a small pile gathering at the foot of the bed, but most of them had ended up falling to the floor. Half the drawers of her dresser were open, with various articles of clothing sticking out of them including her underwear. In front of the dresser was another suitcase, already closed but overflowing with clothes as I could see some pieces of cloth sticking out around the edges.

I couldn't help myself, and started to laugh at the sight before us. Terry also joined in, which caused the two girls to look up at us. The look on their faces was precious, surprise, turning to embarrassment, their faces beginning to flush red.

"Emily, you trying to turn this into a boy's room or something?" Terry quipped, launching himself into a new round of laughter.

"Ha ha," Emily responded sarcastically, recovering fairly quickly. "We're just seeing which books Sam wants to take with us."

"Do you have a box to carry the books in?" I asked, managing to calm myself down.

"Box?" Emily asked, obviously not having thought of what they were going to put the books into.

"Yeah. If you put them in a bag, they might get damaged," I told her.

"Um, no. We were just deciding which ones to bring."

"I never figured you'd get this excited about books, little sis," Terry said.

"Well, Sam's getting me interested. Especially with Harry Potter," Emily answered back.

"Okay, well, have you figured out which ones you're going to bring?" I asked.

"I think so," she replied, then looked over at Sam, who looked as though she was contemplating something, before smiling and nodding her head. She then got up off the bed, and put back the books that had fallen to the floor. What was left were about eight or nine books, most of them the Harry Potter series.

Looking around the room, I didn't see anything that we could use to put the books that were left into, so I went back down the stairs. Mrs. McKendrick and my mother had come back into the house and were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking some coffee.

"Mrs. McKendrick?"

"Yes, Simon."

"Do you have some boxes or something? Sam wants to bring some of her books and we don't want to damage them by putting them into a bag," I said.

"I think there are. There should be one in the laundry room downstairs," Mrs. McKendrick said after thinking about it for a second.

"Okay, thanks," I said before heading down the stairs. Mrs. McKendrick actually had a fair collection of boxes in the basement. I couldn't believe how many she had. They were all piled up in the corner across from the washer and dryer in a makeshift closet. I say makeshift as it really was an unfinished wall separating the rest of the laundry room from where the boxes were piled. In fact, there wasn't even a door to hide them.

Shrugging my shoulders, I set about the task of located a box that would be the perfect size for the books that Sam wanted to bring. The boxes were piled so high that at one point I almost started a cardboard avalanche. I'm sure if Terry was here to see me, he'd be snickering in the background as I tried to catch the boxes from falling.

As it was, though, I did manage to find one that I thought would work. Making sure the rest of the boxes were not going to fall over when I left, I made my way back up the stairs to Sam's room.

By now Terry had managed to pile the books nice and neatly so that it would be pretty easy to just put them in the box that I found. Setting the empty box on the bed, Terry and I helped Emily and Sam put the books neatly in the box. When the last one was in, Terry grabbed the suitcase and I lifted the box up and led the way out of the room. Sam closed the door behind her, as she was the last one to leave the room.

Downstairs, I stopped by the kitchen and managed to get Mrs. McKendrick's attention. "Where in the car would you like us to put these?" I asked her, indicated the box I was carrying, and the suitcase that Terry was holding onto.

"Just put it them in the back seat with the other suitcases, dear," she replied. Terry and I did as we were asked, heading back outside to the car. It took some doing, but we managed to get the last two bags into the back seat of the car. One thing I noticed, however, was that there was no way that the car was going to fit Mr. and Mrs. McKendrick and Sam. There just wasn't enough room.

"When is your husband coming home?" I heard my mother ask Mrs. McKendrick when we came back into the house.

"He should be here in a few minutes."

"Um, Mrs. McKendrick, where's Sam going to sit. Your car is full," I asked.

"That's okay, Simon. Before coming here, we already asked Emily's and Terry's parents if she could ride with them."

"Oh, okay," I said, glad that the adults had everything planned out already. That fact alone surprised me, considering how quickly this trip had been planned. In a few short hours, the whole family had everything packed up and were ready to leave. I just wished we didn't have to do this.

"You okay, Simon?" my mother asked.

"I guess," I said softly.

"It's going to be okay, you know," my mother reassured me.

"It's just that we shouldn't have to be doing this at all, Mom," I told her. I didn't know at that moment whether to cry or to scream. The whole situation was just nuts.

Suddenly, a voice called out from the front door. "Hello? Pam?" It was Mrs. McKendrick's husband.

"In here, honey," Mrs. McKendrick called back. A few seconds later, Mr. McKendrick came into the kitchen.

"Are we all set to go?" he asked.

"I believe so," she replied.

"Then I guess we should get going then," Mr. McKendrick said.

"We need to get back to the house," my mother spoke up. "Emily, dear, will you take Sam over to your parents?"

"Uh huh," Emily replied, taking a hold of Sam's hand and leading her out of the house, closing the front door after them.

"You know, sometimes I wonder if those two are a couple," Mr. McKendrick snickered.

"What, Sam and Emily? I don't think so," I answered, denying that such a thing was possible.

"They could be," interjected Terry, making me look up at him in disbelief.

"Nah, I just think they've become really good friends," I said.

"Only time will tell, boys," Mrs. McKendrick told us.

"Simon, Terry, you boys might as well head on back to the house as well. I want to talk to the McKendricks for a minute before we leave," my mother said.

"Okay, Mom. Let's go, Terry." I grabbed his hand, and led him out of the house, much like his sister did only a minute earlier. I swear I could hear the adults in the kitchen chuckling, which actually made me smile as I had a feeling that'd be their reaction. Terry for his part was just smiling beside me. I don't care how goofy he looks with that grin of his, to me it really just adds to his cuteness.

When we got back to our house, everyone was sitting in the living room, except Emily and Sam. I could hear some giggling coming from the dining room so I figured the two of them were working on the colouring books again. Hearing Sam having a good time and laughing as she was really made me happy for her. It had been a long time since I heard her having fun like this. I just hoped that someday soon she can have that operation to fix her heart, and then she wouldn't have to worry about taking it easy.

"Well, boys, is everything ready to go?" my father said, dragging me out of my thoughts.

"Yes, Dad. Mom said she just wanted to talk to the McKendricks for a couple minutes before coming back over," I told him.

"Good. Then you boys might as well get ready to leave."

"Terry, will you make sure that Sam and Emily are ready as well. They'll be riding with your mother and me in our car."

"Okay, Dad," Terry replied, and together Terry and I left for the dining room.

"Hey, Sam, are you all ready to go?" I signed to Sam after getting her attention.

"Yes, Simon," she signed back. "Are we riding with you?"

"No, you'll be with Emily's parents. Terry and I will be with my parents."

"Cool," Sam signed back, grinning at me before closing up the colouring book she had been working in. Emily was already beginning to put away the crayons in the little pouch that she had with her.

They carried the colouring books and the crayons with them to the front door. The four of us put our shoes back on, and headed out to the cars. Once Terry and I made sure the girls were safely secure in his parents' car, we got in my parents' car, and waited for everyone to come out.

We didn't have to wait long, that's for sure. Terry's parents came out first, followed by their uncle, Dale, then Tim and Darryl. My father was just leaving when my mother walked up the driveway.

"Is there anything you needed before locking the door, dear?" my father asked her.

"No, if you were able to get our suitcases in the car, I think we're all set," my mother replied.

"Don't worry, honey. I took care of that after the boys went over to Mike's and Pam's."

"Then we're all set, then," my mother said, opening up the front passenger side door and getting in.

I saw everyone else get into their respective cars. My father started up the car, and began to back the car out of the driveway, beginning the trip away from the place I had called home for my entire life. As we drove away from it, I said a silent good-bye to the neighborhood that I'd grown to love, but promised also that I'd be back again. Very soon.

* * *

Lorn's Wildlife Preserve, Flamborough, Ontario
Wednesday, June 30th, 2004, 3:57pm.

Pulling into the long driveway of the preserve was an eerily disquieting experience. For who knew how long, we'd all be calling this place home. I think what bothered me the most was that there was no other choice but to be here. No other place we knew of could provide us with a place out of the mainstream media's line of sight. The one bright spot in the whole situation was the chance to see Powder again. Even though it had only been a few days since we dropped her off, I missed here a whole lot. Not to mention how happy Emily will be when she sees Powder again. I could almost picture her bouncing around in the backseat of Terry's parents' car, anxious to get out and go see her.

The caravan of cars pulled up next to the main house. It was a good thing Lorn and his wife made sure there was a fair sized parking lot next to the home, as I don't think even with a driveway as long as theirs that it would be practical for all the cars to be parked on it.

Walking out of the house was Lorn and his wife, Lizzie. They were soon followed by Doctor Paula Edelmira and Jack Werner.

"Hello, Lorn," Tim said, getting out of his car with Darryl.

"Hi, Tim. That's some family you have with you," Lorn commented, looking at everyone getting out of their cars.

"Yes, it seems the family has grown quite a bit," Darryl laughed.

"Well, are you just going to stand there, or are you going to introduce us? Not getting any younger here, Timmy," Lorn teased, a wry grin plastered on his face.

"Oh man, I hate it when you call me that," Tim said, blushing a bright red colour.

"It works, though," Lorn laughed.

"He's got you there, Babe," Darryl said softly.

"Okay, well, You know Simon, Terry, and Terry's sister, Emily. Next to Emily, is Samantha McKendrick; but she goes by the name Sam. Sam is deaf but can read lips. So if you want to talk to her, make sure she can see your lips move and either her parents or Simon is around so they can tell you what she's saying. She uses sign language to communicate. Next to Sam are her parents, Pam and Mike McKendrick. Next to Simon and Terry are Terry's parents, David and Kathy Long. Next to them is Terry's and Emily's uncle, Dale Long."

"Very nice to meet you all," Lorn said, shaking everyone's hand, including the two girls. "I'd like you all to meet my wife, Lizzie, Doctor Paula Edelmira; who is on staff here as the preserve's resident avian expert. And last but not least is Jack Werner, our caretaker and deer handler."

"Oh oh," Tim commented, trying his best not to snicker, but failing miserably.

"What's wrong, hon?" Darryl asked.

"Lizzie, you wouldn't happen to have a bucket of ice would you?" Tim asked, barely being able to hold back his laughter.

"I'm sure I could get some, why do you ask?" she asked him.

"Because I think there are two very lost men here," Tim commented, finally giving in and beginning to laugh out loud as he indicated towards Jack and Dale who were simply standing there, staring at one another.

"Oh my!" Lizzie exclaimed, seeing what it was that had made my uncle laugh as he was.

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear those two were having a staring contest, but you could tell by the look in each other's eyes that there was far more going on than just looking at one another. I could tell right away that sparks were flying between those two, much like what happened between Terry and me, when we first ran into each other. These two grown men had found what not many ever found; love at first sight.

"Better make that quick, dear," Lorn whispered to her. She smiled and nodded her head before heading into the house. A minute later she came back out with two glasses of ice in her hands. Lorn took one from her and moved over to Jack, while Lizzie walked over to Dale. At the same time they pulled at the collars of both men's shirts and poured the ice down their banks.

The results were instant, the two men immediately waking up from their trance, and yelling out loud in surprise.

"What was that for, Lorn?" Jack demanded, once he had managed to get all the ice out of his shirt.

"I don't think we all want to stand out here while you two lovebirds stare at each other all night," Lorn laughed.

"Huh? What are you talking about?" Jack asked, which was echoed by Dale.

"Face it, Jack," Paula laughed. "You found the man of your dreams. Now hurry up and kiss already. I'm getting hungry."

Jack and Dale blushed at the same time and looked back at one another. At first I didn't think they were going to, until at last Dale moved forward and began to kiss Jack lightly. Emotion soon took over, and before long they were kissing one another passionately in front of everyone, their arms wrapped one another in one of the longest, most loving kisses I had ever seen.

Terry and I joined in the cheers around us, as everyone basked in the light of new love. Even though Dale was a number of years older than Jack, I could tell by how they looked at each other that age was definitely not going to be an issue. You just knew that this was going to be a relationship to last a very long time.

Editor's Notes:

Gosh that song was beautiful. No wonder Simon cried. I was crying just reading it. What a wonderful way to end a chapter. My goodness, love at first sight, that doesn't happen very often. Now to get back to what was going on earlier; the thing that really gets me is that situations like what has been described in this and other stories are occurring all the time and we don't have anything like The Safe Haven Act to fall back on, even though there is something that is called The Save Haven Act in Nebraska. It is only something where a parent or guardian can drop off an unwanted child with the authorities and not get in any trouble. I can't even imagine the concept of an unwanted child. UNWANTED CHILD?!?!?!?!? Children are the most precious gift that anyone can be blessed with. In the U.S. we just elected a new president. This time there is a different party in the White House, but sadly, the two parties in power here, are not really doing anything meaningful to curb all the abuse and violence done to children and that is sad indeed. It seems to me that the death of Matthew Shepard should have been a wake up call. Darn, if I get started, it is really hard to get me to shut up.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Archivist Team Notes:

What a wonderful chapter! The love Terry and Simon share is evident in Simon's thoughts and Terry's actions, especially the song. And seeing the families pulling together to cope with legal issues and stand by the boys was wonderful. I can't wait to see what Jay will give us next.