Do Over

Chapter 28

There was a New Year's Eve party that night at the ranch and Brian and I were invited but not really expected to join. That was a good thing, because we didn't move from the bed at all that night. Unlike the previous two nights, we were lying in the middle of the bed, wrapped around, under, and over each other in a tight embrace.

We'd made love that first time fast and with a passion that burned strong in both of us. After we'd both experienced our orgasms, we'd lain in each other's arms, just kissing softly, not sharing with words, but with our bodies a renewed closeness. His presence, his touching, and his gentle kisses were like a cold cream over fresh sunburn, cooling and revitalizing all at once.

The second time we made love it was slow and sensuous. We held to our commitment of not yet going into full anal intercourse, but I knew I would want it bad someday, and that it would be good from the way Brian moved over my butt, settling himself in between my cheeks and moving with a grace that left me breathless after a few minutes. When it was my turn, I felt almost like an amateur, but his gentle urging left my self-doubt fall in the dust and it felt damn good.

While downstairs and elsewhere, people celebrated the New Year with toasts and singing, we lay next to each other, Brian's hand curling the short hair on my head while my hand traveled lazily down his back. We hadn't really talked about anything except to encourage each other in love making, but I could tell we needed to talk, and now seemed the logical time. I also knew I had to start with an apology that was as honest as any as I'd ever given before.

"I'm sorry I pushed you away, Brian." I said softly not long after midnight. He stiffened for a second and then relaxed.

"I forgive you, Davey." Brian said softly and it was my turn to relax with relief. "I just hope you won't shut me out every time you hurt like this."

"I won't, I promise." I said softly and I meant it totally. I still grieved for Mom and Jenny, it was still a fresh wound, but it wasn't as all-consuming as it had been. Nor did it drive me to self-destruction like it had been leading me to do. "I... I think it wasn't just this time, but their deaths before that all jumbled together and it was too much for me. I... Brian, every time you tried to comfort me I would start to feel better and then I'd feel guilty because the pain lessened, or I started to move away from the grief and I didn't want that... I wanted to wallow in it like I did the first time."

"Why?" Brian asked and I knew exactly what he was referring to.

"I don't know." I said softly. "It's something I noticed most of my family did the first time, and still do today. Maybe we're all too self-centered."

"Fine, now I know what I need to work on with you." Brian said firmly and I couldn't help but laugh. Part of me wanted to resist, but I knew better. If Brian wanted to make me less self-centered, he could do it with my permission.

I drifted off to sleep a little later. The grief for my mother and sister was still strong, but it was tempered now by my acceptance of Brian's love, and my love for him. It would still hurt for a while, but I wasn't going to let it ruin the rest of my life. I had too many years ahead of me, and so much going for me.

The next morning we ate breakfast with the President and his family before leaving. We were driving back home instead of flying there. In a 'blond moment', I hadforgotten that Modesto didn't have commercial airline service at this point in time and had turned down a government charter. Castillo, who had made the trip down here with Jeanie in tow drove a sedan and I got to spend the time on the drive back talking to Brian about what he'd done while I was out chopping wood and mending broken fences.

He'd actually spent most of the time talking with either Nancy Reagan or watching movies with her son, Ron. I'd hurt him emotionally when I pulled back from him after Mom's death, but she'd helped him understand why I might be doing it, and gave him some patience in dealing with me. I'd have to remember to send her a thank you note for that.

When we got home in the late afternoon, I knew that the others of our extended family recognized the change in me. Dyadya smiled gently as he gave me a hug and kissed my cheeks. Tyatya was also smiling as she did the same. Trevor gave me a big hug, and Brandon was right behind him. I was surprised to see Sean there as well, and just as surprised by the hug he gave. It felt good to be among... family and friends, to be home.

Thanks to the New Year being on a Tuesday, we didn't have school until Monday, and that time was used mostly to clear up remaining business related to Mom and Jenny's deaths. The first time around, Mom and Jenny had both died without insurance, and their deaths had been a financial burden on everyone. This time it was different.

Last year, after settling in at her job, Mom had purchased life insurance policies on herself and Jenny. The drunk driver who had hit her was also insured, and his insurance company was desperate to settle. Thanks to the national attention the accident had brought about, they were quite generous. Adjusters from her life insurance policy were also anxious to handle matters without any of the usual hedging and negotiations. By Friday everything was done, without using an attorney whose fees would have soaked up a good amount of the money.

Most of the money would go into the limited liability corporation that had been set up to handle my paychecks from the government. When we turned eighteen, that money would belong to both Brian and me, and until then Mom B and Dad B were trustees for Brian, and we added Tyatya and Dyadya for me. I wrote out checks of $10,000 for each of my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even my father in order to keep them from claiming I was profiting from the deaths without sharing with the family. It all added up to well over several hundred thousand dollars. I tried to include my real family and friends, but most refused out of hand.

Sean was a different story though. His parents had already told him they wouldn't pay for college, and in all honesty his chances of getting into the Naval Academy and becoming a pilot were by no means guaranteed. He'd never get through the background check because he was known to be gay, and if policy didn't change soon, there'd be no chance of him getting an appointment. Ten grand wasn't enough to get him through college, but it was more than enough to get him started, and Brian said in no uncertain terms that he wanted to help Sean get through college if he needed the help. We didn't tell him that yet, though. We were going to save it for a graduation day present.

The Sunday before school started, Master Chief Cole stopped by the farm to talk with me about the NJROTC. We discussed what may or may not happen on Monday, and several ideas on how to approach things if they did. Mr. Borsch also called that day to ask that I meet him in his office before NJROTC drill, and that I bring Dyadya and Tyatya with me as my now fully legal guardians. That night I had trouble sleeping, alone in my bed, and wondered just exactly what was coming and how best to deal with it. I'd spent part of that evening downstairs in the study going over some stuff that Dyadya had brought back with him. The next couple of months weren't going to be focused solely on school.

I had three meetings with NASA administrators arranged over the course of January and February. All would take place at Lawrence Livermore, in Dyadya's office. They wanted to go over in detail all the problems I could think of in regards to their various probes, satellites, the currently-proposed International Space Station, and of course, the shuttle program.

Then, there were problems brewing with the Middle East. India and Pakistan were heating up again, the Iran-Iraq war was going as hotly as ever, and Egypt was quickly boiling over with new fundamentalist tension. Africa was a continent not given much attention in the global press unless something went wrong, and most of what I remembered from there dealt with the Rwandan genocide in the 1990's and the Somalia crap that happened in 1992/1993.

We were moving into a time period where most of my knowledge of world events was sketchy at best, and downright dismal at worst. I knew that as major events happened I'd probably be able to provide after-the-fact analysis, but predictions were becoming almost impossible to come up with. Still, with the information I was getting, it would be somewhat possible to give accurate analysis.

Or so I hoped.

Meanwhile, I had other things of a public nature to consider, and I could not consider them alone. Both Brian and I had received numerous phone calls from the media while we were gone and the days before school started. National and local news stations, newspapers and magazines all wanted us to do an interview with them to discuss the controversy that was brewing as a backlash to the protests at Mom's funeral.

Oh yeah, that was one delicious thing to have come out of that mess. It seemed the American people did not like seeing a teenager being told his mother and sister died because of the way he lived his life. Public sympathy, and opinion, was swinging our way, and that was something I had not missed watching the nightly news.

Monday began before dawn, with chores at the farm. Trevor was silent as we went about the morning tasks, but smiled at me when we made our way back inside with the milk bucket. Tyatya kissed us both good morning and told us in Russian to get ready for the day. Twenty minutes later, I came down to the kitchen for breakfast, dressed in the cadet uniform since this morning was drill, and was surprised to find Agent Castillo sitting at the table drinking a glass of fresh milk.

"There you are." Castillo said as I entered and sat down at the table. Tyatya was serving oatmeal this morning with the milk and a good-sized dollop of homemade butter.

"Yeah, what's up?" I asked him. It was a little unusual to see him at the breakfast table. Trevor came in then and nodded to the agent before sitting down in front of his own bowl.

"Your school, well no, that's not entirely accurate." Castillo said and then paused before continuing. "You are the subject of a protest that is forming in front of your school right now. There are a few hundred people out front with signs and all the usual stuff. Local police are keeping them to the perimeter of the school. Your flag pole so far is clear this morning, but news crews are already staked out. I know you have the early meeting with your principal as well."

"So now comes the bad news." I stated glumly.

"Until things settle down, I'm having your duty agents keep you and Brian in sight all the time." Castillo said. "The demonstrators are likely to be no big deal, but we don't want to encourage them. A visible presence lets them know we're here and we're watching for trouble."

"I don't like it." I said firmly. There were several reasons I didn't like it, beginning with the idea of other students seeing armed guards in dark suits following me around. Castillo was in his own suit now and I knew the casual attire of the past wasn't going to be on the agenda today for them.

"That's too bad." Castillo said in a tone that left no doubt about my chances of changing his mind. I could pick up the phone and complain to the President, but he'd just laugh and tell me even he listens to the Secret Service, especially after having been shot himself.

"Okay, so what else?" I said with a sigh.

"You know the rest, do what an agent tells you, don't argue, and don't try to loose us." Castillo said firmly. "Oh yeah, and Brian's car is coming along fine. It'll be ready in time for his birthday, no problem."

"Oh, gee, thanks." I muttered and he laughed.

"Be glad we're here." He said after taking a long drink of his milk. "Your school doesn't let sophomores park in the school parking lot, but for security concerns we can't have you parking on the street like the rest of your sophomore buddies who have cars and can drive. So, you're going to be parking in the staff lot, the both of you or whichever one drives that day. You still haven't told me how you're working that out."

"Um, we'll be switching off, I think." I said with a small smile.

"That'll be good, let's us keep down the number of times we have to have two cars following you guys." Castillo said with a smile.

"You haven't been in the car with Brian driving yet." I said glumly. Castillo laughed. I guess it wasn't too bad, really. Brian wasn't that bad, but he loved to go fast, and take sharp turns. Then again, I did too, but I'd been driving for two decades, not just a few months and had a lot more experience.

Crap, I'd told him already about wrecking four cars before I was eighteen.

Castillo himself drove the sedan that we took to school that morning, stopping to pick up Brian along the way. Brian's agent for the day, a big black guy named Isaac, got in as well and we took off for school. We drove into the faculty lot, past about a hundred protestors already walking in the pre-dawn morning with their picket signs. The police had them cordoned off, limiting them to the public sidewalk in front of the school so we passed by easily.

Luckily we were able to enter the school from the faculty lot in a way that didn't show us to the protestors or news cameras, although the news people had followed the car as it pulled in. Mr. Borsch was waiting in his office and we had to wait before beginning the meeting until Dyadya arrived with Tyatya, and Brian's parents arrived. They'd all driven here in their own cars.

"Okay, since you've seen what's going on outside, I can assume you're aware of why I called this meeting." Mr. Borsch said as soon as we'd all sat down. He looked tired, as if he'd had no sleep at all. "I got a call last night from several board members saying they'd heard there were going to be protests at the school all week. They aren't happy, and I'm sure I don't need to remind you that two of the board members are new, and they ran on strong religious platforms."

"What are these people protesting, exactly?" Mr. Breckenridge asked with a worried frown.

"Well, they're protesting the 'lack of family values' in our schools." Mr. Borsch answered with a grimace. "I believe they're the 'excuse' several of our board members are looking for to make some changes."

"What kind of changes?" I asked quietly.

"I have no specific information on that." Mr. Borsch answered. "You can expect it to have something to do with, though. I also expect it will have something to do with the new AIDS education program we started, and probably the NJROTC program here on campus. From the phone calls I received, the board members seemed quite concerned that I consider taking some action to prevent the disruption of our school's normal operations."

"Um, what kind of action can you take?" Brian asked. "I mean, you're not setting up the people out there, are you?"

"No, I'm not." Mr. Borsch answered. "I've been told to suggest that you might want to consider getting your education somewhere else. One board member suggested you might both be better off at a private school."

"I seem to think I'm getting a good education here." I said with a trace of sarcasm very much evident in my voice. "In fact, I'd say the education I'm getting in politics is quite extraordinary for a public school."

"I'll have to remember that point." Mr. Borsch said with a trace of irony. "They also seemed to indicate that if your presence here is disruptive to the school's operation, they expect me to take action, such as suspending or moving to expel you. Of course, expulsion must be approved by the board, but they seemed to indicate there would be no problem there."

"You can't expel them for just showing up to class!" Mom B said angrily and Mr. Borsch shook his head sadly.

"I agree with you, ma'am, but the board members are seeking to blame the boys for causing this mess." Mr. Borsch said sadly. "I've already told them I will not suspend you two as long as you don't break any school rules worthy of suspension. But I'm going to warn you both, don't be late for classes, don't do anything at all, nothing that would give a teacher or staff member the opportunity to send you to my office. If you do, it will blow up and I'll have the board members threatening to fire me if I don't suspend you for so much as talking back to a teacher or being late for a single class."

"They can't do this, you can't do this." Mr. Rush said angrily. "This is discrimination."

"I agree with you, Mr. Rush." Mr. Borsch said slowly. "The fact remains that the boys have to keep their noses way above water or those people out there, and the people behind them are going to crush them like a tidal wave. If I didn't believe so strongly that these boys don't deserve this kind of treatment, and that caving in would cause more problems than it would solve, I'd recommend you look into a private school just to save yourselves a lot of trouble. What I am sure of at this moment, is that I am still the principal of this school and I want to do what I can to make sure that you boys receive a good education without being harassed as much as possible."

"Mr. Borsch, thank you for that." I said firmly. "I know that I appreciate your fairness in all this. If I thought it would solve anything, I would look into a private school, but if I did that, then they would just look for the next target. That next target wouldn't likely be someone with the love, the support, and the resources that Brian and I have."

"Davey, I've always thought you were a bright young man." Mr. Borsch said with a sad smile. "You're absolutely right in that assessment. I'll be honest here, I'm a reluctant advocate, but I am an advocate for you two boys now. This crap is making me sick and I'm tired of it all. I know it'll cost me my job most likely, but I'll do what I can for you."

"Not just for us." Brian said in response. "It'll be for all the other gay kids out there that would otherwise face crap like this."

"Mr. Borsch, if you don't mind, may we use your office for a quick family meeting?" I asked the principal. He just nodded, leaving his office and shutting the door behind him. I looked over at Castillo first while everyone was watching me.

"Agent Castillo, if I, if we, decided to do a full-court press in response to these people outside, it's going to get very public very quick." I said firmly. "Everyone here knows the real reason you guys are following us around, and about my on-going work. The question I have for you is this: If we take the fight back to them on the gay issue, how much will that endanger the national security work I perform?"

"It's a definite risk." Castillo said. "I'm not really the person you need to be asking this question, but I can pass it on up the line, through channels. The fact that you're friends with the current President, and that friendship has generated risk to your life is enough to warrant protection, albeit not at this level in most situations. Still, I don't think you taking your fight public; actually going after them instead of what you're doing now will pose too much risk from our angle."

"It's too late for the government to pull you boys out of the public eye." Isaac said in a booming voice, and it was the first time I'd heard him really speak. Castillo's eyes opened slightly wider as he stared at the junior agent. "I know I really shouldn't be saying this, but I'm going to. A lot of people in the upper government may be uncomfortable with your social issues, but they aren't going to throw a bag over your head and cart you off somewhere. They couldn't without causing a lot of fuss. Most of the stuff you do for the government that isn't done at home is already explained away very carefully. It fits with your sea cadets, it fits with your adoptive father's work, and it fits with the story of your friendship with the President. Nothing you do there that is visible to the public is going to raise eyebrows and make people think you're some kind of guy from the future or special analyst or whatever your job title is right now. They're going to think you're a very busy young man with a lot of future ahead of him and they're going to follow your public career with interest. They ain't going to think you're hiding a big secret if you make them think you're this open, nice guy."

"Hide in plain sight." Brian said with a nod of his head.

"Now the question comes up of what the adults think." I stated, looking at the four adults, my adoptive parents, I guess I should accept them as that now, and Brian's parents, the in-laws.

"I'm sick and tired of just watching you two get picked on." Dad B said firmly. "If you two want to crash through their line and sack their quarterback, fucking go for it!"

"Language!" Mom B chided him gently and then smiled at us. "Fucking crush them, boys."

"Dyadya?" I asked my adoptive father and he nodded slightly.

"Make sure there is plenty of this 'crushing' for us, and Trevor to do." Tyatya said with a nod of her head. "I think one day I would like to see you boys married for real, and maybe you can do that if you make enough people see you the way we see you. Then, I will have both my boys married, if Trevor ever decides which he likes better."

"I'll tell him you said that." I told her with a wicked grin. She scowled and moved to slap the back of my head gently, this time a gesture of fondness.

"So, what the hell is your evil mind cooking up?" Brian asked me when we were done.

"Um, Castillo, can we just, like forget I asked you anything?" I asked the agent who nodded. "Maybe you might want to wait outside while we hold a private family meeting. There's no danger in here."

"I see." Castillo said with a genuine smile. "Do you subscribe to the school of thought that says 'it's better to act, and then ask permission'?"

"None of your business." I answered with a smile and a wink. He and Isaac left the room then and it was just the six of us.

"Dyadya, you said you got a call from Barbara Walters again?" I asked him and he nodded. "Good, call her and tell her we'll do an interview. No question is off-limits, and we'd like it to be here, at home if you don't mind."

"Oh, I will have to clean everything!" Tyatya said with a wide grin. Barbara Walters was one of her favorite broadcasters.

"I will too." Mom B said as well with a similar smile. "She always does those background shots and I just know she'll want to do some of Brian's home."

"Um, don't I get a say in this?" Brian asked me with an impish grin. I ignored the question. I noticed outside the window that Master Chief Cole had the squad raising the flag. Thanks to the police, there wasn't a chance for Dr. Mills to get on campus, and the fifteen students out there that had formed a circle wilted under the glare of a teacher.

"No, you don't." Mom B told him when I didn't say anything.

"What else are you thinking of?" Dad B asked me, knowing me very well by now.

"I know the insurance checks haven't arrived yet." I stated slowly, mulling the idea over in my head again. "But I think we have enough money right now."

"Money for what?" Brian asked me with a slight frown.

"How about we talk to the owner of the Quick Stop across the street." I suggested calmly and with an evil smile. "It's chilly outside and I bet those protestors would like more coffee. Get a canopy set up in his lot and have him keep fresh coffee, donuts, and during the day maybe some juice and water. Don't go overboard, but give it free to the protestors."

"Why would we do that?" Mom B asked in a horrified voice. I just smiled.

"We're likely to be asked in the interview what we think about the protestors." I explained carefully. "Instead of talking about negative stuff, we can just say that we think it is great people are expressing their opinion and that we support such endeavors. That's why we are paying for free refreshment for them while they're here."

"Oh shit." Brian gasped out as everyone stared at me like I was crazy. It was Dad B who started laughing.

"That'll take the wind out of their sails." Dad B said with a laugh. "They'll be eating and drinking food you paid for while protesting you going to school...the press will eat that story up."

"While making us look good and them bad." I said. "They'll probably get plenty of shots of those people out there reacting with disgust. Maybe one of them will make a big scene, knock over some coffee pots or something and end up discrediting the whole lot of them."

"I like it." Brian said with a nod.

"I'll go talk with the proprietor of the store this morning." Mr. Rush said.

"Brian and I have drill and we're already late." I said, rising to my feet. With a plan in place for the opening engagement, we hugged and left passing Mr. Borsch on our way to the P.E. Building where the squad was. I had a few other ideas I'd want to suggest to our friends.

Master Chief Cole said nothing as we joined the squad in the section of the gym that he was using to give a lecture and examples on knot tying. He finished about five minutes later and we had time to practice on the different sizes of line (navy term for ropes) that he had arranged for us. I even managed to show Brian the knots he'd missed seeing while the Master Chief watched each of the smaller groups attempt their knot tying.

"So, what happened?" The Master Chief asked as he stopped by us. I explained quickly and he just nodded.

"It's about time you took the fight to them." He said carefully. "Just be careful in how you go about it, don't fly off the handle. Plan your every move."

"Yes, Master Chief." I said with a broad smile of my own.

Brandon, Sean, and Trevor were at our sides as we changed into regular clothes for school, peppering us with questions. Reynolds and a few others weren't far behind them and all wanted to know what was going on with the protestors. Castillo and Isaac were right behind us as we walked towards our first classes of the new semester and they were the first indication that something was wrong.

"Let's go!" Castillo shouted loudly as he grabbed my arm and hustled me towards the nearest exit. Isaac was doing the same with Brian and our friends were left behind as the two agents roughly began pushing us through the crowd of students to the exit that led to the faculty parking lot. Moments later, the fire bell began to ring and there was chaos in the hallways as the students began to flood out of the school.

Castillo and the other agent threw us in the back seat of the sedan and tore out of the parking lot, nearly running down several students and faculty members who were struggling to assemble everyone in the appropriate areas. I could hear the sounds of police and fire sirens coming towards us as we drove away. I poked my head up over the seat to see what I could, but Castillo shouted at me.

"Keep your head buried on the seat!" Castillo shouted and I complied.

"What's going on?" I demanded angrily while Brian reached out a hand to calm me down. I almost pulled away, not wanting to calm down, but the look on his face reminded me of my promise and I let him rub my forearm comfortingly, taking a deep sigh while Isaac answered.

"One of the students whose hall locker is near yours saw a wire poking out of the vent of your locker." Isaac said to me and I took a deep breath.

"I never use that locker." I said with some confusion. If someone wanted to put a bomb in my locker, they should have used my P.E. room locker. That's where I kept everything.

"Well, someone didn't know that." Isaac said as we took a sharp turn.

"Where are we going?" I asked from the floor of the back seat.

"Police station." Castillo said calmly. "The rest of the team except for Andrea will meet us there. She's going to the mobile command center the police are setting up to assist with their operations."

"Fuck, the news reporters are going to have a field day with this." Brian muttered and I had to agree with him.

"So is the school board." I said softly. "Remember what Mr. Borsch said about the board members wanting us expelled if there's 'disruption in the operation of the school'? This qualifies as a big disruption."

"What are we going to do about it?" Brian asked and I thought fast.

"How about we go on camera and say it's a sick attempt to create an excuse to expel us?" I said quickly.

"Yeah, then they won't dare do that, will they?" Brian asked, referring to the board members.

"They might, they might not." I said softly. "If they don't it'll be because we said it on television and they'll just wait a few weeks or a month before actually doing it. No, I bet they'll call an emergency board meeting again and they'll seek to do the expulsion in closed session. Let's not make the comment to camera crews. Let's make it to print reporters. We give them an interview about today's bomb threat, once it's over and we tell them they have to keep a lid on our comments until they go to print. They'll do that, I'm pretty sure. The big problem is going to be finding those reporters and getting them to us."

"Sean needs a job." Brian said quickly. "He needs money for school now and stuff, and we can afford it for now."

"I was thinking of someone with some experience in dealing with the press, but I think I can teach him what he needs to know without revealing anything he shouldn't know." I said cautiously.

"He turned sixteen on the second." Brian told me and I about had my eyes pop out of my head.

"Why didn't we have a birthday party for him?" I demanded.

"He didn't want one because of your mom's funeral." Brian answered as the car stopped. The back doors were opened and we were all but pulled out of the cars and rushed inside surrounded by almost every member of our Secret Service detail. When we got inside the station, we were led to a room that looked like some type of lounge, with a couple of vending machines, a coffee machine, several tables and a television. Castillo left two of the agents on the inside while spreading the others throughout the station. He wasn't taking any chances. I crossed over to the television and turned it on while Brian picked back up the conversation from earlier. "Sean's parents refused to throw a party for him anyway, so he's kind of down on them. Brandon did take him out to dinner though, just the two of them."

"We need to get him something for his birthday then." I said as I turned the television to one of the Sacramento stations. They were having the network broadcast of a morning news show, and so far there was nothing about the school. That was good, I was pretty sure.

"We'll pick something up before our party and give it to him there?" Brian suggested and I had to agree. It seemed right.

"Yeah, but now back to the matter at hand." I reminded him and turned to one of the agents watching us. "Tom, has Castillo informed the parents yet?"

"Yes, Mr. Jones." The agent said with a nod. I'd only really spoken to him a few times, mostly when he was introduced to me. "Mrs. Rush is on her way here. Mr. Rush will be leaving his work shortly but has to wait for a package. Mr. and Mrs. Breckenridge have both been contacted and are on their way here."

"Could you have someone at the school find our friends Sean Rule, Trevor Rush, and Brandon Walker and get them to a phone were we can talk to them?" I asked him and he nodded before speaking into his cuff mike.

"Andrea already spotted them." The Secret Service agent said. "They're with the other NJROTC cadets helping the faculty make sure they have all the students out of the buildings. As soon as they are done the police will escort them to the command post and get them into phone contact here."

"Thanks." I said politely and he just nodded. That's when the television caught our attention and Brian turned up the volume. I couldn't remember the woman's name on the screen, but she looked a lot younger than last time I'd remembered seeing her.

"We're getting a breaking news story out of Modesto, California." The anchorwoman said with a slight frown. "Downey High School in that town is reportedly being evacuated because of a reported bomb threat. We reported earlier this morning that the school was the site of a planned weeklong protest because of students attending there. This protest followed the vigorous anti-homosexual protests at the funeral of the mother and sister of high school student David Jones last week. We have one of our correspondents on site and it appears we have our satellite link connected now, Roberta, can you hear me?"

"I hear you just fine, Joan." A slightly Hispanic looking woman said as she appeared on a television in front of the anchor.

"What's happening there in Modesto?" The anchorwoman asked.

"It's a mass of confusion right now." The correspondent said, turning slightly to face the school where you could see hundreds of students forming up. "The school's fire alarm went off about twenty minutes ago, just minutes before the first bell rang for classes. Normally, classes start at seven-fifty in the morning, but as you can see, they are not starting today. So far there have been no reports of injuries although a few students have been heard to state that they were nearly ran over by a Secret Service car that left the school parking lot right after the alarm sounded."

"A Secret Service car?" The anchorwoman asked with surprise. Whether the surprise was real or not, I had no idea.

"Yes, there's a Secret Service detail reported to be watching students David Jones and Brian Breckenridge for the last year." The correspondent said as she turned back to the camera. "I believe it's safe to assume that was them getting the two students out of the parking lot. A short while ago the on-scene police commander reported that the school received a report of a bomb in the locker of David Jones and that's what caused the fire alarm. The school has been the site of protest by several hundred anti-homosexual demonstrators. While police won't say the two events are connected yet, speculation is starting to point to some connection."

"So have any students been injured?" The anchorwoman asked.

"We have no reports of injuries, but it's too early to tell." The correspondent answered with a frown. "Right now, the faculty and police are making sure they can account for all the students and then the bomb squad will be sent in to check the locker in question."

"So the locker where the bomb is supposedly located does belong to David Jones." The anchorwoman asked. Our attention to the screen was diverted when Tom spoke up from his post by the door.

"Mrs. Rush will be here in two minutes." He said and I just nodded.

"..that's what we're hearing right now." The correspondent finished saying.

"Okay, thank you Roberta." The anchorwoman said as the screen switched fully back to her. "We'll keep our viewers updated throughout the morning as the situation continues to develop. Now we have a special treat..."

I turned the volume down as the door opened and Tyatya came in. She hurried over to first me and then Brian, holding us at arm's length to make sure we were okay and then gave us each hugs and kisses on the cheek. Then she started speaking very rapidly in Russian.

[What has happened? Are you two okay?] She demanded so quickly I almost couldn't follow what she was saying.

[Yes, we are okay.] I answered first in Russian. Brian probably knew enough by now that he could follow the basics of what we were saying. [There is a bomb threat in my hall locker. That is my locker that I rarely use so I was in no danger. Trevor is at the school right now and we've asked for the police to have him call as soon as he can.]

[Why didn't they bring him with you?] She asked slightly angry.

[He is not their protectee.] I had to say the last word in English and that seemed to remind her Brian didn't speak Russian as much as we did.

"He is your friend, they should have brought him." She asserted, her natural protectiveness of her son coming into play. I just shrugged.

"I don't argue with them in situations like this." I said softly. She just frowned and I knew she'd be giving Castillo a piece of her mind in the near future. That was when Brian's parents came in and we had to go over everything again while they checked him for any harm. Parents are wonderfully protective at times like this and I could see Brian flushing with their concern for him.

We got them seated, and poured everyone some coffee from the pot on the far counter. It emptied the pot so I opened some cabinets until I found more coffee and filters. While I made another pot, Brian kept trying to calm all three adults down. When the phone rang on the far wall, Tom answered and then handed it out to me. It was Brandon.

"Hey bud, you guys safe and sound?" He asked me with what sounded like cheerfulness. There was a dull roar of people's voices in the background.

"Yeah, everybody there okay?" I asked.

"Yep, just fine." Brandon replied. "So, what's up?"

"Is Sean still with you?"

"Yeah, his parents are in the group protesting and didn't even say anything to him when he went to speak to them." Brian's voice was filled with the sympathy he was feeling for his boyfriend.

"Okay, if we send Tyatya to get Trevor do you think she can take you two as well?" I asked and he laughed.

"Dude, my parents are already here and they ain't letting me out of their sight." Brandon said.

"Okay, how about getting them to bring you down to the police station." I said. "Bring Sean, because Brian and I want him to help us out here if he's willing."

"Oh, I can guarantee he'll be willing to help out." Brandon said cheerfully. "He's spitting nails right now he's so pissed at his parents."

"Good, get going and we'll see you in a few minutes." I said as Brian turned up the television. Apparently they were back on our story.

"...developing situation in this small Central California town." Roberta was saying as I hung the phone up and returned to the table with our family. "The local bomb squad has just entered the building as the school has confirmed a rough count of all the students and confirmed none are still in the building. Parents are being encouraged to wait for their students to be released at the police checkpoints being set up around the school. They're announcing a plan to release the students to their parents at different checkpoints based on the letters of their names. As soon as we get the specifics we'll broadcast them. There's also been a hotline set up for parents to call if they are unable to find their students."

"Thanks, Roberta." The same anchorwoman said as the screen switched back to her. She looked at the camera with a slight smile and continued. "We've also received a statement from the US Secret Service about their detail guarding the student David Jones whose locker is where the bomb is reported to be. The statement reads 'Following several death threats received in 1984 after David Jones came to public attention as the friend of the current President, the US Secret Service initiated a protective detail for his safety in accordance with Federal Law. Threats of violence that are conducted against individuals in part or whole because of their relationship with a sitting President is reasonable grounds for the US Secret Service to conduct such protective operations if the threats are deemed to be credible and directly related to the protectee's relationship with a sitting President. All these conditions were met for David Jones and Brian Breckenridge. Further, since the possibility exists that a future President might have teenage children active in their school life as the two young men are, the US Secret Service saw this as a wonderful opportunity to train our agents for such a detail, resulting in a larger detail for the two young men than would normally be assigned. The President did not request the formation of a detail, nor did he request a larger detail than normal. All these decisions were made by the Secret Service itself. The opportunity we have had to conduct a full-detail training with these two young men have resulted in agents gaining knowledge and experience that will be helpful in the future to the US Secret Service and have provided protection for two young men who met all the conditions for such protection as required by law. The agents in their detail have had nothing but fine reports on both young men and we will continue to protect them in the foreseeable future.'"

"So it appears to be 'business as usual' for the Secret Service to handle cases like this?" The anchorwoman's male partner asked.

"They've also provided a list of past protection provided in similar circumstances, so I guess it is." The anchorwoman said with a shake of her head. "Still, I have to wonder, I mean usually children of politicians are sent to private school, but this is a public high school. I can only imagine how the parents of the other students are feeling right now."

"It's a dangerous situation." The male anchor said and I turned away before I was tempted to try to call them up. The door opened then and Castillo came in wearing a deep frown. He took a deep breath before giving us whatever bad news he had.

"The bomb was a fake." He said softly. "The bomb squad inserted a mirror in the locker and it was just a bunch of wires and a black-painted box. No detonators, no contact fuse, nothing like that. School's been cancelled for the day while the bomb squad searches the rest of the school, including your other lockers. You're both to remain here for the time being. Protestors have been found in front of both your homes and we're having local police go to keep them off your property. There's been some minor damage already, and then our team will have to do safety checks on the grounds of both places before you can go home."

"What kind of damage?" Dad B demanded angrily.

"Some spray painting at both places with the expected slurs and a few broken windows." Castillo said with a frown. "Please, we can't let anyone go to either place without us having conducted safety sweeps first."

"Davey, you better come up with some ideas to kick these people's asses!" Dad B said angrily and I couldn't help but agree with him.


As with all my stories, E provides immeasurable input, grammar checking, and all those other lovely editing thingies that make the story so much better!

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