|A STORY BY THE BRAT|
DISCLAIMER: This work of fiction contains explicit material intended for adults over 18. If you are under 18 or are offended by non-traditional sex, or sex between minors, do not continue. If reading this type of material is illegal in your location, proceed at your own risk. This work is the sole property of the author and may not be reposted or reproduce without the author's written permission. This is a work of fiction. If any characters resemble the living or dead, or events are similar to actual events, it is purely coincidental.
Lukas woke up and turned to Simon. "Morning..." he muttered as he snuggled up and gave Simon a squeeze. "I smell French toast."
"Mmmmm... me too." Simon kissed Lukas on the head.
"Michael's gone. I bet he's cooking breakfast," Lukas snagged his phone from the nightstand. "What!?! We could have slept another 45 minutes! Why's he getting up so early?" whined Lukas.
"I don't know, but after using all the hot water last night and leaving him to take a cold shower, the least we could do is get ourselves down there to enjoy breakfast with him." Simon patted Lukas' butt and got him moving.
"Oh, yeah," Lukas laughed. "I forgot about that. Let's go."
"Oh, you forgot did you?" teased Simon and smacked Lukas on the butt a bit harder this time making the blond jump with a little squeak. "I thought it was quite memorable." He laughed too.
They tiptoed down the stairs in case Michael's mom was sleeping, though Lukas wondered how in the hell she could sleep so much. When they arrived in the kitchen, they found Michael freshly showered, fully dressed, and in an apron, cooking a huge batch of French toast.
"Morning guys!" Michael's voice almost sounded singsongy.
Groggily, Lukas said, "Morning... what's got you so chipper?"
"I'm excited about my soccer match today! Will you guys come and watch?" Somehow, this early in the morning, Michael was flipping French toast and hopping around in excitement, without making a mess.
"We'll be there! What time is the match?" Simon asked, finally started to really wake up.
"4:30! It's a home match. I can't wait!"
Three places were already set at the breakfast counter where Simon and Lukas mounted two of the barstools. The syrup and butter were already set out, as well as milk and juice glasses.
"This is really nice of you to fix us breakfast," said Simon.
"I always have French toast on game day." Michael didn't add that his mother always makes her secret recipe French toast for him on game day, except today.
Breakfast was yummy and the boys worked as a team to clean up the kitchen. Ready for school, Simon suggested they leave their overnight bag at Michael's and pick it up later. Leaving the bag in Michael's room, they headed off to school.
During lunch, Lukas excused himself to go to the bathroom. Instead of hitting the head, he snuck off to the gym and found Mr. Harris. Turning on the charm, and the puppy dog eyes, Lukas told Mr. Harris about he and Simon starting to teach Michael lacrosse and asked if he could arrange a unit on lacrosse in gym. Mr. Harris' current lesson plan had a unit on basketball starting the following week with lacrosse closer to the sport's spring season. Taking a moment to think about it, Mr. Harris reasoned that basketball may not be a good choice. With Michael's size and the close proximity of players on the court, it was just begging for another confrontation between Michael and Lewis. Though lacrosse would put a stick in Lewis' hands, the field is a lot bigger and could put some distance between the two and they would be wearing helmets and pads. With a bit more coaxing, Mr. Harris agreed to change up the curriculum. He'd just find something different for the spring.
"Can we start today?" asked Lukas. "Michael's really excited about learning and we should keep it going."
Mr. Harris noted how Lukas made it sound like they were a team looking after Michael. 'Lukas really sounds like his dad.'
"Puhleeeeeaaaaaazzzzzzz..." begged Lukas.
Rolling his eyes, "Alright. But only if you and Michael get to class and change fast so you can help me get the equipment out. It's still in storage since I wasn't planning on using it until the spring."
"Deal!" shouted Lukas as he turned and ran back to lunch before Mr. Harris could change his mind.
While Michael and Lukas were having a blast playing lacrosse in gym class, Simon was in study hall reading Lord of the Flies and finding it oddly erotic, and Lars and James were meeting with Megan Grant.
Lars walked down the street to the yellow two-story where the Grants lived. He saw James waiting outside his car with his secretary, Diane, and a folder with the paperwork.
"Thanks again, James," Lars said as he approached with his hand extended to James. "Diane, it's great to see you again." Lars gave Diane a kiss on each cheek. Diane had always had a thing for Lars. You could chalk it up to his European air or his light Danish accent, both of which peaked others' interest. Additionally, Diane worked on many cases with James and Lars and saw his compassion and dedication.
"Hi Lars," Diane said, slightly coy in an unconscious attempt to hide her excitement and embarrassment.
"Everything is ready. Shall we begin?" James asked, with an eyebrow raised.
The trio walked up to the home and rang the doorbell. Checking the driveway, a late model Honda Accord was sitting there with Oregon license plates. Obviously, having only been in town a week, Megan hadn't had a chance to get new tags. With the car there, Lars was certain Megan would be too.
Punching the doorbell with a bit of urgency and then knocking on the door, Lars was getting nervous, hoping he wasn't there too late. Deciding he try to door knob to see if the house is unlocked, Megan answered the door. With one look, Lars knew he'd made the right decision.
"Hey little brother," Simon said as he caught up to Michael on their way to Geometry.
"Hi Simon! We played lacrosse in gym today!" gushed Michael, his huge grin was highlighted by his dimples - something that he'd showcased more in the last couple of days than he had in the last year.
Simon threw is arm around Michael's shoulders, "That's so cool! You gonna be allowed to use your own equipment for gym?" Though engaged in conversations with Michael, Simon was more interested in who was getting to his little friend. If Lukas was right, Michael's crush is in their Geometry class. But Simon feared Lukas was wrong and there was someone bullying Michael. Instead of being embarrassed about staring at his crush, Simon felt it could also be a case of avoiding the perpetrator. Simon would have none of that. If Michael was being bullied, it would come to an end as soon as he knew who was doing the bullying. One way or another, Simon was going to get to the bottom of this.
"Yeah, Mr. Harris told us that while we played lacrosse, we could bring in..." Michael stop abruptly.
Simon looked in the direction of Michael stare and the only a few feet away, entering the classroom, were Gavin, Luke and Carly. Gavin and Luke are sophomores on the lacrosse team, and Carly is Luke's girlfriend. He couldn't imagine any of those three harassing Michael. Simon had been on lacrosse teams growing up with either Gavin, Luke, or both, and they were good guys. Simon even considered them to be friends. Looking back to Michael, he was frozen and blushing. But he didn't look upset, Simon couldn't quite identify the expression, but Michael looked kind of stunned.
'Maybe Lukas is right,' mused Simon. "Come on Michael, let's get to class."
The comment broke the trance that held Michael. They entered the classroom and took their seats by the front of the classroom.
Mr. Allen had the class team up and work on some worksheets of proofs. These were to be more challenging and expected the students to work in pairs to figure them out. Of course, Simon paired up with Michael. 'Why not pair up with the best student in the class,' he thought.
Simon was pleasantly surprised that he was able to figure out some of the proofs on his own. Michael's coaching was really paying off. Turning his desk to face Michael to make it easier to work together, Simon caught Gavin staring at Michael. When Gavin's eyes met Simons, he realized Simon caught him staring, Gavin turned beet red and quickly turned his attention to his worksheet.
'What's that about?' wondered Simon.
"Aw, man. Did you get the fifth proof?" asked Michael, shaking his head.
"Uh, no. Oh, I haven't started on that one," Simon answered, trying to get his attention focused back to his school work. He had a pretty good idea that Gavin has something to do with Michael's behavior. Simon was starting to think that Lukas was right, but he needed to figure out a way to confirm his suspicion. While he stared blankly at his worksheet, he tried to figure this out. Then he got an idea.
"Michael, did you know there are other members of the lacrosse team in this class?"
"No! Who?" Michael was excited to meet other lacrosse players. He turned in his seat to face Simon.
"Over there is Luke," Simon said pointing.
"Hey Luke!" Simon said. Luke looked up and Simon gave him a quick wave. Luke nodded back then turned his attention back to his worksheet and his girlfriend.
Then Simon pointed to the back of the room. Michael looked back trying to figure out who is was going to point to next.
"And so is Gavin." Michael immediately turned bright red. When Simon looked back at his lacrosse teammate, he noticed that Gavin staring back at Michael, also blushing with a big grin on his face.
'Holy shit! Are they crushing on each other?' Simon kept looking back and forth between Michael and Gavin. Gavin was embarrassed, trying to not be totally obvious he was locking eyes with Michael, while Michael was lost in his own world. He didn't even seem to be aware he was at school anymore. He was practically drooling all over himself.
"Michael!" he said with a bit more authority accompanied by a poke in the shoulder.
"Huh?" said Michael as he slowly turned to Simon.
He wanted to tease Michael but knew that wasn't a good idea. But he did have a great idea. If Lukas is right that Michael just needs "someone to be gay with," then he was going to help make that happen.
"Come on stud, let's get our Geometry finished."
Michael vaguely heard what Simon said and turned back to his worksheet.
After school, Simon caught up with Michael as he was heading back to the middle school to prepare for the soccer match. Michael was bubbling with excitement for his first game with the school's team. Simon related the story about how the school just changed mascot and school colors to be more politically correct. They dropped their old name, the Indians, and changed to the Sabers, using a Saber-toothed Tiger as their mascot. The new colors were Michael's favorites too - lime green and gun metal gray. Today, they were wearing their green kits with the gray trim and numbers.
Running out to the field for warm-ups, Michael looked up into the stands. He saw Simon and Lukas standing and cheering. When they saw him look up into the stands, they waved and Michael waved back. Then he saw Lars walking over to where the boys were standing and HIS MOM! Lars saw the boys waving to Michael and he looked down at the field and waved at Michael too.
"Megan, there's Michael. He's number 3," Lars directed her attention and pointed to Michael.
Michael was beaming and waving, then turned to join the rest of the team. He actually had FOUR people here to see him play. Then he pushed those thoughts aside and focused on soccer.
"Hey boys, thanks for letting me know about Michael's soccer game. This is Megan Grant, Michael's mother. Megan, this is my son Lukas, and our neighbor, and basically my other son, Simon."
"Hi Mrs. Grant," Lukas shook her hand.
"Very nice to meet you Mrs. Grant," Simon got a chance to shake Megan's hand. He now knew where Michael got his good looks - he looked just like his mother. Except where Michael's eyes seemed to be blue, Megan's eyes are gray.
The four sat together and prepared for the game to start. Warm-ups were over and the teams were meeting on the sideline. For Michael, this was the first time he'd played on a field with bleachers and lights. The moment felt a lot bigger than it actually was, but he liked the feeling - and starting at left forward and having his mom there made the moment even more special.
The whistle blew and the visitors kicked off. Today the Sabers play the Madison Middle School Mustangs from Vista Unified Schools in their white kit with blue and gold trim - league champions three years running and were expected win it again this year. East Harbor was always a middle of the pack team, but Coach Lopez noticed a different energy with the team this week. With Michael's scoring ability and his field leadership, the team is playing smarter and with a lot more confidence. During the pregame pep talk, he read the team. They didn't come in hoping they could be the Mustangs today, they knew they could beat the Mustangs. This was going to be a fun match to coach.
During the first half, Megan watched her son and thought about the talk she'd had with Lars. He was right about everything. Michael needed her more than ever and she had to be there for him. To do that, she needed to get her shit together and she needed to start doing that right now. She was blessed with a really special boy and that boy needed her to be present, physically and emotionally. He needed her to create structure for his life. To be his biggest fan, and to be his sounding board when he had questions or stepped out of line, which he rarely did. He needed someone looking out for his best interests and protecting him from individuals who would take advantage of him. But Megan also thought about what she needs to accomplish to get her shit together. A job for one. She needed to get her real estate license for California now that they've moved. She should have started that process once she decided where they would move to. She also needed to get her head on straight. That would entail some serious counseling, meds, and maybe dealing with, well, her partying.
Lars told her that he didn't know if she had a problem with alcohol, drugs, or both. Or if it was just a symptom of her depression and dealing with the loss of her marriage, husband, older son, and the support of both families. She was alone, a single parent, and had no safety net. It terrified her. Going out before the move was a way for her to "get over" her husband. At least that's what she told herself. But when getting laid didn't make her feel better, she started drinking more, then smoking pot like she did up until she was pregnant with Matthew. Then partying harder, molly, and then they moved here. At the party the other night she tried heroine and liked it much more than she wanted too. She finally didn't feel the pain, loss and fear she'd been feeling for months. This is the one thing she didn't tell Lars, though she suspected he already figured it out.
Lars was enjoying the match and was trying to figure out how he was going to talk to Michael about his discussion with his mother. Megan was in no condition to have that conversation. However, he begins the conversation, he was certain Michael would take it well. He had gotten Megan to agree to allow him to work with Michael, more as a friendly, trusted adult than a professional counselor, and not strictly as a psychologist. Keeping his relationship with Michael on a strictly professional basis wasn't going to work with Michael being at the house so often to hang out with Lukas and Simon. Michael's relationship with the boys was probably even more important. Not to mention that he'd grown very fond of the boy too. He decided to step in and work with, and care for, Michael as he had with Simon after Stephen's car accident.
In an attempt to scare Megan into getting help, it also had a sobering effect on Megan. She truly realized how vulnerable Michael's situation was. If something happened to her, there was no one to take Michael in. She doubted that her death would change the minds of the extended families leaving Michael with nowhere to go. He'd go into foster care, end up in another school, lose contact with his friends, and, at his age, would probably never be adopted.
Before Lars could broach the subject, Megan made the request. She'd witnessed Michael's excitement over his new friends. She'd could feel Lars' commitment to working with Michael and caring for him. If something happened to her, Michael would need these three in his life. She couldn't think of a better place for Michael in that case. For a brief moment she was completely honest with herself too, 'He's probably better off with Lars right now than he is with me.'
Then, as Lars had hoped, Megan signed the documents James' prepared. The first set of documents gave Lars co-guardianship of Michael and the authority he needed to act on Megan's behalf for school or medical decisions. The second set of documents Lars had James prepare just in case. He did expect them to be executed, but at Megan's request, these documents were signed and notarized, giving Lars full-custody of Michael in case something should happen to Megan. Now the documents were in safe hand with James who would walk them through the legal hurdles to make sure they quickly clear any legal hurdles and are filed appropriately. It was a drastic decision for both Lars and Megan, but he understood the position both Megan's and her husband's families had made towards Michael were final, and if he was going to get Megan into a treatment program, someone would have to look after Michael. He convinced Megan that it would be easier to get that paperwork out of the way ahead of time so when she was ready, she could just go.
Additionally, Lars also understood that if Michael was left alone, he now had the legal right to have Michael come stay at his house, and if Megan got herself in trouble with Children's Services, Michael would come stay with Lars instead of getting caught up in the system.
Both Megan and Lars were distracted and rather quiet during the first half, but Lukas and Simon were going insane. They both knew that the Mustangs were the juggernaut in their league, and not just in soccer. Vista's dominance in all sports from middle school to high school made them the hated rival for ALL teams in the league, despite, or in addition to, each school's historical rivalries. Besides, Michael was a really good soccer player and gave them a lot to cheer about.
"Oh my god! I wish Michael would just take those shots. We'd be winning by like five goals!" groused Lukas.
"He is really competitive. He's going to be great at lacrosse. I bet he takes more shots in the second half," offered Simon.
Despite an early goal by the Mustangs giving them a 1-0 lead, the Sabers were red hot. Most of the first half was played on the Mustangs end of the field keeping the league champions on defense. The Sabers were outshooting the Mustangs three shots on goal for every one the Mustangs took. The difference so far was the Mustang goalie playing out of his mind. Michael was controlling the Saber offense and should have had at least four assists, but the shots were brilliantly defended by the goalie.
Coming off the field for half time, Michael was cheering his teammates, giving high fives, and chest bumping, which essentially entailed the Saber players standing still as Michael ran up and jumped up to bump chests. Coach Lopez was really impressed with Michael's natural leadership, but also his ability to play up with the bigger boys. He's strength from gymnastics, soccer and other activities gave him the core strength he needed to hold his ground when the older, bigger boys tried to nudge, then push, Michael off his spot. He could tell the Mustang players were surprised when they tried to move Michael and couldn't. Since he was so much smaller, they started with just trying to lean against him to get position. But Michael squatted on his spot and wouldn't be moved. When they tried to throw a hip to take possession, his upper body strength allowed him to put an elbow on the older boy and hold him off. Frustration started to set in leading to a couple of yellow cards on the Mustangs.
"Great job men," started the Coach. "You are really taking it to the Mustangs. Get some water and catch your breath. Keep up the pressure and those shots are going to start going in!" The players gave a cheer and started rehydrating. Coach got Michael's attention and directed him to come closer.
"Michael, that was a fantastic first half. The guys are really looking up to you for your leadership on the field and love you for your selflessness. But they don't expect you to always pass. It is a team sport and everyone has to do their part. Taking your shots is just as important as setting your teammates up to score. Besides, if you always pass, you are allowing the Mustangs to focus their defense on fewer scorers, allowing them to lock us down. You taking your shots will open up our offense." Michael listened carefully and nodded.
"Go get ready for the second half." Michael turned and grabbed a water bottle.
Being in game mode, Michael automatically called the players together and led them through some cheers to get them psyched up for the second half. The Sabers kicked off and directed the ball to Michael to take up the sideline. Michael took the coaches words to heart and realized evening the score early in the second period would sway the momentum in the favor of the Sabers.
Once he got down to the left side of the box, Michael turned towards the center of the field and looked for a teammate to set up for a shot on goal like he'd done a number of times in the first half. Having seen this in the first half, the goalie cheated over to the other side of the goal a step or two, waiting for the crossing pass. Michael let his eyes wander to the offensive players coming down the middle. Michael's defender, in an attempt to figure out who was going to get the pass, turned his head to the box for a quick glance. That was just enough for Michael to fire a heater into the net. The goalie had clearly misjudged Michael's fire power, the ball was in the back of the net before the goalie could even get his body turned. The Saber fans erupted as did the players. This was the first time they'd scored on the Mustangs in two seasons. The body language of the Mustangs showed they were getting tense and concerned. They hadn't had this much competition in a league game in years. They were playing great and this match shouldn't be this close.
The Mustangs weren't going to make the same mistake twice with Michael. They were ever ready for him to take another shot, and the defense became much more physical against him. This kept the Sabers shots on goal down during the second half, but team in green continued to run the offense through their youngest player. The Mustangs scored a second goal, but the Sabers countered with another goal of their own when Michael lobbed a crossing pass to the tall, lanky center, Mateo Garcia, who got into the air clean and headed the ball into the left corner of the net. Michael ran over and literally lifted Mateo into the air.
The match stayed competitive right down to the final minutes. The Mustangs slowed the pace down as they brought the ball up the field to catch a breather and prepare for a final charge. Coach Lopez shouted out some instructions to the team to set up the offense.
At midfield, everyone expected the ball to go to the left to the side of the field to Michael. But the ball went to Mateo on the right.
Alejandro Fernandez the center forward and Martin Gonzalez the left midfielder both crashed the box from the left side, ready for the crossing pass. The coach had Scott and Michael in the middle, Scott at the top of the box, and Michael penetrating as deep as he could. The Mustangs had gotten into such a groove on defense during the match, they had trouble adjusting to the different offensive setup of the Sabers. Their goalie started screaming directions to move players into position when Mateo launched the crossing pass. Prepared for a high lob to the two tall Sabers on the left, the Mustang defense backed over to defend. Instead, surprising everyone, Mateo drilled a line drive into the middle of the box. A Mustang defender, attempting to avoid a hands penalty in the box, twisted and turned away from the ball. Blocking the pass, the ball ricocheted off the defender to the top of the box where Scott controlled the ball and took a shot between two defenders. The goalie dove. His sight momentarily blocked by the defender, the goalie met the ball a foot in front of the goal. Not having a clear view of the ball, he didn't catch it, but deflected it into the air. As the ball descended into the middle of the box, Michael leapt sideways into the air, reaching the ball as high as he could jump. With a twist of his body he caught the ball with his left-foot and drilled it into the back of the net.
The home crowd went wild. The Mustangs quickly set up for the kickoff, knowing time was running out. But before the Mustangs' offense could make a serious attempt on goal, the officials blew their whistles indicating the end of the match. The Sabers handed the Mustangs their first league defeat in years, gaining the reputation as a team to be reckoned with. As for the Saber players, they celebrated as if they'd just won the league championship - hugs, cheering, and an attempt at a Gatorade bath for their coach.
When the winning goal hit the net, Lukas and Simon screamed and cheered, but there was someone else yelling even louder. Simon turned and saw Gavin in the top corner of the bleachers, sitting by himself, cheering for Michael. Simon nudged Lukas and pointed out Gavin.
"Hey, that's Gavin Parker. Wasn't he the captain of the JV lacrosse team last year?" asked Lukas.
"Yes, but there's more," started Simon. "Listen to what he's saying."
Lukas worked to pick his voice out of the crowd and then scrunched his nose and cocked his head. "Is he cheering for Michael?"
"Oh yes he is. Remember when I told you that Michael kept turning red and getting distracted in Geometry. Well, today I realized that Michael has a huge crush on Gavin. Every time he sees Gavin, he blushes and forgets what he's doing."
Lukas laughed, "Aww, that's so cute."
"Yeah, well get this, I'm positive that the feeling is mutual. I caught Gavin doing the same thing today - twice!"
"Really? You think Gavin is gay?" asked Lukas. Together, Simon and Lukas had mess around with their friends when they first discovered sex -- particularly their friends in lacrosse. But Gavin stopped participating and Lukas assumed it was because Gavin was straight.
"Yeah, he's even out to his parents. But you don't hear about it because he doesn't date. He stopped messing around when he decided he wanted something special and would wait for the right person."
"But he's a sophomore," Lukas pointed out.
"True, but he started kindergarten early like I did so he's the youngest in his class. He's only a year older," noted Simon, once again considering his idea.
Lukas noticed. "You're planning something, aren't you?" Though Lukas was the schemer, when Simon put his mind to it, he could create grander schemes than Lukas would ever imagine. That's because Lukas was too impatient to implement his plans. Simon, on the other hand, put his plans into action at just the right time, patiently plotting each step.
"Yeah, let's invite Gavin over tomorrow night to play lacrosse and spend the weekend with us."
"Oh, you are so bad. You aren't going to tell either of them the other is coming over, are you?" Lukas started laughing.
"Nope. Let's go ask Gavin." Simon started up the bleachers with Lukas close behind.
"Yo, what's up Gavin," offering his fist for a bump.
"Hey Simon, Lukas," bumping fists with both boys.
"Great soccer match wasn't it," ask Lukas.
"Yeah! Can you believe we beat a Vista team?" smiled Gavin, full of satisfaction.
Simon elbowed Lukas to make sure he was paying attention, "Gavin, what do you think of that new kid, Michael."
"Oh man, that kid kicks ass," gushed Gavin about the boy with enthusiasm that revealed his interest. Lukas noticed and squeezed Simon's arm.
Simon led Gavin on so he wouldn't suspect anything. "I know, this is the best soccer team we've had in a long time." Then he cast his line. "Hey, what are you doing this weekend?"
"Want to come over and spend the weekend with us? We've been practicing lacrosse after homework each night, thought you could come home from school with us and bring your lacrosse gear. We'll get our homework out of the way, play lacrosse and then spend the night playing video games and watching movies." Simon knew Gavin would say yes just from the mention of lacrosse.
"Awesome, count me in. I'll ask the rents when I get home, but I know they'll say yes. They were talking about going out of town this weekend and my brother's staying on campus."
"I know our parents will say yes too. I'll talk to dad and send you a text," said Simon. They all bumped fists again and Simon and Lukas headed back down to Lars and Megan.
"Dude, I don't know whether your plan is evil, or brilliant," giggled Lukas.
The boys got Lars to agree to have Gavin over and they asked Megan if Michael could join them for a weekend of lacrosse, video games and movies. They mentioned that this would be a great opportunity for Michael and his budding interest in lacrosse since they'd introduce Michael to Gavin, one of the best lacrosse players in East Harbor. Megan thought it was sweet that the boys were including Michael in their circle of friends and readily agreed, especially since that would give her the weekend to try to get her act together, without having to worry about Michael.
Lars chimed in, "Do you mind if Michael spends the night tonight, too? We can all go out to dinner to celebrate the victory and then he can come home with us."
Megan knew that Lars wanted to have that talk with Michael right away, and to be honest, she was emotionally spent today. The relief of not having Michael around could be a good thing, or a bad thing, for Megan - that was yet to be determined.
Simon ran up the bleachers to catch Gavin to let him know that things were on for tomorrow night and Gavin said his parents texted him back and gave him the green light. Simon's plan was in motion. But he also realized that for the plan to work, Gavin couldn't seem any of them with Michael, so he quickly said bye and talked the parents into meeting Michael outside the school locker room.
Michael came bursting out of the door to the school and threw himself his arms around his mother. "I'm so glad you came!"
As other players came out of the school, they all made comments like, "good game", "see you tomorrow" and "later lil' bro" along with high fives, fist bumps and even a few hair musses. Michael beamed from all the attention -- not because he loved being the center of attention, but because it made him feel like one of the guys.
Since everyone had walked to the game, they decided to stop at the Maple Street Café on the way home.
"Aw man, Michael," Lukas oozed with enthusiasm, "this place has the BEST milkshakes."
"Awesome!" said Michael.
"Have you guys had a chance to eat here yet?" ask Lars.
Megan answered, "No." But Michael, not thinking, answered, "Yes!"
"When did you eat here?" asked Megan.
Michael looked down and tried to think of an excuse, not wanting to make his mother look bad in the eyes of his friends.
"Michael, when did you eat at the diner?" Megan asked with more authority.
"Monday morning before school," mumbled Michael.
'I'm such a terrible mother,' was the first thing that crossed Megan's mind. Realizing Michael had to get himself up his first day at a new school and then go to a diner to eat breakfast by himself, she began to lose her composure and took off for home.
"Mom?" Before Michael could go after her, Lars wrapped his arm around Michael and pulled the boy to him.
"Michael, your mom needs some time to herself. She'll be alright. Let's get those milkshakes!" He directly the boy towards the door that Lukas held open as he watched Megan walk on.
The diner was filled up fast with parents and players from the soccer game, even Coach Lopez and his family. When the staff found out about the victory, they cheered for the boys. By the time the diner was full, the place had erupted into a post-game party. For Michael, the celebration pushed his mother's troubles to the back of his mind and was able to enjoy the moment. It was burgers, fries and milkshakes for everyone at their table.
By the end of the meal, the Saber teammates and parents felt like one big family, a bonding experience that would benefit the team the rest of the season. Coach announced that there would be no practice Friday and that everyone should have a great weekend. With hugs and goodbyes, the families went home and Lars, Lukas, Simon and Michael started down Maple Street.
Lars parted ways with the boys at Michael's house so they could get their overnight bag and Michael could pack his. When they entered the house, Michael sent the other two up to his room while he checked on his mom.
When the boys reached the top of the stairs, Michael lightly rapped on his mother's bedroom door. "Mom?"
Faintly, through the closed door, Michael heard, "Come in, honey."
Michael slowly opened the door. He was almost afraid of what he would find. In the dim light of the room, he could make out his mom was sitting on her bed, knees to chest. It was clear to Michael she'd been crying. Michael cautiously approached the bed and sat down.
"Mom, why did you come home instead of having dinner?"
"I... I...," she started crying again. Michael felt compelled to try to comfort her as he had so many times, but this time felt different. He realized this wasn't something he was going to fix. He was even coming to terms that this may not even have anything to do with him. Megan gathered herself, took a deep breath and said, "I felt so ashamed."
"Michael, when you said you ate at the diner on Monday morning, the realization of what a horrible mother I've been since we moved here came flooding back. I left you here with no food, alone, all night, and wasn't even here to send you off to your first day at a new school. Oh god, how could I have done that. You deserve so much better." She nearly finished before she broke down crying again.
Michael got up and crawled across the bed to his mother. Giving her a big hug, he whisper in her ear, "I still love you."
Tightly clutching Michael, "I know sweetie, and I love you with all my heart. I don't deserve you. I'm just so sad and confused after everything that has happened. Dr. Meijer came over today to talk to me and to try to help. Things are going to get better. I have a lot of things to do this weekend, so you go hang out with Lukas and Simon for a few days. I heard they have lots of instruments to play and they are teaching you lacrosse."
"Yeah, they have even more instruments than dad and they said I could play anytime I wanted. And they gave me some of their old lacrosse equipment to keep for my own, and they are in my classes at school and I sometimes help them with their homework," Michael got out before having to take a breath. "Simon even called me his little brother. They are the best friends I could ever ask for, mom."
"I know honey. How do you like Lars?" she asked.
"He's super nice," he said, giving his mom a big smile. "Did you know Simon calls him dad? I guess Lars has been a dad to Simon since Simon's dad died when he was little. I think that's really cool."
Megan just nodded her head. She didn't know the story about Simon and Lars, but it was proof of her judgement of Lars' character. It also justified her decision to sign the paperwork.
"I think I heard Lukas and Simon upstairs waiting on you. Go ahead and get ready for your weekend. I'm guessing you have homework to do."
Michael broke the hug and looked his mom in the eyes. "I love you mom."
"Love you too, honey. Don't worry about me. I am going to be busy. You enjoy yourself and have a great time with Lukas and Simon. Okay?"
"Okay, mom." Michael was still worried about his mom. Knowing that Lars had talked to her made him feel that things were going to get better. He managed a crooked smile as he studied her face. Then Michael hopped off the bed, walked to the door and looked back at his mom before leaving the room and shutting the door behind him.
"You okay?" asked Lukas. Michael looked a little shell shocked, but he hadn't been crying.
"Yeah. But I don't know about my mom. I'm worried about her."
"We are too, that's why dad's helping her. She'll be okay. My dad is good at what he does," said Lukas with all the confidence in the world.
"Mom said I'll be spending the weekend with you guys. I guess I should pack a bigger bag."
"Naw, you don't really have to. You live close enough, we can run back down here any time you need anything. Just grab the clothes you need for school tomorrow and some stuff for Saturday. Especially some clothes for playing lacrosse and something comfortable - we're going to be in the studio for part of Saturday."
"Really? We're going to play music?" Michael perked up.
"Yeah, with you playing soccer, right now it might be kinda hard for us to practice together during the week, but we have weekends. With you, we've got a three-piece band. This is going to fucking awesome!" blurted Simon, revealing just how excited he is for Michael to join their practice sessions and to see what happens.
Michael emptied his gym bag of his dirty laundry and grab clothes for the next couple of days, gym, etc. While getting things together, Lukas took it upon himself to pick out the perfect underwear for Gavin. He didn't know if Gavin would see them, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure Michael was looking his sexiest just in case. 'But then,' Lukas thought, 'that sexy little fucker looks hot in everything he wears.'
"So Michael, where did you learn to play soccer like that? That final goal was sick!" asked Simon as he watched Lukas rummaging through Michael's underwear drawer.
"Oh, my last school was small, so most of the sports were travel or rec team. I've played travel soccer for four years."
In the bottom of the drawer, Lukas found some underwear that were almost inappropriately sexy for a young boy. Lukas made sure that Michael wasn't looking and the held them up for Simon to see. Simon about choked, and then faked a cough to cover it up. Lukas laughed, but he was wondering why Michael would have thongs and really skimpy bikini briefs that were ass-less and had a special pouch to enhance your junk. He grabbed one of each and wrapped them in a few pairs of the really cute CK boxer briefs. He followed up by grabbing some socks from another drawer and took them to Michael to pack. Michael grabbed the items and shoved them in the corner of the bag. Lukas giggled and imagined the look on Michael's face when he finds what Lukas packed for him.
Prepared for the next day or so, they headed back down the stairs and headed down the street to Lukas' house.
"Have you guys done your homework yet?" asked Michael.
"No man, we were waiting for you," Lukas replied.
"Cool." Michael smiled. He still couldn't get over how lucky he was to have these two as friends.
"Hey dad, we're home!" Lukas called out as they entered the home.
"Hi boys," Lars replied from his office. He was getting copies of the day's paper work ready to be delivered to Michael's schools' and the pediatrician's offices.
"We're going to do our homework at the kitchen table," announced Simon.
"Hi, Lars!" Michael added, "Thanks again for dinner tonight."
"You're welcome, Michael! There are some snacks in the pantry if you guys need them for studying."
"Okay. Thanks dad!" Lukas added they before heading to his bedroom. Michael dropped off his bag and Lukas and Simon grabbed their backpacks and they headed to the kitchen table. In the pantry they found some Oreos to snack on.
About the time the boys were finishing their homework, Lars entered the kitchen to grab a glass of ice water. "How's the homework coming?"
"About finished," offered Lukas. Michael was already finished and was reviewing Chemistry, he really loved science. Simon was also finished and was reading ahead in Lord of the Flies.
Lars leaned up against the counter top watching the boys. He really loved being a dad and having the boys around. This was a moment where he wanted to slow time so he could remember everything about this evening, this day. Soon the boys would be grown, off to college, and living their own lives. But tonight, they were still his boys and still there with him.
"Done!" Lukas announced, slamming his pencil and easing his chair back.
"Are you boys finished too," asked Lars to the other two boys.
"Yep, I'm just reading," answered Simon, folding down the corner of the page he's on and closing the book.
"I'm finished. I think I've done all the studying I need to do for my Chemistry test," Michael offered as he closed his book.
"Great, pack up your books and let's have a talk."
"All of us? Michael too?" questioned Lukas.
"Yes, especially Michael." The boys looked at each other and quickly packed up their books for school the next day while Lars took a seat.
When everyone was ready, Lars continued. "Michael, you know I had a talk with your mother today, right?"
Michael started getting nervous, not sure where this was going and not really sure he liked where it might go. "Yes, sir." Best to keep things formal and simple. That's what he'd learned when being question by the police, lawyers, judges, etc.
"Well, it was a really good conversation and I felt that you should know what we spoke about and how it affects you."
Michael started to worry and looked at Lukas and Simon, wondering how this conversation concerned them.
"Michael, it's all good. First, I asked your mom if she would mind if I worked with you, but not like a formal doctor/patient type a way. But be your friend. You know, to talk, listen, offer advice, and help you in any way I can. She said, yes, but how do you feel about that?"
"Good," Michael said, hesitantly. Then he added, "I like talking to you," and gave Lars a little smile.
"Good. But, because I will be working with you, and being an advocate on your behalf, and because I'm a child psychologist and not an adult psychologist, I cannot be the person to work with your mother. So I referred your mother to a colleague of mine. Are you okay with that? Do you understand?"
Michael rolled his eyes and Lars jumped in before he could answer. "I know, my mistake, you're not a typical 11-year-old." Both Simon and Lukas giggled at this. "I'll try to remember not to talk down to you, but I do need to know that you are okay with all of this. I told you I'd help in any way I could, but this is one place where we need to get some outside help."
"Yes, that makes sense, not just because you don't really deal with adults, but I guess it makes sense that if you are taking a role to help me, you really can't be helping my mom at the same time. This way you avoid a conflict of interest, right?"
"Correct. I will help to get her to go get counseling, but I can't make her, and she's not my patient."
"But that doesn't mean I won't be doing all I can to help you get your family back together, it is just that I'll be doing that by advocating from your corner -- being on your side."
Michael nodded his approval.
"Also, I've been concerned about you being left alone. It sounds like you were left alone without any food Sunday night."
"Please don't tell. I don't want to get my mom in trouble," stated Michael.
"I won't, but I asked your mom to allow me to have guardianship over you. She's still your mom and still has custody over you, but guardianship allows me to make decisions, sign permission slips and stuff when your mom can't. This means that if you need to come over here to spend the night, or you are invited over, you already have her permission to come. She also signed paperwork that allows me to take you to the doctor and stuff like that. It's the same legal agreement I have with Simon's mom. I'm NOT trying to take you away from your mom. But this paperwork allows me to pick you up from school, bring you to our house here, and you can spend the night anytime you want or need to."
Michael nodded in understanding and then looked at Lars with a great deal of concern. "Is my mom going to be all right?" he asked.
"Michael, your mom is really depressed about what happened with your father and she misses your brother. She felt like her life was all set raising you boys but then things didn't go that way. Her heart is broken, she is sad because of her losses, and she is scared about the future. If she chooses to get support and work through everything, she'll be fine. If she doesn't, it's going to be really hard for her. She is going to do her best to work through this. What she asked me to do is to protect you during all of this. So if there are times when she needs to focus on getting better, to go away to get treatment, or whatever, you'll be able to stay here with us while your mom is taking care of the things she needs to."
"Okay." To Michael, that sounded like a sound plan. He liked it here with his friends and he wasn't far from home.
Lars takes Michael's hand, "Are you sure? This is a lot to take in, buddy."
"I know. When we stopped to get my clothes, I talked to my mom. I think I get it that I'm not the problem and I can't fix her. But I also can't just sit around and wait for her to get better. I have school and friends and sports and music and... and my life," Michael muddled through his thoughts without looking anyone in the eye.
"Michael, this doesn't mean you have to cut your mom out of your life. She needs you and wants to be part of your life. But don't let her struggles trip you up on your path in life. We'll work on helping your mom get help, and you have a part play in that too. But we have a safe place for you here so we can help you along too. That's my number one job in all of this."
Michael stood and gave Lars a hug. Lars stayed seated and hugged him back. Before either of them realized Lukas and Simon were out of their seats, they felt extra arms around them, encircling Michael with their love and support.
|Copyright 2019 the Brat • All Rights Reserved|