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The Light, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 26

*** Flashback into time

Jeremy, David Scarborough, Wade Hennessy, Steve Schmidt, Aaron Reinsburger, Kent and Paul Swanson, Jason Klinger and me were walking the path in the field that passed by the old red barn, on our way to the pond to catch frogs and goof around. The conversation was light, we were having some hella fun dodging cow pies, climbing the fences, jumping off like kings on the mountain, and then upon arriving, stealthily I'll add, we stripped down to underwear, crouched down low so that we were unseen by the frogs, or so we thought. Wade caught two right off the bat. Steve, the oldest, caught three, and then Paul, the youngest squealed with delight at getting his very first one, ever recorded in his 7 years of life on the planet.

We'd always released them back into the pond where they lived their lives. There were a few lily pads lying lazily, here and there. We'd take care not to disturb the plants. Sometimes we'd find one or two frogs perched together, sometimes not; it seemed to depend on what time of the day it was. On cloudy days or after the sun had gone down over the hill they wouldn't be there, instead they'd be on the banks, or in the tall growing weeds. Grandma used some of those 'weeds' on her flower wreaths... they looked pretty darned good, actually.

Wade said, "I hate to see you go away, David, but, I understand. Our farm, too, is on the brink of failing... I've heard Mom and Dad talking about losing our place, and they are worried about where we'll live next. This is home... I don't know what we'll do next... maybe if I give up my allowance things will get better. Mom had said we could probably keep going for another year if we trimmed expenses back. I hope she isn't planning on feeding us bread and water. Please don't say anything; my parents don't know that I know."

We'd lived together all our lives. There were things that we'd done, ornery things, that we swore with solemn oaths would never be told to another soul, ever, until we died. While there was no need for Wade to swear us to secrecy, nor were we obliged to swear our secrecy, but we did so anyway. Wade was having a difficult time keeping his composure.

Our renewal of solidarity was exactly what he needed to hear, and know, and it was something we all needed to do, to once again pledge our 'all for one, one for all' philosophy of life as we knew it.

"We're moving to Minnesota. Dad said things are better up there."

Steve said, "It's fucking cold up there, man. Dad says your spit'll freeze before it hits the ground."

"You're so full of shit... ain't no spit gonna freeze like that." Paul said, knowingly. He continued, contritely, "Sorry about that... I didn't mean to sound like an asshole... I guess I'm just stressed out, fuck."

Kent said to Paul, "I know... it sucks..." Turning to me he continued, "What about you, David? You guys are moving to Hawaii, right?"

"Yup. Dad says it's kewl there... him and Mom went there for their honeymoon." I replied, somewhat happily because of the stories they'd told me and Jeremy about the climate, the nice people, and the beautiful beaches all around the place.

Aaron grinned, and then smacked me upside the head, "You lucky fucker. We'll be freezing our dicks off while you'll be worried about getting yours sunburned. I hope it falls the fuck off."

"In your dreams, dude, in your dreams." I replied, hastily, giggling at the same time.

David, (The Other David, as we called him, even though at 12 years old he was older than me), said, "You don't want your dicks to fall off... Dad had a talk with me a couple of weeks ago. He said us guys start having dreams about girls and their pussies. Something about wet dreams... anyway, your penis shoots white stuff out of it... blows your mind good shit! Oh, check this out!"

David turned over onto his back, lowered the front of his underwear. We all scrambled to see his belly, as serious bets had been placed on whether Steve or David would start growing pubes first.

Sure enough, he had a tiny patch of 8 very dark wisps. Steve quickly lowered his underwear, looked very, very carefully for some evidence that puberty had struck him, too. On very close inspection of his nads, Jeremy announced, and the rest of us confirmed that Steve had one lone solitary sprout on the side of his right testicle, just underneath a fold of skin.

David, being a good sport, called it a tie. Everybody agreed, then turned our conversation back to the problems at hand... namely the relocation of our friends.

Jeremy and Jason, being close in age, had always been good friends. Jason looked to the ground, then slowly said, "Dad's been angry a bunch of the time. Nothing we do is right... everything's wrong. I hate him sometimes... come on, I'm going swimming."

In a flash, he'd shed his clothing, all of it, and then, with his hardness leading the way, he dove in, disappearing into the murky underwater. The rest of us followed his lead, goofed off, splashed, played make-believe Frisbee, and then we got out so that the light breeze blowing would dry us off. We didn't have a problem with being all natural... it was our time to just chill and not worry about anything. The mood had lightened considerably. The rest of our time was spent talking about school, girls (yuck), guys who we thought were dickheads, and the ice cream social and fair coming up the following weekend.

An hour or so later, muddy from our wet bodies lying on the dirt, we all got in, splashed ourselves clean, or as clean as possible, got dressed – which was a feat in and of itself because of our wet bodies, and then headed up the hill.

About halfway up, I felt something slick and slimy crawling my groin, right next to my jewels, and then I felt a searing white hot sting 'there'. I started screaming like crazy, like my life was ending right then and there on the spot.

Jeremy, the oldest, my big brother, came to my side, put his arm around my hips and asked, "What's wrong, David?" In the same instant I was pulling down my jeans and underwear.

"Holy shit!" Jeremy exclaimed... his usual calm demeanor gone, and I mean big time – gone.

I dared not look down. Jeremy's panic set me off... I took off running with my pants hanging just below my knees... which was not a good thing when you're trying to run as fast as you can.

Jason, the second oldest, easily caught up to me because I'd fallen "again", turned me around to face him, and looked downward. He, too, got excited, yet he was calmer than was Jeremy. He said, "It's a leach. Damn, it's right on the end of your dick... but you're going to be okay. He then went on to tell me about the one that had stuck to his nipple, and how his mom had to douse the critter with kerosene to get it to let go.

The thought of kerosene on my dick was not appealing, and I let him know just how I felt about the proposed method. Each of my friends dropped their jeans to check out their private areas, just to make double sure they didn't have something creepy crawly there.

We went to the house. At first glance at us guys entering the house with mud and dirt caked all about did not make mom happy, not one bit, but then when she saw the black thing hanging off my appendage she went into 'Mom Mode, took me into the bathroom with a bottle of baking soda. She used quite a bit of powder to dry the thing out with, and then teased it off me, all the while reassuring me that I would not be damaged for all eternity, as I had thought, and was sure of. Everybody, including Dad, was paying rapt attention to Mom's ministrations.

That experience was the topic for discussion, and ridicule, for a long time afterward. Nah, they weren't too hard on me, but it was a topic for discussion many times, including scary stories about how my dick might have fallen off.

*** Break in the Flashback

What awakened me was not the leach but an arm going around my shoulders and pulling me in toward a warm, soft yet firm body. I awoke, smelled the aroma emanating from the love of my life, my husband, Peter. I snuggled comfortably into his contours and promptly fell back to sleep, feeling safe and sound.

*** Back to the Flashback

"Mom, I want this bedroom, please!" I said while running from room to room in our new house way far far away from Missouri, stopping in the bedroom next to the bathroom, and atop the staircase. Mom put her arms around my shoulders as we walked in and carefully looked around.

"I think so... it fits you. Okay, you've got it. We probably ought to see what kind of wallpaper we can find... maybe fire engines..."

Indignantly, I said, "Mom... those are for babies. I'm no baby. I'm 8."

Mom replied, "You're right, honey. You're my little man... did you know you're getting to be a spitting image of your Daddy?"

"You tell me that all the time... but he's big and strong... I'm just a little kid."

"That's right... you'll grow up big and strong, too. Just give yourself some time. You'll be big and strong before you know it. We'll have Dad bring your bed and dresser in here, then."

That night I got to sleep in my own bed, not a hotel bed, but in my very own, in my very own room.

Despite all the mess around our house, Mom and Dad took me and Jeremy to the beach the following day. The beach was crowded, but we got away from the crowds by walking down the beach, far away. Jeremy and I picked up sea shells, but since we were wearing only brief swimsuits we had nowhere to put them. Even Mom and Dad were dressed for swimming.

Dad said, "We'll come back another time. We'll bring a bucket or something to put the shells into."

A year and a half later, Mom got sick, really, really, really bad sick. Dad said she had a bug or something that needed special doctors to take care of. She spent a lot of time in the hospitals. She'd come home, then have to go back... sometimes during the night... it was all scary.

One night I went to Jeremy's room, crawled into bed with him, nestled in, put his arm around me because I was scared. I didn't know what I was afraid of … I was just scared. So was Jeremy. He was more scared than I was, but being the big brother in the house he took it on himself to be as strong as he could be for me.

Everything changed one spring day when Dad pulled us out of school. He drove very fast to that white building where Mom had been staying, when she wasn't home with us. Daddy was very upset. He didn't look quite as big and strong. Both Jeremy and I crawled into the back seat and put our arms around Dad's neck.

We arrived in short order, then without waiting for anything, Dad led us up the elevators to the floor where she normally staid.

Before we went into her room, Dad stopped us at the bathroom, and then locked the door once we were inside. He urged Jeremy and me to use it because we might be there for a while. When we finished, while washing our hands, Dad broke down into sobs. He really tried to be strong for us.

Jeremy and I sensed something was very, very wrong. I took one side and Jeremy took the other. We urged Dad to sit on the floor so that we could all be together. That seemed to help a little bit. He pulled us into his sides and held on tight. In a few minutes, with tears still leaking down his cheeks he said, "Mommy's really, really sick, boys. She's going to go to be with God, very soon. We'll see her someday, but right now, tell her how much you love her... she knows you do... but... tell her anyway. She loves to hear you say it."

"But why is she going away?" Jeremy asked sadly, tears filling his eyes, as he began realizing that Mom wouldn't be coming home with us... how did he know that? Dad hadn't said anything about Mom not coming home, did he... when I wasn't listening?

That scared me. I went into Daddy's arms. He held me tight. He was shaking. His breaths were ragged, and he couldn't talk any more.

That scared me even worse.

Jeremy joined us. We cried so hard, harder than I could ever remember.

As they eventually do, the tears stopped streaming, and our breathing returned to near normal.

While Dad was cleaning my face with cool wet paper towels, this sudden feeling of being okay, and the smell of Mom's perfume came over me like a thundering stampede of calmness.

That feeling of contentment went away, in one nanosecond, the moment we entered Mom's room. I barely recognized her. She was my Mom. I should have easily recognized 'my Mommy'. That wasn't my mommy lying in that bed, with nurses all around, and the sound of oxygen hissing through the air... I turned to leave, to run, to get out of there as fast as I could... but Dad took my hand in his big strong one, and then he took Jeremy's and led us to the bed where the woman, the stranger, was lying.

She opened her eyes. They then turned from dark, to dreary, then they lit up... it was then that I recognized my Mommy. Pulling away from Dad, I walked to the bed, crawled up on it very carefully and slowly. She pulled me into her side and began rubbing my hair in little circles. Jeremy, meanwhile, took residence on her other side, with her other arm around his shoulders. Dad, meanwhile, sat down next to Jeremy, leaned in and kissed Mommy like he always did.

Weakly, Mom said, "I love you boys with all of my heart. I'm going away, but I'll always be with you. I know you don't understand, but, in time you will. Never let the light in your hearts go out. If you get lost, I'll always find you. I'll be just around the corner. I'll be looking at you all the time... Jim, I love you so much. Take care of my boys for me... I know you will... I just had to say it, though."

"I will, honey. I promise I'll take care of them. But, honey, it was you who gave them life..."

"But honey, it will be you who sustains their life, and keeps their lights brightly shining as they go through the challenges of life."

Knowing that something was about to happen, but not knowing what 'that' was, suddenly I felt an urgent calling to kiss my Mommy... Jeremy looked at me, and then turned toward Mom. At the same time, we kissed her cheeks, one on one side, and the other on the other side … and then her eyes closed.

A white haired man wearing a white collar around his neck entered the room. Dad and the man urged me and Jeremy to follow them into an office across the hall. The man said we could come back and see Mom again, but first some things had to be done. He was kind and gentle. His eyes were warm and soft. The man said that Jesus had called our Mom home to be in heaven, that she was no longer sick, and that she would love us forever and ever, and then when Jeremy and I were old, old men, then we would get to join her.

The man joined all our hands together, said some prayers, and then a nurse entered, nodded, but didn't say anything.

Dad reminded us that Mom had bathed us many, many times during our childhoods, and that it was time for us to wash her as our final act of love.

When we reentered mom's hospital room... the atmosphere was quiet, calm, peaceful, and the window curtains had opened to permit full sunlight to enter the room. The oxygen thingy and all the other medical stuff were – gone. Mom was lying there in that bed... she looked so peaceful. I could tell, even being a little kid at the time that she wasn't hurting anymore.

We didn't really wash at all... instead we were given little bottles of watery looking stuff and told to sprinkle it on her. Mom liked water a lot... in fact she'd joined us in on more than one splash fest in our pool. Dad was both giggling and laughing all at the same time while we did that, until it was all gone.

The funeral was awful.

*** End of flashback

"David, wake up. David..." A familiar voice said into my ear, arousing me from sleep... and a dream? It all seemed so very real, like it was happening in real life, right then and there.

Slowly, I opened my eyes. The room was light. Peter was leaned over looking into my eyes. He bent his head down and kissed my lips. Releasing them, he said, "You were having a dream, Baby. Wanna tell me about it?"

I smiled, "Did I tell you about the time when we went to the pond back home, you know, the leach on my uhm hmm... story?"

"At least a hundred times." Peter replied, smiling warmly, as only he can do, and at the same time, used his index finger, like a squeegee to push away the tears that were freely flowing out of my eyes, and down my cheeks, every time I had the dream about Mom's last days, hours, and minutes.

Peter knew better. He knew my 'leech story' was usually followed by one other dream. Without hesitation he pulled me into his strong arms, and rocked me gently as my composure returned.

I loved Peggy as my New Mom, but, sometimes I thought of the Mommy who gave birth to me. Sometimes the memories were sad; some were happy; they were always accompanied by the smell of her unique perfume.

I wondered why I didn't smell it, then.

Peter, however, easily moved me into other things. Very pleasant things. Very pleasant things under the covers, while I looked nervously all around the room, and then realizing that we were in the middle of a nest, I urged Peter to get my crutches, and to take me upstairs, so that we could make love, and, yet again, strengthen our bond through physical, emotional, and spiritual activities.

And we did just that.

After our moments passed of lying in companionable silence, we kissed one last time, and then got up and headed into the bathroom to perform our morning rituals. Finished, we returned to our room, put on underwear, and I put on my Leg, then we headed downstairs to see who else was up.

As we passed the main bathroom, we saw Jesus relieving himself. Aware of someone or something, he turned, saw us, and then broke out in an impish smile, stood to a side, and motioned for us to join him. Peter said, "We're already emptied. We'll meet you on the patio."

As we turned to continue walking toward the kitchen, we noticed that Jesus took hold of his wand and began strumming it like a guitar. I reached for the door knob, pulled shut the door and latched it, to give him privacy, whether or not he thought it was needed. I reminded myself to talk to him about some semblance of modesty during his forages into sexuality... that was not the first time he'd jacked off in semi-public settings.

Mom was sitting on the patio outside in a comfortable lounge chair. She and Adam were talking quietly. They looked up, smiled, and then Adam got up on the crutches. I said, "I'm sorry for interrupting you guys... we'll just leave you two alone."

Quickly, he replied, "No, it's okay... we were just talking... ma'am, may I be excused, please?"

"Adam, there's plenty of room here for us all... go ahead, sit back down. David, Peter, why don't you pull up chairs and join us." Mom said warmly, taking Adam's hand, urging him to sit back down next to her.

Adam quickly said, "Ma'am... these are your sons... remember I'm just a visitor here..."

Firmly, Mom replied, "Sit down, Adam. Do it now, or I'll sick my boys on you... have you ever been involved in a tickle war with them?"

Adam looked terrified, but only for a brief moment, "No, ma'am. Is it bad?"

I looked to Peter. He looked at me. Immediately, in unison, we shouted, "BAD! Now, sit down before we attack!"

Adam sat down. His shock and puzzlement turned into recognition... and obedience. He was quickly learning.

Mom chuckled.

We sat around and shot the breeze for a while, then saw Antoine and Matt exit the bath house. They looked up, and saw us looking directly at them. Matt smiled. Antoine smiled, too, but his smile was more reserved... it was more like "busted!" Add to that... Matt was carrying a bottle in his hand... Peter and I just looked at each other. We spontaneously giggled knowingly. Also noted was the fact that Matt walked somewhat bow-legged.

Those two kissed then Matt strode over to where we were sitting. He sat down next to Peter. They kissed warmly, then as one they looked toward the doorway. I wondered what they were looking at or for because nobody was there... but then Andy appeared a moment later. We all cracked up, totally. His shirt was hung on his fully extended 'shirt rack'. Wiping sleep from his eyes, he looked at us with that "What?" expression on his face. That cracked us up even more, until we nearly fell out of our chairs. Even Mom was into it, though she was more reserved than us guys. Nevertheless... one of those indelible moments in time was etched into memory.

Workers began arriving shortly after 7am. Soon the sawing, clanking and banging around aroused the rest of the guys, who quickly took their leave because they weren't dressed for 'company'.

Dad arrived. Caterers followed him. They set up a huge table filled with all sorts of food, fruit, and juices. It was a fun time, even though, the situation was serious. The electricians said that we should have power back by early afternoon, that the power switch box like thing had arrived from the mainland, having been special ordered the day before from a company in Los Angeles.

The network people from dad's work were working diligently to get cell phone, computer and other communications devices up and running. Of course, the blown circuit breaker electrical stuff had blown out the alternative power supplies, so getting everything back online would depend on the electricians.

A pool crew arrived just after noon. Wearing wet suits and rubber soled shoes they went to work clearing out the glass and other foreign objects. Their job was made more difficult since the pool vacuum was not operable because – you guessed it – no power to run it.

Peter got busy with some tasks, and I got busy clearing away blown off shingles in the yard.

Antoine and Adam were busily pulling up plants that had been hopelessly destroyed by the ferocious winds, hail, and torrential rains. They were splinting up the taller ones that hadn't been snapped off like twigs. The ground hugging plants were pretty much okay, but not completely, not all of them survived the onslaught of the storm.

Jeremy and Jason were the last to arrive. Both had disheveled hair sticking out all over the place, yet, their faces were glowing warmly... that could only mean one thing!

Speaking of Peter... he was working next to the foundation of the house. His back was toward me, he was crouched down on his hands and knees, and well, I saw something that definitely caught my attention... I do like low riding jeans... need I say more?

Well, I'll say one more thing... being a bit ornery, I got up, walked to him, and then stuck my finger down in that deep dark, well, not entirely dark valley.

Andy, Harry, Benji, Jesus and AZ asked for and received permission to go down to the rocks, to explore and relax. Their room had been one of the hardest hit. Although they hadn't said much about it, it wasn't too hard to see that they'd been, and were still very stressed out.

The power was restored at about 4:30pm. Fugi and the work crew went about the house making sure that all communication equipment was back up and running in optimal order. Mom and Dad went about checking the freezers to make sure the food was still good and frozen, not thawed out. Mom said everything was okay, which was a very good thing.

The pool crew announced they'd finished their chores, and the pool was off limits because they 'shocked' it with chemicals. With the power off, the filters hadn't run in many, many hours... so it was to be closed for at least 24 hours or until the PH and other chemical test results were within normal ranges.

The glass people worked late into the evening to get all the skylights replaced. A cleaning crew then arrived, and they gave the house a serious cleaning both inside and outside. At about 10:30 or 11:00 that night they announced that all the glass and debris had been taken away, and the house was once again safe to walk about without protective shoes being worn.

Mom was beat tired. She didn't look so good. In face, she looked pale and drawn. Dad stayed by her side most all of the time, except when he went to get something for her, and when we'd help out the best we could.

We'd all noticed her steady decline. I turned to Benji, "Is Mom okay? Are you getting any negative vibrations? We're all worried."

Benji closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them, and calmly said, "No, she's fine, though her time for child is close. There's nothing to worry about."

Soon, Juan arrived with Shoo to take Benji and Harry home. Jason and William had left long ago with their parents. They were all beat tired, as were we.

Mom and Dad said good night. Angel and Allen took off for their room. They'd been sitting close together the entire evening... and well, let's just say that their need for togetherness 'showed' in all the right places, which got me to thinking about how Peter and I had spent some serious time alone earlier that morning, and I was reacting to those thoughts... just a little bit.

Andy, melancholic, patted my back then walked to the wall, sat down with his legs hanging off and stared off into the distance. I heard the waves trickling in and striking the retaining wall some 10-12 feet below Andy's feet. I'd sat there before, myself, and knew how calming it was. I debated about joining him, however, Antoine and Matt came walking up the steps from the beach, arm in arm, appearing peaceful and contented.

Matt sat down next to his blood brother. Antoine walked into the house without saying anything to anyone. His walk was light and deliberate, his face calm and peaceful.

Peter leaned in, kissed my lips, and then said, "I'm going to join them. Andy's got something on his mind..."

I returned the kiss, adding a bit of tongue, just to let him know he's loved and cherished. He made his way to where his brothers sat together in companionable silence.

Meanwhile, I turned to go into the house. Adam was exiting. He walked to where I was standing, and then looked into my eyes. Something was on his mind, something that … what was it? Shame? He had a lot of shame surrounding his previous life, even though he'd done nothing wrong to deserve the kind of treatment he'd received until he'd come to stay with us.

Sheepishly, meekly, he said, "Uhm, are you busy?" He looked away then turned his face down to stare at his sock covered foot.

"Nope... uhm, Adam, ya wanna hang out together for a while? I was going into the house to get something to drink..."

"Are you sure... I don't want to be in the way..."

"You can get the ice cubes; I'll pour the juice... maybe we can find some leftovers... come on." I replied happily, hoping to break the 'not belonging' attitude he carried around with him like a sack of potatoes was resting heavily on his back.

I grabbed a pair of shorts lying on one of the chaise lounge chairs, sat and put them on, then walked into the house ahead of Adam. I found it odd that he always followed. I kinda hoped he would change that... cuz he had a nice butt... and well... ya can't see any butt if the person is always behind ya, now can ya? Not that I'd ever go out on Peter... however there ain't anything wrong with appreciating the sights given by quite a few dudes our age out in the world. Peter and I had the agreement, from our vows, that it was okay to lookie-see but no touchie. (Don't worry, Peter lookie-sees, too. Sometimes we look together... our tastes are pretty much in sync).

"I'm gonna see what's in the refrigerator." I mumbled around a piece of brownie that Adam stuck in my mouth.

"Oh Lordy..." Was all I could say while reaching to the second shelf from the bottom for a cake pan covered with aluminum foil. Grandma was here. There was only one thing it could be.

Quickly, I removed the pan, sat it on the kitchen counter, and then peeled a corner up to confirm my suspicions.

Suspicion transformed into reality. I looked to Adam, and said, "Grandma makes the best apple strudel in the whole world... just you wait..."

Adam quickly took hold of my arm, and said, "Won't you get into trouble?"

"Maybe, but you're my co-conspirator in crime... want some ice cream on top of it?"

He let go after I stuck my finger into the prized possession, scooped up a nice sized glob, and stuck it into his mouth.

That's all it took.

He had the bowls down in a flash.

When we were about finished, Adam tapped my arm and pointed with his hand to a place behind my back. I turned around.


Quickly, I shoveled the last bite into my mouth, got up, walked to her, and drew her into a deep appreciating hug, which she returned, readily.

"So, you like it? I was wondering if it would come out okay... but I see you didn't waste any. Good boys." Grandma chuckled. Adam had just about fallen off the bar stool with fright. Grandma quickly put her hand on Adam's back and began rubbing it gently, reassuringly. She continued, "Honey, not a pan of strudel goes undisturbed around this house... at least one, or two, or the whole tribe tries it. I'll not be surprised that most of it is gone by morning. You boys don't stay up too late. I'm going to bed, now."

"Love you, Grandma. Sleep tight." I said.

Adam turned to Grandma, "You're not mad at us?"

"Oh heavens no, child. You boys are my taste testers... eat all ya want... though it might cause you a tummy ache if you eat too much..." Grandma finished, then reached in and kissed Adam's cheek, turned to me, did the same, and then she was off walking toward her room.

"Your Grandma's kewl, David. And this is killer good." Adam said while picking up the bowl and licking it clean.

"Yeah, she's kewl. She didn't quite know what to think about most of her grandsons being queer... but she came around... and now she's our staunchest ally. I doubt that anybody would get away from her tongue lashing if they caused us any troubles... want some more?"

His smile was the answer.

The second bowl tipped the scales in favor of fully eliminating our late-night hunger 'pains'. After the bowls were rinsed and placed into the dishwasher, I sat down next to Adam... he looked into my eyes. I'm not sure what was inside his head, but, I thought and felt that he was relaxing.

Adam leaned across the bar; put his head down his arms so that our eye contact was interrupted.

I said, "Adam, what's going on inside your head? We're pretty open around here. If you have a question... then, just ask it. If we don't know the answer... well, we'll find one, and if we can't find one, then there is always the adults... they're pretty smart for being grownups. Out with it."

Adam sat up in the seat, turned his head so that our eyes met. He was afraid of something. I kept my mouth closed, hoping he'd feel more comfortable with sharing what he needed to share.

Nervously, Adam looked all around us, and seeing nobody else in the room, or even close to it, he said very quietly, almost inaudibly, "David, I'm not a tattle tale... uhm... this is hard... you guys have been so nice to me..."

I put my hand on top of his, squeezed lightly, then released my hold, put my hand back in my lap, and looked at him with interest.

When he didn't say anything, I said softly, "Is it about last night?"

"Yeah... I guess I'm just confused..." Then after a couple of minutes of silence, he continued, "Somebody sucked my dick, and well, I'm pretty sure I'm not 'that' way... sorry... I didn't mean for it to come out like that..."

Adam's sexual preference was known in the family. And his history was known, most of it, though I had felt that he'd been holding back, not telling us the whole story... which was understandable as he hadn't been here very long.

"I know... no problem, Adam. Knowing what you've said all along, did you give your permission?"

"I guess that's what I'm having a problem with. I didn't say for it to not happen... but I didn't stop it..."

"Unwanted sex is a no-no in our home. We need to deal with this... who was it?" I asked, concernedly.

"No... I don't want to get anybody in trouble... I don't know. Please don't say anything... I'm okay, seriously, I really am."

"I'm glad you're okay... but... rules are still rules. It is one that we honor and obey. We made the rule, ourselves. Our parents didn't. So... if someone is not following the rules we made, then we need to know, so it can be dealt with. You don't need to feel ashamed. Are you sure you don't know who it was?"

"No... I mean I don't know."

"Okay, well, I'm going to put my feelers out..."

"Don't do that, David. I'm okay. It felt good..." Adam said then turned beet red.

"That's not the point, Adam. The point is that somebody is running around here giving blow jobs to someone who doesn't want them... is this a fair assessment?"

"David, please drop it. I don't want to cause any problems for you guys and your parents..."

"You haven't caused any problems... if it happens again; let me know as soon as you can. Will you do this for me?"

Adam nodded, patted my hand, then got up on the crutches, and said, "I'm going to bed, now. I'll see you in the morning... and thanks."

I remained seated as he made his way to the back of the house toward his bedroom. I heard his door close. For a few moments, I racked my brain trying to think of who could have possibly violated our rules. No names popped up. There were so many people in the nest.... but, then again, most of us are in committed relationships... then a face popped into my thoughts... but I couldn't prove anything, so, I let it go, for the time being.

*-* Adam's POV *-*

My room had been spotlessly cleaned. I walked to the French double doors, looked out upon the pool and saw Matt, Peter and Andy still sitting quietly on the wall with their arms wrapped around each others' shoulders. Matt, the boy on the right side of Andy, looked up, saw me, and then waved. Each of his brothers waved, too. I waved back and smiled. I hoped my smile was as warm as theirs was to me.

I decided to leave the doors open as the breeze was still nice and warm. I liked the open aired rooms better than those closed in, stinking of shit and piss rooms back at the group home. I pushed the beginnings of those thoughts out of my mind, went into the bathroom, closed the door and locked it, stripped off my shorts and underwear, hobbled to the toilet, sat down, took care of business, finished up, brushed my teeth, and then got into the shower, turned the water on, soaped up, and then very slowly and deliberately took care of my male needs. My mind constantly and consistently returned to the sensations of … of... of my dick being taken care of by someone and something other than me and my hand.

As I fell off to sleep, my mind cleared... I didn't feel afraid. I no longer felt ashamed of what had happened the previous night... while it didn't feel bad... oh, I was so confused … thankfully sleep came easily.

During the night, I had a very pleasant dream. It was too pleasant, actually, and well, the subject matter created a little 'mess' in my bed on the clean sheets. I didn't wake completely as I'd had wet dreams many, many times in the past... just as I was falling off to sleep my mind started racing ninety to nothing as I realized the bedding would get wet, not just the sheets.

Quickly, I turned on the light, bounced out of bed, ripped the sheets off, and, luckily, found the mattress pad was totally dry. I had the bed remade in a jiffy, went and peed, put on a clean pair of underwear. Sleep came quickly.

Morning came way too early. The sun was just barely coming up over the horizon that I could see from my bed through the large floor to ceiling windows. There were some thin wispy cirrus clouds way off in the distance, and with the sun shining on them... the picture was totally majestic, unlike anything I'd ever seen or experienced before in all my life.

I dropped my eyes only long enough to push down the covers, hook one thumb in the waistband of my underwear, and to make sure my other hand was situated 'just right'. I looked back to the open window and French doors, got back into majestic meditative 'state', and then, for the very first time, ever, I had to wipe stuff away from my eye.

Freshly showered, dried, my hair blown dry and brushed, I got dressed in FTL's, blue jeans, a black pullover shirt, and a sock. Before I left the room, I got down on the floor and stuffed the wet dreamed sheets far under the bed so that they couldn't be seen.

Satisfied with my appearance, I headed to the door, and then just before exiting, looked once again to make sure the sheets were well hidden... they were.

I still have to get used to the guys being dressed only in their skin, parading around, with varying states of stimulation, thinking nothing of it as they went here and there, though, magically, as we sat down to the table for breakfast – t-shirts had suddenly appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere.

Their mom looked better. I'd been concerned that she was so tired from all the days' activities of having the house cleaned and repaired, and everything else. A feeding frenzy took over the table as plates, bowls, serving trays, baskets with biscuits, arms, and hands took this and that... their mom made sure my plate was full of food, and then she paid close attention that I actually ate everything on it. The plates, bowls, the whole parade went around the table once again... for seconds... as they were passing by, I grabbed for another plate of food. God, it was so good. And there was plenty for everybody.

Their Grandma deadpanned, "Adam, you be sure to watch your hands... we don't want them disappearing as the human garbage machines are doing their thing at full bore..."

That earned her indignant looks from her grandchildren, and Jim, too!

Since Maria wasn't yet at the house, we all helped in various ways to clean up the table, rinse the dishes, and then place them into the dishwasher. The activity was well orchestrated, orderly, and efficient. The group home could have only wished for what we got done in such a short period of time.

Jim announced, "The pool PH levels are within normal ranges..." He didn't have time to get all of his words said... all the guys tossed t-shirts next to the door leading to the pool... within seconds, all you heard was whoops of joy, and splashes.

Their mom said, "And you are still here, why?"

I felt myself grin, you know... one of those grins that felt like it was going to grab my ears... not needing any further encouragement, I headed to my room to change... when I got there, however, I walked to the French doors, looked outside, only to see the guys all playing and having a good time... dressed in nothing... without even a second thought.

Five minutes later, I was stripped and in the water, playing around with them... as if I were one of them, one of the tribe.

Two hours later, showered and dressed, we all piled into Jeremy's truck, and took off for Alice, Jason and William's house, for school.

Alice took me aside, after giving the guys stuff to work on. She poured glasses of tea then we went to the patio where we sat down. She looked deep into my eyes, and said, "Adam, I have your academic test results... child, the sky is going to be the limit for you. You can do anything that you put your mind to. You will have no problem with any educational endeavor you choose to take on in your life. The way I do things around here, each student has their own lesson plan based on their standings during testing. I test every two months. I have to have you do the standard studies, but I'm going add college classes in science, for you. You'll need to be officially enrolled... just as soon as the paper-work is approved. You don't have to worry about the applications and stuff."

"Really? There's something wrong with your computers... I'm not smart..." I said, suddenly realizing those people back at the group home telling me I failed at everything, and couldn't find my way out of a wet paper bag.

Alice took hold of my chin, raised it so that our eyes met. In there, I saw kindness, and truth. She said, "Honey, I double checked the test answers, myself. I graded them manually. It's all true."

"Then... they lied to me? Why science, though?"

"You answered 100% of the science, reading and comprehension, and social studies questions correctly. You need some work in government and political studies. You missed one of the 250 math questions. You also have people skills that will take you to great places."

"One more thing... you've got really good stuff inside of here <pointing to my heart with her finger>. There are quite a few very gifted people in the book world who do not relate to people. Like I said, the sky's the limit for you. Don't waste it, child. Now, give me a hug!"

"Sure, I like hugs... uhm, can you keep this quiet, for now, please? I, uhm, well, I'm starting to fit in, I think... you know... well, I don't want to goof it up and everything..."

"I need to make a report to the state, since you are officially..."

"A foster kid? Yeah, I know... it's no big deal."

"Yes, it is a big deal. Jim and Peggy think you are a really big deal... I have inside information, plus I've watched you all interact... good stuff is going to happen, Adam." Alice said sternly, but, yet, her eyes were dancing, clearly showing me that I was not to argue with her.

"Okay, I'll talk to them... if they have time." I said, grinning.

Just as we were turning to return to the classroom, William appeared. He had a questioning look on his face, he said to his mother, "Mom, I'm done with the math and writing... can we take a break now... you know, maybe we can go swimming for an hour?"

"How are your brother and the others doing? Do you know? Maybe I need to see for myself..."

William's eyes dropped in defeat. He turned and started walking away, toward the classroom. Alice, seeing the dejection in her son's face and demeanor quickly said, "William Klinger, you know better than that... I'll be right there... you don't seem to have enough to keep you busy..."

William went back to the classroom, dutifully obliging his mother's admonishment.

We followed his lead. While I was manipulating the crutches to sit down, David leaned over, and whispered, "Well... are you going to be President of the United States?"

I looked square in his eyes, shook my head, and said positively, "No way!"

He snickered, "You is a smart man!"

I chuckled.

Alice looked up, "David, are you finished with your assignments?"

"Uh, no ma'am."

Peter, Angel and Allen snickered. Jeremy, Jason, Andy and Peter groaned a little bit... Alice spoke up, "Okay, boys, since there are so many comedians out of work, and you are vying for a job, then research and write a 1,000 word essay on Red Skelton, his history, his career, and how he shaped America's comedy. You have a 10 word grace... meaning you cannot write any more than 1,010 words, and you cannot write any less than 1,000. One other thing... you boys can work together as a team. Organize yourselves. Let's see, it's 2:00 in the afternoon..."

We got busy. David was designated the scribe. I was designated editor... so off we went. At 3:32 Andy transmitted the final product.

Meanwhile, Alice sent me 17 trigonometry problems to work in my spare time, later on. To make sure I kept busy, she also sent some constitutional law homework... I didn't even look at it, other than to just see what it was that she passed my way "to stimulate your thinker" she said, coyly.

No sooner had we gotten out of the house than Jeremy called his mother, requested and received permission for us to go to the beach until dinner time, around 6:30.

By the time we arrived at the mission, or close to it, all except me was naked to the skin, ready to have some serious fun. Once again, I was the odd man out. The ribbing, chiding, and having fun, at my expense, was more than I could take... so I complied. That earned me pats on the back, and elsewhere, in safe zones.

One small problem – David didn't have his crutches. He'd left his leg on. I offered him mine, but he declined the offer. He and Peter took off down the beach for some 'alone time', as did Antoine and Matt. Andy, William, Benji and Harry took off into the water, and began playing, splashing, and having fun. Then, they, too, after making sure Jesus, AZ and I were okay, took off for the rocks down the beach a half mile or so.

My young charges were soon out in the surf having fun while I sat in the water, but not 'out there'. I just didn't feel comfortable with getting involved in the waves, not those big ones anyway.

Jesus soon came tearing through the water and onshore, then as if he were greased lightning, he took off for the dunes behind us.

AZ settled down next to me. He grinned and said, "Jesus likes you. You like him, yes?" He then started goofing around, play acting like he wanted to kiss my cheeks...

Our play was interrupted when Jesus returned, pushed AZ away, and then planted a kiss on each of my cheeks. He ran out into the water, squatted down... well, what he was doing to his butt was obvious.

He returned, put on his best impish smile, plopped down, pulled my arm around his shoulders, and then leaned in. He and his brother got into an animated conversation about something... they were speaking using their native tongue, and were going too fast to really understand what was, if anything, being communicated.

When they stopped jabbering to each other, and especially when they looked at me with an orneriness I'd not yet seen, I knew I was in some sort of trouble.

Sure enough, they tackled me to the sand and began tickling me all over. Of course, they were having a 'wonderful' time. Being the older and bigger one, I managed to subdue them into submission... so to speak, if you call my being dragged into the water -submission-.

They urged me to come out into the surf with them, but I declined their offer to drag me out, and I strongly resisted their efforts to take me out, despite their assurances that they would watch out for me. When they figured out that I wasn't going to go with them, Jesus leaned down, like he was going to whisper something in my ear, and then kissed my cheek, very close to my mouth. When he separated, I saw a longing, or something, in his eyes. Without missing a beat, however, he and AZ took off out into the waves. I worked my way back to shore, despite the rising semi-crashing waves, then watched them play and frolic.

I was having second thoughts about going out there with them... but was afraid that I'd not be able to stay up... they were much smaller than me... then I saw something that frightened the hell out of me... while AZ was riding the wave, Jesus was not. Instead, he got tangled up in the wave, and then went down, out of sight, and to the bottom, surely. AZ screamed. He frantically waved his arms in the air, then he, too, disappeared underwater.

Setting aside my fear of the ocean, I got into waist deep water and began swimming out to them. Jesus had surfaced, and was rubbing his eyes like crazy, like something was in them. AZ, at his side at all times, helped to get him to me. I grabbed hold of his slippery waist, hoisted myself up, somewhat, and looked deeply into his eyes. His were a bit dazed, and he was having a bit of a hard time negotiating the rippling waves coming in and brushing against his lower legs. But, between AZ and me, we got him situated on the sand on the beach.

Jesus cuddled into my side, put his arm around my lower waist, and leaned his head forward and got sick to his stomach. It was mostly clear, so I just figured he had swallowed some salt water. He puked twice more, and then, totally exhausted from the exertions, laid his head on my thigh, and stayed still.

Concerned, I raised him back to a fully sitting position, looked deeply into his eyes, and then, seeing that he appeared to be okay, pulled him back into my side where I held him firmly. AZ cuddled into his brother's other side, kissed his lips meaningfully, and then we all just sat in companionable silence, watching and hearing the waves break. It had a definite calming effect.

Jesus then sat bolt upright. He turned to me and said how that wave had kicked his ass, and, holy shit, how much of a blast it had been.

Because of how the sun was lighting his face, I noticed a small abrasion just above his right eyebrow. He also had some sand lodged on his long black eyelash. I reached up to brush it away. He flinched, at first, but then closed his eyes and permitted me to remove the sand.

Then, surprisingly enough, Jesus hoisted himself onto my lap, straddling his legs around my back, with his arms around my neck, and his face in that space between where I breathe from and my shoulder.

He then leaned back. He was smiling wide like a Cheshire cat... it was then I that noticed what he was laughing about. Quickly, I scooted him off and onto the sand. With his legs splayed wide open, the sight left nothing to the imagination. He was giggling wildly... no, he was laughing hideously. Since we had no clothes on, that elongated tube of hard flesh dancing wildly between my legs was clearly in sight for anybody and everybody else to see, and he was laughing at it as it bobbed against my stomach.

With that, I lunged forward, caught his legs, and then began tickling him, unmercifully. AZ jumped into the fray… I couldn't tell who he was helping or hindering… sometimes he'd protect his brother, and other times, when Jesus was getting the better of me, he'd change tunes.

In any event, we were laughing and carrying on so much, that we didn't notice, until it was too late that the rest of the gang had joined into the tickle fest. Several were whining that they were about to piss themselves. Several comments were made, by the tormentors, of course, to the effect of 'go ahead'.

Once the commotion calmed down, we lined up, faced the ocean and drained the cans, and then sat down, trying to catch our breaths. Jesus, still animated, told them about the acrobatic toss and tumble he'd done in the ocean after getting crashed by a huge rolling wave.

By that time he appeared to be okay. Casually, I told the rest that Jesus had acted dazed right after his fall. Jesus moved around so that he was sitting in front of me. He scooted in and rested his back against my front. I wrapped my arms around him, squeezed lightly, and then released.

I then told them about how he'd been dazed and got sick to his stomach.

Benji got up from his place on the sand, brushed off his butt, then walked to Jesus, put his hands on the boy's head, and looked deeply into his eyes. Benji then ruffled Jesus' hair and reported that the boy seemed to be okay.

Jesus, feeling his oats, began taunting Antoine by tossing sand on his mentor and kicking at his legs.

Soon they were up and going at it, sparing.

For most of the time, Jesus was on the bottom, however, he did get Antoine good a couple of times, but the end of end alls was that Antoine prevailed.

Jeremy said it was time we were getting home, so we brushed each other off the best we could, and then headed home. Jeremy parked in the garage. Everybody exited his truck and headed into the house.

Immediately, I stopped at the door. All the adults were sitting in full view. To get from point A to point B…I'd have to streak across… the entire… room… to… get… to… my sanctuary.

Jeremy, seeing my hesitation, had no qualms about pushing me out into the room… I kept going toward my bedroom. Grandma made a comment about not having seen a bunch of naked butts as she was right then. That only served to make me go faster.

Maria and Peggy were checking out Jesus when I returned freshly showered, wearing a pair of loose shorts, commando style. Most of the guys did, too, that is, when they wore any clothes.

Jesus had a bit of a shiner above his right eye and on his forehead… actually, the area appeared to have a mild abrasion. Peggy said for us to keep an eye on him, but that she thought he was okay.

Maria admonished the boy for tracking sand into the house… however there was a whole lot more sand on the floor than any one boy could bring to it…

"Take shower with me." Jesus said into my ear.

I said, "I've already taken one. You can use my room…"

He'd have no part of that… he took hold of my hand, then realizing I was on crutches, put his hand on my back and pushed, despite my protests to the contrary. Well, my protests weren't all that convincing, I guess… anyway, he followed up my rear, pushing me forward when I'd slow down.

"I'll wait here for you." I said to the boy after we'd entered my room and closed the door.

That met with his approval. He entered the bathroom, in full view, sat on the toilet, and waffled between grinning and straining. The kid was weird… what more can I say? Nothing!

He made short order of taking his shower. I entered the bathroom to dry his back for him. Not that I was intentionally looking, but I saw that his lower back and butt were very red in appearance. As I ran the towel down his back, he said, "I'm very sore… sand burn!"

"Yeah… definitely. I think I saw some cream in the main bathroom. You need to put some on your sore areas… it'll feel a whole lot better afterward."

There was a bottle of Noxzema in the medicine cabinet in the main bathroom. I opened the jar, held it out for him to scoop some into his fingers… he looked into my eyes, and then softly said, "You do it, please."

He then turned around and waited expectantly.

I protested.

He giggled, but didn't make any motions to let me know that he'd changed his mind.


I closed the bathroom door. He bent over. I applied a sufficient quantity. He was purring like a kitten. I finished. He took the jar, scooped a large dollop onto his finger, and then, much to my surprise, inserted that same finger fully into his back door area. He closed his eyes, tilted his head… the boy, man, he was enjoying doing that…

While he washed his hands, I tore off tissue paper and wiped away the excess.

I said, "Go put on some underwear. You don't want to get any cream on the furniture."

He nodded then took off for my room… by the time I got to the kitchen, he came up behind me, put his arms around my back. I looked down… he was wearing a pair of my underwear, which were way too big for him, barely being held by his hip bones. Maria attempted to cinch them up using a safety pin, but he wouldn't have anything to do with that. Jeremy, seeing the difficulty, made an ear of the fabric then tied a knot. Problem solved.

David said, while carrying a bowl… all you could see was a mound of ice cream…, "You'd better get out there before it's all gone. It goes fast around here."

Everybody gathered on the patio as we ate the delicious dessert Grandma had made… all I could think of was that she had to have made a truck load of it because everybody had a large bowl of the scrumptious food. We were quiet… not a word was said while chowing down.

Jason, Jeremy, Matt and Peter gathered up the bowls to take them into the kitchen where they could be rinsed and put into the dish washer.

Meanwhile, David and Peter walked to me. David said, "Can we talk to you? We've got some information to pass along to you, but we want to talk to you privately."

"Sure… okay, Jesus, I'll be back after a while… we're going to go talk big guy stuff."

"Okay, I wait here for you." Jesus said, sadly. The look in his eyes told me that he wanted to go with us, yet, he knew he couldn't. I patted his back then turned and followed David and Peter to their room where David urged me to sit on the bed while Peter closed the door.

Peter then sat next to David, and helped him remove his Leg. David then dropped to the floor, looked over my stump very carefully, and then hoisted his Leg onto my skinny piece of flesh and bone protruding from my pelvis.

David nodded then put his Leg aside. He hoisted himself up on the bed, tenderly kissed his husband, then turned to me, "We've got to get your stump exercised so that it's stronger. I'll show you strengthening exercises."

Peter looked at David then to me. He said, "Okay, this is what it's all about… first, we have a 'no sex' rule ~unless~ both parties are agreeable. It's a rule that we came up with. Our parents had nothing to do with our rule, though they approve and embrace it. Right now, other than for Jesus and AZ, all of us are couples… well, okay, all of us are not exactly couples … there is the relationship between Benji, Andy, Harry and William…, all of them are bonded."

Peter turned to David. David said, "The other rule that we came up with concerns closed doors. Closed doors mean privacy.

David added, "Except for emergencies..."

Peter continued, "Just like you, we each need our private time, you know, alone time, when we can think through something, or work on a problem, or just be by ourselves. Our family has grown over time... and well... sometimes, quiet time is a really good thing to have because there's not a whole lot of it."

David continued, "That goes for you, too. You need your private time as well."

"Both rules are good ones… thanks for telling me." I replied, seriously.

"Adam, we like you. We all do. We like having you here. I hope you'll stay. Mom and Dad have some information they are going to talk to you about… I don't know what it's all about. They just said that if we got together, then to tell you."

Peter nodded. He said, "Adam, we know Jesus broke the number one rule… you know, being sexual when both parties are not approving…"

"Yeah, I figured it out, too. Can I talk to him… he's growing close to me… and, well, I think I can talk to him better… if it's okay…"

"That's fine. Just let him know that he can't go around doing that to just anybody… it's not right. Anyway, nobody's pissed, and the adults don't know. If we can handle it, then I don't think the 'rents need to know… unless it continues."

"That sounds good to me. Can we consider this subject closed…? I don't want to get anybody in trouble, or anything."

"Consider it closed, then." David said, purposefully.

Just then, Jesus entered their room through the open French doors that lead to and away from the pool area. Initially, he was smiling, but when we looked at him, his smile turned to a frown. He turned to leave, but Peter got up, grabbed his arm in a brotherly way, and said, "The rule doesn't apply if the door is already open... come here, you imp."

As if I was a magnet or something, Jesus walked over and plopped down on my good leg, and then scooted up so that his lower back was nestled into my stomach area. I put my arm around his tummy, patted it, and then said, "We were just talking about one of the rules in this house..."

David spoke up, when I hesitated, "Jesus, nobody's mad at you. We have a house rule, though, that you broke. We do not do sex things to other persons unless both people give permission. You probably didn't know about the rule, so you're not in trouble or anything. Okay, bud?"

Jesus dropped his head down, and then looked up into my eyes with the saddest expression I'd seen on a guy for a very long time. He said, very quietly, clearly ashamed, "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

I calmly replied, "That's right… you didn't know. I'm not mad at you. I love you."

There I said it. I told someone that I loved them. Although the word sounded 'strange', I felt okay inside... I decided that I really did love him. Antoine had told me a little bit about what had happened to the boys' brother… and to Jesus, too.

I pulled him into my side, hoping that he'd stop feeling bad about himself, and about what he'd done. I held no ill will toward him.

He wrapped my arm around his waist. I squeezed him firmly. He then got up and walked out of the room through the French doors. He looked back – and smiled.

After he was gone, David said, "Cool."

To me, Peter said, "He's had a hard life. Antoine's taken him under his wing. He's come a long way. Mom says he has a long way to go, but he's making steady progress. He's feeling better about himself… and… damn… he's getting strong."

David replied, knowingly, "You got that right. One of these days he's gonna whoop our asses."

Peter grinned, leaned in to kiss his David, and said, after kissing him, "Don't worry… mmm mmm mmm, I'll keep your ass… oh, sorry, Adam… gosh… me and my big mouth…"

I chuckled. We embraced, and then separated. I went to the patio, looked toward the pool. Jesus was sitting in one of the chaise lounges with the guys all around him. I smiled. I knew that he was in good hands. Peter and David joined me. Peter said, "That's what our family is all about."

Jim, Peggy, Grandma, Shoo and Juan were sitting around the dining room table, talking, probably about adult things. David and Peter leaned into their mother, gave her cheek a kiss, and then Peter said, "Can we go swimming, now?"

Jim looked at the clock, smiled and nodded. Immediately, they took off for the pool, and only a split second later, undressing to the skin, came the sound of not one, but two cannon ball splashes. And then there were several more...

I would look at Peggy, then to Jim, then to Peggy. Finally, I settled on Jim, "Uhm, may I go swimming, please?"

"That's fine. Enjoy yourself... we'll want to talk to you before you go to bed. We've got some good news to share with you... meanwhile go have fun." Jim said.

Peggy stood, and then reached out her arms toward me. Without hesitation, we hugged deeply, and then she kissed my cheek. Smiling, I did the same for her, as a really good feeling passed through my mind, spirit and body... like maybe I did REALLY belong here. Jim stood, reached out his arms, and motioned for me to hug him, too.

The asshole at the group home more or less forced me to hug him, too... nobody really liked him to do that to them... as his hands would always seem to roam down... you know... to our butts... and he wasn't quick to release... but... still... I didn't see any hunger, sinister motives, or malevolence about him. As if he were reading my mind, seeing my difficulty, he lifted his arms up to my shoulder level. For some reason, I then felt safe, closed the distance, and permitted him to put his arms around my shoulders and pull me in. I found myself putting my arms around his chest, pulling him in close. The hug was brief, though, as I pulled away, turned and walked out to where the other guys were swimming and messing around.

Everybody was naked. Somewhat nervously, I looked behind me. There wasn't anybody watching us, or anything... that was another thing the asshole did at the group home – he watched us in the showers, or in the pool, or in the toilet... there wasn't anywhere that 'asshole' didn't call his domain.

Antoine and Benji, seeing me standing there, thinking, remembering... I even felt myself shake as the memory of 'asshole' finding me sitting on the toilet trying to quickly relieve my sex came flooding through my mind, walked to me. Antoine said, very softly, only loud enough that we could hear, "Nobody's going to hurt you, or do anything inappropriate. You're safe here."

Benji said, "Adam, we've talked to Jesus about the most unfortunate situations that you experienced... I feel..."

I interrupted, "I know it was him. David, Peter and I... mostly David and Peter explained the rules to Jesus. He's okay, now."

Antoine said gravely, "The boy wasn't taught any better before we came into his life. Just so that you know... his older brother, Pablo, more or less forced the younger boys... to have sex with him... and, well, his younger brother died from it. Pablo raped Manual. He also raped Jesus and AZ, though, fortunately for them, were able to accept his sword. Pablo is in prison. He'll be there for the rest of his natural life... if not, then he has me to deal with."

With that, Antoine stripped the last garment off his dark body, kicked it aside, and then with a running leap splashed all the rest of the dudes, starting a major splash fest.

Benji, meanwhile, said assuredly, "If you will permit it... we will work on your memories. They're holding you back. You hold shame for that which you owe no shame. My bonded ones will help you to put those bad memories in a place where they will no longer harm you."

I'd not really talked much with Benji. I didn't really know him all that well, yet there was something about him that I trusted.

"I trust you, too." Benji said, smiling, and then he shucked off his shorts, and dove into the pool. He soon came up between Andy's legs, did something that caused Andy to yelp in surprise. I could only imagine.

David and Peter stripped to the skin. Peter walked with David to the side of the pool, took his crutches, and then gave his husband a good push causing him to basically do a belly flop, spraying water everywhere, including his tormentors!

Peter then walked to me... "Ya wanna?"

"Hell yeah!" I replied happily while shucking off my shorts and kicking them aside, underneath a chaise lounge chair. Peter smiled then repeated the process… being a bit more adept, I kept from doing a belly flop, but just barely, though. My balls did get brutally smacked when hitting the surface of the water, but quickly recovered, and I joined into the splash fest.

When the festival died (or drowned) out, Andy swam to me, and out loud asked, "I don't mean to be nosy or anything, but what really happened to your dick? I mean its kewl and everything..."

Benji quickly swam to his mate. Very firmly, Benji said to Andy, "That is not a question you should ask... it is not up to you to know him like that!" To me Benji said, "I am sorry for his rudeness."

The moment of truth had arrived. I knew it would, at some point in time. What was I going to do? I thought I'd given them a good explanation... but I guessed not. He wasn't being mean, or anything. I simply sensed a curiosity in him. I said to Benji, "Don't be angry at him, please."

Harry moved through the water toward his bonded ones. Both Benji and Harry put their arms around Andy, whispered something into his ear, and then, contritely, Andy said, "I'm sorry, Adam, I had no right to ask you that question. Sometimes my mouth gets me into trouble."

He went to hoist himself up and out of the pool. He stopped when I said, "My penis is deformed. Your doctors say it is the result of a birth defect. My biological mother was a crack addict; I was addicted to cocaine at birth. The chances of me becoming an addict are extremely high. I must be very careful of what I put into my body. I do not want to end up like them. Andy, I'm not angry at you or anything. If you guys would like to see it ... I'll show you. I'm not ashamed with you."

"You don't have to... do... anything. Andy will have to deal with his curiosity in a different way. I understand your shame. I was ashamed, too. It took time for me to shed that shame. And my Matt helped me see through the shame and find acceptance." Antoine said softly, confidently.

David and Peter came forward. David said, "You already know my story. Although Peter was very important to my self-acceptance... in fact, he was very instrumental... but... the change had to come from within. I had cancer, lost a leg because of it, and, now, today, I have moved on. I'm okay with it. You will be, too... in time. Give it a chance. Like I said earlier, we like you... and we'll help you in any way we can... but... you've got to be willing to change."

Angel, who I didn't know very well either, and Allen got up and out of the water. They talked quietly between themselves for just a moment, with their backs turned toward us. Then Allen took off inside the house. Within a minute, a song started to play on the stereo system. It went like this..

I'm Gonna Make A Change,

For once in my life

It's gonna feel real good,

Gonna make a difference

Gonna make it right …

As I, turn up the collar on my

Favorite Winter Coat

This wind is blowin' my mind

I see the kids in the street,

With not enough to eat

Who am I, to be Blind?

Pretending not to see

their needs

A summer's disregard,

A broken bottle top

And a one man's soul

They follow each other on

The wind ya' know

'Cause they got nowhere

to go

That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with The Man in

The Mirror

I'm asking him to change

his ways

And no message could have

been any clearer

If you wanna make the word

a better place

(If ya wanna make the

world a better place)

Take a look at yourself, and

then make a change

(Take a look at yourself, and

Then make a change)

(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,

Na Nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish

Kind of love

It's time that I realize

That there are some with no

Home, Not a nickel to loan

Could it be really me,

Pretending that they're probably noticeably


A willow deeply scarred,

Somebody's broken heart

And a washed-out dream

(Washed out dream)

They follow the pattern of

The wind, Ya' see

Cause they got no place

to be

That's why I'm starting with


(Starting with me)

I'm starting with The Man in

The Mirror


I'm asking him to change

His ways


And no message could have

been any clearer

If you wanna make the world

A better place

(If you wanna make the

world a better place)

Take a look at yourself and

Then make a change)

"Man in the Mirror' - Michael Jackson

We were all singing along by the time the song ended. I can't hold a tune in a bucket. Somewhere during one of the refrains, I realized the biggest change was already happening; that I hadn't seen it until right then.

Then clapping started. We weren't clapping.

Quickly, we turned around. Peggy, Jim, Juan, and Shoo stood in front of the doorway. Seeing that we saw them, very quietly, one by one, they went back into the house, closing the door behind them, but not before Jim flashed me a wicked good smile and gave a thumbs up.

Benji and Antoine had their arms around me. Benji said, "It's up to you, now. Do what you know to be right. We're with you all the way, whatever you decide."

I broke the embrace, waded to Andy, took his hand in mine, led him to the ladder, made my way up and out of the pool, and then sat down on the edge by the ladder. I spread my legs wide open, took his hand, placed it on my distending member, then urged it to full length so that he could feel it, so that he could determine that it worked just fine... it was just ugly, or not like the rest of the guys' penises were.

Antoine waded to where Andy was in the water. He gently took Andy's hand away from my fully stoked maleness. He said, "That's enough, Andy. Adam, that's enough. You don't have to prove anything to anybody... especially your sex... you are who you are... and you are what you are... and you are just fine, just the way you are."

"You guys are helping me to understand that I'm not really a freak... you've helped me a lot." To Antoine, specifically, I continued, "I watch you walk around normally... I can only be envious of your b... b... beauty... and yes, your penis is nice. I can only wish... I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. I don't mean to."

Antoine said softly, "It's okay, Adam. My penis is simply a part of me. It does not define me, although it once did. Someone will come along <He put his arm around Matt, and Matt put his arm around Antoine) who will help you to the other side. They will love you for who you are, not what you have, or don't have."

I offered my maleness to anyone else that was curious. Jeremy waded over, stood next to my good leg, and said, "Adam, you do not need to do this..."

"Yes, I do. Maybe, I think... I need to do this for me. I think I'm hiding behind its ugliness." I said, as tears began rolling down my cheeks, mixing with the chlorinated water from the pool, still running out of my hair.

Jeremy and Jason, slowly, urged me into the water, then, one by one, each of them gave me a hug, one that I welcomed with open arms. Jesus was last. He, once again, smiled an impish grin, and then splashed water into my face... which set off a fierce water battle, that everybody got involved in.

Once that was finished, again, we sat on the edge of the pool, just looking up into the sky, searching for various constellation entities, freely talking quietly about this and that, comfortably.

Benji, mostly quiet, said to me, "Once you find a suitable mate, and your mate can be male or female, we will begin the bonding process for your healing. You will know when your bonding one appears. It will be good, and you will be very happy. Until then, even now, you are a very beautiful person, like a flower that has not yet bloomed. It shall come to be."

With that said, everybody agreed. My heart felt better, like something had already opened up inside my being...

Benji, Andy, Harry and William, as one, got out of the water, walked into the pool house, soon returning with towels around their midsections to cover the obvious 'excited' areas of their bodies. After giving and receiving hugs, they took off for inside the house.

Jeremy and Jason, Antoine and Matt, David and Peter then did the same. That left Jesus, AZ, Allen and Angel sitting with me. Angel said, "Adam, you're going to be okay. Just let these good feelings live with you each day. Don't worry about things so much."

Allen said, "I know it's hard sometimes... I mean, it's hard to let go of some of the stuff we carry around inside. My Dad did some pretty bad things to me, and it took a while to get over those things... Angel helped me tremendously, but I couldn't open myself up until I came to terms with my own demons."

Angel said, "My parents... well, they disowned me for being gay... everything seemed to be okay around the house... well, it wasn't perfect or anything, I mean... I don't think everything is all perfect and stuff. Dad said that we learn from our challenges and stuff. Hopefully, we come out stronger in the end... I think you will, too."

Allen said, "He's right. There's a lot of love in this family, Adam. Just be open to it."

"I'll try. This is all new to me. I'll try." I replied, hopefully.

"That's all it takes, Adam. We'll help you in any way we can. Well, we're going to go to bed, now. Are you going to be okay?" Angel asked, concernedly.

"Yeah, I'm okay. Thanks for talking to me. I really appreciate it."

We hugged, then, they, too, went to the pool room, returned with towels around their midsections, and then took off into the house, leaving AZ, Jesus and me alone. Both boys sat next to me, and put their arms around my back and rubbed it softly and caringly. Jesus said, "I'm sorry. I mean no harm."

I pulled him in close, kissed the top of his head, and replied, "I know. I know. Don't worry anymore. I love you, okay. Like a brother."

AZ spoke up, "Are you going to fuck our asses, like our big brother, Pablo, done to us?"

Just as I was about to say 'hell the fuck no' he lifted his butt, grabbed my hand pushed my finger deep into his crevice.

I retreated immediately. I said, "I would never ever hurt you like that – ever! And I will never, ever fuck you... either of you. Your brother was bad, bad, bad!"

The ferocity of my voice surprised me. Both boys noticeably flinched, retreated inside of themselves, and held their heads down in shame. Very softly, very carefully, I said, "I will never hurt you two, ever. I'm sorry if I'm angry... what your brother did... was so very wrong... on so very many levels... we're amigos. Amigos don't hurt each other."

Jesus, took my hand in his, and said, "Most of the time, we liked it... Pablo, he went loco. Manual was very small. AZ and I... we kept our brother happy... until that day... Pablo said that Manual was ready for him... we protested... he beat us up... we couldn't stop him... I will kill him someday. I may be very old... but when I make a promise... errrr... I keep it, forever."

I pulled both boys into my side, held them so hard that I wondered if that hurt them... but they loved the attention, genuinely. They melted in; they were almost like a second skin to me.

AZ was the first to get up. He walked into the shower room, leaving Jesus glued to my side. I patted his tummy and said, "Let's go get some towels... I'll tuck you into bed. Will that be okay?"

"Yes, let's go." He said, then in a flash, got up, fetched my crutches for me to use, then we went to the pool room. AZ was already in the shower. He grinned at us like crazy... busted... and then he busted... I was afraid he was going to fall down as waves of pleasure obviously overtook his young, somewhat obese body. Jesus snickered, and then, cautiously, took hold of his organ and slowly, tentatively gave it a few strokes, all the while looking into my eyes, was he looking for disapproval?

I walked to the shower seat, leaned back, took hold of my burgeoning maleness, all the while looking into his eyes... he grinned like a Cheshire cat, sat down next to me, intermingled our arms together, and then, soon, the moment we'd been waiting for, stroking for, arrived.

Freshly showered, we walked into the house. Jim caught me, "Peggy and I would like to talk to you for a little while. We need your input."

"Okay, I'll be right there... Jesus has some sand burn. As soon as I put some lotion on it, I'll be right there, okay?"

"Sure, that's fine. Do you need Peggy to look at it?"

"I think he'll be okay… he just rubbed himself raw on the sand today. Earlier, I put some Noxzema on it… that seemed to help him a lot." I replied, knowingly.

Jim said, "What do you want to drink?"

"Uhm, can I have a Coke, please?"

"Sure thing, one Coke coming right up."

Jesus put his arm around my lower back, permitting his hand to lazily drop to the top of my left globe. He wasn't even aware that he was doing it. I decided to let it go. It was no big deal.

As we walked into the bathroom, I realized I was totally naked… where had my towel gone? Oh yeah, I'd used it to dry off Jesus' back before we entered the house… I'd left it on the bar… oh well… I guess they'd seen everything I had before, so, I guessed, it wasn't any big deal around there… nobody had said anything to the contrary.

We both peed, and then I felt a need for other duties. While I was taking care of that, Jesus opened and handed me the jar of face cream… and got him all fixed up to his satisfaction. I found it kind of weird… that he was so… relaxed… I mean he was totally relaxed. He looked into my eyes, nodded slightly, and then closed them. As I applied the cream, his body relaxed into a state so strong that I was concerned that he might fall… then, realizing what I was doing, I suddenly stopped, removed my finger, grabbed some tissue paper and cleaned away the excess.

While we were brushing our teeth, he said, very quietly, "I get scared sometimes… I can sleep with you, yes? Please?"

I'd always wanted to sleep with someone. I'd always slept alone. I'd often wondered what it would feel like to have someone lying next to you, maybe touching, even…

Once again, my thoughts took me to those few times when I'd felt that asshole, Harley, lift up my underwear to peer and feel inside my shorts… and touch me – there – while I was asleep, or was supposed to be asleep... I'd never let him know that I had been awake… He only stopped because, just before bedtime, I'd take a shit and not wipe. The kids made fun of me. They were wicked. But then again, it was worth it in the long run… I was no longer appealing to him or them. I didn't know what else to do since there were no adults around to trust, to take my problem to, to get a solution from.

I was brought out of the memories by Jesus taking hold of my hand and shaking it gently.

He smiled, and I smiled, too, because I knew that I would keep him safe, at all costs. "Sure thing... sometimes I get scared, too. I'll tuck you in. I'll come to bed in a little while, okay."

We walked into my bedroom. He flopped into the bed; even while I was drawing down the covers... clearly he was trying to get me to tickle him... I did, unmercifully, until he screamed that he was going to pee... of course, I chided him by saying that he'd already peed! Okay, enough was enough. He felt it was enough, too. We got him tucked in under the sheets, and then I reached down to hug him, but he grabbed me, and joined our lips for a brief moment. He said, "I love you." He turned over, closed his eyes, and his breathing changed to deep and rhythmically, almost immediately. I kissed his ear, and then took off for the kitchen, after putting on a pair of white terry cloth shorts.

Peggy was exiting their room. She put her arm around my shoulder and led me to Jim's office. He was sitting at his desk, got up as we entered, and then urged us to sit on the sofa, beside him.

"Well, Adam, <chuckling>, our suspicions were confirmed today..."

"Oh Jim, for heaven's sakes… would you stop that. If you aren't careful... I'm going to sit you in a corner and subject you to the wrath of our boys. Now, Adam, you pay no mind to that misguided man sitting beside you..."

The look of mirth on her face, well, I laughed. "Do you guys do this all the time?"

"We try to. Stick around here for very long and people gain a sense of humor, right, JIM?"

"Yes, of course..." Jim said, chuckling humbly.

Peggy laughed, patted her husband's hand, then turned to me, and said, "Adam, we already know that you're smart and intelligent. Not only are you smart and intelligent, you are also a people person... deep down inside. I know quite a few very smart people that don't have a clue about living in the real world. As you already know, Alice called me today. She was very excited with your test scores."

"We talked about them. I had no idea. I don't think I'm all that smart."

"Tell ya what, Adam, we're going to give you a break on that little statement... you're 15. You've got time to learn about the world as it is today. Now, about your bookwork..." Jim said, appealingly.

I shrugged my shoulders noncommittally, then Peggy said, "Alice wants to give you some college level work to do to keep you from getting bored. You scored really high in the sciences and math categories... all of your test results are way above the level expected for the majority of 15 year old boys. We think you should go for it so that you can grow into your full potential."

I said, "I don't understand... they told me, all the time, that I was worthless and would never amount to anything... they told me that all my life."

Jim countered, "Adam, give the classes a try. Give it your best shot. Will you do it for yourself, if for nobody else, or for any other reason? Hang on for a second… I've got something you are going to need."

With that, he patted my back, got up, walked to the other side of his desk, retrieved a laptop, opened the lid, and then sat it down across my thighs, "You're going to need this. This laptop is yours. Each of our sons has one to use, pretty much as they see fit. I trust them, and I trust you to use it responsibly, meaning that we don't want you spending all your time looking at porn and other such things that teenage boys have been known to visit … on occasion. You will be logged into our home network, which is then logged into my place of business. We host our own network and email. Our security people do not, and let me repeat: they do NOT track where you go or what you do… unless… you abuse privileges… this is the same lecture I give to our sons, so you are not being singled out."

"Thank you, sir, I'll try not to goof things up. Uhm, sir, I've never been on a computer before…"

"That's fine. Do you know how to type? I mean, have you had a class in typing before?"

"Uhm, yes sir, we had old beat up typewriters to practice on. I was pretty good at it."

"The boys will show you around. You'll be up and running before you know it. Tomorrow, I'll sit down with you… we need to get you a user name that you choose, and also a password. Keep your password to yourself… don't give it to anybody for any reason… this is a security thing that is very important."

"Uhm... okay, I'll try. I'll try to not let you down... but I might... I usually goof things up."

Pushing the hair from the top of my head out of my eyes, and placing her hand on the side of my head, Peggy said, "Just give it your best shot. I know you're going to do okay... just believe in yourself because we and the guys around here already do. Honey, I'm going to let you in on something… you aren't the only one in this house that's had a difficult time during your early growing up years... you're going to be just fine. Jim..."

Jim cleared his throat. I turned to him. At the same time, Peggy pulled me into her bosom and kissed the top of my head. Then he smiled, and said, "Now... we're going to ask you the most difficult question you've probably ever been asked. We would like for you to join our family as our son and as those guys out there's brother. Will you join our family as our son, and as a brother?"

My mind went into a tail spin... they really wanted me to join their family. They asked me if I would... they didn't TELL me I had to be somewhere; they didn't tell me I had to be somebody; they didn't threaten me; they didn't promise punishment if I didn't answer the way they wanted me to respond; and they were both waiting for my answer... my answer!

I got to thinking about how their sons, and them, too, had opened their house to me, and given me a place to stay, and their (foreign word) 'love', without expecting anything in return. I even had my own room... clothes... freedom... no punishments... no dirty, filthy, slimy perverts pawing their hands all over me, and giving me dirty looks, like they wanted me for something to pleasure them.

I thought about all the uncertainly at the group home, their threats of sending us away if we crossed their paths... I knew they wouldn't get rid of us because we were their meal ticket. We were a fucking dollar to them. Without us, they were nothing.

And I was so afraid... what if I fucked things up? Then what? Juvenile? Living on the streets? Worse? Dead?

Tears began rolling down my cheeks, much to my consternation, and despite my willpower to keep them in... Jim reached for a Kleenex. He used it to dab the water freely flowing from my eyes and running down my cheeks and onto my white shorts.

He was right... their question was the hardest one I'd ever been asked.

Yet... it seemed like the easiest question I'd ever had to answer.

From somewhere deep inside of me, I turned to Peggy, dropped my head into her lap, and between sobs, answered, "Yes. Please."

They both rubbed my back and neck. Jim then scooted closer to both Peggy and me, and then wrapped us all in a deep, deep hug with his strong arms.

I finally felt safe, and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. So many emotions, mainly happy ones, enveloped my body, spirit and soul.

Jim said, softly, "Just let it all out. Don't hold back. We're right here for you."

Recovery was slow. Every time I thought my emotions were in check, another round would settle in. They never took their arms away. I'm glad they didn't... for once in my life, I felt safe and protected. For once in my life, I felt that I belonged. For once in my life, even though my emotions were running wild, I felt calm.

Eventually, calmness won. And that was the last thought that entered my head – until I felt myself being laid into my bed, and having the covers arranged just right to cover me up. It was then that I saw a lone figure lying on his side facing me. His eyes were open, and he was smiling. Jim kissed the top of my head, and then exited our room, closing the door behind him, but not before saying, "Be prepared to get up early. We have an appointment at the prosthetic shop in the morning."

"What's a prosthetic shop?" Jesus asked, sleepily. Without waiting for an answer, he scooted across the king size bed, put his arm around my neck, and held on firmly. His breath casually cascaded across my face. His breath was sweet, almost candy flavored but I couldn't tell what flavor it was.

"Uhm... it's where fake arms and legs are made..."

"Really? You're going to be like David? I mean, sorry... you're going to walk like him?"

"Oh, I don't know about that. I don't think anything will work for me. My leg is really fucked up... there's not much to fasten a fake leg to."

"You're not even going to try?" The boy asked incredulously, then he smacked the back of my head with his hand... was he playing, or was it for real?

I should have known.

His arms were very strong... in one fell swoop, he had me on my back, and his hands were attacking my ribs with all he had, all the while ordering me to say "Leg"... I wondered what happened with "Uncle"... of course, being older and bigger than him, even though he was good, really good, I had the tables turned, and then... in the middle of everything... his arms went around my neck, and he pulled my head down to make our lips touch, and touch they did, and I did not pull away, instead I relaxed at his urging me to lay atop his body. Our needs were great … and then … they weren't.

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