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The Light, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 28

*-* Dad's POV *-*

Once my newest son entered the limo, after Bert securely closed the door and stood next to the vehicle, keeping watch, I turned and walked toward Fugi's vehicle. He was slowly, deliberately, exiting. When he looked up, it was then that I saw something I'd never before seen come from my number one right hand man: his face was ashen; tears were flowing freely from his eyes, and he was unable to speak. What the hell was the matter?

He hadn't even been ~that~ upset when all those kids were rescued in Cuba.

Now, when we found Matt, Fugi was majorly pissed off. I know, though we hadn't talked about it, that he would have gone after Matt's supposed caregivers himself. The problem would have been the fact that he would have been in line, that is he was not the only one who had those assholes in their sights.

Without delay, I walked to my friend… and yes, over the years our relationship, initiated by employment, grew into a tight friendship. Fugi always had my back. He watched over my family. And he asked me to talk to his son when the boy was having problems coming to grips with his sexuality, not because his parents weren't supportive because they were, but because he needed to talk with someone neutral.

So when I saw my friends' distress, when I reached him, I put my hand on his shoulder and waited for him to speak.

He reached into his suit's left front breast pocket, retrieved a handkerchief, took care of business, and then reached into his shirt, pulled out a cigarette and lit up. As a second thought, instead of putting the pack of cigarettes back into his pocket, he offered them to me. I looked toward the limo. Adam was safely tucked away, probably playing video games. He'd never seen me smoke.

I took up his offer.

Once mine was lit, Fugi said, "I've lost my objectivity, Jim. This is getting to me."

"What's that? Is your wife and kids okay?" I asked softly.

"They're fine." Fugi said cryptically. "I need to show you something."

With that, he got into the vehicle. I went around to the passenger side, got in, closed the door, cracked open the window a couple of inches to let out the smoke. We're not supposed to smoke in company vehicles... but, fuck it, I made the rules.

Fugi took in a deep breath, "You really need to quit smoking, Jim. Here's another."

I was already pretty dizzy, but took up his offer anyway.

After lighting up, he reached for the onboard computer, powered it up, punched some characters into the keyboard, initiated a live feed, then said before turning the screen toward me so that I could see what he was flinching about, "Jim, the feds are on their way, as are local and county. Their locals are afraid. Their county has largely turned a blind eye. The coordinates are an hour away from the feds. The feds have heavy duty rescue en-route to said location."

Without another word said, he turned the computer screen toward me.

A shiver rapidly ran up and down my spine, settling in my chest, and caused my throat to constrict into a spider web of emotions banging against each other, trying to find supremacy. First was disbelief. Secondly, a sadness crept in, the likes of which I'd never before experienced, not the deaths of my wife, my dad, and Manual, Maria's son.

Without wasting a precious moment, I picked up the satellite phone, set it to Level 8 scramble, punched in some numbers and then hit the Send button, while at the same time locking in coordinates, snapping some stills, finally ending with the capture of live video.

A young boy answered, "Hello, Mr. Blake."

His voice was unfaltering, assured, calm, collected, and intense.

Hopefully, my voice was the same. I spoke the words I hoped to never have to ever say again, "This is a Code Red situation. Prepare for transmission and coordinates. The target is stationary. Feds are approximately one hour away, forget local and county. Are you ready?"

"I'm ready, Sir."

To give you an idea of how high level 8 was, and is, on the scale of secrecy – the President, making The Call for Red Button activation, requires a level 10, and top secret military action typically uses level 9.

I pressed the Go button. The youngster popped onto my screen… he was seeing what I was seeing – real time.

"We're all over it, Sir. Good bye, Sir." He terminated the call, because I was unable to move to do so. I really tried to move; I wanted to get to my newest son, the same boy sitting in the vehicle ahead of us, no further than 25 yards away.

But I was unable to move. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, maybe twenty... passed... as if time stood still. Nothing made sense; everything that I could think of defied explanation... it was like I was in a cipher, a long, dark, narrow tunnel... all that could be seen and imagined were terrified red cloaks of despair, hopelessness, and pain... oh my God, the pain. White hot. Searing. Blinding. Unimaginable. Stark raving insane … pain. Those boys. Those poor boys.

Even though I knew they would be in good hands in less time that it takes to sneeze… quickly, I opened the door with the fear that I'd eject the contents residing inside my stomach, but it never came. Instead, I looked forward to the limo sitting in front of us, imagining Adam's smiling, laughing, having a good time, and getting dunked properly by the boy, and boys, he loved. Each one of my boys' faces then passed through my vision… they were all having fun.

Seeing them started me up and out of the abyss of despair. The travel back was slow, but things were starting to make sense, even though what I'd seen made absolutely no sense.

Slowly, I turned to face Fugi… he looked like I felt. Very softly, I said, "Those kids have their best shot, now. It should be going down… God help them."

Fugi asked with utter defeat in his voice, "Why, Jim? Why?"

His question was rhetorical… it was one of those that defied explanation, logic, or even scientific knowledge at the lowest possible level. He knew it was an endless question before he even asked it. I didn't need to answer his question… my answer would have been rhetorical in and of itself. I heard my voice say, seemingly on its own volition, "I don't know."

The sound of my voice startled me.

I guess I'd been in a near coma state, or something like it. With that realization passing through my mind, a tiny glimpse of sanity slowly made its way through the deep dark fog, giving me a slight sense of purpose and direction, and a reminder of what's really important: fatherhood. Then came clarity: I'd promised my boys that they'd never again be hurt and harmed... with the solemn oath of 'So help me, God'. "But what about those kids?" I kept asking myself over and over and over and over again.

Then my mind returned. I realized and knew that those kids were in good hands, the very best. They had the best opportunity that time and travel could possibly give to them. Kids helping kids.

I took a deep breath, exhaled, took in another deep breath, closed my eyes, and permitted my mind to return to my family back home, knowing that they'd be having fun, and knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that they were safe and protected, even though I wasn't physically there.

Fugi handed me another cigarette knowing that I would take it and utilize it. I did partake. I knew I would.

Fugi cleared his throat, then in a low, clear, concise and controlled voice, said, "Jim, I'm going home."

Somehow, I knew what he meant by those words. "You're on paid administrative time until further notice. Go home."

"Jim, I miss my family back home."

"I know."

"I'm resigning, Jim."

"I don't accept your resignation, Fugi. Consider yourself retired, effective immediately. You're my friends, the very best."

Without saying anything, without looking up, my friend started up the vehicle's engine, reached for and touched the screen to activate the stereo system, cranked up some serious rock music, enough and loud... to drown out any remaining thoughts for feelings. He put the vehicle in gear.

He was going to drive off with or without me. Had my son not been waiting for me in the limo straight in front of us, I might have gone with him.

I reached for the door handle, but Bert beat me to it. I hadn't even been aware that he was standing by the door, waiting.

Fugi, staring straight ahead, didn't hear me say "I love you." Nor did he know that I exited the vehicle and that Bert closed the door. He took off, screeching tires, leaving thick vapors of burning rubber in his wake, barely missing the left corner of the limo that had my son inside.

For a moment, maybe less, I debated on deactivating the vehicle. I didn't because my friend slowed down before getting to the next intersection. I said, under my breath, "Be safe, Fugi."

Bert escorted me to the limo, opened the right rear door of the limo. Adam was looking at me expectantly, waiting, wondering why I was just standing there motionless, unable to say or do anything. Actually, what I was doing was feeling the full ramifications of what he'd been through, and was still dealing with, and why. No, actually, the Why was the thing that defied all explanation.

"Is Why all that important?" I asked myself. Deciding that Why could not be decided or understood at that point in time, maybe never, I got into the limo, reached for and received Adam in my arms. I held him so tight, that, had he not been almost 16 years old, likely he would have been crushed... right then and there. With fatherhood in full swing, I just wanted to take away his pain so that he'd never again experience it, or have memories of what had happened to him. Yet, the boy grunted and attempted to get out of my grasp.

Realizing what he was doing, and why, made sense to me. I released my hold, but didn't let go entirely, I couldn't let him go. I wouldn't move or walk away from him, so help me God.

Tears flooded my vision, at suddenly realizing, once again, all of what Adam had been through in his young lifetime.

Children have a way of knocking you back into reality. All it takes to bring you back is three magical words, "I love you."

He twice said those same three words.

Seeing that was all well, or as well as could be, under the circumstances, Bert closed the door, securely locked it remotely, and then entered the vehicle, however we didn't move.

I kissed Adam's forehead, held him firmly but not tightly, and said, "Adam, the boys at the group home are being rescued right now, as we speak. By now, I would imagine, the boys are safe... and the perpetrators have met their fate... No, I mean the perpetrators have met their demise. I have no doubt. I can't change what happened to you, but I can damn well make sure that you are safe, free of violence, hurt, fear, shame and guilt from here on out. Healing will take time. But that's okay... we have plenty of time."

Adam looked deeply into my eyes… clearly confused by my words, he said, "Are you sure they're okay?"

"That I'm positive about. I'm also positive that you're going to be okay."

"Dad, you scared me. I thought something bad happened to you… you don't look so well… do you want me to call Mom?

"Son, I'm okay, now that I know you're all right." I said while leaning down and kissing my boy's forehead one more time before permitting him to release from my arms to sit up again.

I motioned for him to click the seat belt. I called Bert on the intercom and directed him to take us to our final appointment for the day.

Richard was sitting at the front desk as we entered, Adam first.

After exchanging pleasantries, Richard offered me a cup of coffee. I declined it, knowing that my body had not yet returned to homeostasis after seeing, feeling and experiencing all the events of the afternoon.

While puttering around on the desk, looking for something, he offered, "Mona retired yesterday, sudden and unexpected. She's got kids and grandchildren in Montana. Can you believe she's moving there… it gets colder than hell up there in the winter time… let's see, we need an adoption petition… Adam, do you know how to type?"

"Yes, I do, sir." Adam replied respectfully, looking at me because Richard wasn't looking at him.

I wiggled my eyebrows and smiled. He rolled his eyes. I snickered, which only gave him the opportunity to look at me like I was some kind of Martian from outer space… you know – the teenage gaze that is supposed to put a parent in his or her place.

I wondered who'd taught him that.

Okay, well he certainly didn't learn it from me, and I'd not ever seen him even practice it on my parental skills… Peggy? That had to be where he learned it from… or at least who he practiced it on. I'd need to speak to my wife about THAT.

"Earth to Dad… Yoooohhh, Dad, are you in there?"

"Huh? What? Of course I'm here."


"Teenagers." I exclaimed, clearly exasperatedly.

I had to talk to Peggy about this stuff he was learning.

Richard said, "Adam, I started this petition earlier today, but got harangued by a barrage of phone calls… it seems that I'm popular all of a sudden… if it rings, just press the voice mail button. We've got business to take care of. Go ahead, sit down, I'll pull the form up…"

While Richard got him situated and set up, I headed to the restroom, where I took care of some rather urgent business. Peter's not the only person in the household who has a nervous stomach. I hadn't the heart to call Peggy – she would deny everything I'd accuse her of about Adam's adolescent 'communications. And, and I didn't want to talk to her because she'd immediately know that something was bad wrong... She didn't need any extra added stress.

Returning to Richard's office, Adam was busily typing away – like a pro. For a moment, I wondered where he'd learned to type so well… ahhh, I saw that yet another one of my sons lays his tongue across his lips when he's totally engrossed in something.

He briefly looked up, smiled, and returned to what he was typing.

Richard motioned for me to join him in his office, which I did.

His expression turned to grave injustice. "Jim, I've called in big dogs to research 'that' group home where Adam..."

I interrupted, "Richard, you don't even know the half of it. That hell hole is now closed. I'm positive the perpetrators have met their fate, which by the way, will be, or currently is, or shortly will be worse, bigger and badder than any US court could possibly think of doling out."

Richard sat back in his chair, clearly expecting more of an explanation, yet he knew he would receive no further intelligence about the matter.

"Okay, fine. Still… that home was fully credentialed up the yazoo..." Richard fished around, hoping to get more information out of me.

When he realized my lips were sealed, he counter-stepped, "The charges against Adam are all misdemeanors… he'll not have to appear in court. Judge Matheson is taking it upon himself to speak with the judiciary in Boston. It seems that the group home levied and/or authorized the charges… whatever, you're not going to offer any other information, are you Jim?"

I worried not about there being a conflict of interest between Judge Matheson and the law enforcement in or near Boston… I already knew they were a bunch of invertebrates that didn't have the common sense of a goose.

When I remained quiet, Richard chuckled nervously, and said, "Okay, fine. Conflict or not, Judge Matheson is retiring on Friday... so what the fuck anyway".

Whoa, now that was a surprise… the judge couldn't be a day over 50 years old, "Friday?" I asked wonderingly.

"Yup. Friday. Thursday afternoon if he can get out of a couple of hearing commitments... said something about him and his wife leaving for the Redwood National Park in California... they're leaving the islands early on Saturday morning. He's renting a cabin in the mountains for a month to 6 weeks, maybe longer if they really like the place."

"So, that puts us in Donaldson's court? I hear he's a stickler. Is it true that he's an asshole?"

Richard snickered, "He's a total prick. Right now, though, he's got some serious issues with the Appeals Court... seems that 80% of his appealed cases are being overturned due to procedural misconduct, badgering, etc. Don't worry, Jim… Adam's case is being expedited… how does today sound?"

"What about the family study… guardian ad litem, and all that stuff?"

"Adam's case, largely is being rubber stamped. How about today? Yes or No. It's a simple question that requires only a simple answer… it's in the law books, I'm your attorney… it's not rocket science, Jim."

Dumbfounded, weakly, I asked another question, or made a statement, "Adam's typing up his own petition..."

Richard replied, "Getting a client involved in their case is a common concept, Jim."

"Uhm, yeah… sorry, right. Today? Really? No shit?"

"No shit, Jim. I fuck you not."

"Sorry about spacing out, Richard. Okay, can we talk turkey? I can't share this with Peggy. I'm about to explode."

A light knock on the door interrupted my concentration, gathering up the strength necessary to talk to him about what I'd seen.

Not waiting for Richard to respond, I got up and answered the, thus giving me an opportunity to consider canceling my request. The person at the door, was, of course, none other than Adam. He had a questioning look on his face.

He said, "Dad, these questions don't have anything to do with me… I don't have a vagina and I dang sure don't have periods… I haven't had a baby…"

Richard got up, looked at the forms Adam had printed out from the computer. He looked at me, then to Adam, and said, "Oops... wrong form… come on, young man… I'll get you the correct ones… there is a special form just for boys… you know, like this one's for girls… I need a secretary…" Richard finished off saying as he and Adam walked back into the front office.

Richard returned five minutes later, closed his door and sat down next to me.

After swearing Richard to secrecy, reiterating the Veil of Confidentiality, meaning that anything we shared was considered confidential, I told him what had happened, what Fugi and I had seen happening to those children, and how it had been, or currently was being resolved.

Before Richard could reply, another knock on the door, some 30 minutes later, interrupted the silence. Richard, shocked to his core and unable to answer, prompted me to open the door.

Without hesitation, I opened the door to see my Son standing there, smiling, "I'm all done... what's the matter with Richard? He looks sick…"

I turned toward Richard while putting my arm around Adam. He did indeed look ill, very ill. His outward appearances look like I was feeling, when I gave in. For my son, I maintained. I offered, "I think he's going to be okay. We just talked about some really serious stuff… it's the same stuff that made me ill…"

Weakly, Richard said, "Adam, there are Coke products in the break room, would you please bring me a cold soda? Get You and your Dad one, too."

With that, Adam too off for the outer office then disappeared into the break room down at the end of the corridor.

When I turned back to Richard, he appeared to be much better. Quietly, yet decisively he said, "Those kids work wonders… I have had to have them intervene a couple of times where a young person's wellbeing was in dangerous jeopardy, the last time was about 6 months ago… and Judge Matheson is very familiar with their organization, and what they can do. They're top notch. When his hands get tied, he sends the children to them."

Adam returned a few minutes later.

I couldn't help snickering at seeing him juggling the cans of Coke in his hands. But that wasn't all... he'd forgotten to zip up thus showing most of what he had behind door number 1. Worse yet, he wasn't wearing underwear.

He said, "What?"

Nonchalantly, I pointed in the general direction of his zipper.

He looked down, saw his little predicament, then turned away. I got up, retrieved the cans of liquid refreshments, put my arms around his shoulders to support him while he took care of business. The only words, succinct at that, were, "Oh Shit."

With the error successfully resolved, reluctantly he turned to face Richard, but didn't say anything. Then he looked to the floor, found a spot, and stared at it.

Richard chuckled, then understandingly, said, "Not to worry. I have 7 sons and a daughter… so I've seen more than one mistake made. None were fatal, just, please, don't walk into court that way."

Blushing fiercely, Adam let the comment go, sat down next to me and remained quiet. I patted his back, rubbed his neck, and then let my hand rest of his shoulder.

Richard, meanwhile, was busily typing away on the computer, likely making sure the t's were crossed and the I's dotted in all appropriate places.

A few minutes, satisfied that all was in order, he printed the pages, looked them over one more time, and then handed them to Adam, pointed to a place on the page, then had Adam affix his signature.

Next, he handed the papers to me, pointing out where I was to sign. I did so.

Then he signed them, and put them into a manilla folder. He looked up, and said, "The next step is to get you a guardian ad litem. Fortunately, a lawyer who represents children being adopted is just next door." To Adam, he said, "I'm going to run these to his office. He'll want to interview you. I see no problem whatsoever with expeditiously moving your adoption along. If you'll come with me, we'll get this technicality done and out of the way."

Adam looked to me for approval. I nodded. He snugly tied his one tennis shoe while still seated, bounded up like he was on fire, grabbed his crutches and followed Richard out of the office.

Considerably calmed down, I needed to check in with Peggy to see how she was doing, and to let her know the adoption was being expedited because of Judge Matheson's retirement. She answered on the second ring, "Hey, Honey. Whatcha doing?"

"Oh, sitting around, as usual. What's up, Babe?"

"We're in Richard's office. Adam's adoption is being expedited. Judge Matheson is retiring on Friday, so it's best that we get this wrapped up before he steps down off the bench."

"Oh, okay, I'll get everybody together... what time is the petition being heard?"

"Well, uhm, it's getting late... how about, if it's okay with Richard, Ella, Judge Matheson, and whoever else needs to be involved, we have the hearing and a celebration at our house? What time is good for you?"

"Oh, I like that idea. Maybe at 8pm? That'll give us time to get ready. I'm sure Maria will want to cook up something good to feed everyone... can I speak to Adam? I want to congratulate his unofficial 'official' welcome into our family."

"He's next door where he and Richard are meeting with a ad litem here in the building. It's a required formality."

"I'd better get busy. Do you have any idea when you'll get home?"

"I don't expect this to take very long… the only other thing will be to get the petition filed at the courthouse. If Richard's busy, then Adam and I will run it over there ourselves, then we'll be home."

"Everything sounds really good to me. I have good news, too. Jason and Jeremy have decided to get married… we can have a double celebration. <Giggling> Wow, I'm excited... what else can we celebrate?"

I wasn't all that surprised at hearing of Jeremy and Jason's nuptial event... they'd talked with me about doing it a couple of times. One thing came to mind, "Well, Nicole's first birthday is coming up... but there' no way they could get here in time... we'll celebrate it soon, though."

"Yup, that's right. Okay, I'm going to get off of here and get things rolling. Love ya. I'll see ya when I see ya."

"Love you!"

"Love you, too."

My next call was to Ella. Quite different than the last time we'd spoken, she was cordial

She knew that Judge Matheson was retiring, the only exception being that she didn't know it was going to happen so soon, nevertheless, she said, "I'll get the paper-work going. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes. I'll show up a few minutes ahead of time, so that I can get the family study out of the way."

Eight o'clock was just fine for her.

Next, I called Judge Matheson. Him and his wife were available. He needed to get to the courthouse to retrieve his official judiciary robes. From what Judge Matheson said, the other judge, Judge Donaldson was giving him a bunch of shit about everything. The legislature was all up in arms, typical political bullshit, and he just decided he wasn't going to play in their sandbox any longer... so he decided to retire.

I understood.

The final phone call was to Fugi.

His wife answered the phone. She shared that Fugi was very quiet, reserved, and not in a good mood.

Without going into detail, I told her that we'd been rocketed into a severe emotional upheaval by a case we'd been working on. The light note in our conversation was when I paid particular emphasis on a workable solution, where everybody wins, especially our 'clients'.

She asked about Fugi's retirement. I confirmed the fact. We arranged to meet the following morning to get the paper-work pushed through so that they could put their house on the market and make plans to return to their homeland, though the events would, probably, not happen in this order.

Just as I disconnected the call, I heard Adam's voice, and two other men talking, and getting closer.

Vaguely, I recognized the third voice.

And then it struck me, I definitely recognized that other voice.

Adam entered the office, followed by Judge Matheson, and then, finally, the person responsible for the third voice, and the shithead responsible for the grief my family went through, and largely recovered from.

Once he entered, my blood turned ice cold. Immediately I stood, walked to Adam and urged him to stand behind me so that I could confront the son of a bitch.

The man's face lost all color when he entered Richard's office and our eyes met.

I turned to Richard, and growled, angrily, "Richard, what the hell is this all about? Why is HE here?"

Richard moved to stand between Mr. Sneed and myself. I'm glad he did. I didn't realize I was still that angry with the man.

"Jim, things are different, now. Mr. Sneed is no longer defending pieces of shit, sorry Adam. He's now a child advocate attorney, specifically he works as a guardian ad litem. Yes, he's a defense attorney, but he's only working family court, and he only represents children who are getting a raw deal from the system."

I looked to Mr. Sneed and sized him up. His eyes told that the words Richard said were – true.

Mr. Sneed, seeing my demeanor change for the better, said, "Mr. Blake, I'm really sorry about the trial. I'm sorry about what your sons had to go through. As Richard said, I stopped being a court appointed defense attorney the day the verdict was read... not because I technically lost the case, but because I could no longer defend those who are guilty of heinous crimes, where they beyond any shadow of a doubt, guilty. It's just wrong. Today, I am signing off on Adam's adoption. You're a good man, Mr. Blake. And you have good sons. And, your wife is an exemplary model for motherhood." He then reached out his hand as a token of good will.

I accepted his offer of amends, "Mr. Sneed, I, too, am sorry my boys had to go through all that they went through. They're okay, now. As you may already know, their egg-donor died in prison. The way I understand it... she continued to spout off her mouth saying filthy, vile and untrue things about her children, all they represented, who they were and are, and everything else she could think of. They still wonder why she did what she did, and had done to them what was perpetrated on them. I suppose we'll never know the answer to those questions."

The look on Adam's face told me that I'd have to sit him down and tell him what had happened at trial... but not then... it was not the right time nor was Richard's office the correct place to do so.

I turned back to Mr. Sneed, "I'm sorry, but I cannot invite you to our celebrations... it's just too soon... the raw emotions of those events returns every time the subject comes up. I hope you understand."

"Yes, I understand, very well, Sir. I need to get back to work, now. I will call Judge Matheson and tell him that everything's good from this end. Adam, your Dad is a good man. Congratulations." Turning to me, "Bless you and your family, Mr. Blake."

With that, he took his leave.

Assured that everything was in order, Adam and I took off for the ride home in the limo after Richard said that he'd get the petition filed in court. Adam was totally excited and pumped. I'd not seen him that happy before. His exuberance, and the hope in his eyes were uplifting.

As the limo got us close to home, I said, "Adam, I don't think anybody is really up to hearing about our encounter with Mr. Sneed. I hate to ask to you to keep a secret, but would you please refrain from dropping his name during any conversations?"

"That's no problem, Dad. I don't want to hurt them. Sometimes secrets are okay... you know... when somebody might get hurt. Uhm, before we get home... I need to talk to you about a few of the questions..."

I nodded.

"Dad, some of the questions were hard to answer…"

Curious, "Oh, how's that?"

"Well, two of the questions were about my sexuality… the first one asked if I was gay. I didn't really know how to answer it… but I clicked 'Yes'. I couldn't say 'No' because it would say and mean that Jesus and I were not together, and well, we are. I don't know if I'm really gay... I just know that I love him and want to be with him for a long long time... you know... like forever."

For being in our home for such a short time, I was glad to hear that Adam was moving along toward self-acceptance... and love – with both, being able to be in a giving and receiving relationship.

I said, "If you love him, this is all that matters. The other will work out in due time. Normally, I do not get in the middle of the physical, the sexual part of relationships between two consenting persons... as your Father, though, I do need to know if you are in a physical, sexual with Jesus... I am not being nosy, I just need to know for your and his well being."

Adam shrugged his shoulders, then turned to me, and said, "Yes. Definitely. Uhm, I would have never guessed... you know... with another guy... but, it's all good. Thanks, Dad, I just needed to hear what you'd have to say about us..."

I smiled, rubbed his neck, and said, fishing around for information that would possibly help him out of his questioning and dilemma, "I don't know how much you know about Andy..."

"Yeah, we've talked a little bit. I guess, since you didn't get mad and stuff about 'that'... you know... that's why I'm talking to you, now. Okay... another question came up... uhm, it went along the lines of have I had sex with - I mean has anybody had sex with me, and have I had sex with anyone inside our family... I answered no, but I'm not positive... I mean, well, uhm..."

When he stopped talking and looked into my eyes, I said, "Have you been forced into receiving sex?"


"Have you forced anybody to have sex with you?"

"Well, no. But, we've, uhm, well... we've kind of, you know... jacked off in the same room and everything..."

"Adam, those questions are asked to make sure that a child is not being put into a family where unwanted sex is happening... it gives a boy an opportunity to have an out. The questions also ferret out to see when a boy being put into a home is not a threat to other children... it goes both ways. So... to answer your question... I reiterate... so long as you and anybody else is not being forced into a situation... then whatever you guys is just fine. And, oh by the way, circle jerking is a thing that's as old as the hills. I do not feel, and the courts agree that consenting self or mutual masturbation between children of roughly the same age groups is criminal."

He nodded his understanding. I saw that most of his fear was no longer there, that it had dissipated.

Sometimes adults have the correct answers, sometimes they don't. I felt assured that he understood my answer. I had had my suspicions that they circle jerked, or even more than simply jerking off together, both age old practices, I'd practiced them myself as a child, and, well, the experiences hadn't messed me up, too badly, heh heh heh.

*-* Meanwhile, back home *-*

David and Peter, hand in hand, exited the combined pump, shower, dressing, and play room. They were smiling. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why they were so happy, contented, and 'together'... Peter took David's crutch, gave him a push, causing him to enter the pool without one single solitary trace of grace. Peter then joined him. They went underwater... and well, it wasn't too hard to see that they were swimming like eels, hand in hand, body next to body, and then they kissed, surfaced, shook the water out of their eyes, and saw Grandma standing at the pool's edge, carefully watching their interactions. She smiled and said, "Cookies – kitchen. Homemade butterscotch with white icing."

William, Benji, Harry and Andy were already seated at the bar, chomping away on the delectable snack morsels. Benji inadvertently dropped a sliver of icing into his lightly adorned forest down south of the border... William, wasting no time, dropped off of his chair, and then... just as Grandma entered... jumped back up on the chair with a sheepish expression on his face, followed by a red tinge traveling from his forehead downward. Quickly, he scooted back into the chair, and gave the most innocent look you'd ever seen.

Mom, standing in the entrance to the kitchen from the Great Room, said appreciatively, "Thank you, William for following the rules of the house." She walked to him, kissed his unruly hair, patted his back, then sat down at the dining room table with Antoine, Matt, Allen, Angel, Jason and Jeremy. Matt was fully sitting on Antoine's bare lap to keep his husbands' 'excitement' contained... and well, he was feeling no pain, even though they were not actively … okay, you get the drift, right? Right.

Mom first looked to Jeremy, then to Jason, and said, "Boys, Adam's adoption is going to be finalized this evening. Lots of people are going to be here celebrating... Jeremy, Jason, have you made the official announcement yet?

Jeremy said, "Yes, we have. We talked about our getting married a few days ago. Actually, we've been thinking about it ever since David and Peter, Allen and Angel, and Antoine and Matt made their commitments to each other. Guys, we're getting married, soon, before I go off to college in the fall."

Everybody clapped their approvals. Hugs were freely given and freely received to celebrate their announcement.

Mom continued, asking Jeremy and Jason another question, "Would you be interested in having your ceremony performed this evening?"

The boys looked at each other. Jason spoke up, "Uhm, ma'am, we don't want to take Adam's celebration away... this is his special event... you know..."

Jeremy looked to Jason again, nodded, and then said, "Tonight's okay… we could have our ceremony after Adam's?"

Unspoken words were said between each of the boys, finally David said, "That's kewl, right guys?"

Nods and words of approval and consideration were passed between the boys, then they turned to Jeremy and Jason, the word "kewl" was nearly worn out, but not quite as that single little solitary words would often be used to describe solidarity!

Grandma, smiling brightly, walked to Jeremy and Jason, hugged each other deeply and tenderly, then her demeanor changed drastically – she announced, "Okay boys, we have a lot to do... so let's get at it... David, Peter..."

However, before dismissing the boys to get on their assigned chores, Mom spoke up, "Jeremy, Jason, you might want to think about including Adam in on your decision. Both events are life changing, for you, and for him."

Jeremy spoke up, "We'll call him. The final decision is his, okay Jason?"

Jason's response was to reach across the table, fetch his cell phone…

While Jason was making the connection, David, smiling, said, "Adam has sure overcome some major hurdles… he's fitting in here just fine. Does anybody think this may be too much for him to handle right now?"

Benji said, confidently, "He's overcome many challenges." He said nothing more. The look on his face showed just how definite and confident he was.

Once again, Jeremy reiterated, "Kewl... well, if it's okay, we'd like to follow his event... he's earned our family... me and Jason are together and we'll always be. Adam, though, has never had a family to call his own... so, if it's okay then we want Adam's celebration to be first."

Grandma spoke up, "I'm so very proud of you boys. You always think of your brothers before your own needs or wants... the way I see it, your occasion and Adam's are both on the same wavelength. You're all joining in a way different than things are right now... Peggy... we've got work to do..."

Just as the boys were getting up to go take care of business, Jason spoke up with his hand over the mouthpiece, "Uhm, do you think Father Ben could perform our marriage? Would he?"

Mom smiled, yet she had a trace of hesitancy about her. Finally, she said, "I'm sure he'd love to. I'll call him, or, better yet, why don't you call him?"

Both boys agreed.

What Mom didn't tell them was that Father Ben had received some serious hella shit over performing David and Peter's, Antoine and Matt's, and Angel and Allen's ceremonies, from the Church officials. He'd been threatened with extreme 'bullshit', including the possibility of excommunication from the religious body, if he ever did it again.

What Mom didn't know was that Father Ben had already begun to search out other denominations that were more open and willing to bless marriage, in any form, for anyone committed.. Marriage was, despite all the protests and legal bullshit, indeed between two (or more, depending on the circumstance, of course) people.

Jason said to Jeremy, "We need to go tell my Mom and Dad..."

Mom said, "You guys go take care of that... we'll manage around here... this is your wedding day... by the way... tradition has it that the two people to be married do not see each other on the day of their celebration... and they sure don't..."

"MOM!!!! Just stop!" Jeremy said, blushing fiercely.

Mom snickered. Grandma rolled up her eyes, then they got up and walked toward the kitchen, talking plans between themselves; and deciding how to best move forward with such short notice. Not to worry. When mothers get something on their minds, that affects their children – watch out. Watch them pull the seemingly impossible – into reality.

Shortly thereafter, just as the boys were about to get up and about, doing chores, getting things just right, Jesus popped through the door. From the time when he'd entered the house to the patio area where everyone was gathered, just as Mom and Grandma exited, he entered while pulling down his underwear, the last piece of clothing that separated him from being 'decent' to naked and fully pronged up as the day he'd been born.

He looked all around the room, searching for his best friend in all the world, assumed to be Jesus, of course.

Not seeing him, his face fell with disappointment clearly written on it.

Antoine motioned for the younger boy to come to him, at which time Matt squirmed around just enough to permit Jesus to sit on Antoine's free thigh. If you were watching carefully, you'd have seen both Antoine and Matt's eyes flicker with need.

Peter said to Jesus, to deflect the situation, somewhat, "Adam's going to be home, soon. Dad and him are taking care of some business for the adoption. It's going to happen tonight."

The younger boy's face it up. He got up, jumped into the air with excitement, pushing his arm into the air indicating victory!

AZ, meanwhile, entered, picked up Jesus' clothes and laid them neatly into a corner. Seeing that he was the only 'clothed' person, he quickly removed everything but his underwear. Obviously, he was in need, too, as the front of the cloth was tented out and up. Feeling comfortable around the group of boys who'd become his family, he hooked his thumbs in the waistband and then pushed them down his legs, and then flicked them into the corner with the rest of his clothes.

David said to everybody, "Okay Guys, take a short swim, then we've got to get busy..."

The boys were just getting out of the pool when Dad and Adam arrived home. Jesus, seeing Adam enter the pool area, gushed with unrestrained excitement. He rushed up the ladder, and then took off for Adam, body slamming him... they ended up on the pavement, with Jesus on top, kissing, sucking tongue, grinding and undulating hips and other body parts... Jason, somewhat annoyed, quickly exited the pool, walked to the two boys, pulled them apart, and then gently urged them to go up the stairs to Adam's room.

Instead, the two boys sat down in one of the chaise lounges. Jesus sat down first then Adam sat on his lap. Jesus' eyes went wide open with the contact. He wiggled a little bit, and then his eyes closed...

It was then that Peter, Matt, Allen and Angel grabbed up the boys and carried them up to Adam's room, laid them down with Jesus lying on top of Adam. Angel, snickered, then pushed on Jesus' butt... and then the rest of the boys left the room, before things got too heated while they were there.

David snickered, "Do you get them straightened out? There's the rule of no sex in public..."

Allen snickered in reply, "There's no way those guys are going to get 'straightened out'."

Antoine smiled knowing that was true... besides, Matt had left him with only a towel across his midsection... and well it wasn't hiding much, there was almost nothing left to the imagination. With that, Matt and Antoine took off inside the house, surely to go to their room to take care of matters that only they could manage. While Matt used the restroom, Antoine pulled his cell phone from the pocket of his jeans lying on the floor next to their bed, punched in some numbers, and hit the 'Send' button.

A few seconds later, he said into the phone, "Father Ben, this is Antoine..."

An hour later, Andy and Jesus, clearly relaxed, satiated, and very much in love, retrieved their organs, dropped down off the bed, made their way into the bathroom, took care of business, jumped into the shower, washed up, shared a single towel to dry off with, blow dried their hair, sucked some serious face – between brushing their teeth... because, after all, they had to make 'absolutely' sure that no carnal odors emanated from their oral orifices...

Much the same was going on in Antoine and Matt's room... when Antoine got off the phone with Father Ben, well, he and Matt took care of their pressing needs.

Then they, too, showered, dried off, brushed teeth, and then got dressed in their 'way too tight' suits... nevertheless, after some seriously and efficiently applied efforts, they made it.

Jeremy and Jason, at same time were barely managing to keep from 'joining' their loins, planning to wait until later in the evening, to officially and pleasantly consummate their marital status. Largely, they were successful, although while Jason was sitting on the throne, Jeremy was busily taking matters into his own hands, quickly finishing the deed. At the same time, once the last one fell, Jason, too, grabbed hold of his maleness... the rest is history, as the saying goes.

Subdued, at least for a little while, Jason entered the shower and took care of cleaning his body 'just right' so that he was fresh and clean for the celebration of marriage that would happen later in the day.

Once they were finished showering, Jason, being the more fashionable 'one' of the two, once dried, entered their closet, walked to the very back, retrieved garments that were loosely wrapped with plastic film, removed the covering materials, inspected them closely for any evidence of carnal passions... the last time they'd worn the formal suits was the night of their brothers' ceremonies, and, well, they had begun their lovemaking before their suits had been completely taken off and hung up.

Seeing that everything was in order, they dressed to the nine's in their suits, and did not even complain because of the confinements created by the stiff and starched clothing. In the few months since their brothers were wed, both had gained a little bit of weight, just enough to make buttoning of the top button of their shirts just a little difficult, but they managed... without complaint.

None of the boys complained about being dressed up in their finest. Doing so would have been just be so sacrilegious, and wrong.

Allen and Angel, meanwhile, with Allen fully and completely inside his lover and mate, seriously exploded their joy and wonderment – and fluids exploded in every which direction, other than for Allen, of course, jettisoned his juice into the tight confined space of his husband. Then they, too, took care of their business in the bathroom, and got dressed in the most fanciest of duds. While Allen was doing his hair, Angel spit shined their black shiny shoes, so much so, that Allen used the shiny surface to put the finishing touches on his hair, giggling all the while, like a school-kid does.

Meanwhile, in Andy's room... in the bathroom specifically, two pairs of boys, not all four at once, at the same time, not taking turns, with Harry and Benji deeply sharing their most intimate of moments exclaimed, loudly, their arrival on Nirvana... at the same time, Andy and William announced their arrival on the planet of Pluto.

The boys, all four of them, while close with each other, and irretrievably bonded, preferred this arrangement with their lovemaking, though, sometimes they would all join in a sperm filled sandwich of love, but not usually. It worked for them. They were all happy, contented and confident with their decisions. It worked just fine for them; perfectly, in fact.

Relaxed and satiated, they attended to their showers, taking turns to wash each and every inch of their young bodies, to the point where they were each squeaky clean, and glistening shiny with drops of water dropping down and running off their bronzed skins.

Their growth spurts had been much more pronounced than the other boys. Pants were a bit short in the legs. Waists and hips a bit tight. Shirts around their necks much much tighter, and shoes were at least a size too small. Pulling here a little, pushing there a little, taking in deep breaths, letting it out at strategic times, and a couple of heave ho's – their mission got accomplished.

Mom and Dad, meanwhile in their bedroom, did pretty much the same thing... including some serious playing around just before taking their showers and finishing up with getting dressed for the special occasions for their children. While Dad was snapping Mom's bra and zipping up the back of her eloquent white satin dress, Mom groaned as a labor pain gripped her like she was being squeezed between the jaws found on vice grips plyers... though the seizure didn't last long, and wasn't followed by another one... still, it got their attention. Remembering what the doctor had said, more than once, about false labor pains and contractions, they weren't all that concerned... other than to get Mom sat down so that she could recover from the experience. Mom whined a bit about Dad's deep deep penetration of her birth canal, but Dad countered her brief 'whine' by reminding her that she continuously and constantly asked for 'more'. Mom didn't have a solid valid retort... so they finished dressing and getting ready.

AZ, well, he was quite happy taking his shower, alone, in a guest room of the Blake home.

He was very surprised, even shocked a little bit, when, while standing in front of the full length mirror hanging on the bathroom door, at seeing his very first seminal ejection hitting the perfectly shined glass as he reached pinnacles of success... the fluid was thin and watery, however it was his first 'wet' cum... Excited beyond belief, he, dripping wet, still, took off for Adam and Jesus' room, where he anxiously showed them the wet evidence still clinging to his fleshy knob. Jesus, not being bashful, knelt down, inspected his brother's maleness, and then, without hesitation, licked it dry, causing AZ to jump away solely because the head of his dick was so very sensitive from its recent forage into happiness. Excitedly, rapidly speaking in their native language, Jesus expressed to, and AZ readily accepted his older brother's praises that, now he, too, could eject semen like an older boy could, would, and did.

Maria, the last of the Mohicans, in the kitchen, was busily preparing the largest feast she'd ever cooked for so many people, in all her life. She was humming happily as she went about her business. She wanted everything to be just right, just so so, and memorable.

She'd grown to love the Blake family, and often while out shopping, she'd break out in a grin at thinking of her 'new' family. Even though, technically, she was an "employee", she still felt the love and acceptance of those all around her, and, she was so damned grateful that the Blake boys had taken her own under their wings, bringing them out of their deep, dark, and largely hidden and ashamed shells of personality.

She wasn't, in the least, concerned about her middle son's choice of mates, even though he was still so very young... his love for Adam was quite different than the abusive sex and other demands placed upon them by their oldest brother, Pablo.

She'd also come to grips with the horrific actions of her eldest, though she would never forgive him for taking her second oldest child out in such a violent and despicable way... yet she had indeed forgiven him... she just didn't completely realize it.

Thankfully, she no longer had nightmares of being savagely beaten and bloodied by his hands, fists, knees and feet. Those dreams stopped one night not too long ago... Antoine had been spending a rare night with her second middle child... she'd awakened to another body crawling into bed and lying beside her, a body quite unlike her younger sons, that which she'd become accustomed to... often times, the younger ones, when they'd gotten scared, would come to her bed, cling to her, and demand that she protect them. She wasn't afraid of this person in her bed. She recognized his aroma. His smell was unique, unlike any other she'd ever experienced.

The boys, her sons, had, slowly, over time, shed most of their fears and terrors. She'd prayed hard, so very hard, asking her Savior to spare her younger children, and fervently asked that she be given all of their pain and suffering... and for a while... thought that it had indeed taken their pain and put it into her. Her thoughts were misguided, at best, but she would not realize this until another time. Nevertheless, her pain and suffering continued to grow and grow... until she could no longer take it. Antoine, sensing her impending collapse, consulted with Benji, and then he stayed that one night, in her bed, and changed her world.

Although their bonding did not include physical attributes, they, nevertheless, bonded spiritually, emotionally, and in every other way. It was then that her terrors were sent away, removed.

At no time, since then, have they returned. And, she was able to make a conscious decision to forgive her oldest son for his depravity, anger and hatred.

She was not ready for what she saw next, after hearing footsteps enter the kitchen where she was busily working to prepare three dozen, or so, of her infamous burritos to feed the guests that would be arriving soon for the festivities planned for the evening. She was highly excited, and the special attention she was giving to each burrito was from love.

Thinking that one or more boys were pilfering through tasty morsels reserved for desert, she quickly turned around to see who was surely into the goodies…

Her vision clouded up, and then her eyes began to rain droplets of happy tears at seeing her sons standing proudly, dressed in fine and well fitting suits, complete with ties, and their hair perfectly in place. They were so happy, widely smiling. They were smiling widely. She couldn't ever recall them being so radiant, confident, assured – and hamming up their appearances.

Unable to stop herself, not wanting to stop herself, she put down, on the counter, the two tortilla shells that she was holding in her hands, reading them to be stuffed with ample quantities of tasty food. She walked to her children. With tears freely flowing from her dark orbs of vision, scooped them up into her arms, pulled them into her bosom, held them tight – and wept – though her weaping was from joy and gratitude, not from hurt and shame for what they'd been through in their young lives.

Her chest heaved as unspoken waves of blessings passed into and through her... her children felt the love emanating from her soul, and into them, severally and then as a family, a nuclear family, their family, just the three of them, alone.

Both boys were clinging to their mother, as if their lives depended on the contact... there's no doubt that their lives did indeed depend on their bond strengthening exercise.

When their moments passed, ornery looks passed across their faces and through their bodies. Jesus first, then AZ, following in his older brother's footsteps, reached for, grabbed, and then stuffed a large brownie into their mouths, and then took off, much to their mothers' consternation and admonishments.

Ella arrived first at about 6:45pm.

She said that, formally, by written procedure, by law, she had to perform a home study before signing off approval for the adoption to go forward, even though she knew, from previous experiences and interactions, for the same purposes, that the Blake household was filled with love, commitment, and togetherness, like none other she'd ever seen in all her years in child protective services... yet the law was the law.

As expected, she was greeted warmly, openly, and without the formality that she normally expected and demanded from other clients in her line of work... many times, too many times, she had to be prim, proper, and starched, which was quite unlike her in her life away from work.

Even Adam, normally quiet reserved, she noticed, had become much, much calmer, relaxed, and assured... all signs that he was being nurtured, loved and challenged.

What she did not know, however, and what surprised her greatly, was when she saw Adam and Jesus sitting quietly on the sofa in the formal living area – holding hands. Every now and again, over a period of 5 minutes with her watching their interactions, unknown to them that she was there quietly observing them, Jesus would lean over to kiss Adam's cheek, sometimes he'd be bold and kiss Adam's, her charge's, lips so tenderly, almost like a feather was landing. And then there were times when Adam would sneak in a kiss, a gentle squeeze of Jesus' thigh.

And then their hands traveled out of sight. Both boys acted like they were electrified... Although she didn't want to break their moments of... intimacy... an intimacy she hadn't previously been aware of, she had no choice but to gently clear her throat to get their attention.

Adam was the first to react... he looked toward the doorway, and saw Ella. Initially, he nearly had a heart attack, evidenced by him clutching his chest, his face going pale; and then his body violently shook as if it were being electrocuted, in a bad way.

Quickly, too quickly for one's own good, he reached down, grabbed the crutches lying close by, made his way to a standing position, and then looked at her with terror and unbridled fear emanating from each and every pore on his body. He began heavily perspiring, thoroughly soaking his light yellow button-up shirt.

Ella had seen the exact same reaction from Peter when he and David had first been 'discovered', so she knew how to deal with the situation, in a positive way.

Even though she was very, very surprised at the turn of events, she knew, beyond doubt, that love is love, and it didn't matter who you love... the only point is that you DO love and you DO permit people to love you.

She walked to Adam, put her hand against his soft, unshaven, not needed to be shaven face, and said softly, assuredly, "Adam, you have nothing to worry about. Seeing you loved by so many people, seeing you love so many people does my heart good, child. Don't ever forget that worlds are made from love. Love is the building blocks and mortar that cements great nations together. The same is true with people, especially young people. You two have your whole lives together ahead of you. Today is just the beginning of forever. Never, ever, never, ever be ashamed of your ability to love and be loved. It is as natural as the colors of your skin, eyes and hair. Never apologize for who you love. I believe that our Creator brings us together. I know my Creator has brought you into my life. And I know that my Creator brought the Blake's and me together... I've seen some miracles occur within this family, child. I'm glad you are a part of their miracle, and I'm happy to see them being a miracle for you, too."

Normally, when Ella is moved to hug someone, she asks for their permission, but not that time. Instead, she pulled the boy into her bosom, put her arms around his strong back, and hugged him deeply. Jesus, his companion, held his hands on Adam's lower back to keep his boyfriend from tipping sideways or, God forbid, falling. Adam's periodic fallings scared the holy shit out of the younger boy. He doubted if he'd ever get over that fear. He loved Adam like he'd never loved anyone ever before. You know... that love that hits you right in the gut... not the painful kind, no way... rather it was like a heavy butterfly had landed and made its home in your tummy.

A few minutes later, Adam and Ella released their holds on each other. She then turned her attention toward Jesus. She leaned down, kissed his cheek, used her hand to caress his other cheek, and said softly, "Jesus, seeing you love and being loved makes my heart go pitter patter. You've come such a long way, child. And like him, you keep going. The world is the limit on the good things you'll do in your lifetime. Your Momma is so proud of you. And, so am I. You take good care of Adam."

Easily, readily, Jesus nodded, then reached up and kissed her cheek. That only prompted Ella to take the younger boy into her arms, pull him to her bosom, and they squeezed the life out of each other, almost, but not quite.

When she released Jesus, both boys came together. They hugged then shared a gentle kiss to bring them together just that much more. No, the kiss wasn't passionate, yet it was. They didn't have to go searching for tonsils, though they might as well have, and, undoubtedly would have had the situation and circumstances been different. You could just see the love passing between and through their bodies, souls and minds. It was a joy to see.

Matt, Peter and Andy then entered the room. They shared quick hugs with their newest brother and his love before turning to Ella, doing the same with her. Ella was quick to point out, much to Peter and David's embarrassment, that they were growing taller, filling out in all the right places, and even commented that they both had a bit of peach growing fuzz atop their lips, Peter more so than David because of his naturally dark complexion.

Her attention then turned to Matt, "Matt, you're growing up, too. And, yes, you, too, have some peach fuzz growing on your lip... you're looking mighty fine. A few months ago... well, we wondered if you were going to live... and now, not only did you live, but you have life... you are life itself, and you are giving it away, too. My heart is happy at seeing you so happy, calm and assured. Your changes are proof positive that family and love is what it takes for children, and adults, too, to be all they can be. Where's Antoine? I want to thank him, too."

"He'll be here in just a minute... him and Adam were pulling some of the flowers that survived the storm to put in a bouquet for Jason and Jeremy's ceremony." Matt said assuredly, lovingly.

Ella was surprised at hearing that news.

Jesus piped up, "They're getting married. Didn't you know?"

Ella looked surprised. Matt was quick to say, "They just decided this afternoon... we have two big events planned for tonight."

Jesus vigorously nodded his head up and down. He then took off to find Antoine. He nearly ran into him as he turned the corner to head out to the patio and on into the garden where most of the flowers were growing under Antoine and Adam's watchful eyes and nurturing.

Antoine, of course, pulled Jesus into him tightly, hugged him for all he was worth (fifty gazillion dollars, at least), and then, at Jesus' urgings followed the younger boy into the house to see Ella. Pleasantries were exchanged, then Ella commended Antoine on all that he'd accomplished, and what he'd brought to the family.

Of all the children in the household, Antoine was probably the one child in the entire family who needed that 'little extra' touch of extra special love... simply because he was so very sensitive to his own thoughts and feelings, since he'd been permitted to see, feel and experience the love all around him. He'd struggled with self-acceptance. The good news was and is that he was making great strides. His angry, sullen and forever need to serve was slowly, over time, turning around to where he could be loved, so that people could do things for and to him without feeling embarrassed, or, God forbid – weak.

Dad has had, and continues to have, many conversations with Antoine, to bring up his self-acceptance, and to bring out his so many, many blessings to the world.

Andy was next to receive Ella's words saying he'd accomplished so much in the short time he'd been with the family, and how his wealth of love and loyalty had extended outside of the immediate nuclear family – specifically to and from Benji, William and Harry.

Speaking of Harry, he was busily greeting his father. Juan had just arrived with Shoo. Benji was busily greeting his mother, excitedly sharing the news of Jason and Jeremy's upcoming wedding. Normally, quiet and reserved, Shoo smiled widely, and then she whispered into her son's ear, "You, too, will be married soon, yes?"

Benji was quite taken aback by his mother's uncharacteristic open attitude toward male couples, homosexuality in particular... no she hadn't been homophobic or anything, rather she'd just been distant, perhaps a bit aloof over such matters. But, if you really paid attention to her, she'd always been looking at and carefully checking out the gay couples in our family. Clearly, she was making great strides toward acceptance. She loved her son with her entire being, and always put herself after the needs and wants of her son and his partners, bonded ones.

Harry joined Benji, put his arm around the love of his life's waist, and permitted his hand to wander down to where it settled on the upper reaches of the oriental boy's 'God split him in half' cleft.

Shoo said to Harry, "Bless you Child. My Benji loves you so very much. You make him happy, and that makes me happy."

Yet... despite all the happiness that Shoo was expressing to her children, she was withholding news of Benji's Grandfather's passing on into the next realm, just that afternoon. She would talk to them later, not before, not when there were life changing events about to happen.

The look between Mother and Son was deep, searching, and very much attune to the other. Benji sensed something amiss, but he just didn't know what it was that was holding them somewhat apart. His mother had always been good about hiding her true feelings and things that he thought he should know about. Yet he trusted his mother to say whatever she needed to say, but it would only come forth on her timetable.

While Benji was evaluating the relationship between he and his mother, Juan walked up behind him, pulled Benji into a deep, front to back type hug... Juan didn't demonstrate his affections toward his children all that often, and when it was demonstrated the interactions were brief and to the point. Benji took the chance to receive Juan's affections by cautiously allowing his body to settle into Juan's strong arms, and then, he went one step further... he brought Juan's arms around his shoulders, chest.  The feelings coursing through his body were pleasant, strengthening, and very welcome.

Judge Matheson and his wife Marge were the next to arrive. Everybody greeted them warmly. While they were doing the 'small talk' thing, Father Ben arrived.

Antoine was the first to greet him. They hugged deeply, and were in no hurry to hastily end it. When they did part, Antoine whispered in is spiritual advisor's ear, "May I speak with you, privately, please."

"Yes, I've been meaning to talk to you, too. I've got an idea I would like to pass by you. First, let me greet the guests and your family, then we'll talk." Father Ben replied softly. Father Ben patted Antoine's back, then went into the crowd and began making his greetings.

Meanwhile, Antoine went looking for Matt, his husband so that they could talk with Father Ben together.

Like Antoine, Matt doesn't like crowds of people all around. He usually finds somewhere out of the way, out of the spotlight where he likes to be involved in conversation with a few people. Our family is different, though... heh heh heh... the family has grown some since he became involved in our lives.

Antoine walked into the kitchen looking for his husband. Maria pretty much gave him the 'evil eye' – "stay out of my kitchen, I'm busy, can't you see"... one of those looks!

Not finding his mate there, he went to Maria, gave her a quick hug, then made his way outside. At the far reaches of the property, he saw David, Peter, Andy and Matt talking. Antoine took off for them. Matt started walking toward Antoine. When they met, they hugged deeply, then kissed quickly but tenderly. Matt kept his arms around Antoine, something that Antoine wanted and needed, though he didn't entirely realize the need.

Matt's gaze went deeply into his husband, to his core, then Matt said what he didn't want to say, "Antoine, your Sensei passed into the Next Realm this afternoon. I'm sorry. I know you loved him."

The rest of the boys started walking toward where Antoine and Matt were standing.

Matt did not tell anyone 'how' he knew that Antoine's Sensei passed on. It was and is something that he wants to keep to himself, although he did say that nobody told him... he just knew.

Antoine's shoulders dropped. He reached around Matt and pulled him in tight as he closed his eyes, and wept silently.

Inside the house, Shoo asked for a moment to say something very important. When the room got quiet she said, "I am sorry to bring bad news to my extended family. Please forgive me. I am concerned about my son and his husband... I must tell you that Benji's Grandfather passed away this afternoon."

The news was shocking to all. Without saying a word, Dad and Juan took off for outside to find their sons, as did the rest of the friends and family.

Both men wormed their way into the cocoon, and then put their arms around their grieving children so they could hold them in their time of need, and give them strength. Soon they were joined with Mom and Shoo, and then everybody surrounded the group.

Somehow, even though there were many, many people in the spirit of harmony, everybody was touching the person next to them, thus creating an unending bond.

Meanwhile, upstairs, standing on the balcony, Adam and Jesus both saw something that they'd never ever seen before in their young lives. Jesus, the boy he loved with all of his heart, quickly pulled Adam's arms around him as they watched a bright glow emanate from the group of people.

They were drawn to it. On their way down the stairs, Jesus lifted Adam's hands up so that they could both see what caught the younger boy's attention... the palms of their hands were glowing, too. And, without missing a step, they joined their family, wiggling inside the cocoon.

Grandma and Maria, Horace and Alice were standing in the doorway leading to and from the kitchen clinging to one another, observing the happenings with tears freely flowing through and from their eyes, and landing on their dresses.

Suddenly feeling compelled by an unspoken force, both women made their way into the nucleus. Their entry was made possible by Juan, Shoo, Judge Matheson, Ella and Father Ben stepping aside just enough for them to make their way inside the cocoon.

Father Ben, seeing and experiencing the profound love emanating from everywhere, stepped back into the shadows, reverently bowed his head and said loud just enough to be heard, "May God bless this family, always hold it firmly, keep it together, love and cherish and nurture it until time ends, until then, may The Light forever bless and keep them, Amen.

*-* The End *-*

One year later...

Hey Guys, Gals, Boys and Girls,

David here.

Thank you for reading my story. Without you, I would not have continued writing about the trials, tribulations, joys, heartache and blessings of our lives as a family.

Thank you Joe Writer Man for putting my story to form. We've had many conversations about what to put in, what not to include, how to say something, how not to say other things, give it form, and all that jazz. Thank you again for helping me say what I really mean to say.

You pushed my limits, making me see things that I didn't have visions of, or realize, before.

Okay, I'm getting mushy here... let me just say that I love you and thanks.

Briefly, here is where my family is today:

Right this very second, as I type this note, Peter's sitting on our bed holding Nicole in one arm and Allison, our newest little sister, on his lap, and is teaching them patty cake, patty cake. Both girls are laughing, giggling, and making the usual baby coos and chatter. As if they knew exactly what they were doing, and I'm sure they do know exactly what they are doing – when one wasn't, the other was reaching for and grabbing Peter's nose and trying to pull it off his face. I have to laugh at the funny faces he's giving them. But... he's not complaining. His eyes are glowing with pride and love. Every now and again he'd lean down to give, and then receive wet slobbery baby kisses.

Right now, my heart is swelling with pride at seeing that my husband is so happy, quite different from when our story first started. As I dab away the beginnings of tears, as I take a deep breath in to stop the tight feelings in my chest that are threatening to make breathing difficult... how can you ever forget the love, strength and bond that we give, share, on a daily basis, and from situation to situation, no matter what. The truth is: you can't. I will go one step further: Missing his undying love for me and our family love is impossible... even our blind friend Jimmy, can 'see' and feel the love freely given and freely received within our family.

Dad, Juan, Antoine and Benji did return to Singapore to settle Grandfather's estate. Grandfather's family was seriously at odds with Benji coming to claim his inheritance, what was due him by virtue of his position in the family, as per customs.

Citing honor for a peace filled life as being the most important state of being, ever, Benji walked away empty handed from worldly riches.

These days, Benji finds his most joyful occasions while helping others. When Drs. Miller and Borkwin come across a 'hopeless' medical 'case' they enlist our brother's assistance with healing the sick and injured. When a major healing is required, he, of course, includes his Bonded Ones, for reasons previously described within these pages filling your computer screens.

Jason and Jeremy... they went to the mountains of Colorado for their honeymoon. There, they camped out in the wilderness after having backpacked in about 10 miles. They took with them only a tent and the barest of essentials to sustain life.

Other than themselves, for 19 days they had no other contact with human creatures. According to their testimonies, they befriended most all of the animals, since they carried attitudes of being in the animals' natural habitats. They treated them with utmost respect, and constantly and consistently reminded themselves that they were but guests.

Sadly, two months ago, Jeremy left Hawaii for college in Chicago. Jason will be joining him as soon as he graduates high school this term. Jason mopes around the house most of the time, longing for his mated one. Even though we try to keep his spirits up, which usually but not always works, of course, he slinks into deep dark depressions. He speaks to Father Ben frequently. And he comes out of it.

I miss my brother. Things around the house are not the same, yet we're going forward, knowing he is as close as a phone call, and/or a video conference away.

Allen and Angel returned to surfing competition. They joined up with the high school team. Many of their old friends, from long ago, were on the same team. Although their team did not win State, they came in a close second.

As you may have guessed, Fugi and his wife returned to their homeland far far away to be with their family, and to, once again, live and participate in their close, tight-knit culture. Their sons, actually their birth son and his mated one, stayed here. Chin, Fugi's son, is employed with Dad's company, and is being fast-tracked into management, mainly because Dad has considerably scaled back his day-to-day operations and direction in the Company. Largely, but not completely, he works from home so that he can be close to Allison and us.

I already knew Dad was a good, great Dad, and that we were fortunate to have him as a Father, but he's taken it to a whole new level with Allison.

This school year, we returned to public schools here on the islands. We didn't much like the idea, at first, but have warmed up to the changes and challenges. Our social lives have expanded to include many of the friends we once had. Most, but not all, of our old friends are okay with me and David as a couple. Peter and I started and got active a Gay Alliance group that meets once per week on Thursday afternoons. At first, the only attendees were Peter, Antoine, Matt, Allen, Angel, Jesus, Adam, me, and sometimes Jason, William, Benji, Andy... however, over the past 2 weeks, they and new people have come into our meetings, bringing us fresh insight to our lives as gay people... quite different than our own experiences, homophobia, hate and crime is just around the corner, looking for someone to pounce upon to make their selfish ways seem like the only logical way to go.

Alice went back to teaching in junior high school. She seems, always, to be in some type of trouble with the school board... why is that you wonder? Because she's not afraid to hug a kid in their time of need. And she's intervened a couple of times on kids who were being beaten and/or otherwise abused by their parents or caregivers. Ella always has her back, though. Even though the school district has given Alice hell, at times, they really have no choice but to let her do as she does... the scores coming out of her classrooms are consistently high, higher than any one teacher elsewhere in the district. And her students are largely motivated by her 'never give up' attitude and ways of doing things.

Horace is still very active in Dad's business, often working long hard hours, making sure the building is working efficiently at its full potential. He's also assumed full responsibility for performing real estate functions for new employees, and closing up deals for those people who leave the Company, or get transferred elsewhere.

He realized, after a family meeting, that he was headed down a road not to be traveled. His friends, who he'd kinda sorta pushed away, got into his face and said that he was on a one-way trip to hell if he forgot from where he came from. They, Horace, Alice, Jason, William, just their nuclear family, just returned from a month-long travel throughout the western US mainland. None of us complained... especially Benji, Andy and Harry never complained at their absence... and this not to say they were not missed, they were, but we knew their family needed to pull together.

They returned all refreshed. The chatter we'd known them to have, returned. And, I must add that we didn't see much of William, Benji, Harry and Andy for a couple of days, assuming they were getting 'caught up'. Snicker.

Mom's wearing motherhood just fine, like a warm blanket on a cold winters' night. Between us guys, we give Mom plenty of time to rest, relax and enjoy life. She has a lot to do to keep the house running... until she went into the hospital for Allison's birth, we really had no idea of what everything she had to do was. So, we help her out as much as possible.

Me? Well, I'm doing good. Three months ago, we had a scare, of sorts. I grew a lump on my right ankle. It, like, swelled up, got sore, etc. I was really scared that the cancer had returned, so I didn't want to say anything to anybody... of course, though, I can't keep anything from Peter... even if I don't say anything about something – he knows – from our Bond.

Dr. Miller found the source of my problem... more and more I was going out into the surf using Adam's old Leg to walk on... anyway, I'd stubbed my toe, and, well, a minor infection formed traveled upward (duh, a toe doesn't have tentacles to go down, right? Right) into my ankle and settled there. Anyway, the antibiotics took care of it. While I was there for my medical visits, he did a full workup. I'm happy to say that there is no trace of cancer anywhere in my body. All the markers, which had been present all along before being healed, are either absent or within normal limits. Yah!

Adam's doing great. He, in addition to normal high school stuff, is taking a full load of college classes. I don't know how he does it – but he has lots of free time. He's joined Antoine and Jesus doing their routines. The absence of his Leg has been of no concern... where he's weak in one area, he's strong in another, which balances things out quite nicely.

And, oh yeah, can't forget to mention that both Allen and Angel are working with him. Adam wants to compete someday. The sky's the limit. He's pretty dang good, too. The first time he got on a board, he managed to work his weight and ability to balance to levels that surprised us all, including him, most of all.

He, too, acquired a full Leg. Like me, he's very happy with it, gets around a-okay... he can even walk in the sand without problems, very much unlike me. Since he got it all adjusted just right and everything, he goes and does just about everything he's always wanted to do, including walking the rough terrain up on the north island. When he goes down to the rocks, he discards the Leg, and then negotiates the super rough terrain without one problem... amazing to me. I often wonder how the hell he does that. He doesn't know, either, other than to say he's compelled to go up there for unknown reasons.

His mated one, Jesus, has no interest in surfing, instead he's been excelling in the martial arts at school. His Sensei and coach has been working him ruthlessly. The boy does not quit. The coach fucks with him all the time, trying to break him down, trying to get him to quit and give up... but the boy just comes back harder and more determined, both very good qualities in competitive athletics.

Adam, of course, is prouder than a peacock of his lover and mate.

AZ is doing very good. He's growing out of the obesity that's dogged him his entire life. Puberty is treating him well, he's wearing it good. And he gives Antoine a run for the money when they spar together... Antoine's plus is that while he's smaller, he's quicker and more agile.

Grandma is doing good. She officially moved in with us about a month before Allison was born. Sometimes she puts herself down, thinking that she's in our way of being a 'normal' family where grandparents do not live with their children, and other such crap. But, she's been a joy to have here. Like I've said before, at first, when she and Grandpa lived in California, we really thought she was going to be a detriment to our lifestyle.

Since then, we've learned that she's "old school". Although she's totally open to our lifestyle, she's still somewhat reserved... until a point, where, if somebody fucks with us, and it does occasionally happen - watch out cuz she'd bite their heads off (figure of speech, only). Grandma is our best ally, bar none.

Okay, with that said, and you need to now know that new tears are freely leaking from my eyes. They're pooling on my keyboard. I'm afraid of getting electrocuted, so with hugs and kisses... until we meet again, keep the faith that everything will end up okay in the end, and always remember that Life does get better, and always keep The Light shining brightly in your life, and in and through others, too.


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