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The Light

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 76

*-* Sunday Antoine's POV, Continued *-*

The little ones decided against wearing their new clothes to the dinner table, especially since Maria was fixing her specialty, which usually ended up with at least some of it being worn. Even I had been known to 'not quite' get my mouth around their large size, and because they were typically juicy with the sauces and seasonings Maria used to make them 'to die for'.

Maria made an especially large batch: there were 8 left for later when a stamped of hungry boys came whining for a later 'snack'. As usual she would not let anybody (any boy) close to 'her' kitchen, as she liked to call it. Even mom couldn't enter without fear of an uprising from the new 'owner'.

Mom and dad went to his study after Maria's protests for mom to 'leave her alone'. Dad was hobbling around on his crutches pretty good after David gave him some balancing tips. David, being the pro, would dance around as if those pieces of wood with handles were his natural born legs. I stood there watching, amazed at what he could do, seemingly without any effort whatsoever. I think dad referred to him as a 'smart ass', 'show off' and other such terms of endearment. He of course took it all in stride, and even strutted around some more.

It was really good to see Peter laughing at his husbands' antics.

When mom and dad came out of the study, they looked at everybody and deadpanned, "So why aren't you guys swimming?"

We needed not to be told twice.

While the rest of us were quickly stripping, AZ and Jesus stood looking at one another, facing each other, not sure what to do with their new clothes which they had put back on after dinner.

Then they smiled. An answer passed through their eyes. Slowly, almost reverently, they shed their clothes, including their underwear after checking to see if any adults were present, and then folded them neatly, piece by piece, and piled them in a neat pile.

I pretty much figured that they'd never had anything new, or of their own – ever. My heart ached for them but rejoiced at knowing their lives were changing for the better, day by day. The lines of worry and despair and depression were gone from Jesus' face. In fact, just before he dove in to be with his brother and the others, he walked over, pulled my arms around his chest, as if he had to ask, smiled up then kissed my lips quickly but meaningfully.

As if I was a conductor at a symphony, I looked out over the water to each of my brothers and others.

David and Peter were close together. The sun was dancing on their hair, and radiating out as if they were wearing halos, but not quite. Their eyes were sparkling life and liberty. The way they were looking into each other was breathtaking.

Allen and Angel were swimming underwater together, holding hands as they swam like eels, swift and slick. Periodically, they would look at each other as they swam along. When they came up their hair got shook. The water droplets accepted the suns' rays and displayed multiple glitters, shining and shimmering.

Jeremy - he was getting ready to pounce on AZ. At the very last second, as Jeremy's arms enfolded him. AZ squealed loudly, the noise emanating from his lungs and voice box gurgled as he went underwater with his "attacker". I giggled loudly at their antics.

Matt, standing in a corner of the pool was observing me. His smile was bright and wide. It nearly took over his complete face. His eyes, too, were dancing like shimmering strobe lights. A sudden wave of total love, peace and acceptance washed over and through my heart and soul. My dick also elongated, somewhat, when he made sure that I saw his hand deep underwater. His pole was sticking straight out from his body, as if it were a third leg. Although his motions were such that they were stroking his dream machine, he actually wasn't. He was providing me with an illusion, as he does so well. I hoped his antics would later produce fruit, and other male nectars.

My jeans and t-shirt landed in a pile next to the wood slatted fence, but because I was fully erect and wanting, I waited until I was at waters' edge to remove my underwear which I tossed to the rest of my clothing, and then dove in, swimming to Matt. I said, "I hope you will give me your stuff later."

Matt smiled, "Oh that is so much a promise." He sealed the deal with a kiss.

*-* Peggy's POV *-*

Seeing the boys having fun did my heart wonders. Their resiliency to life's circumstances both good and bad, and their ability to 'come back' is actually amazing.

Father Ben approached me at the window to see what I was doing... I separated the blinds just enough so that he could see what I'd been looking at for a few minutes.

"Those kids are walking Miracles, Peggy. Each and every one of them. Mildred would be very proud of you. No doubt our Creator is happy with this family."

"Father, about a year ago I wondered what life was all about. I'd hit a crossroads in my life. I wasn't fatalistic... the kids that were put in my path gave me purpose..."

"Yet something was missing?"

"Yeah. I mean, I was happy and contented. When I first saw Antoine, I knew there was something very special about him. He didn't complain... in fact I wish he would have complained a bit... he wouldn't have gotten so sick... he still doesn't complain. Father, he's changed... not in a bad way..."

"Peggy, he's growing younger day by day. He's learning how to be a boy. Ya know what?"


"He's gonna be okay. I have no doubt that he and Matt will grow old together. I see them watching over you and Jim in your maturing years. I see this family staying very close in every way... I think this way because this family took so long to come into being. Sometimes I think traditional families take each other for granted. I don't see that here. It warms my heart."

"This family is what was missing from my life. Everything happens for a reason."

"That it does. That it does."

I fixed us another cup of coffee. We sat down at the bar to drink them and watched Maria busily making preparations for the afternoon meal. The architect, Richard, the Klinger's, and all of us were getting together to make a few minor final adjustments to the plans.

Alice had been aware of the language barriers with Maria and her kids so she was going to offer bilingual education for all of us. Maria and her kids spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish so the barrier had been and continued to present significant issues.

As we were finishing our cups of coffee Antoine and Matt entered with towels wrapped around their midsections. Both had not-so-hidden evidence that cried out for some, what d you call it? Problem resolution? Yup. They quickly took off upstairs. Jim and I just looked each other and giggled knowingly.

They returned freshly showered, wearing jeans, t-shirts, socks and shoes about 45 minutes later.

Matt went outside and sat down in a chaise lounge. Antoine walked to Jim and I. He said, "Mom, dad, I think we need to talk to Maria about the house plans. I kind of felt out Jesus and AZ's ideas about where they'd like to live and stuff. Basically they kinda want to live in the area where they now do. That and Maria really doesn't know anything about what you guys are thinking... she needs to have a heads' up. She's a very proud and independent woman. What do you think?"

Antoine interpreted for the conversation we had with Maria.

She told us that her family had basically been squatters before her husband left them. The property did not belong to them. The rent had been exceptionally cheap... yet I thought it had been way too much for what they had yet I saw Antoine's point about her being proud and independent.We presented the proposal of having a place close by us.

Father Ben who had joined us informed everybody that the church property did not belong to the parish but he wouldn't tell us or he didn't know exactly know who did own it. The steep rent payments had been paid to a property management company.

Jim frowned. He whispered in my ear, "That management company belongs to the Sandstone empire. I'm not sure what the status of the company is... I would imagine that Richard knows. He's been researching several options."

At about 2:30 I got up and told the boys to take their shower because the guests would be arriving within the hour. Peter said they'd all shower together in the pool utility room and then get dressed in the clothes they'd worn before going swimming. That was acceptable.

As I was looking out the windows in the dining room, the closest ones to the pool, Jim took my arm in his and said, "We're really lucky you know. There's so much love in this house that it isn't even funny."

We called in the boys in time to get showered and dressed for the family meeting that had been scheduled for 3. There was some minor grumbling and complaining since they'd been involved in some serious playing around. Nevertheless, after some gentle admonishments they did what needed to be done.

Jim got busy setting up the TV room. Jeremy and Antoine assisted with making sure all the planned guests would have somewhere comfortable to sit. The laptop was hooking into the system. So we were ready when our guests arrived a little after 3pm.

Richard brought along another attorney. His name was David Hargrove, a local real estate attorney. Part of the introduction included the fact that Mr. Hargrove had negotiated most of the government real estate procurements and was well familiar with how to make things happen.

The first announcement was of Maria's acceptance. The architects showed her tentative plans and asked for her input. She was so overwhelmed with excitement. When she realized that the home would not be 'gratis' that she would pay (a token) rent she was able to settle down. She accepted the plans as they were, offering no changes."

Her boys were filled with wonderment. They were very excited to learn that they'd have their very own rooms, new furniture with beds that weren't broken down, and other such amenities.

Jim asked about the Sandstone spider web.

Richard and Mr. Hargrove both smiled.

Mr. Hargrove went on to explain that they plot of land was actually 300 acres of premium beachfront property worth over 25 million dollars.

He announced that the property had been seized by the US Government because of the legal problems the Sandstones were facing, and the fact that they'd run away and were charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Richard announced that the government was willing to either lease the land to all parties, or the parties could purchase the property at a penitence of its appraised value. When Jim pressed the issue because it could be a show stopper, Mr. Hargrove said the sell price would one US dollar provided a stipulation was met.

Without waiting for reaction or questions he went on to say, "The stipulation is that a facility must be built for community purposes, a non-profit organization, or a specialty hospital. A heart center from the mainland, domiciled in Houston, has expressed interest in putting a satellite facility here in Hawaii. Negotiations are ongoing."

Peter's eyes perked up. He looked first to his dad then to me. His wheels were turning 90 miles per hour to none. He put his head down. I nodded to David. When Peter looked up he pointed his attention to Richard. Richard got this puzzled look on his face, like he was totally clueless to all around him, and to what the meeting topic was.

Seeing Richard defenseless, Peter got up, walked to Richard then whispered in his ear. Richard gulped hard as he looked into Peter's face. I'd never before seen Richard emotionally demonstrative to any line of business we'd ever consulted him with, but he was emotional. Peter pointed to Richard then took his place next to his husband, David.

"I'm sorry folks. I'm very much filled with emotion right now. Let me gather myself up because I have an announcement which will satisfy the government's requirement for sale of the property in question... just a moment please."

Richard retrieved a Kleenex from the box sitting on the coffee table then spoke to Mr. Hargrove. Mr. Hargrove's eyes popped open from their sockets. He looked to Peter then looked back to Richard and whispered something in his ear.

When Richard regained his composure he said, "Last week a travesty of justice occurred that grievously injured and harmed a fine young man beyond any definition beyond comprehension. At that time, an officer of the court ordered me to negotiate a lawsuit against the State Of Hawaii for that injury, which was preventable had proper procedure, as defined by statute, been followed and administered. That settlement is being pushed through the judiciary as we speak. Jim, I have retained counsel to negotiate with my errors and omissions insurance carrier for an amount equal to that of the judiciary. Folks, the total, and Peter please excuse me for making this public. I must do so because I have removed myself from your case. The amount of settlement asked for is fifty million dollars, in total. Of course, there would be sizable tax consequences however those consequences are not an issue if Peter's idea is accepted. Peter would you like to share your idea at this time?"

Peter looked to me then his dad. Both of us nodded since we'd talked to him, in depth, about what he wanted to do. Though we did not know exactly what his wishes were because he, at that time, did not know them exactly himself.

He kissed David's lips then whispered in his ear. David's eyes filled with tears. Quickly, he wiped them away then whispered into Peter's ear. They kissed once again then Peter said, "Richard, I don't hold you responsible for what happened. A mistake was made, so what. I started the whole thing out..."

Jim spoke up, "Peter, we've talked about this. I hope you'll keep our conversation to just between just us for now. We all know what happened. We also know who did it, and all that stuff. Now, if you would please tell us what you guys have been talking about, behind our backs, then we can get this on the road and put behind us."

A look of wonderment passed Peter's eyes. They then misted over. Without hesitation Peter got up, went to his dad, and enveloped Jim in a hug to die for. Jim, of course, wrapped his arms around his son and held him tight as they, once again, shared a moment of privacy. Peter's head was buried in his dad's neck, and Jim kissed his son's neck and whispered in his ear. Peter retrieved a Kleenex, wiped out his eyes and blew his nose, putting the used tissue in the trash can. He then sat down next to David and said assuredly to the rest of us, "I can't even imagine that much money. Math is something that I struggle with, at times. <He looked to Alice>. Anyway, I'd like to put that money into a non-profit foundation that will help kids who have a similar history as Matt, Andy and I have. Would this handle the legal stuff, Mr. Hargrove?"

Mr. Hargrove's eyebrows lifted up with surprise clearly written across his face yet they softened considerably before saying, "Yes that will work just fine. We'll have to get some accountants and a lawyer to form the foundation and make sure everything is put together just right..."

While Mr. Hargrove was explaining some of the legal details Peter leaned into David and they talked together. When Mr. Hargrove finished talking about something that neither Jim nor I understood, Peter said, "Uhm, some money is needed to make sure kids who are missing their arms or legs are taken care of. We also want some money put aside for <he looked at Angel> diabetic care, kids, you know with diabetes. These are our stipulations." He then looked into my eyes. Understanding filled his. He added, "We also want to make sure that funding is available for outreach care, you know when homeless kids need healthcare but won't go to the hospital to receive it. We want mom involved in it... in fact I want her to be in charge. Okay, that's all."

David whispered in Peter's ear. Peter smiled. "Maybe Dr. Choi can be in charge of helping kids with the problems we've had."

Richard's eyes wet with tears. He choked his emotions back, mostly. He didn't say anything but when he looked into Peter's eyes his reserves broken and he excused himself from the meeting.

Peter's eyes perked up. He said, "The foundation has to make sure kids get an education too. Alice, would you handle that?"

Alice, tears already in her eyes, said distinctly, "You betcha."

Peter then spoke again after nodding. The boy was excited. He said, "The place has to have a dormitory so kids who don't have a home can come to, get a good meal <he looked at Maria. Antoine was interpreting. She nodded vigorously.>, and have a place to take a shower and sleep safely. This is what I was always afraid of... I was afraid of putting my head down to sleep."

Peter suddenly lost his composure. His eyes clouded and they stared straight ahead but he quickly recovered, looked directly into my eyes, and choked, "Mom, you have to give each kid a hug because otherwise this whole thing is a waste of time and energy. Promise me, please."

I got up, walked to Peter, got down on the floor with him and gave him a hug that he'd never forget. In his ear I whispered, "That comes without any request needed. Count on it." I then kissed his cheek.

Jim motioned for Peter to come to him. Jim enveloped Peter completely, pulled the boy into his lap, and they cried together. All the boys then got up and urged me to follow them to be with Jim and Peter.

There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

When our composure returned Peter intently looked to Father Ben then to Mr. Hargrove, "Sir, the church is located on the tract of land, correct?"

"Yes it is. It is on the very south edge of the property."

"Okay, then we need to make sure Father Ben's parish has all the money it needs to do what it does best. I don't go to church. Sorry Father. But if you would marry me and David, officially, could you?"

Father Ben choked down a cough but quickly said, "I'll marry your hearts even though I cannot legally marry you in Hawaii. Besides, this backward state does not recognize gay marriage. Son, I've seen more love between Antoine and Matt, and you and David that it puts a whole lot of heterosexual marriages to shame. I'd be happy to honor your request."

Allen spoke up, looking first to Angel then to Father Ben, "Father, we'd like, if you could... would you marry Angel and I, please?"

"That goes without saying. Of course I would be honored."

I said, "Father Ben, I hope you will marry anybody's hearts that want to be committed. Our family is unique because a lot of hearts belong to others' hearts."

"I would be happy to. Count on it." Father Ben said looking first to Antoine then to Matt, and then to my son and Matt, and finally to Jason and Jeremy.

Mr. Hargrove, meanwhile, looked a bit shell shocked at the revelations made known but then he smiled, as if he'd caught onto what was happening before his eyes. He said, "Okay, so it is a go. Our first action is to acquire the property. I'll get right on it. We should have an answer in a few days. I'm going to leave now. Jim, I'll send you the details, and I'll recommend a foundation attorney and accountant."

Jim spoke up, "I know of a foundation attorney. And she can recommend an accountant. I know there will no problems with your referrals but we'd like to have our own so that Peter's interests are preserved. The other thing is that there will be no administrative costs to the foundation."

"That's fine. I fully understand. I do not want there to be any inkling of conflict of interests. I'll let you know the government's position in a couple of days. It will be wise to have an attorney available when the transaction occurs." To Peter he said, "You are very fortunate to have your family. I'm sure everything associated with this transaction will happen fairly quickly and to your benefit, as well as to those who will be helped by your generosity. Thank you folks, I'll let myself out."

*-* David's POV *-*

After a nice swim us guys were sitting on the deck just enjoying the warm day, talking about this, that and everything when Angel spoke up quietly, "I've got an idea what to name the foundation... do you want to hear it?"

"Sure." Peter said faithfully.

Angel looked all around for approvals. When satisfied, he said, "How about the 'Peter, Matthew, and Andrew Foundation?'"

Peter immediately said, "No. <Matt and Andy shook their heads no>. I don't want to take any credit for any of it. I don't want my name seen anywhere. Uhm, actually, I've thought about it some before you brought it up, bro. Actually, and I'm sorry to put you on the spot Antoine, bro, but I was thinking of the little boy that died, Manual."

Antoine reacted, at first with shock and pain as the memories of the boy dying in his arms flooded in and thru him. Matt took our hurting brother in his arms, kissed his cheek, and then hugged him as hard as his sore belly would permit. Matt's boyfriend and brother said, "Just give him a few minutes. This is still so painful. I like it though but the decision is my husband's."

Antoine, crying and sobbing his eyes out, with his body shaking with emotional release got up quickly and went to Peter, grabbed him up and hugged his body fiercely. Because I was sitting so close I heard what he said, sobbing each word, "Yes, please. My little brother's life cannot be a waste... I thought he was going to be forgotten, not by me, not by us, but by the world. He cannot die in vain."

Peter put his arms around his brother as Antoine sobbed hysterically. Peter's eyes were freely flowing tears as he said, "Consider it done. I'll tell dad. He'll make sure it is done." Peter then smiled and held Antoine out and said, "How about we add mom's mom's name to it... I can just see it now 'Manual'... sorry what's his last name? And what is mom's mom's last name?"

"Moreno. Manual's last name is Moreno. Mom's mom's name is Mildred Hilyard."

"Okay, then that's it: 'The Manual Moreno and Mildred Hilyard Foundation' . It will be for kids who have been abused, abandoned, and not loved.

I spoke up, "Maybe Chad can help out? He kind of knows this stuff, right?"

Peter smiled. "I was just thinking of him."

*-* Peggy's POV *-*

By the time the architects left after getting a good solid set of plans to work on, except for the boys who were out on the pool deck talking between themselves who would get to design their own bedrooms, Jim was exhausted tired and hurting. His last pain medicine had been given several hours previously.

I called in Antoine and Jeremy who helped Jim get to bed after taking him to the restroom. After the boys left, Jim said, "I have more plans, plans that you are unaware of. I think you'll like them. Maybe you can get the boys together so that they can design their rooms to their specifications. The sky is the limit. This is where we'll grow old together, honey. Make it last, okay?"

I kissed him warmly and laid down next to my boyfriend-soon-to-be-husband, and then held him protectively as he fell off to sleep.

Sometime later, I fell asleep also. The boys came in, kissed their dad and urged me to follow them because they had something to say.

We went into the TV room where we could be alone while Maria began preparations for the evening meal.

When we were all settled Peter said, "Mom, we've come up with a name for the foundation. We voted on it and the decision is unanimous. We've decided the name will be 'The Manual Moreno and Mildred Hilyard Foundation'"

When Antoine tearfully interpreted for Maria, Jesus and AZ, she broke down and cried hard. She cried so very hard. When she regained her composure she said with difficulty, "The world must know of my son, how he loved, how he was loved, how he was hurt, and how he died, and how, in death, he is loved and will continue to be loved for as long as I have a breath of air in my chest."

She then pulled her two remaining youngest sons into her bosom and they wept together.

Jesus regained his composure first. He said proudly, "My brother will live forever."

*-* Two weeks later, Thursday, Antoine's POV *-*

I had just a few days left in public school. Alice was going to take me on since she'd been homeschooling the bro's for a few months.

As was habit, Jeremy dropped me off in front of the building. All in all I'd like the school. Although I didn't have a lot of friends there were a few people who I was pretty close to. One of them was Harry. He'd been my chaperone as I got settled into classes, the layout of the building, etc. He also showed me the known bullies. He'd had quite a bit of trouble with them though they pretty much left him alone when I was with him, which was most of the time.

For some reason he was all happy and bubbling that particular morning... not that he was not usually a very upbeat person – he was. But he was extra happy and bubbly.

"Good morning, Mister Happy." I said meaningfully as he bumped me out of the way so as to get into his locker. I smiled. He's usually touching my arm, or my leg, or my hip, or hand... just to touch... he doesn't linger. But he'll always smile.

At first, I was taken aback by his physical playing around but just learned that that was who he was, and it was okay. I figured our chemistry just matched in such a way that we were comfortable with each other.

He also had nice assets, physically. Long brown hair, deep, warm, and inviting eyes, a soft clear complexion though there was ruggedness in there too. Oh yeah, he had a nice ass too, bubble like, muscled but not muscle-bound. But he wasn't Matt. My connection with my boyfriend kept me grounded... besides I'd seen my old dad play around on my old mom, and he'd raped her several times when she'd loudly stop his advances... even with me in the room.

Harry said, "We got our check from the lawsuit yesterday."

"Kewl, I'd forgotten about that." I said but actually I hadn't forgotten about it at all, at least not since Peter's promise of proceeds for what he'd experienced. When Harry said that the settlement had been reached and they had received the check from it, I decided that I would put the money into the foundation if mom thought it was okay.

With that firmly etched in my head, as if Harry could read what was going on, he said, "I'm not supposed to tell you how much it is... but I'm going to tell you anyway, okay it was for seven million dollars. Mom is talking to a lawyer and accountant today... she said something about creating a Trust, I don't know the details; she's taking care of all that stuff."

"Kewl. I hope it's put to good use. I know they have installed security cameras around the school and outside. I really hope it helps the kids who are getting bullied and shit. There's no need for that crap."

"Yeah, I agree. Okay, I'll talk to ya at lunch... gotta scoot." Harry said. We bumped knuckles which seemed to satisfy his need for 'touch'.

I put my head back into my locker to get books needed for class when Harry returned. Quickly he said, ""My birthday is on Sunday. Do you want to come? I'm not supposed to know it is a surprise but I heard mom talking to my dad about it. He's coming in town, did I tell you that?"

"No... Your dad doesn't live here?"

"No. He and mom divorced a long ago, when I was a little kid. I don't hear from him very much... he's always busy." Harry said... the glitter was leaving his eyes. I broke my code of conduct by quickly pulling him into a hug and squeezed tightly. Meanwhile, he was moaning and groaning about not being able to breathe but I knew he was just saying that because he could, and because he liked my gesture of friendship.

"Can I bring Matt with me?" I asked, knowing he wouldn't mind. He'd weaseled out that I was not interested in girls 'that' way. While the full extent of my relationship with Matt was not discussed in great detail he knew that I was deeply in love with my special one. Maybe that was why he felt comfortable touching me whenever he could. Oh... it was never sexual, or at least I didn't take it that way. Then I thought to add, "What time?"

"Ohhh, I don't know. Ha haa, I guess that is important isn't it. I'll find out." My friend chirped happily then he tore down the hallway to his class.

Throughout the morning, I received makeup assignments from last week along with new assignments during the classes of English, Math, History and American Government.

At lunch time, I arrived in the cafeteria, went through the line retrieving fresh vegetables, fruit and a yogurt desert from the various islands then sat down at an empty table. Harry is notoriously late for his engagements so I began eating. Soon enough I saw him enter the cafeteria. We waived to each other, he went through the line then sat down across from me and we shot the bull for a while.

As soon as our conversation slowed down and we were finished eating, we got up, dropped our trays on the conveyer belt then headed to the restroom before the next classes began in about 15 minutes.

Harry excused himself, found a stall then happily took care of business, at least from the sounds emanating from a stall telling their story. My hose was quite elongated from its stored up amorous fluids and lack of playtime with my mate since Saturday night. Putting that out of my mind, I put everything together then zipped up, washed my hands just as Harry was coming out of the stall.

While Harry was washing his hand, chattering on about this and that, a big dude walked into the bathroom. I felt uneasy though I could determine why. It very well could have been because the dude stopped and blocked the door.

Harry looked up from the sink. I had one eye on the guy standing in the doorway and one eye on Harry. Harry looked like he'd seen a ghost. He hurriedly dried his hands and picked up his books. He stood next to me. We were touching. Harry took hold of my head and had me lean into his mouth. He whispered, "That's Bruce Downs. He's bad news."

I'd heard of Bruce Downs. He was known as a bully, and because of his size he could bully anybody he wanted to, including but not limited to intimating the teachers. He and I had not previously 'met up'.

I was very concerned because his size would easily make at least two of me. He looked strong too, very strong. Nevertheless, my senses were heightening because of his continued presence in the doorway thus preventing us from leaving and going to class which was to start very soon.

I retrieved my books from the shelf above the sinks then took three steps toward Bruce, putting Harry between me and the big guy. Friendly and calmly, I said, "Please excuse us. The bell is about to ring."

"That means nothing to me. What I say goes." Bruce said equally polite and calmly.

"Bruce you know I'll get in trouble with another late slip... I'm facing detention." Harry said while stepping around me. That made me nervous mainly because he was then between me and Bruce.

The guy was getting on my nerves. He was beginning to irritate me. I said one more time, "Let him go. If you want to talk about this then talk to me alone, Harry does not need to be here."

Without saying a word and without his eyes leaving mine... he moved aside. I said to Harry, "Go. I'll see you later."

Just as Bruce allowed Harry to get within inches Bruce elbowed the boys' books causing them to fall to the floor. I said, "Harry, go now. I'll catch up to you."

Bruce then kicked the books out into the hallway and entered the restroom. My senses were rapidly escalating to their highest levels in a very long time.

And then he said, "Watch your back. And watch out for that tumbledick. You just might run into something, or it might trip you."

"Excuse me. I am going to be late for class."

"Or what donkeydick?"

"It's totally up to you."

"So you think you're a bad ass? I've heard about you. You aren't shit where it really counts. Did you know that?"

"I know my limitations. Do you?"

I did not want to fight the guy, not because I couldn't handle him, I'm sure I could have... but could have doesn't count. Nevertheless when he advanced I had no choice.

Just as was dropping my books to the floor he bodily picked me up with brute force strength and then sent me flying into the wall where I crashed against it with a sickening splat. I then fell down the wall landing on the sink and slunk off the sink into his foot which was coming up. When it connected the pain was so great... I remember of that incident is hitting the floor and then came oblivion.

I heard voices. Lots of voices. Loud voices. Menacing voices. And then the assault on my nasal senses. Ammonia. Lots of it. Causing me to gag. Causing excruciating pain to shatter into my entire being. I opened my eyes.

The first thing I saw was Bruce Downs. He was standing over me, smiling. I tried to get up but hands were holding me down. Normally, that would not stop me but then Mrs. Montgomery's face popped into view. She was kneeling down, put her hand on my forehead and told me to lay still, that help was on its way."

Bruce then said, "Mrs. Montgomery, I found him in here. I didn't want to move him so I came and got the nurse, and then came right back to protect him in case the person or persons who beat him up came to finish the job."

The nurse was cutting my shirt. I tried to stop her but the energy just wasn't there. It had left.

"Okay, go on to class, and thanks Bruce." Mrs. Montgomery said peacefully, but concernedly.

As soon as he left, Mrs. Montgomery asked, "What happened, who did this to you?"

"Uhm, <cough>, I don't know. I got dizzy. I guess I sat down before I fell down … I don't really know." I replied.

"Then why are your books scattered everywhere? And why are you beat up? Who did this? Sara call EMS right now. Antoine, don't leave us." Mrs. Montgomery almost commanded.

I tried to shrug my shoulders, not wanting to rat anybody out, not even Bruce Downs. He would die. And it would be me who killed him dead. And he would not enjoy his death.

The attempt to shrug my shoulders sent shards of pain into my brain.

Oh sweet oblivion came to visit, one more time.

*-* Mom's POV *-*

Jim and I had spent the morning finalizing the plans for the new house. All the boys, their partners included had all drew up their desires so Jim and I were putting it altogether for the architects.

We were eating cold cut sandwiches, fruit and a cup of yogurt when the house phone began ringing. Caller ID showed the call coming from Antoine's school.

"Hello." I answered questioningly... why would the school be calling was my first thought.

"Hello, is this Mrs. Hilyard, Antoine's mother?"

"Yes it is. Who is this?" I said nervously as a wave of fear went up and down my spine.

"This is Mrs. McConahay, the school nurse at the High School where your son attends. Mrs. Hilyard, there is no easy way to say this so I will be very direct: your son has been taken to University Hospital with serious injuries. We are unclear how it happened but from all indications he was assaulted which resulted in some very serious injuries. He's alive. He's breathing. He's in and out but I do not believe he suffered any serious head injuries."

"When? I mean what happened? Why?" I said while looking at Jim. Jim took the phone but by the time it was to his ear they had hung up.

"We have to get to University. Antoine's been assaulted."

Jim insisted on going. He called Fugi while I got dressed, and then I helped him get dressed. A limo picked us up in 30 minutes.

The trip to the hospital was silent, and it was damned fast, too fast. But we made it in one piece.

Fugi met us at the doors. He had a wheelchair ready to go. We went to the ER and was told that my son, our son, was not permitted visitors.

Do not mess with my kid. Do not keep me away from him or else I will turn on you like a leopard protecting its cubs. And unleash I did. In a calm controlled way. I didn't know I had it in me... being calm that is... when my child has been hurt.

Fugi, bless him, said to the triage nurse, "Ma'am, we have been told that this man and woman's son has been assaulted. I am a chief investigator. This badge gives me and his parents full authority to enter. Please show us the way or I will call a special incident on this transmitter. It goes direct to the federal authorities who will be here before you can say 'oh shit what happened?'"

A security guard quickly advanced to see what the commotion was all about. Fugi explained our presence.

The charge nurse was taking us down the hall to the trauma room where Antoine lay with unknown injuries. All we knew at that point was that he'd been hurt, badly.

I'd never before heard my son shriek but as we approached the trauma bay, I heard my son shrieking from the depths of his being.

Before the wheelchair even stopped, Jim was getting his crutches ready, he was ready, and he let the charge nurse know he was ready. He said to me, "Our son is hurt. He needs us."

Without any assistance, without stopping, Jim was out of the wheelchair and making his way past the doctors and nurses until he, we reached our son.

The poor boy was sweating, shaking, shrieking out his pain and misery as the nurses were trying to take off his pants. He would have no part of it.

In a voice I ever thought I had in me I said, "Leave the boy alone. Get away from him."

Jim wasting no time took the last few steps to our son and then he cradled Antoine's face in the cup of his hand and began talking him down, promising him that they would not be taking his pants down, not right now. Just breath he was saying, all the while rubbing the child's face, getting him to relax. It was working, and it worked better when I got on the other side of the trauma table and began rubbing my boy's arms, above the IV lines.

His pulse was 160 which was dangerously high for him since his normal is 55-60. The boy was going to stroke out if it wasn't brought down. And I knew what was causing it to be so high: stress and pain, mainly pain. I said to the attending nurse, "Has he been seen by a doctor yet? Why doesn't he have pain medication on board?"

"The resident was in just a few minutes ago... he won't medicate until the patient can be examined... and well... who are you?" The nurse squeaked.

"I am his mother. This is his father. Get Dr. Miller or Borkwin down here, right now. I am also a nurse in this hospital. Do it now."

Not 30 seconds later I heard Dr. Miller's named being paged STAT to the ER. Within 10 minutes both Drs. Miller and Borkwin were in attendance, at Antoine's side, moving quickly through their examination.

Dr. Miller ordered, "Give the patient 8 milligrams of Morphine IV push. Antoine, we need to get your clothes off because we're going to send you for an MRI. It is a magnet. Your jeans have metal and brass. The MRI machine will rip them off your body. We're going to give you some serious pain medication before we take your pants off, okay?"

Antoine was calming down with Jim's ministrations, moment by moment he was relaxing. I returned to his arms.

The pain medication had very little effect. Dr. Miller said, "Give him another 4 milligrams of Morphine. Antoine, we're going to give you some more pain medicine in your veins. If this doesn't make it manageable for you then we'll put you to sleep for a couple of hours until we figure out exactly what is wrong with you. Nurse, please add 25 milligrams of Phenergan to the injection. Antoine, we're giving you a pain medicine cocktail which should help dramatically. Just be patient a few minutes more."

Just as the nurse poised the needle to put into the IV tube Antoine said frantically, "NO wait. I must speak with my father. It is mandatory, please." He was then caught up in a sharp pain seizure that caused him to shriek again. His anguish set off yet another spasm causing him to shriek again.

Slowly we got him calmed down somewhat. Dr. Miller then ordered the dosage to be halved, which helped Antoine a great deal.

His son asked his father, "Dad, why are you here? You're hurt worse than I am... this is just some bruises... I'm going to be okay. Where's Harry? Dad, I must speak with my Sensei. It is urgent."

"Whoa son... relax... tell me what this is all about. Fugi is here. My son, what happened to you? I'm here because I'm supposed to be here when my children get hurt." Jim said calmly. Fugi stepped forward into Antoine's view.

At the same time, just as Antoine was getting ready to go into another coughing spasm, I began rubbing his arms, shoulders, and then to his tummy. I leaned down and kissed his chest, and kept whispering to him to relax.

Jim said, "Of course, you can call your Sensei at any time. I will not stop you … but … that does not answer my question. Who did this to you? Why?

"Dad, I don't know why. I don't even know what happened. I woke up here."

"Son, you've been seriously hurt. If the threat is still in progress then we need to know about it, and we need to know about it right now. Your life, your family's life, may be at stake here."

"Dad, no, you are in no danger. I will handle this in my own way, eventually." Antoine said though he had no strength in those words, yet something told me that this was something very serious.

"Son, this is why we all need family. Do not deny us the opportunity to be here for you. You cannot continue to live your life for everyone else and deny yourself the love and devotion of your family. You may have been alone before, in the family you grew up knowing, before coming to live with your mother, and now with my sons and me. Child, please let us help."

Tears began freely flowing from my son's eyes. He reached to Jim's neck, cradled his hand around Jim's cheek. They just stood there looking each other in their eyes, taking it all in. Somehow I felt that that moment was their 'do it or die' moment. I said nothing. The room was hushed. The only sound you could hear was the beep-beep-beep sound of the heart monitor, and even it was slowing down nearer to his normal rate.

Dr. Miller said softly, "Antoine, young man, we're going to get you undressed now. We need to get your tests done so we know exactly what is wrong with you. Delay can be deadly serious. Everybody in the room, we are no longer at Level 1. Everybody that is not essentially needed please leave the room. We must have quiet."

While Jim and Antoine were still locked into their moment, Antoine reached down and attempted to unfasten the snap to his jeans but could not do so without flinching in serious pain. I laid my hand on his and patted it tenderly. With some effort, all the while being as careful as I possibly could I undid his pants and got them down and off. A nurse put a sheet over my son as I reached for his underwear and slid them down and off.

The boy was cold. He had goosebumps all over his arms and legs. The nurse saw it and soon laid warmed blankets over his cold flesh. It was cool in the room and I also knew that chills were a possible sign of shock. That made matters more urgent. What if he were bleeding out inside where it couldn't be seen?

"Dad, is Harry okay? He was with me... no, wait, he left... or did he? I don't remember... dad you have to see if he's okay."

Jim leaned into Antoine's face, took his cheeks into his hands and said, "Fugi, is Harry okay?"

"Yes sir. Harry is just fine. He's on his way, with his dad." Fugi replied then continued, "We have ideas of who the perpetrator is... but we need it confirmed by your son."

Jim looked up to Fugi, "Juan is here in town?"

Fugi nodded in the affirmative.

Jim said, "Antoine, Harry is safe. He was not hurt. Now, who did this to you? We need to know. This information is imperative, it is mission critical."

"I am sorry father. This is something I need to take care of. Please let me out of here. I must go." Antoine said then his face got red as he rolled over onto a side that did not hurt him. Pain took hold of him. He opened his eyes and stared forward for a brief minute then sat up on the edge of the bed, but as soon as he did his stomach rebelled, ejecting his stomach contents in an arch, which led to a massive set of pain spasms, which in turn led to his pulse rate once again going sky high.

Dr. Miller ordered medicine that would put Antoine to sleep. "Antoine, I must put you under anesthesia. We cannot wait any longer. Nurse, please give him Propophol. Call anesthesia, please."

Antoine looked up and said, "Wait. I must speak with my father. He's right. I must trust him. I must speak with him in private."

Just then we heard a small commotion outside in the hallway. I looked to Fugi. He smiled then went to the door and permitted them in.

A boy, not much younger than Antoine, came bounding in. He stopped at Antoine's bed, and he looked mortified. Tears sprang from his eyes. Antoine wasn't moving. His eyes were closed. The boy said, "Antoine, it's me Harry. Wake up. My dad's here. He'll kick some ass." The boy then approached Antoine. He leaned in and kissed my son on his cheek.

Antoine opened his eyes. When he saw the boy he smiled, ear to ear.

Jim looked up to see a towering man walk to him and offer his hand. Jim eagerly shook it. Then they did the quick man-hug thing. Jim then said to me, "Peggy, this is Juan Cisneros. He's an employee of my company. I'm surprised to see him. He was in Africa the last I knew."

Juan said, "Well, we are permitted to come home to see our kids, right?"

Jim laughed, "Yeah, permission granted."

Juan chuckled then he turned dead serious, "Antoine, this is Juan. Wake up child. We need to talk buddy."

Antoine opened his eyes again. The look on his face was at first disbelief then recognition took hold. He reached out his arms the best he could. Juan took over from there. He kissed my son on his forehead. I was wondering what that was all about but Jim allayed my fears by saying, "Juan is top notch. Antoine and Juan know each other. It's all good."

I nodded.

Juan's smile turned to all seriousness. "Why aren't you allowing these doctors to take care of you? What are they just standing around for?"

Antoine's face turned fierce. His eyes had fire in them, just waiting for release. His nostrils flared. His stomach muscles tensed, I saw them tense under the blankets. His toes were twisting in circles.

"Antoine, stop it now. You are a mighty and honorable young boy, but you must stop doing this to yourself."

Quickly, Juan pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of Antoine's face which was contorted with pain, excruciating pain, and it also had a strong inner pain, one that could not be touched with medicines.

I maintained a strong front but I still wanted to grab hold of that boy and remove the horror that had been instilled, poured, or put inside of himself by himself... but I maintained.

Antoine, contorted by pain, withholding verbalizing the true extent of his pain rapidly growled, "I did nothing wrong. I was watching out for your son like I ALWAYS DO. I was honorable. I did not have a chance."

"Harry, come here." Juan said to his son.

Dutifully Harry walked to Juan. Juan pulled Harry into him and held the boy tightly. He then looked to Antoine, "What happened? Was this like an op?"

I looked at Jim. Jim was as perplexed as I was. I started to say something but Juan turned and with his eyes asked me to hold off any questions.

"I failed." Antoine muttered, his inner pain showing through. His face contorted, not from the pain of his injuries, but from the pain within his heart.

"Tell me what happened, Antoine. This is critical. We must determine where you failed, and why."

After a period of silence, Juan asked, "Did you start a fight based on words?"

"No." Antoine replied.

"Did you initiate a confrontation?"


"Okay, so you did not fail. Did he call you a nigger or any other derogatory name?"

"Yes, I failed. No."

Antoine's pulse was increasing. The monitor read 115. The anesthesiologist entered the room. He stopped because it was so deathly quiet in the room, save for the beep-beep- beep of the cardiac monitor.

"Did he strike?"

"Yes. I was afraid. There, I failed. I was afraid on the mountain. Twice I failed."

"No child, you did not fail. You, like me, like your dad, like your mom, like any other human being, get afraid. It is normal and natural. It is our first response when facing danger. You and me, we are trained to face our fear and then conquer from strength. Brief me, Antoine, what happened?"

To Harry Antoine said, "Harry?"

"I'm right here."

"Are you okay? Are you really okay?"

"Yeah, I wish you'd get on with it. That asshole, sorry, beat on ya didn't he? Yeah, he did. You did the right thing my friend. You got me out of that restroom. I knew something was wrong... I just knew it. I went to the principal's office and told the secretary that something bad was going to happen. She read me the riot act and held me in detention."

Harry took a deep breath, looked at his dad then to me then to Jim. He had the floor. Everybody was listening to him. He said, "Permission to speak freely?"

Juan looked at me. I nodded. He looked at a nurse standing next to Antoine's bed. She nodded. Dr. Miller continued to hold the needle at the ready. I knew what he was going to do if Antoine seized up again. I prayed he would. But I also knew that Antoine needed to face this demon or else his heart would burn.

Juan said, "Speak freely."

"Thank you. Dad, the dude... the dude who came into the bathroom was the same fuckwit that came into the office and reported that he had found a boy in the restroom beat all to hell. That's when the office secretary got off of her fat ass and got the principal. You know what got to me though?" A rhetorical question because he gave no time for an answer, "That dude looked at me. His eyes bore holes into my soul. He dared me to tell anybody. His eyes threatened me. I crapped my pants. I had just used the restroom that way, didn't I, Antoine? You heard me."

Tears renewed in my son's eyes. Brokenly he said, "Are you sure you're okay?"

"No, I'm not okay. I'm scared shitless. You gotta tell them what happened. If he gets away with it then he's going to kill us. I know he will. I feel it in my heart."

"Dad, I'm afraid." My son said to his dad. Then to Juan he said, "There was nothing I could do. I won't permit Harry to be afraid. He's my friend. When someone is my friend I will die for them. If they are in danger then I will willingly die with or without honor to protect them."

Antoine had a serious coughing fit. His body convulsed from the ensuing pain. Dr. Miller injected half of the medicine in the syringe which calmed my son part way. I walked to his bed and took his head in my hands, kissed his forehead, and urged him to continue. Jim hugged his son's head and whispered encouragement.

"Yes, that is honorable. Family and friends, and anybody else in grave danger meet with mighty force that they never could have ever imagined in a million years. It is an honorable attribute. You were honorable today."

"Before I could do anything, he threw me across the room into the wall. My chest got hurt on the way down. I was incapacitated. Then he kicked me which took me out greater. I don't remember anything else."

"He was real big, dad. He's your size. He's a senior and is on the football team. He bullies and torments kids all the time." Turning to Antoine, "Can I say his name?"

"Bruce Downs." Antoine said.

Fugi said to Antoine, "Are you absolutely sure of his name?"

"Yes. Harry told me his name."

"Harry?" Fugi asked.

"Yes, his name is Bruce Downs."

Fugi then looked to Jim. Jim nodded. Fugi left the room.

A quiet stillness overcame the room. To me Antoine whispered, "Okay mom, I get afraid. Jesus about died because I got so afraid of where I was... you know, when he ran away. He was on top of a mountain. Jeremy actually saved his life. I was worthless."

I kissed my son's lips tenderly, "My son, you are brave. But Juan is right. You are a boy, a very strong boy no less, but you are still a boy. Juan, you are afraid too, right?"

Jim snickered but didn't say anything.

Bravely, as much as he could be at the moment... he was thinking of his fear. Without faltering Juan replied, "Snakes."

"Snakes?" Antoine asked incredulously.

"Yes, snakes. I am weak when it comes to them."

Antoine giggled, "I had a pet snake when we lived in France. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to laugh at your fear. I have much to learn."

His pulse rate was 65.

"Okay sweetheart. They're going to put you to sleep now so you can get your tests done without pain. I love you so much. You know what?"

"What mother?"

"I'm very proud of you. It takes a lot of courage and strength to admit your weakness. We'll be right here when you wake up."

Jim kissed Antoine on his cheek then looked up to Dr. Miller. Another doctor, the anesthesiologist then injected the anesthetic drugs into my boy and he softly went off to sleep. He then put in a breathing tube and they carted him off for his tests.

Jim's stamina waned markedly. We got him in the wheelchair then I pushed him to the waiting room where we had a cup of coffee.

*-* Meanwhile at School, Fugi's POV *-*

David wanted me to insert a few lines here to tell you what happened when we left the hospital. We can't say much because of the ongoing investigation and because it is a special ops. One reason special ops are employed is when one of our own or his or her family is harmed as was the case with Jim's son. Basically when special ops are called for this reason the subject generally wishes that they'd never been born.

We don't use code 3, lights, sirens and all that cop show stuff. Instead we usually go in unmarked vehicles that look like any other vehicle on the road. We blend in. We harmonize with our surroundings.

But we were in a hurry. We feared for someone's safety at the school. For a dude to be so brazen as to report the injuries he inflicted shows a sick, demented and demoralized individual.

Arriving at school, 3 of our operatives observed all in and out doorways. I walked into the principal's office, unannounced and uninvited. I observed a technicality by showing the dear woman my ID badge. She became very cooperative. She was always cooperative but not from any threats or intimidation from our crew.

When we advised her of the details, which had been conveniently omitted from the subject's testimony to her she led us to the wing where one Bruce Downs was supposed to be sitting in class being a good little big boy.

I instructed her to lock down the building. Nobody was to come or go until I, personally, gave her the instructions to stand down. She headed back to the office to accommodate my 'request'.

I got on the radio and called for reinforcement. No less than 4 operatives joined me as we walked down the hall to the subject's classroom.

Several heads swiveled, including the instructor who was a small meek appearing man. We had weapons at the ready and we were well prepared for confrontation however no confrontation occurred because the subject was not present. That created an issue for us: the subject was assumed to be on the loose. Hopefully he was not running amok through the building.

We needed to sweep the building and we needed to do it very quickly. Because of the nature of the assault we contacted local law enforcement who was our friend, quite unlike some jurisdictions we deal with. They arrived within minutes.

While they were en-route we set up tight perimeters while two of our larger operatives went to the subjects last known address. His place of residence was only 5 minutes away from the school so their response was rapid – he was not there. Patrols were stepped up, hoping to locate him before school ended for the day. Our intentions are to not terrorize needless victims. Our presence can however be intimidating.

One thing that was really good on our side was the fact that the subject could not hide in a locker or other tight place. According to his school records, his health record indicated that the subject weighed in at 265 pounds and was 6' 5" tall, quite a sizable young man at that. Intimidating too.

Once everything was set up and ready go to we had 20 minutes until classes let out for the day so we had to act very quickly and efficiently yet leave no stone unturned until the subject was found and restrained. The order was give to shoot to kill if he were encountered and he had any sort of a weapon on his person, or if he used his bulk as a weapon toward a peace officer. No officer was to go alone at any time for any reason.

We began the sweep from east to west that is from the office to the library which was located on the opposite of the building. Four teams went upstairs to the second floor. Four teams for the first floor and two for the basement. The basement was used primarily for machinery, boilers, air conditioning and other basic building operations. It also contained the auto mechanics garage and classroom.

I was on first floor, and I was the ops commander for the entire operation, a sizable responsibility, but one that I took very seriously, and even more serious since it was my bosses' son's ass and our chief ops son's ass on the line.

We had gone through 7 classrooms, swept them visually. Since the perp would not fit in any cabinet we forwent that search which permitted us to move much faster than normal. Any absent students were accounted for by roll call records the instructors kept.

One classroom, a freshman math class had one student on a hall pass to the restroom. The boy, a 9th grader had been absent from the classroom for approximately 15 minutes. The instructor had anticipated the boy being back much quicker, and he was concerned because the kid had been known to be sickly. The student's name was Kent.

While 5 officers of the law continued to sweep, my 3 primary operatives accompanied me to the restroom door where we stopped. Due to intelligence concerns I cannot tell you how we determined that the restroom was inhabited. Basically, what we heard was one set of voice prints in extreme peril and another set of voice prints letting the world know that he was not in any kind of physical peril, but he was involved in … nevermind.

Very quietly, but very swiftly we made our way inside and swept the toilet stalls, making not one single sound until we got to the exact stall from where the noises were emanating.

All rules went out the window when we heard a boy scream in agony as his head hit the wall and the perpetrator opened the toilet stall door.

The perp still had his pants down with his fully erect wand out which was covered with fresh undesirable contents. A second subject lay on the floor bleeding from a gash on his forehead. He was terrified beyond belief. Blood was observed to be all over the place.

The subject, one Bruce Downs, was enraged. He tore the stall door from its moorings. He was observed to be readying it for assault. He was warned one, twice, and on the third time he began to sling the door in my direction. I felt my life and the life of the young man lying on the floor were in grave danger. My number two man stepped in and dropped the suspect to the floor with one single head shot striking him just to the right of mid-line. It was not a through and through wound. We use only low velocity weapons when inside of buildings, and with student populations we are extra careful.

The perp fell over the toilet backward thus pinning the victim to the floor. The victim was screaming that he could not breathe. My #3 guy screamed over the radio that the threat was eliminated, to stand down, and to converge on the 1st floor boy's restroom.

We then went to work on freeing the victim who identified himself as Kent Wilson. EMS was called when the nature of his attack was confirmed. By the time we removed the perpetrator the child was barely breathing. He was laboring just to survive. I radioed for a frigging Life Flight helicopter to get dispatched ASAP.

Although victims are not to be moved, we did indeed move the child to the open area in the bathroom where paramedics soon arrived and began working on the kid. The kid was in bad shape but they thought he'd make it. Soon they were en-route to the hospital, code 3.

Our crew is not put on paid administrative leave but we are debriefed by the headbangers. Our actions were justified. There was no doubt about our operation. It was clean. We were clean.

I tore out to the hospital to check on the kids' status, and to report in to my chief boss.

The parents of the boy were present in the hospital's surgery waiting room after their son had been taken into emergency surgery. I called them into a conference room and told them that their sons' attacker was taken into custody, and that there would be no trial. His mother was distraught. The father was also distraught but he nodded when he caught my drift – custody – no trial. I advised them to not talk to the media, that their privacy was paramount, that their presence should be limited to their son and to the rest of their family.

*-* Dad's POV *-*

About an hour and a half after Antoine went to x-ray for his scans and other tests, Dr. Miller entered the conference room where I'd been taken so I could lie down and have my leg elevated. He sat down at the table. He said, "Your son is very lucky to be alive. He has 6 fractured ribs on his left side. Thankfully none of them perforated a lung or caused any damage to any of the major blood vessels in his chest. He's going to be very sore for several days, and he's continue to be sore for several weeks until those ribs heal completely. He's going to have good days and he's going to have bad days. One thing I did do while he was asleep was to inject the nerve roots with a long acting anesthetic so he should have very little pain until probably tomorrow early afternoon. The pain pills I'm prescribing will help quite a bit. Like I said he is a very lucky young man. Do you have any questions for me?"

Peggy asked, "Are you going to keep him here in the hospital or can he go home?"

"If he has family around at all times then he can go home, or I can order visiting nurses, or I can keep him here if you would like for me to."

"We can take him home, please."

"I don't have a problem with sending him home. He's waking up now. You are welcome to go see him in the recovery room off the major trauma bay. I'd like to see him in a couple of days for a repeat x-ray. If he has any problems call my office or bring him to the ER."

We got up and headed in the direction of the trauma area to see our son when Fugi appeared and asked us to find somewhere private where we could talk.

We did an about-face and returned to the conference room. The look on his face was grave. One of Fugi's great assets is that he does not mince words.

My blood ran ice cold when he told us that the boy who'd attacked Antoine was sexually assaulting another boy, and how that same perpetrator lunged at the law enforcement people with, because of his size and strength, a lethal weapon. My blood ran even colder when Fugi told us that they had no choice but to exact lethal force to stop it. My blood froze when I thought that the perpetrator could have sexually assaulted my son and/or Juan's son.

Fugi also told us that a background check on the perpetrator's family showed them to be forthright citizens with no prior histories. They had, in fact, said that their son had been an issue in their home and that they lived in constant fear. They did not feel any better because their son was forever gone but they felt that perhaps he was finally at peace.

*-* Antoine's POV *-*

When I woke up I had no pain. It was gone. I thought I'd died and gone to wherever we go to after death, if anywhere.

We stopped by the local pharmacy. Mom went in to get the prescriptions filled. While she was gone dad told me what had happened to Bruce Downs, and why. In a sick and sordid way I was glad that he was gone but was deeply saddened about the injuries the other boy suffered but I was relieved to know that he was going to be okay.

Dad told me that we were going to have a meeting with Juan as soon as we got home because some new information had come about concerning the assholes who'd hurt Peter and Matt, and possibly Andy. He would not go into any detail because mom was walking through the parking lot, coming our way.

Matt was frantic, to say the least, as I knew he would be. Peter and David, Allen and Angel, Jeremy and Jason, and William were filled with questions, few of which I could answer because I simply did not know answers to. Mom and dad answered most of their questions with just enough information to satisfy them.

Juan and Harry joined us for dinner. It was a lively affair, happy, warm and intimate yet there was a bit of tension in the air, at the same time. I had no clue as to what was going on other than that dad said we would be having a meeting later on.

After dinner Matt excused us. He took me upstairs to our bedroom and then showered love and attentions in one of the ways we are most fond, and then topped our physical exertions with quiet solitude and just being together while conscious.

As it were, we got up, showered (or should I say Matt paid loving attention by washing my body, thoroughly?), got dressed (or should I say Matt paid loving attention by more or less dressing me?) Yes to each of these questions.

No sooner had we arrived downstairs when dad indicated the meeting was about to begin. Instead of going to the TV room where I thought our family meeting would take place dad told me that we were instead going to his office, and that the meeting was limited to just him, mom, Juan and myself.

Matt was very, very upset that he was not included but him and Harry hit it off at the get-go so with some reluctance Matt and Harry took off for the pool where the other guys had congregated.

When we arrived in dad's office he closed and locked the door.

Dad and Juan filled us in on exactly what was happening with our family and the whereabouts of those who had harmed Peter, Matt and possibly Andy.

Andy was being cleared for adoption but it was very difficult because Tanya, Andy's birth mother was giving the authorities a bunch of shit, and would not sign the termination of parental rights paper. Mom then dad said that while her failure to sign the papers would not stop the adoption it would delay the process for a little while.

With that said Juan took over while we mainly listened.

"I have worked in law enforcement for the Cuban government for about 12 years. Harry was just a baby when his mother and I went through a nasty divorce. I'm afraid I was not a very responsible parent. I left my son alone with her all of this time. Unfortunately, I have not been in Harry's life the way that I have always longed to be. I must disclose how Antoine and I met in order to have any credibility with you, his family."

"I was a product buyer for a large cartel in addition to being in law enforcement. Antoine, bless your heart sweet child, was being used for his youth by mean and very unsavory characters. Antoine, I had never used a child for my purposes, my business purposes, ever before, and haven't since. I assure you."

"In fact, I left that line of work, and because I could no longer live in Cuba safely, I am in the process of becoming a US citizen again. You see, when I left America long ago, I became a Cuban citizen. Termination of my US citizenship was required to work in law enforcement there."

"I am truly sorry, Antoine. I'm sorry that you had to see the bad side of me."

"Juan, you're the only person, in that line of work, who gave one care for me. Even my parents did not care. They both pushed me out of their lives. They put me in a position where I had to not only run the drugs but my father put me in a position to negotiate money without my knowledge."

"He and my mother disowned me. That is when I ran away. It is a very long story of how I came into this family – but it is the best thing that has ever happened to me, forever, it is not a story at all. These people love me, and I love them with the very fabrics of my being."

"So what happened today, honey?" Peggy said.

"As Harry said, we used the restroom for personal business purposes. As we were leaving, Bruce Downs met us in the doorway on our way out. Harry left for class. The final bell rang. I told Bruce that I needed to get to class. The next thing I knew … I was on the floor gasping for breath. I vaguely recall the school nurse and Mrs. Montgomery being there … then the next thing I knew was I was in the hospital. Let me clarify that Harry went to a stall and I used a urinal … we did not …"

"You need not clarify Harry and your business …" Dad said softly.

"Juan. I am gay. Matt is my lifelong partner."

"So. My son is gay. I love him. He is a part of me. I will stand with him no matter what. He loves me for reasons only God knows why. Any friend of his is a friend of mine, automatically, no matter what. Any enemy of my son is an enemy of mine, if justified." Juan said assuredly.

"He hit you very hard or you slammed into the sink?"

"He hit me like a Mac truck slamming into a mountain wall. I did not see it coming. I had no time to react." I replied.

"I see. You are very strong, quick. You saved my life Antoine. You probably saved my sons' life as well. Do not think for one second that you did anything wrong back in your school."

"Mr. and Mrs. Blake, your son honorably saved my life under dishonorable circumstances and conditions. I am sorry he was subjected to that, truly I am. Please forgive me." Juan implored.

Mom then dad nodded approvingly.

"Antoine, I must disclose something to you, something that is grievously hurting me because it might hurt you."

"Okay …"

"Your parents, they were deported to Cuba. They have resumed operations as if nothing had ever happened here in America."

"I'm not surprised, not in the least. What they did to me, to other boys is wrong."

"Yes it is."

"Are they and their 'friends' the reason you left Cuba?"

"Partially, mostly, yes. Partially, no. The biggest reason I left Cuba is because my son needs a father at his age."

I nodded affirmatively, respectfully then said "Yes he does. Thank you."

"Mom, dad, is now an appropriate time to discuss our family difficulties, where my brothers have been disregarded and degraded and dishonored?"

"Juan, do you have the time? This will take quite a while." Mom said looking at dad.

Dad <looking to Juan then to me> said "This could take several hours."

"It is late. I need to get my son back to my hotel so he can rest."

"Harry is welcome to be a guest of our home, just as you are invited to stay with us." Mom said.

"Thank you. Let me talk to Harry. I am anxious to hear that which burdens you." Juan said meaningfully.

With that said Juan got up and left but not before patting my good shoulder, shaking dad's hand then bowing from respect before mom.

Mom, dad and I did some small talk. Matt snuck in, kissed my lips and said, "I love you."

Juan returned and Matt left the room.

After apologizing profusely for interrupting our conversation, Juan smiled and said, "It seems that Harry has joined your sons in your pool. I had no idea that he was growing up so quickly …"

I couldn't help giggling. Juan looked at me, truly embarrassed then he smiled, then it was my turn to be embarrassed. I felt hot all of a sudden, remembering our 'conversation' in that hotel room about development. I thought I would spontaneously combust right then and there on the spot. But, thankfully, I didn't.

Mom and dad just looked me, like "What's up?"

"Juan helped me to begin accepting myself in certain ways. Thank you, Juan. What you told me is true. We are very happy."

Dad began pushing some buttons on his computer then finding what he was looking for turned to Juan and said, "We have determined that our two twin boys were exploited for sexual reasons in motion pictures, still pictures and other media methods while sexual acts were perpetrated upon their young bodies from a very young age." He showed Juan some of the thousands of pictures and filled him in on the websites that had been taken down but were being put back up with other names and URL's.

Juan was aghast despite his training, years of law enforcement, and being a father himself.

He then updated Juan on what local, state and federal law enforcements were doing … and that their hands were basically tied because of diplomatic relations with Cuba and its government.

Then dad showed Juan the personal and private pictures and videos taken of Angel and Allen, alone and with each other during intimate moments. Dad then explained that Allen had been abused by his parents, mainly his dad, by being slapped around and inappropriately touched though he had not had penetrative sex performed on his body and person.

I then explained to Juan how Matt and I met each other, under what circumstances, and what I knew of his exploitation. Much of what I shared was unknown to mom and dad. I explained that Matt had wanted it kept between us because he was ashamed.

I continued by disclosing that both Matt and I had felt that Brad Sandstone had pushed the one I loved with all my heart over the cliff causing grievous, almost fatal injuries, even though we were unable to fully prove out our theory.

Dad said he had suspected the same. He had had is company further investigate the matter and while there was no outward physical evidence there was credible evidence to put Brad at the site where Matt had fallen... specifically that there was evidence that Matt fought back because there were traces of tissues extracted from underneath Matt's fingernails upon admission to the hospital.

I'd expected as such… that Matt had been pushed, and that he would not have gone down without a struggle.

With that said dad told me that I could leave, that what they needed to talk about was top secret information. Mom was asked to leave also.

Mom and I deeply hugged in the hallway then went our separate ways... I was curious about Harry's all natural state of affairs, not that I would ever do anything to hurt or harm the one love of my life... I was simply curious.

Harry never got out of the water so I never really got to see a good close up of him for evaluation, however the pool lights were on which provided opportunity to see most of his physical attributes. With my curiosity satisfied, Matt and I hung out together then excused ourselves and went to bed, and to sleep.

*-* Friday, Dad's POV *-*

A meeting with an attorney friend of Richard's was scheduled for early in the morning. Later in the morning an appointment was scheduled for a meeting with the architects to finalize plans for our new home.

During those meetings my computer chirped a number of times indicating incoming email. Normally I do not interrupt conversations to check mail but I did that morning. I was very pleasantly mail bombed by each of my sons telling me how much they loved me.

With some difficulty, because of emotional attachments, I returned the business at hand.

The final meeting was with Richard and Peggy. Richard advised us that the time between Tanya's arrest and her constitutional rights to a speedy trial was quickly closing in. If the trial didn't start fairly quickly it was possible that she could be let loose from jail, a free woman despite the overwhelming physical and testimonial evidence that she was indeed guilty of all charges.

Because of the sexual innuendo and overt mocking of Peter's alleged homosexuality the lower state court was recommending that the case be sent to the federal courts for hate crimes. The federal government was interested in pursuing the case.

I was elated to hear that news.

Add to that: I received an email that said the federal government was selling to the foundation the entire 300 acres for a whopping price of one US dollar. They promised to get the paper work filed and approved within 24 hours of my signing my approval.

I decided to record the signing of the attached documents but I wanted Peter to be with me and to affix his signature as well as my own. I called Richard to make sure this was acceptable. He said absolutely. Peggy and I were elated with all the good news.

I headed into the bathroom to take care of business. When I returned to my office Peggy was talking with Ella over the video/audio system designed and implemented by our company and which was adopted by CPS as their standard mode of communication during business affairs. I was dressed sparingly but Ella said I was just fine.

When I joined the conversation...

Ella: Hi Jim. How's it hopping along? Are you doing okay?

Me: Yeah, I'm doing fine, thanks for asking. You?

Ella: Overworked and underpaid.

Me: Same ole same ole here too.

Ella smiled warmly then said, as we had already expected, Andy came back with a perfect DNA maternal match, different father though. He's a real piece of work. I have 17 children located in the national databank as matches for him. Anyway, Andy is cleared for adoption. I'll send my recommendation for approval to Family Court.

Me: A real Casanova <cough>

Ella: No shit.

Me: Yeah, shit. He's a big piece. Not all's lost though, we gained another son.

Ella: Jim, Peggy, county called me this morning. I don't know how to tell you this, so I'll just say it. One of the guys who raped Peter is HIV+. One of the guys has GC. The two other youths were clean, as were the guards. The good news is that the DNA samples taken from Peter in the infirmary do not link back to the HIV+ guy. Nevertheless, Peter should be tested every month for a year then 4 times a year for 5 years. Those are CDC's recommendations. Both David and Peter need to be treated for GC though, just to be on the safe side.

Me: Could you please transmit those lab result pages to me? I'll then send them on to our physician. Maybe Peggy can treat them here instead of them having to take more time off and away from school.

Ella: I'll have to have the lab transmit them so they represent certified results. It is a legal technicality.

Me: How long should that take?

Ella: Should be a day, tops. They use a good lab, certified by everybody. We use them too.

Me: Kewl.

Ella: Jim, do you know a guy named Bustamante, Randy is his first name.

Me: No. I've never heard of him. Should I?

Ella: He is on the chain of possession list for the lab work. Geezus, Judge Kendall even signed the authorization. He personally delivered the package to the lab courier, damn.

Me: I've not received the incident report. I'm not privy to that information, no member of the public is.

Ella: I owe you Jim. I fucked up Andy's paperwork.

Me: I didn't say so. You are one of the good gals. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise <chuckle>.

Ella: They say it all of the time … fuck 'em.

Me: I snorted a sip of coffee.

Ella: Laughing.

Me: Smart ass.

Ella: Proud of it too. Okay Jim, gotta scoot. Pleasant reading.

Me: Yeah. Thanks. Does this mean you don't owe me anymore?

Ella: No.

Me: Okay. Thanks Ella. I'll yak at ya later.

Peggy and I sat there digesting all the good, and potentially bad news and how things were moving. While we were talking two emails arrived.

One of them was from Hawaii Reference Laboratory, a well know forensics institution that was certified by both state and the local federal courts.

All identifications were those of Peter. The chain of custody was meticulous without one flaw. The laboratory, when I certified receipt then officially transferred certified copies through the system.

Peggy then called Dr. Miller's office and spoke with him personally over the system. I transmitted the documents to his office.

He prescribed heavy duty antibiotics for both Peter and David to take orally in the event they were indeed infected with a sexually transmitted disease that had not yet produced symptoms. For a moment I wondered if they would have told us if they'd had symptoms... but I quickly pushed that aside knowing that they would tell us.

I was hurting quite a bit so Peggy gave me a pain pill and antibiotic. I then went to bed, slept for a couple of hours while Peggy ran some errands and to pick up the prescriptions.

I woke up and still she wasn't home so I warmed up a cup of coffee and went to my office to take care of some non-urgent company business.

The phone rang. I looked at the system to determine who was calling before I answered. Though the line was secured there had been a couple of occasions when the calls were initiated by a computer generated advertising computer, selling their wares. They had been dealt with quickly and severely.

I did not recognize the caller but what floored me was that the security level was a 10, the highest possible.

"Hello, this is James Blake."

A man's voice cryptically said, "Sir, this is the office of the President of the United States of America, please hold."

Holy shit! The fuckin president of the US!

A click connected us. Immediately Mr. President said, "Mr. Blake, good afternoon."

"Good afternoon sir."

"How is your family?"

"We are making do despite all the issues we have experienced. Thank you sir for asking."

"That's good to hear. On behalf of the United States of America, I sincerely convey to you our deepest regrets for the events that have transpired that have caused your family grief."

"Thank you sir."

"Mr. Blake..."

"Please sir, call me Jim."

"Yes, of course, Jim. I meet many people in my every day official life. I remember young Peter from his visit to our capital a few months ago. I found him to be a remarkable young man, a young man you, our country, and his family should be proud of. I am proud of him."

"Yes sir. Thank you. We're very proud of all our boys. They're very fine young people."

"Let me get to the point for my call: my staff and I are aware that Peters' perpetrators, the people responsible for beginning the difficulties in Peter's life are still outside of US custody. Sir, is your advanced telephone system scrambled using top secret classified protocol?"

"Yes sir. We are secured."

"This call is highly confidential and sensitive. It is not to be disclosed except to your highest security personnel."


"Very well. Our intelligence has been able to locate an attorney named Donald Sandstone in Havana, Cuba … are you also aware of his location?"

"Yes, we have a pretty good idea where he is located. The exact coordinates have not yet been pinpointed. Sir, I am also aware that the DOJ and state department have been unable to penetrate the Cuban government so that he and his entourage can be brought back to the US for criminal proceedings. Our Intel has found similar findings, sir."

"Yes, that is correct. Good. As you know, our government is furiously and expeditiously pursuing him and other fugitives from US justice. We have been unsuccessful. Diplomatic communications with the Cuban government are nonexistent to nil, at best. The US government has a proposal for you to consider."

"I'm not sure what I can offer you Mr. President. Our intelligence is no different than what you describe, and besides that we have no business relationship with the country so it cannot be used as leverage."

"Would you be willing to open up a shop for business in Havana? As you may be aware, Cuba is becoming more amendable to foreign interests in its land and in its commerce system. It is a very economically challenged country. We are in the ongoing process to assist their economic system."

"I am aware of our great country's efforts to assist them. Sir, at this time we are not in a position to actively pursue trade agreements with Cuba. We have, in the past, contacted sources deep within their government. At that time they had no interest in proceeding so we backed off and took our efforts elsewhere."

"I am aware even though your contact efforts happened during a previous administration. What would it take for you to become 'interested' again?"

"My primary consideration is my family. Period. I cannot think of one single solitary benefit my family would receive for my intense efforts to get 'inside' so to speak."

"As you already know, the government has programs available to provide rock solid protection. I assure you that our country will go to all extremes to assure your safety."

"No sir, that is not true. Government operatives are killed and/or tortured on a daily basis. With all due respect, you apparently do not fully understand our circumstances. I have many children here who have never had any kind of home life. To even think of uprooting them and then to strip them of their fragile identities is unconscionable. I will not do it. Why am I being singled out for selection?"

"Mr. Blake, you have made great advances from your roots. Your efforts are to be commended. This is why we're specifically coming to you. You are intelligent, smart, resourceful and very successful. We would like to offer you a government position of similar caliber; to use your qualifications for the benefit of the United States, our great country."

"I very much appreciate your offer however I must decline it. My family and I are getting ready to commit to and embark on a huge project that will help a great many people. This is where I belong, sir."

"Okay, fair enough. Should you wish to consider within 7 days, we can arrange a meeting; in fact, I will be in Hawaii this coming weekend should you decide to reconsider. In any event, we would like you and your family to come to Washington. We would be honored to have Peter address congress for several legislative initiatives to stamp out bullying and other negatives our children have to endure during their young and formative years."

"When exactly were you thinking of, sir?"

"We would like to have Peter testify on Friday next at noon eastern standard time."

"Sir, my son Peter has not yet healed from his most recent experience. He's very fragile. And our family has not yet healed. We are certainly very fragile as a family unit. I do not believe a cross country trip is in his best interests at this time, but thank you very much. We had a really good time in Washington the last time we were there, but then again, Peter was not hurting like he is now."

"Your care and concern is to be commended. I understand. I would likely feel the same if the circumstances were reversed. Let me ask you, would he be willing to teleconference his testimony?"

"That is a possibility however before I commit I must speak with his care team and my family before I provide you with a formal response. We just do not want to set him or us back from our slow, tedious progress."

"Understood. Please let me know your answer as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made."

"I will sir."

"Your word is good with me, Jim. I will talk with you soon. Be well."

The call was terminated by the White House.

"Holy shit. Now what?" I muttered out loud to myself.

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