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The Redemption, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 32

*-* Nathan's POV *-*

At some point during the night I awoke feeling pretty okay. At first I didn't know where I was, only that I wasn't in my bed. All was quiet, all seemed to be okay. I needed to pee but was comfortable under a comforter blanket and didn't want to move yet I needed to move because my side was sore from lying on a hard surface so I rolled over onto my back, moved my legs around and got them comfortable when a hand and an arm rubbed over my belly and lower chest. Whoever was lying beside me was sound asleep, evidenced by deep and rhythmical breathing. At first I didn't know whose arm the hand belonged to but it kinda felt good so I didn't do anything to move or remove it. I fell back to sleep.

Sometime later I awoke. Once again I realized I wasn't sleeping in my bed yet I was comfortable... and sandwiched between two warm bodies. I moved my hand around a bit to see if it was Joey or Skeeter was lying next to me but couldn't tell for sure. I found it a bit odd that a hand was under my shirt against my bare chest and gently cupping my right breast. A voice that I immediately recognized as belonging to Donnie said, "Nathan, are you awake?"

"Mmmm hmmmm." I quietly replied then turned onto my side facing the voice that I immediately recognized as Donnie's.

Donnie moved his arm to accommodate my change in position. It landed in the middle of my back. He squeezed and said, "I hope you don't mind... you weren't sleeping very well. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, right now but I've gotta pee but I'm gonna put it off. Why aren't you asleep? Did I wake you up?"

"No, I was awake already. I've already peed. Your mom gave me some blankets so I covered Joey and Skeeter then put the other one over us... it's kind of chilly."

"Thanks. Uhm... I can't put it off any longer... I'll never go back to sleep." I said then got up and went into the bathroom where I peed. I took off my jeans and t-shirt, tossed them on top of the clothes hamper and returned to the living room and lay back down on the floor. Donnie quickly covered us both us with the blanket. He snuggled in and returned his arm around my chest, squeezed lightly, "Are you all better now? Did you get undressed?"

"Uhm, yeah, I don't sleep very good wearing clothes." I said.

"Do you think anybody would mind if I... uhm... slept in my underwear?"

"No problem. We're pretty relaxed around here."

We were both shivering. Without much of a second thought we sorta cuddled in together, nose to nose, shoulder to shoulder, chest to chest, knee to knee. Although somewhat uncomfortable with us so close together it was really no big deal. In fact, I felt pretty darned good despite all that had happened of recent. I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that Donnie was someone to be trusted, and a trusting friend. I found myself wrapping my arm around his shoulders simply because I had nowhere else to put it. Both of us adjusted to get comfy. During a maneuver our lips touched... you know, right on the edge, right where the upper lip meets the lower lip – yeah there.

Both of us stopped and froze. I didn't think it was a bad thing really. Joey and I had kissed, still do, and yeah me and Skeeter kiss too... so what's the big deal? There was no big deal. Donnie whispered, "Sorry about that... I didn't mean..."

I smiled. In a way I liked him squirming in his mind. To put his mind at ease... well I didn't know his face was so close... so while I was going to playfully kiss his chin I instead found his lips. In the same motion and with the same intent I pushed in. Realizing what we were doing I pulled away. Donnie said, "Wo. Are you sure you wanted to do that... I mean it's okay and everything... and well... uhm, you're not gay."

I thought about it for a second or two or three. I didn't feel guilty or anything. Somehow it was just right. I said to my friend, "It's okay. Don't worry so much. We touched lips. Are you comfortable?"

"Yeah pretty much." Donnie said with a chuckle then to prove his 'pretty much' he poked me with his prong then released it.

I said snickering, "THAT is gay. Keep your sword on your side of the bed."

Donnie snickered back, "We aren't in a bed dufus. We're on the floor. Sorry. I guess."

"Oh, right, okay, uhm, whatever, it's cool."

Donnie reached up and scratched his nose. His nose brushed my lips with his exertions, not once but twice.

Settled down once again, Donnie said softly, "What did you see in my sister?"

Easily I replied, "She seemed like an okay person, like she really cared, like maybe I could fall in love with her or something... and well this seems kind of weird telling her brother but well the sex was good... at least until the end." I trailed the last part off remembering the event as though it had just happened.

"Nathan, I just about said something to you the first night you stayed over... I probably should have said something... I'd have told you that she's a bitch. She was all nicey nicey when you were there. Anyway, I'm sorry, maybe if I'd told you then you wouldn't be hurting."

"Donnie, let's not go there, okay? You don't owe me an apology but I accept it... I'd feel the same way if it were you that got hurt." I giggled when a thought passed through my mind. It was the first time I found something funny about what happened.

"What's so funny?" Donnie asked clearly amused.

"I was just thinking about how I puked on her... never mind."

"Did she really pull your face into her thing?"

"Yeah, it was gross. I've got kind of a weak stomach anyway... that was just nasty. Ugh. Let's change the subject."

Other than for our soft breathing there was not a sound to be heard. Oh, the house creaked every now and again... you know how older houses will do. It's almost like they have lives of their own and have the need to occasionally stretch their muscles (or joists) out every now and again. I felt at peace. I didn't even feel uncomfortable having another guy in my arms and my body really close to his... until Donnie said, "Is this kind of gay or something? Are your uncomfortable...? I mean I'm gay I know it... but I don't want you to feel... you know..."

"I'm cool. Uhm, can I tell you a secret? I think it'll put your mind at ease."

"Sure. We're friends, right?"

"Yeah, you're cool Donnie otherwise I wouldn't tell you."

Donnie hugged me tight. Once again our lips touched but only briefly. He said, "Thanks. You're cool too."

"Joey and I've messed around some... minor stuff." I said not wanting to go too far. I'd never really thought that what Joey and I did as being wrong or right... it just happened. It felt good. I, for a minute, wondered what Joey would think if I told Donnie. Hmm.

At the same time Donnie and I shifted positions again. He felt very good. By his deep breath in I could easily tell I felt very good to him also.

On one hand I found our situation almost -gay-. Then I thought that Joey, being gay, was the best big brother anybody in the world could ever have... he was okay with himself. And no, he didn't come onto me. He didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do. I had liked his finger in that one certain place nestled deep between those cheeks south of the border, and I had been curious which was the reason why I asked him to … you remember... put his penis inside of my vault. While it didn't feel bad it didn't necessarily fee great either... the truth was that I'd not really thought of it much since then.

"Whatcha thinking, Nathan?" Donnie said softly. He then nuzzled his nose under my chin and kissed the area of my yet developed Adam's apple. I shivered.

Thinking, knowing that Joey wouldn't mind, I ventured out, "Mainly we jacked off together but we've also sucked each other... you know all the way." There, I said it. Very lowly I added, knowing that I'd been entirely, or completely honest with him... "Uhm, Donnie... I asked him to show me what it felt like... you know... ermm, he put his penis inside because I asked him to... There."

Donnie lifted his head away from my neck after kissing it one more time. His gesture sent a round of chills up and down my spine causing me to slightly shudder and pull him tighter... so tight that the entire front of our bodies was totally touching. I'd already had had a bit of a pudgy problem... so much for a little bit as we closed the distance between our oral orifices and touched tenderly, reservedly, like we were waiting for the other person to take the next step... it was almost like we were asking permission or some such thing.

His breath, hot on my face, had a sweet, pleasing and electrifying effect. I leaned in toward it... seemingly my breath was the same for him. The next thing to happen was that we shared breaths... intimately. I breathed for him. He breathed for me. You could call it mouth to mouth to mouth resuscitation while we called it going to that place where we'd never really been before.

Then it happened. Just like 'that'. Seemingly on its own volition, naturally, spontaneously, needily, wantonly, satisfingly, and totally overtaking my sperms... they exited its stamen thus coating the inside of that cloth fabric covering it, and at the same time that same cloth was further drenched by he who was sharing the moment. Cast aside, at least momentarily, were all doubts, fears, worries, reservations, should have's, should be's, should not's and all negative thinking; replaced by utter and sheer release to the outside all that remained from the inside.

Drained and satiated, we parted but our arms remained firmly holding the person with whom we'd just experienced colossal and complete release.

We were silent save for needy breaths of air required for sustenance to life. Eventually, our bodies, reveling in homeostasis, returned to their previous states of rest and relaxation yet at the same time everything had changed. Our friendship took on a whole new meaning, it had arisen to a whole new level... a level that didn't seem too high nor too low... it was just right or so it seemed at the moment.

"Are you okay Nathan? Wow."

I was speechless, no words would or could come out that would adequately express my feelings, my thoughts, my sense of peace and tranquility. My sole answer consisted of a well placed but brief kiss on his sweet lips. Donnie relaxed and then rested his head on my upper arm lying on the floor.

I sat up. Donnie joined me. In the dim light created from the street light out front I saw the outline of his face. He was smiling... I saw his teeth... surreal. I giggled, "I'm wet." After sitting up I felt a thick liquid escaping, landing in that crease that separates ones balls from their upper leg... it further traveled to that area commonly referred to as 'taint', that is the area between the back of one's balls and the beginning of the anus. It tickled. It needed to be dealt with.

I stood up and urged Donnie to join me. Before we left I checked on Joey and Skeeter. They were sleeping as evidenced by their deep rhythmical respirations. We softly padded to the bathroom, entered, closed the door then turned on the light. Immediately, we giggled at seeing the utter soaking our underwear was experiencing. In one single fluid move I lowered them to the floor, and in another move kicked them aside. Both our pubes were matted and had visible evidence of the emissions they had just a few minutes previously jettisoned into unplanned yet inevitable places. The other noticeable thing was that our male appendages were still very plump, and from the feelings emanating from mine at least, it was still ready for some more attention.

Without further adieu I walked to the toilet and let loose with a stream of yellow residue fluid to be proud of. Donnie joined me. While our releases were flowing Donnie wrapped his arm around my waist allowing his hand to drop down and cup one of my globes. His finger lingered in that deep dark crevice. He looked to me. Immediately he removed his hand from my confines -but- through a mental communication... perhaps a look passed across my face which said, "Go ahead, put your hand back" because he did put it back, and in fact, indeed he searched for and found a place, that dimple which provided relief from built up whatevers. Funny, but I'd never thought of that exit point as being anything other than what it was designed for... until that moment. Then I thought of that one time when Joey had passed through that ring of passion with his fingers, and how it set off an explosive reaction of need, desire and passion.

With the urgent need to pee passed and gone I picked up our underwear, handed Donnie his, kept mine and began wiping up the evidence of our escapade. Finished, we tossed them into the clothes hamper then scurried to my room. I said to Donnie, "I'm going to sleep here for the rest of the night, you're welcome to sleep here with me... and yes, I'm fine. Are you okay?"

"I'm better than fine, Nathan. Thanks. Uhm, I've never experienced THAT before... I love it. Jacking off just isn't the same as uhm, well, you know... don't let me push you there."

"It's okay Donnie. I guess I've wanted to do something like that too. Those times Joey and I jacked each other off and sucked... well, they were missing something... I don't know how to explain it any different or better."

"You don't have to explain. I think I'm feeling the same way. Maybe sometime... uhm..."

"I'd like to do it again. My dad said it's okay and doesn't mean anything bad, you know like those churches say. He said he was a boy once... I really felt like he understood why... I mean... well you know."

Donnie beamed a huge smile. He sat down on the bed next to me. Purposefully, our lips joined again then released. We got into bed, pulled the covers up to cover our naked bodies... after what we'd shared I felt no need to hold back so I pulled his backside into my front side, sighed contentedly and fell asleep.

*-* Timmy's POV *-*

"Hi Timmy, how are you feeling this morning, are you up to maybe going home today?" Dr. Sara said warmly, caringly.

"Really? Kewl. Heck yeah!" I said excitedly. Without hesitation I got out of bed not paying attention to the fact that I felt a gush of air cross my back, butt and legs. I knew that the back of my gown was wide open, well fuck those damn hospital gowns. I walked to Dr. Sara and pulled her into a hug. She didn't quite know what to do at first... then she caught on. Cautiously her arms went around me and provided a hug.

When we released she said, "My you're a good hugger. Be sure to give plenty of those to your new family, okay? Do we have a deal?"

"Oh that's so not a problem. They seem to love me even when I'm a dick... sorry... I mean a pain the ass... shit, sorry..." I said, stuttering and stammering almost every word out of my mouth. "Sorry, I apologize."

Dr. Sara regarded me, gave a hint of a smile but she didn't say anything about it. Instead, "Why don't we sit down and talk about a few things. You're still pretty sick but you're on the mend..."

For the next 30 minutes or so we talked about my needs for rest, vitamins, a bunch of antibiotics to take morning, noon and night, not to overdo it, to try and remain calm, and to take some other medications to boost my immune system. She reiterated that I don't have HIV/AIDS but that my infection was probably still contagious if I were to have sex with someone. She said that my semen, if I were making any (I knew I was but didn't say so), could still carry the GC germs. She then added that within 6 months I'd be better than new. She wanted to see me in the clinic in one week to run some more blood tests and to check up on my progress. She wrote out and left some prescriptions and then told me she would fill in Dr. Mauer with the details.

A nurse came in and removed the IV from my arm. She got towels and a clean gown and sent me on my way to the shower.

As I was washing my hair really kewl thoughts began passing through my head. I wondered why they were doing this for me but then mom's... did I really say that? Did I really say 'mom'? Yeah, I guess so... wow... but what is a mom supposed to do? How am I supposed to treat a mom? How the fuck does one not hurt your mom? Then I remembered when she didn't beat me when I fucked up... yeah, she got pissed but she didn't scream and shit. Her hugs felt good... they really did. I felt all tingly. I vowed to get a hug from her that day. I also vowed to venture out and... give her a hug.

That man who said I could call him dad was pretty much the same way. He didn't yell, scream or kick me across the room because I'd fucked up.

Both of them visited me every day. They never once made me feel like I was a worthless fuck. They didn't call me names. They didn't promise that they'd kick my ass when I got to their house. Instead, they were encouraging though mom was insistent that I do the assigned Home Bound homework. Even the teachers were decent... they didn't nag me to death or tell me I was a fuckup because I'd screwed up some answers to test questions or on my homework.

That would all take some getting used to. The thing that really got to me was when 'dad' told me not to quit that there was an answer to every question, and every problem. In fact he told me that there are very few problems, that instead those rough times were simply challenges, and that there are no real failures... we make mistakes... as long as we realize them, fix what we can fix, and then learn from them then it's okay.

They gave me a lot to think about.

While I was thinking all about those things I didn't even realize I was giving a lot of soap suds and friction to my dick but when I came out of the thoughts I found that my dick was fully charged and ready to blast a trail of the sperms that I didn't acknowledge to Dr. Sara... I squeezed a little bit harder, sped up the pace, and just as I went over the edge, a voice called, "Timmy? Are you in there?"

I was lost in the throes yet conscious enough to hear and to be aware. Surprisingly my voice clearly said, "Yeah... I'll be out in a moment. Uhmp. Ohhhh."

"Are you okay?"

"Yessssss... I'll be out in a minute."

My dick was still doing some aftershocks as I rinsed off, shut down the water and grabbed the towel off the sink vanity. I dried off then wrapped the towel around my midsection. My dick was very slow to recover and deflate and return to normal but I stepped out of the shower anyway. Mom (hey I liked the sound of the word, and especially what it meant, even if I didn't know what it meant) was standing in the doorway. Her smile was infectious. Before she could, I walked to her and gave her a deep deep hug, holding her tight. In the process, my towel fell to my feet. It seemed to be no big deal, she'd seen all of me before and she'd even examined my genitals and put her finger up my butt... so I wasn't quick to grab my towel and cover up. She did though. She said that I'd get a cold being all wet and exposed and stuff. It felt nice that she'd actually care for me.

She went to a small closet and gathered up some neat clothes... I didn't even remember her bringing them in, and said so. She said that Derrick had bought them and put them away so I'd have something to wear. I thought that was kewl. I noted to myself to give him a big thank you. Anyway, she helped me into the sweat shirt and sweat pants. I put on my socks and a new pair of tennis shoes that were a little bit big. But they were new! "Are these mine?" I asked seriously.

Mom <I still liked that word!> reminded me that Derrick had purchased my clothes from a sporting goods store where he's an employee. I accepted his gift without further comment.

On the way home, we stopped at a pharmacy to have the prescriptions filled. While we were waiting I wandered around and found a stuffed teddy bear that I really liked. Mom wasn't around though so I put it back in its place, wandered around some more, and then returned and sat down next to her.

Pretty soon my name was called, she paid for them and then we went to the car. She started it up then said, "Wait right here. I'll be right back. I forgot something."

As soon as she got out I scooted into the drivers' seat and played like I was driving. No, I wasn't touching any of the gears or controls or anything. It was just cool to be sitting there.

About 10 minutes later she returned. She opened the back door and put a package or something on the floor board. I didn't pay any attention; I only scooted back to the front passenger seat and fastened my seat belt. Mom got in then we headed home.

I was just glad to be home. That took all precedence. I was welcomed home with hugs and '"glad you're home's", and that hopefully I'd stay home!

I was introduced to Skeeter and Donnie. I liked them. Donnie was hot hot hot, what can I say? He kept looking at me but pretty much kept to himself or with Nathan.

Skeeter and Donnie were, however, anxious to see my room. I'm glad they respected my privacy. Mom had closed the door and made my room off-limits. Another new thing. I'd never had a room of my own... usually my old 'mom', 'mother' actually, always had a boyfriend or two or three, and those boyfriends usually had obnoxious idiots for children. The little bit that I did have or acquired or just flat out stole were often stolen or broken by them.

I opened my door, turned on the light then I froze like a pillar of salt, or a frozen snow man. Everybody looked at me like I'd lost my last friend or something. I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to say because no words could formulate in my brain and exit through my mouth.

I felt another presence behind me. I woodenly turned around. Dad and mom had joined us. They both put their hands on my shoulders. Mom urged me into my room then sat on the bed with me and handed me the 'teddy bear', the one that I'd been looking at at the pharmacy. When I hesitated she put it in my lap and pressed it into my tummy and chest, and said, "Timmy, I think he needs a name. Your name's Timmy so this little guy needs a name too."

Joey said, "Name him Bill, George, Mike or something … anything other than Sue." He received quite a bit of good natured shit over his comment but it was all fun, nobody was pissed or anything... I liked that.

"I don't know yet." I said while looking at the large brown stuffed animal. I hugged it in and held it close. It was all soft and stuff yet it was firm but not too firm.

Mom hugged me. I put my arms around her midsection and leaned into her arm. She patted my back then got up. She said, "There's no hurry Timmy. When you come up with a name then he'll have a name."

*-* Vera's POV *-*

"Dan, we need to talk to Luke in the morning about what we saw in Stephen's bedroom the other night just before he went to see and be with Joey. I'm just afraid that the boys are going to get hurt again. It's not like they can end their relationship and walk away." I said after my husband Dan and I physically cemented, yet again, our love and devotion to each other.

Dan replied, "Not only that... I'm having a problem with the fact that they're doing their deed with Kevin and sometimes James in the room. Kevin came to me the other morning; bless his heart, wondering what his big brothers were doing because they were acting like they were hurting or getting hurt. James, he won't talk to me about it. Luke shuts down and goes back to his old ways. He even peed his pants when I brought up the subject. I wasn't after him or anything, I just wanted his thoughts."

"Honey, don't push him. He's made so much progress. I've found that the longer he lives with us in our home the more he's come to me and talked about things in his old and new lives. He was so excited to get C's and B's on his report card. He couldn't wait to get home."

Dan snickered, "He showed me his report card also. That was the day I took him into town to get his BB gun. He's consistently showed his responsibility with it. We have much to be proud of."

"True, very true. Dan, James is carrying a huge burden on his back from losing Coltrane. He's different now. He's going back into his shell. I was talking to Alma Wilson the other day. They have a colt up for sale; actually they were talking about sending it for slaughter, because no matter what they've tried to do they can't break it. You remember how Coltrane was..."

Dan snickered, "That damn horse liked to have busted Thomas all to heck. The boy was banged up something fierce... but then again he knew what he was in for and did it anyway."

"You got that right. But then again he learned his way and to my knowledge never attempted to ride him again." I said.

"Well, that's not entirely true. I don't think you know it but when James fell out of that tree just past the ditch on the south pasture and broke his arm ole Coltrane allowed Thomas to ride him and James to the barn. He knew James was hurt and that Thomas was there to help and keep safe his rider."

"No, I didn't know about that. No matter now."

"Do you know how much they're asking?"

"Alma said they had a thousand dollars into it. It was sickly at first so they had quite a few vet fees. They also had it gelded. She said they weren't stuck to the price. Stephen told me that he'd like to give James Gerta's offspring if Gerta mates with Stacy's horse this year. It's up to you but I think James would probably like to at least meet the horse Alma has available."

"I don't know. I need to go over there tomorrow or the next day to borrow a spreader Jim has. Maybe I'll take James with me. I'll make sure that he at least has an opportunity to meet the horse. We can go from there. I'm just not sure he's ready. I remember losing my first horse as a child. I was devastated and wasn't ready for another one for about a year. But then again my dad knew differently."

I snickered, "That horse is good with the kids, Dan. It's what 32 years old now?"

"She's getting old but she has a lot of life left in her. Okay, I'll take James with me but if they don't bond up front then I'm not going to intentionally set him up for a bad heartbreak."

We went on and talked about some other things including the fact that repairs to the barn were nearly completed and how Dan was anxious to get the machine shed built but that was a project Stephen was going to see from start to the end. He needed to do it. He needed to see a significant accomplishment in his life. Soon our conversation ended with a kiss and we fell off to sleep.

*-* Monday, Dan's POV *-*

Morning came too soon. After getting Luke, James and Thomas up for chores I took off for the south pasture to mend fence. When that was nearly finished Vera rang the dinner bell for breakfast. She didn't like to be kept waiting so I took off, arriving shortly thereafter. Each of the kids assured me that their chores were finished so I sent them on their way to do whatever they wanted to do, within reason of course. I then took off and returned to the pasture where I finished mending.

With that completed I got the high-loader from the heavy machine barn and began the process to fill in as much of the ditch naturally created as the result of the heavy rains. I figured at least 30 acres of land had been made inaccessible by it so I wanted to get it opened up as much as possible because the hay would be needed for winter feeding.

Just as I was finishing up Luke galloped up on his horse to announce that lunch was ready. Rather than slowly making my way up on the high-loader I rode shotgun to the house on Luke's horse with him in the saddle. Not my idea of riding a horse but Luke was beaming that I'd ride with him.

After an excellent fried chicken dinner James and I walked down to finish my chores. With him sitting on my lap I allowed him to drive. He did just fine and even parked it in its parking place without so much as an adjustment to his methods. I reminded him that he was not to operate the dangerous equipment such as the high-loader without my presence and guidance. He agreed.

After we shut it down and got off we did a couple of other less time consuming chores. We both groomed Stephen's horse Gerta. James said, "Dad, Stephen said that I could have Gerta's offspring if it was okay with you. I'm not sure I'm ready... I mean I miss Coltrane something terrible. Would it be wrong to have another horse...? I mean it's soon after... you know."

I looked deep into James' eyes. His loss was great, his heart was heavy, and his spirit dimmed but not gone. I said, "Its okay with me James. I lost my first horse when I was young... I think I was 12 or 13 when he died. My horse was killed too. We had a bad storm, and like Coltrane, he didn't like storms. He had run to the creek. Unfortunately, the tornado uprooted trees down there and one of them fell on him before he could get away. So I know how you're feeling."

James put his arm around my midsection. I put my arm around his shoulder and pulled him in as he once again began crying his pain and loss. I just let him cry all the while providing him support and reassurance.

My decision to take him to the Wilson's was made. I said, "I need go to the Wilson's. They have a spreader that I need to borrow. How about you and I go and get it?"

That said, after drying his tears with the sleeve of his shirt, he did the 'nasty' of blowing his nose into the dirt and we took off after making sure Thomas was okay up on top of the barn roof... he was.

We arrived about 30 minutes later. Clinton waived. He was on his tractor pulling behind a mower for cutting hay. We drove on up the long driveway to their house and were met by their ferocious dogs used to protect the property. The Wilson's had had problems with burglars since they had no children running around. Although they had desperately wanted children they were unable to have them due to Clinton having had an infection, I think it was mumps, during his adolescent years. I always thought they would have been good parents. They took a liking to Luke right off the bat and would have him over to help out with baling hay. The boy was strong and could nearly lift and toss (though not far, and he wasn't yet accomplished) a normal box hay bale. I figured he'd get strong enough to do it within the next year or so.

In any event, Alma came running out to greet us and said that Clinton would be up soon. We told her, James told her actually, that Clinton was on his way and would arrive soon.

We chit chatted about this and that. James took off and ran down to the pasture. I pretty much assumed he'd take a dip in their pond, or pull out a fishing rod. When the boy fished he always came back with at least three nice sized catfish. My mouth watered. I'd not bothered to stock our pond that year so our pickings were slim.

I said to Alma, "Vera says you have a horse up for sale."

"Yes, as a matter of fact we do. The Rhondell's were thinking of giving it to their son Harley but the horse wouldn't have anything to do with the boy. That boy ain't right... he's slow or something, almost goofy."

I didn't know the boy so I changed the subject back, I said, "As you know James' horse died in the storm. He's tore up, Alma. I'm not sure now is the time to consider getting him another but my wife thinks it might be."

Just then Clinton came helling up on the tractor. Arriving he jumped off and sprinted over. His eyes were wild. He said, "Dan, your boy's in danger."

My juices began flowing rapidly, constantly and continuously. I took off with him. We headed to the north pasture. What happened next stopped my heart dead still. James was riding a horse bareback through the field, back and forth, all around from corner to corner... I thought for sure the boy was in mortal danger with a runaway horse. I'd known of people getting killed doing that. All the while the horse was bucking and trying to throw my son off. Meanwhile Alma had driven the truck to us. She said for us to get in. Like a bat out of hell we took off and tried to intercept them, all to no avail.

We got just close enough. What I saw scared the living shit out of me. James' face registered only terror and bewilderment. I was just getting ready to suggest to Clinton that he get his shotgun but getting the horse in the sights adequate enough to keep James from being hit by a bullet would be a very, very dangerous venture. Then the horse did something damn stupid. It stopped on a dime which sent James ass over teakettle to the ground. James shook his head but quickly got up and began walking back to the horse. At the top of my lungs I screamed for him to get away and to get over to us NOW.

That kid has a hard head. He turned to me, waived, and then continued heading for the horse. The horse never moved. Instead it lowered its head as James got closer and closer and then when James arrived it nuzzled James' neck. James patted its head then without difficulty remounted. I went walking through the pasture (they were probably 50 yards away) and slowly approached them. When I got close enough I saw that James had a small gash above his right eye, not deep mind you but it was bleeding like a stuck hog.

Just then Alma and Clinton came driving up in their pickup. Both walked to me. Clinton in a most amused voice said, "I'll be damned. If I didn't see it..."

Without saying another word, we began walking to the horse and James. The horse, wary, whinnied loudly and when Clinton got about 15 feet from the horse, the horse bolted and began tearing through the field once again. That time was different though... the horse was no longer bucking his hind legs in an effort to bounce James off. When they got to the far end of the pasture, in the shade of the tree line, the horse stopped – another thing different: James didn't go flying off.

James dismounted, stood next to the horse and began petting the damned thing. The horse was spry. Since James stood neck high the horse had no problem with knocking James on his butt. James thought that was funny stuff. He quickly got to his feet then swung his body up and over therefore remounting effectively.

Clinton walked to me, "I'm not sure what's going on between that horse and your boy. But I'll be damned..." All three of us stood there disbelieving as James and the horse began walking the periphery of the fenced pasture. They were 'walking', not galloping.

I asked Clinton, "Do you have a training halter in your truck?"

Clinton replied, "No. Let me look, we may have a regular one." He walked to his truck, looked everywhere moving this and that and everything around and aside (I made note to clean out my pickup truck). After a few minutes and after a few curse words he raised up a halter with his hand held high.

I guess James saw what Clinton held up because he dismounted the horse and came walking to us. Alma meanwhile reached into the front seat and fetched a first aid kit so that she could attend to James' cut. I walked to James. Much, much angrier than I actually meant to be, I was afraid for him, I said very sternly, "What the heck do you think you're doing???? You could have been killed! I'm going to thrash your butt from here into next Sunday, boy! Go to the back of the truck NOW!"

Just then the horse came galloping toward us at break neck speed. When it arrived, I very quickly found myself lying on the ground with that damned horse stopped and standing between me and James.

Clinton walked to his truck and retrieved his shotgun. I couldn't blame him. I stood up. The damn horse knocked me to the ground – again - then it walked to James, lowered its head and nuzzled him under the chin.

When Clinton raised his weapon James saw it. Faster than lightening James and the horse changed places. Then, it was James protecting the horse. He screamed, "NO! PUT IT AWAY!" Seeing what had had happened Clinton quickly lowered his rifle so that it pointed to the ground. I'm thankful he did because that scared me worse than the horse running with James through the field.

James' eyes were wild. He was terrified beyond words. Without another word, James mounted his steed. They rode off... actually James began pounding the horses' neck and yelling for it to giddyup. Off they took to the far reaches of the field.

It was my turn to speak, "Well, I'll be damned. What the hell is he doing? That's a dangerous animal!"

Alma chuckled. I spun around only to see Clinton look at Alma like she'd lost her last senses. She broke out laughing.

"Honey, you're going to have to tell me what is so doggone funny!"

Meanwhile I had unwaveringly kept my eyes on my boy but then they disappeared in the tree line. My blood ran through my veins cold as ice. I looked at Alma then Clinton. As one we quickly got into the pickup truck. Clinton drove across the pasture. He said, "There's a pond on the other side of the tree line. I'll just bet that's where they went to."

Alma snickered, "Dan, that's the horse I was telling you about..."

Long story short: after quite a tussle getting that dang horse in the trailer... and James' eye patched up... and a handshake between James and Clinton... in that order... James had a horse... and my back, butt and legs were as sore as they could possibly be. Speaking of... James' butt wasn't sore... but my ears were singeing the moment we drove up to the house and right after Vera saw James' bandaged head.

*-* James' POV *-*

Wow, mom blistered dad's ears but good after we arrived home, after she saw the bloodied bandage covering a cut over my eye, and after dad offered no resistance. Soon she calmed down though. Much to dad's consternation I told her of how my horse had knocked him to his butt not once but twice. Her last barb was when she told dad, "You had it coming to you Daniel Ellworth Richardson!" Then she snickered wildly. Dad looked at me; a gleam was in his eye, he said, "You could have gone all day without saying that." All my brothers and sisters thought the whole thing was funny... dad wasn't pleased but he was good natured about it though.

Mom took me to the doctor's office where I got 12 stitches on the skin above my eye and a tetanus shot in the arm. I made a big deal about not wanting to go, about wanting to get my horse stabled but that all changed when mom finally took me to the mirror and let me see for myself the fact that one end of the cut was very deep. The doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital for observation of a head injury but we talked him out of it after receiving assurances that I'd be checked on frequently because I had 7 brothers and sister plus my folks at home.

As soon as we got home dad, Luke, Thomas, Kevin and I went to the stable to check on my horse. She was doing just fine, adapting. Luke and Thomas both said that they'd had one hell of a time getting him in the stable but when they quit forcing him to go, with some encouragement he did eventually go in on his own.

We then stood around my horse deciding what to call him. Kevin had heard just enough of the story about what it did to both me and dad... out of the blue he said with an impish smile on his face, "Stormy, call him Stormy!".

With everything that happened to get him home I was thinking more along the lines of "Horses Ass" but got to thinking more and more about what Kevin said but the name didn't quite fit then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I got to thinking about and became sad that Coltrane had died, and the way he'd died... but then thought about the whole thing and came to realize that perhaps this horse completed the cycle... I said out loud, generally speaking, that perhaps this horse was a destiny for Coltrane.

Softly I said, "Storm's Destiny. That's his name." Then the tears started, but that set of tears was not painful rather they came from healing and knowing that Coltrane would never be forgotten."

I called Stephen, told him about what had happened, and why, and what I'd named my horse, and why. We laughed hard about what Storm had done to dad. Speaking of, dad came to the kitchen entryway, heard and observed me almost rolling on the floor with laughter... he knew what I was laughing at and about. He just looked at me with a stern expression on his face but I knew I wasn't in any trouble because he smiled somewhat then rubbed his thigh. That only set me off into another serious case of giggles which turned into yet another full out belly laugh. Dad shook his head and walked out, all the while smiling.

*-* Joey's POV *-*

After completing morning routines mom announced that we'd be going down to Irene and Chet's to talk about what had happened since we'd left yesterday afternoon. It was also time for Donnie to return home... we'd had a really good time despite the circumstances bringing him to our home for the day and night.

Rather than drive down, because it was nice day, all of us including Derrick, took off and walked to their house. We were greeted warmly, offered drinks then were led into the family room. Skeeter and I sat together while Donnie and Nathan sat on the other side of the sofa. Mom and dad sat together in the middle while Derrick sat on the love seat by himself.

Chet began the conversation, "We wanted to get all of us together. Donnie, as you know we've had some family problems where you were directly involved."

Donnie nodded agreeing with his fathers' statement. He replied, "So what's up? Where is she?"

Chet said, "We're getting to it son, be patient."

Nathan looked like he wanted to leave and go home or be anywhere else. I got up and walked to him and sat down on the floor in front of him after whispering in Skeeter's ear, "Nathan needs me right now." Skeeter nodded.

I urged Nathan to sit up against my chest. When he got down I put my arms around his shoulders, squeezed lightly, then settled back to hear what they had to say.

Irene said, "Yesterday afternoon we took Linda to the hospital's psychiatric floor. They admitted her and will be treating her with therapy and medication. After she gets discharged <Nathan shuddered> she will be going to a group home for at least 3 months, possibly for as long as 6 to 9 months. How long she stays will all depend on her progress. Nathan, the doctors think her behavior is very possibly her way of dealing with some abuses she'd received before coming here to live. This does not excuse her behavior, not in the least but it might give you a little bit of insight as to maybe why it happened."

Nathan started to speak but sat back into my chest and instead of saying anything he reluctantly nodded. I patted his thigh.

Mom said, "She's getting the best care possible from the best people possible. Nathan, your dad and I have talked at length. We think it best that you enter short-term therapy to help you through what's happened." Much to my surprise, Nathan nodded. Even more surprising is when Donnie leaned down and gently patted Nathan's shoulder. Nathan patted the top of Donnie's hand. My confusion cleared, somewhat, after remembering the sounds emanating in the front room while we were all sacked out on the floor in a semi-camp-out.

Chet continued, "Nathan, your parents and us are going to the school principal... we have an appointment for early tomorrow morning. We're going to talk about what to do about the email that was sent around to many, many people in Linda's email address book. I'm not sure what else we can do about it. I sincerely hope the kids are able to see through the horrible stuff that our daughter said about your and her relationship."

Nathan added, after a moment to absorb all that was being said, "What about Donnie? He has to face all the crap; I mean stuff, sorry, that Linda said. He's going to get a lot of flack. He's my friend and they know he's my friend... and well..."

Donnie, clearly taken aback by Nathan's words, said, "I can handle it. The way I've dealt with it before was to just ignore them. That didn't stop them from tripping me in the hallways and knocking the books out of my hands though. Eventually it pretty much stopped. They have other things to pick on me about... mom, dad, I'm out at school – Linda told the biggest blabber mouths, and well it got around school."

Irene looked nearly horrified while Chet intensely looked at his son with grave concern written all over his face.

Irene's horror turned to fury in a nanosecond, "She outed you! She told your, her friends!!"

Donnie chuckled for a moment then turned dead serious, "Mom, don't, please. She's caught a bunch of shit, I mean flack, from the other kids. An organization called GAAY came in and talked at an assembly. They go around to schools to fight homophobia, and to make sure kids like me are safe. She, at least at school, didn't give me a hard time anymore. The most I got around here was being called a faggot. Well, sometimes she would come into the bathroom when I was showering <Donnie blushed>... well sometimes she would get undressed, jump in with me... and well... she'd try to... uhm... she'd try to... oh well... she'd try to jack me off, you know masturbate me."

Irene looked like she was going to come off the chair she was sitting in next to her husband but Chet put his arm around her. She calmed down but then tears started running down her cheeks all the while profusely apologizing to Donnie for the privacy 'violations', as Irene put it, to him.

Nevertheless, she composed herself after mom reminded her that Linda was very sick and needed and was getting help for her psychiatric troubles.

Add to that, I said, hopefully reassuring Donnie and his parents, "I'll have your back. Don't worry. Mom, dad, I won't do anything stupid but me and the team will watch out for Donnie. I'll write or call them before we go back to school."

Dad sternly said, "There will be no violence. This is bad enough without having to worry about physical violence too. Do you understand me?"

"Yes sir, I hear you loud and clear. The team and I are learning defense not offense. If someone is being hurt or harmed then it is the right thing to neutralize the threat with as little force as possible but with as much force as needed. I couldn't just sit or stand there watching Donnie getting hurt, or worse. I hope you understand. Dad I'm not talking back, I'm just saying where my moral responsibility is at."

Both mom and dad gave me the 'we will talk about this later' look. I knew then to not push it. But... I knew myself... I knew that if Donnie or Nathan were ever in danger then I would do whatever I could do to save them from hurt and harm.

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