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On Earth Peace, Good will toward men, except Evan

by Toby Johnston


Spring comes to Vermont, a time of rebirth

Most importantly, my Evan got better. He healed. It took six weeks for him to lose the eyepatch, but he did. His vision came back with no issues—and thank God for that. I was so scared that it wouldn't. I knew I couldn't let Evan know of my fears—I had to be strong for him. I couldn't imagine what life would be like for an artist with blurred vision. His ribs and arm healed; the bruises all finally faded. He missed the whole hockey season, but was a full up round for lacrosse that spring—Judge Dredd was back and the team rejoiced! He and I are hitting the weight room regularly, it's way more fun with Evan lifting with me. He was right—gains have been quick! I'm not bulky or anything, but the definition is popping!

Mentally, he's still healing; actually, both of us are. I had my first 'wake up screaming' event two days after the meeting with Uncle Mike and the detective. It took Evan and Olly to calm me down; I spent the rest of the night in the middle of an Olly-Evan sandwich (okay, call me perverted, but that was nice waking up with two morning-woods pressed up against me ha-ha). I basically have two nightmares: one where the Prick was back, hunting Evan, hunting me (that's the not so bad one); the bad one is when I get there too late to rescue Evan, and he's lying there, well, you understand. Evan's psychologist is now mine; we've even had some joint sessions. It's working. The nightmares are now fewer and farther between. We're sleeping together every night which definitely helps. Officially Evan has Olly's room, but when Olly went back to college, Evan never moved out of my room. We didn't ask, and no one brought it up.

Almost as important, the Prick (or as I now call him Wolfbait) is not Evan's dad. The DNA test proved that pretty quickly. That was a huge relief to both of us, but especially to Evan—no hated Donovan blood in his body. It did leave a huge mystery though—who was his father, and by extension who was Evan? I think we all were surprised how quickly that question was answered! I guess once they had evidence that a crime had been committed; and there were a few solid clues to work off of; the police were able to work through it. They started with Grace O'Malley's (Evan's mom) hometown, and looked for missing persons from around the time Evan was born. It's a small, Vermont town, there weren't that many to research. Uncle Mike came by with an old picture. It was Evan, no question—same cheekbones, same shape of the eyes, same dimples, same crooked smile. His name was Sean Taverney and he had gone missing shortly before Evan was born. Another DNA test, of his parents and siblings, proved what we already knew.

Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! We met Sean's family; Evan's family. One of Sean's brothers met us at the door, he started tearing up the moment he laid eyes on Evan. He threw his arms around him and gave him a bear hug. It was muffled, but he said something like 'you even smell like Sean'. He then led us into the living room where Sean's parents and the rest of his brothers and sisters were. It was a repeat of the front porch—stunned faces; tears; hugs. We spent about a half-day with them that first time. They shared photo albums of Sean growing up. I guess they got closure on a son long missing; they gained a grandson, a nephew, a cousin. Evan gained a whole family. They're only 45 minutes away; we visit often. Evan's learning more and more about his real dad, and his mom—there's a whole long story there!

The police did find Sean. One of Sean's brothers actually provided the next set clues. They'd all known Alex Donovan growing up. He had been dating Evan's mom; that we already knew. What we didn't know was that Evan's mom was also seeing Sean; and was going to dump Alex—so that pretty much explained how Evan came to be. Somehow Alex must have figured it out, and 'done something about it'. They're the ones that figured out the 'Old Homestead' was likely the Donovan cabin in the woods outside of town; as opposed to the house in town. Once the police knew where to look, the cadaver dogs picked up the scent right away. Dog's noses are amazing things! He was found in a shallow grave back behind the cabin.

We had a full-blown funeral for Sean at St Stephen's. Father John officiated; the Men and Boys' Choir was there and we sang our hearts out. All the Järvinen's and all the Taverney's were in attendance at the church and at the reception back at our house. There were a whole lot of tears—proving Grandpa Tomo's adage on hurt and love. Evan asked me to help him write a letter to his dad that he read at the service—it was beautiful and heart wrenching. Sean's buried together with Evan's mom now. They have a new headstone—'Beloved parents of Evan O'Malley Taverney' (oh yeah, Evan changed his name as quickly as he could). He really likes it when I call him 'Tav', which was one of Sean's nicknames—you can tell, 'cause he gets that really cute little dimpled smile.

Call it irony, karma, or provenance—I guess all three. Even though the Prick wasn't really his father, Evan inherited everything from the estate. His will had left everything to Evan's mom. Even though she had already passed away, her will left everything to Evan, and the State recognized 'the intent of her wishes'. There was a double indemnity on his life insurance; Evan got triple. The insurance company tried to dodge the whole thing—arguing that he essentially committed suicide. Uncle Alan's the Järvinen lawyer. He loves to tell the story of how the judge asked the insurance lawyer if he were really going to argue that 'the wolves were complicit in an assisted suicide'—they settled after that. Between the insurance, the Prick's other assets, and the car business, Evan is a seriously well-off guy. He donated the house—way too many bad memories. St Stephen's now owns it and is going to make it a home for those in need. Kyle and I are working on our Eagle Project—designing and raising money to refurbish it. Evan also donated a nice sum to the Quebec-based International Wolf Center; it seemed appropriate. Oh, the backpacks down in the gun safe—the money's still there. We call it our ATM—there's enough there to last a very long time. We never did figure out where that money came from.

The Boy Scouts did give me a medal. After the 'incident in the woods', they upgraded the medal from the Heroism Award—for using your Boy Scout skills; to the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms—for recognizing actions that involve extreme risk to self. I was actually offended by that and tried to argue with Mr. Burgess. I was never at 'extreme risk of self'; I had a solid bead on the Prick all along! I think that he thought, I was kidding. He was right about Mayor Werner. Once he got wind of the Boy Scout award, and how few of those they give out, he did jump into the limelight. I didn't care, until he repeatedly got my name wrong; even after I, and others, corrected him. Finally, I stuck my head in and stole his mike, "Sir, It's Vil, not Will. V as in Vermont; not Wermont!" You should have heard the roar of laughter from the audience at that one. I don't think the Mayor liked me after that. No matter, he didn't get re-elected. He was a New York transplant and tried to bring too many 'New York initiatives' to Vermont. His opponent asked to use my 'Vermont, not Wermont' line as a campaign slogan. I told her I didn't own it and she was free to use it—she won.

Don't tell the Scouts, but Evan got his raincheck on me in my full uniform—tight shorts and all. The 'rents were away for the weekend, and we snuck into our woods—me in my Scouts uniform, Evan in his Lax uniform. The lax player took the Scout over a fallen log. No one around but a curious fox. We're going to trade places next opportunity! In related news, we sadly had to retire the 8th grade jock strap this spring. It was way too tight and was starting to cut off the circulation in my thighs. We modified the Boy Scout rules for appropriately and respectfully burning old American flags, and had a ceremony around the campfire. Jason and Henry were in attendance. Evan surprised me with one of his newer jock straps. They all insisted that I model it in the firelight—so I channeled my inner 'bold Evan' and did! Afterwards, we retired to our respective tents—neither couple was quiet, I think we scared off the wildlife! It's interesting how our love making changes with our moods—incredibly tender and loving; giggly and fun; alpha-wolf, testosterone laden.

I'm teaching Evan everything I know about the wilderness, how to survive, track, hunt. Let's be generous and say it's a work in progress. I'm confident now that he could survive in the wild; as long as I am at his side, otherwise he's screwed. I love him, but he can't hunt to save his life. He'd have to stumble across the only blind, deaf, and hobbled animal in the woods to catch anything. I call him Ivan when were out because he makes sooo much noise. I will say he has seriously upgraded the quality of our cooking out in the woods. I can keep you fed; he can take the same ingredients and make you swoon! He also has the amazing ability to position our tent in the exact spot to give us an amazing view when the sun comes up the next day—the artist eye, I guess!

Evan's going to take a year off after he graduates, that way we can head to college together—he for Fine Arts; me for Environmental Sciences and Wildlife Management. He's planning on concentrating on his artwork in that interim year. He did take art with Mr. Ableburn and has been on a high all spring with what he's been learning and the improvements he's made with some formal instruction. Mr. Ableburn has been equally excited with what he's seen of Evan's raw talent.

The school had a spring art exhibit which featured a lot of Evan's work—some his older material that he'd restored; some new wilderness scenes from our outings; and much to my embarrassment, some of me. I'm not sure which were more 'revealing', Nordic skiing in Lycra or shirtless in the woods (I wouldn't let him put in any of the 'completely naked' pictures he'd drawn in the school exhibit!). Mr. Ableburn has a couple of local artists already lined up for Evan to study under during his year off—one specializes in wildlife, how cool is that!

Evan's planning on working at the garage for the summer; learning his business from Alan, the manager that really makes the whole place function smoothly. I've landed a sweet internship with a regional environmental group. The guy I interviewed with said I was the only candidate that had the underlying environmental sciences background; but who could also tie it together with the bigger picture and vision of the goals. I'd been channeling my inner Evan-artist when I described that picture—thank you Evan!

We're counting our relationship in months now instead of days and weeks; but it feels like we've been together forever. We're already talking post-college and we haven't even graduated high school yet—it's fun to think about it! We're definitely inside each other's heads—understanding more and more every day who each of us is and what makes us tick. I'd said before that I wanted my heart to belong to Evan, and his heart to me—yeah, we got that Christmas wish!

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