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Dahawk

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About Dahawk

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    Manic Poster

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  • Age in Years
    48
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    Male
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    Bisexual
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    Everything
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    Pennsylvania, USA
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    Enjoy reading, writing, and occasional video games.

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  1. Dahawk

    Sad News

    Just stopping by, to thank each of you for the positive thoughts and prayers, along with the kind words. I had lost use of the entire right side of my body from a rare type of stroke. I have been working hard with various therapists and I am relearning to walk, write and feed myself. My speech is returning to normal. I will check in regularly. Remember to be kind and love one another. Love and best wishes, Rob
  2. Dahawk

    Empty Nest

    Kyle and Blu had rushed around after returning from the family’s California vacation, only to find they had to rush a majority of their kids off to sports camp for the next four weeks. Levi had decided since his accident had taken his ability to play professional baseball away from him, he would learn the coaching aspects of the game at camp. Brody was going to enjoy the time he had left of high school baseball in the upcoming school year, and Cody was continuing to push forward in his pursuit to become even better at his cherished sport. Jonathan was following in his brother’s footsteps and trying to continue to learn the intricacies of the sport. After the pair returned home, the house was unusually quiet with having only Sage, Link, and Noah home with them. Blu actually found himself feeling a bit blue from suffering empty nest syndrome. Blu wandered through the house swinging his arms, picking stuff up, and putting them in their place even if it was to slide it an inch over. He wandered into the kitchen looking around at the spotless room, then over to the refrigerator opening the door and peering at the shelves. He hovered there for a few minutes, decided the date was close on the milk and sniffed it then set it back on the shelf. Kyle walked into the kitchen a few minutes later to find the man on his knees in front of the appliance surrounded by the contents of the entire refrigerator. “Er... What are you doing, babe?” He asked with his head tilted in confusion. “Huh,” Blu grunted, turning his head over his shoulder, “Wha?” “Is there a reason you have Kahn sitting here rigid as a statue drooling like a fiend waiting to feed his addiction?” Kyle asked only for the dog to look over at him and release an almost frustrated huff. “Uh… I’m bored as fuck. The kids up and left us, Sage and Link won’t let me play with Noah because he’s ‘sleeping’ supposedly. I already gave Kahn his bath, I’ve cleaned the upstairs bathroom. I even tried to play your stupid violin but that just made Kahn howl, and I couldn’t find you to do, well you know. So, now I’m cleaning out the refrigerator,” he said in a huff, turning back to the food and throwing a gnarly looking plastic takeout container into the trash can for three points. Kyle snickered at the entire situation, while their dog’s puddle of drool on the floor continued to grow along with the thud of his tail smacking the floor. ***** Returning from a meeting at the school, Kyle sought out his loving husband and eventual son-in-law, “Blu, Sage, can I speak to both of you in my office? Please?” Sage was the first to appear with his smile to quickly disappear when he spotted Kyles briefcase which was stuffed into one of those clear flimsy trash bags that he had only ever seen used in school. “I suppose you want me to sit down?” Sage asked as he looked at the chair facing the man’s desk. “You think?” Kyle looked at the young man before him as if he were speaking to one of his students, “I’ve had enough of the shenanigan’s, I can’t even use my briefcase thanks to you and my husband. Speaking of where is he hiding?” Sage sunk down in the chair feeling like a scolded child in the principal’s office, “I think he is scrubbing the grout on the firepit.” Just as Sage finished talking Blu sauntered into the office. “Hey Blondie, you call–“ his eye caught the inside of the briefcase. “Oh, shit!” he spun on his heel and fled the office like he was being chased by a wild animal. “Back later,” he called out. “Freeze love of mine!” Kyle shouted. “Can’t stop now, gotta get to the hardware store. Love ya, bye.” Blu swiped his keys from the hook and flew through the front door. The last thing Kyle and Sage heard was the door slam shut. “Coward,” muttered Sage, crossing his arms in a huff. “Uh-huh,” Kyle muttered in agreement more to himself than anybody. “I’m sure we won’t need to have this discussion between you and me again, shall we?” His gaze dropping to his trashed briefcase which was riddled with remnants of a soiled diaper. “I’ll make sure me and Blu replace it. But just so you know it’s all his fault, he put one in my gym bag. You wouldn’t believe the dirty looks I got when I pulled shit covered clothes out in the locker room at the Y,” He shrugged his shoulders. “I really thought that was Pop’s briefcase, you were a casualty of war.” Kyle let out a sigh, “I appreciate you manning up, I needed to replace my briefcase but I’ve held onto it for sentimental reasons.” He remembered the day Nan had given it to him, after announcing the plans for renovating and turning the school into a better institution with his husband and brothers help. “I’m really sorry, Dad.” Sage scrubbed his hands over his face feeling like an asshole. “Will you at least let me try to clean it for you?” “Thanks,” Kyle looked at the baggage cringing, “but no thanks. It’s just gross to even think about carrying my paperwork and sometimes a sandwich in it.” Kyle then thought to himself in wicked ways that his husband was going to pay for his part in the defecation of his trustworthy work companion. ***** Blu had just finished mixing the concrete to use for the new rockery he was putting against the yard side of the pool fencing, when he looked up and surprised to see his daughter walking toward him with a cold soda in each hand. He stood up straight groaning as his back straightened, but his face lit up at the sight of Bella. “Hello, sweetheart, what are you doing here?” he asked, holding his dirty arms out for a hug. Bella laughed. “Yeah, but no Pop. I’ll hug you for an hour straight, after you’ve cleaned up. But here,” she held out an orange soft drink. “Dad said you’ve been out here for hours and could probably use a drink.” Snickering, Blu took the can from Bella. “So, what kind of mood was he in when you arrived?” “Fine,” she shrugged her shoulder. “Cool,” he answered popping the top of his drink then downing almost three-quarters of it. He smacked his lips together with an, “Ahh, fuck that’s the shit.” He grinned at Bella. “I wish I’d known you were coming I can’t leave this, you go inside in the air condition and I’ll be in soon. Then we can catch up.” He bent forward giving his daughter a peck on the cheek. “Okay,” she said giggling, “Tracy’s here, do you want me to send him out to help you?” “Um…” Blu looked around at the amount of work left to do, “yeah, sure. If he is willing and doesn’t mind, the help would be great, and then we can spend more time together.” He smiled. “Call your Uncle Kaleb to see if you can get us a reservation for tonight, there’ll be six of us and a high chair. More if you want to invite the rest of the family. Up to you.” He gave his daughter a wink and went back to his task. ***** Tracy polished off his third piece of cheesecake setting down his fork, “I don’t think I eat anymore. I stuffed like a bird?” He pat-rubbed his stomach. Sage snorted iced-tea from his nose, “You mean you feel stuffed like a turkey?” Groaning Tracy looked at him, “Yes. I said stuffed like a bird, yeah.” Link laughed, “Last time I ate that much of Uncle Kaleb’s cheesecake I had to hide from the rest of the family. They were all mad they didn’t get normal-sized pieces.” He could still remember hiding inside the laundry room when it had the lock on the door, eating straight from the pie tins his uncle had sent the sweet delicacy over in. Kaleb smacked his nephew in the back of the head as he walked by overhearing the comment, “Yeah, you were a little asswipe back then.” He snickered recalling his brother-in-laws pissed off phone call that day ranting how unfair it was having only a small sliver of the cheesecake he had begged for. “Still is,” Blu muttered as he reached for Noah, only to get smacked by Link for the third time. “Back off, Pop.” “Stupid kids,” he grunted, giving Kyle puppy dog eyes. “Did you see what your son just did to me?” Kyle dropped his cloth napkin on the floor bending over to pick it up to keep from rolling his eyes at the theatrics that had become the spectacle of his husband and son’s interactions. “So Bella,” he stated as he straightened back up, “how are you and Tracy enjoying summer break?” Bella and Tracy eyed each other knowingly before answering. “It’s fine,” Tracy glanced quickly at Bella waiting for her okay, when she nodded he continued, “we are here for a week, and then Bella and I will be going to introduce her to my parents. We’ll be in Norway for one month. Then we come back here for a week – if you’re okay with it – before returning back to California for school.” He fidgeted anxiously in his seat waiting for the reaction of his girlfriend's parents. “That’s wonderful isn’t it babe?” Kyle smiled lovingly at his husband. “Mm. Sure.” Blu grunted. Kyle shot his husband a look, then focused on their daughter and Tracy. “Your father meant he hopes you enjoy your visit. He will miss all of you kids, won’t you babe?” “Yes, of course, that’s what I meant,” Blu huffed. He glared pointedly at Tracy. “You better be bringing her back.” “I bring her back to you Blu. Momma will love her as much as you,” Tracy patted her hand that rested on the table between them before lacing their fingers together. “Good,” Blu grunted, “I don’t understand why all you kids need to leave. We only got you like five minutes ago.” “Babe,” Kyle reached over placing his arm around his husband the best he could from his seat. “Kids grow up, we are really lucky to be a part of that process. I mean look at our first grandson,” Noah took the moment by the horns and threw a bite of his cheesecake at some old woman who wore a scowl on her face since the moment she sat at the table beside them. “Well, maybe that wasn’t such a good example,” Kyle chuckled. Almost rolling on the floor with laughter, Blu tried to speak, “I don’t know, I think it was kinda perfect. Ba hahahahaha.” “Oh, God help me,” Lincoln looked at his son who was now blowing raspberries at the woman as she wiped his dessert off of her cheek and at his Pop who was laughing hysterically. “I’m so sorry. He has never done that before,” Link apologized to the woman who glared pointedly at the family. Sage leaned into Lincoln’s shoulder, “At least he never done that in a restaurant before.” He said in a hushed tone. Kaleb walked over along with his hostess to assist the patron, “I apologize for my Great-Nephew’s actions. This wonderful young lady will help get you situated at another table and I will personally comp your check. I hope that will help make up for this unfortunate event.” After assuring the lady was satisfied with the outcome, Kaleb walked over picking up Noah who was still blowing raspberries at the woman, “Let’s take you back to my office where you can’t bother our other customers.” As he bounced the baby on his shoulder he whispered to Noah, “She doesn’t have a sense of humor does she,” he shook his head to the baby as they turned to walk off. “Hey,” Blu groused as he shot out of his seat, “how come the shithead gets to have the kid.” He stomped off after his brother-in-law without a thought for anyone else at the table. Tracy chuckled leaning over to kiss Bella quickly. “You papa, he loves fiercely.” Lincoln chuckled overhearing Tracy, “No shit! That little tantrum of Noah’s is because he is being spoiled by Pop. Have ever seen a six-month-old have their cereal mixed with ice cream for breakfast?” Link shot a look at his Dad, “Well I have, it’s not a pretty sight it is almost like giving him pure sugar.” Kyle waved his hand, “Don’t be dramatic.” He smiled. “And, it was frozen yogurt, not ice cream.” ***** “Pop, we won’t be moving yet. Why are you making up all those boxes now?” Sage pointed to a growing cardboard fort in the corner of the living room. “You’re going to need them, you know for when you leave us too.” Blu not as discreetly as he thought wiped his eyes. Sage patted Blu’s shoulder trying to soothe the man’s feelings, “We’re only moving into the apartment above the garage, which is what maybe fifty-feet from where we are standing?” He glanced toward the newly installed door. “Still,” Blu said as he continued to make up the next box. “Leaving is leaving. Bella went all the way to California. You and Link are moving out, and the rest of our boys went to bumfuck nowheresville to sweaty jock camp. What’s next? Kyle and Kahn run away to join a motorcycle gang.” Blu accidentally ripped the box in his hands with the force he now exuded the further he got into his rant. “Oookay,” he petted Blu’s shoulder again. “You just stay here and try to relax, I’m going to get the men with the butterfly nets and your husband. Okey-Dokie. I’ll be right back.” Sage turned from Blu moving quickly and yelling loudly. “Dad, Pop’s cheese slid off its cracker and we need something stronger than an afternoon snack down here.” Kyle rushed out of his office glancing around to see what the commotion was all about. “What’s going on?” “Uh…” Sage scratched his head. “Well, you see. Hmm. Maybe it’s just better if you go check on your man there, he’s becoming a little,” he tilted his head side to side, “unhinged?” he said carefully. Kyle turned glancing around the corner of the entry into the living room, “Who’s all the boxes for?” Blu waved a hand in the air while the other grabbed another box. “Your sons,” he grumbled, “they’re leaving us, remember? Just like all the others.” “Babe,” Kyle said as he walked in easing his arm gently around Blu, “why don’t we take a seat? You need to destress a bit, maybe we could have Sage make you a warm cup of cocoa?” He suggested. Narrowing his eyes at Kyle while he was gently guided to the couch. “I’m not a child, you know. I’m just having an itsy bitsy meltdown is all.” He fell onto the couch with the force that Kyle pushed him. “Take it easy, will ya. I’m fragile right now. My baby is all the way over there in that stupid Norway place falling in love and shit.” He sighed. “Then she’s going to move over there away from us.” Kyle sighed, “We should be really happy for Bella to have found such a loving guy like Tracy. You know his world revolves around our sweet little girl.” He said as he sat next to his husband, pulling him into his side. “All we can ever hope for each of our kids is to find the love of their lives, babe.” “Screw the love, did you see that fucker in the pool the other day. Damn, those pecs and abs. He must workout twenty-four seven. That alone would be enough for me.” Blu smirked at the jealous look on Kyle’s face. “You sound like a creepy old perve, you know that.” Kyle hit his husband on the back of the head and stood to leave his ass there. “Stop making up boxes, they won’t need them yet.” Blu’s phone rang from his pocket. “You answer that,” Kyle said, “I’m going to check with the doctor and see if we can get you some happy pills. The next thing you know we will have you painting Bob Ross’s happy little trees with happy little streams winding through them all the while happy little clouds float by and have Kahn happily frolicking through them.” Blu pulled his phone out of his pocket somewhat calmer than he was a few minutes ago. He frowned at the ID of the camp the boys went to. “Shit, what have they done.” He said aloud before answering the call. “Hello, Blu Waters.” “Mr. Waters, this is Brock from SPS Sports Camp. Unfortunately, I’m calling in regards to Jonathan Waters. He was stung by a bee during activities and we were unaware that he was allergic. You really should have noted that on his medical history, sir.” Blu stood grabbing Kyle’s arm. “What? Where is he? Is he alright?” “He is being airlifted from the camp due to the length of travel to the closest hospital. They are transporting him to Children’s Hospital in Boston.” The stranger informed Blu. “They were performing rescue breathing for your son when he left here.” “Are you fucking kidding me. We didn’t know he was allergic. Aren’t you supposed to have medical personnel there at the damn camp? Wouldn’t they have an EpiPen or something?” Blu yelled before hanging up. “Blondie we gotta get to the Children’s Hospital. Mother fuckers. Let’s go.” He moved as quickly as his legs could take him swiping the car keys on the way out. Kyle caught up with him taking the keys still not knowing what the hell was going on but knew it was bad. As the pair made the trip to the hospital Blu caught up Kyle on what had transpired so far as they had known. Also, the other boys had been sending text messages relaying what they had known from camp. Blu had sent a message to Jared and Mason so they could inform Lincoln and Sage, what had happened without working them up. The drive seemed like it might take forever to get there, even though it only took about forty-five minutes due to traffic in the city. As soon as the vehicle was parked, Blu shot out of the door like a bullet, headed for the emergency entrance. After eleventy-seven attempts with the nurse on reception at the entrance, they were finally escorted to Jonathan by security. Blu may or may not have threatened the nurse with life-ending injuries. But, once she’d called security Kyle had managed to settle Blu down and smooth things over with the big man with a gun on his hip. It also may or may not have required a call to Teddy for some family assistance. There stood a doctor injecting something into an IV in Jonathan’s elbow. “You’re breathing much better now young man,” the doctor stated after finishing administering the medication. “You gave everybody quite a scare, after not getting the reaction the camp nurse expected from their Epi-pen. You even got to fly in a helicopter to get here. Can you believe that?” The big burly Paul Bunyan looking doctor patted the boy’s shoulder, “I however wouldn’t pick no more fights with those bees your body doesn’t like them.” Turning the man looked in Blu and Kyle’s direction, “I’m Doctor Dover, you must be this young man’s dads.” He poked his thumb at Jonathan. Kyle nodded in the affirmative, “Yes we are, I promise you no matter what the rent-a-cop says Blu isn’t a violent person.” “I understand. But, just be aware we have a no-tolerance policy and that includes verbal abuse.” The no non-sense man told Kyle while glaring at Blu. “We just gave him some additional medication to help ease some of the breathing issues Jonathan was having. We’ll keep him for observation overnight,” the doctor looked at the men. “He should be fine in a few hours but it is our policy for somebody that has such a severe reaction to be watched closely for the first twenty-four hours.” “Okay, doc, thanks,” Blu mumbled, he leaned over kissing Jonathan on the forehead. “How’re you feeling little man?” “Throat’s sore,” Jonathan mumbled hoarsely. ***** The following week the house was back to normal with all the commotion that came along with having a house full of boys. The doorbell rang and Jonathan ran to answer it, he swung the door open to find an older gentleman dressed in an expensive suit and groomed all fancy for someone who would come to their house. “Um, I’ll get my dads. Wait here.” He slammed the door shut and called out for Kyle. “Dad! Someone fancy at the door for you.” “What, buddy?” Kyle smiled walking from the living room toward his youngest son. “Who’s at the door?” Jonathan shrugged. “Dunno, didn’t ask. Can I go in the pool?” “After lunch, little man, go help Pop with lunch,” he said ruffling the young boy’s hair before continuing on to the front door. He pulled the door open again to find the man now with his back to the door. “Can I help you?” Kyle asked. He turned around with a stoic expression. “Yes, I’d like to talk with Mr. Blu Waters, if I may?” “Uh, of course, and you’d be?” “Beg my pardon, I’m Professor Benjamin Hawthorpe from Boston University. Dean of the English Department, I’d like to enquire with Mr. Waters with some business on behalf of the University.” “Kyle Waters, Blu’s husband. Nice to meet you, won’t you come in?” Kyle mentally rolled his eyes at the pompous ass. “Certainly, thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Waters.” “You can wait in the great room, while I fetch Mr. Waters for your audience.” Kyle held back a chuckle and turned away from the man as he settled in the room. As soon as he was within a foot from the room he screeched through the house. “Babe! You have a gentleman caller in the parlor.” A few moments later the stairs thundered with his husband's footsteps. “What the hell are you yelling about Blondie?” He raised an eyebrow at Blu. “You’ll see.” He took Blu’s hand and pulled him to the living room. “May I present Mr. Blu Waters. Mr. Waters, this is Mr.–” “Professor,” said pompous Benji. “My apologies, this is Professor Benjamin Hawthorpe from Boston University. The Dean of English if you would like to know. I’ll have Kahn fetch some tea.” Kyle almost bowed before leaving the room as he shook his head on the way to the kitchen. ***** Blu and Kyle were sitting at the dinner table with all the kids. “Okay, kids. The gentleman that was here this afternoon was the Dean of English over at Boston U. They’ve offered for me to teach a course over the coming weeks throughout the summer break. Do any of you have any objections to me working for the rest of the Summer?” Blu asked. Cody looked at his Pop with a smirk on his face, “Does this mean it will give you somebody else to hover over other than all of us? We love you but you’re driving everybody crazy smothering us since Jonathan’s accident.” “Yes, it will smartass. And just so you know I don’t give a shit, I’m your dad get the fuck over it. I’ll stop when you're dead. And, with a mouth like yours, that won’t be too far off.” Blu pointed his fork at the kid looking around the table. “Anyone else?” Jonathan chimed in with a “Nope!” And the table remained silent all that was heard was the clattering of silverware on plates. “Great then I’ll accept the job. Cody,” Blu said with a smirk, “I’m going to enroll you in the course since you’re gonna miss me so much. Okay? Great.” He clapped his hands together to end the discussion. “You kids clean up since your dad cooked; I’m taking him to a movie and for some ice cream. Behave yourselves.”
  3. Summer had finally arrived and so had time for the annual Water’s family vacation, though this year the Water’s clan was being limited to just Kyle and Blu’s part of the family due to the increased size that the entire family had expanded too. They rented a villa on a private vineyard was going to serve as a home base for their vacation. Blu and Kyle would be using one of the master suites, Sage and Link would take another, while Brent and Val would use the only other open room. The rest of the boys agreed to crash in sleeping bags in the family room. There is a tiny guest cottage that they also rented for Tracy and Bella to use. The flight was scheduled to depart at nine-forty-five in the morning which had the house in a flurry of activity. “Pop do you know where my flip-flops are?” Cody shouted from the hallway. Blu looked down at his feet then scratched his head. “Uh… nope.” He laughed when Cody rolled his eyes. “I don’t know buddy, try out by the pool?” “And you don’t happen to have on a pair of orange-colored Nike flip-flop’s size eleven?” Cody asked looking at Blu’s feet. “You wear size eleven?” Blu asked incredulously then mumbled to himself, “How big is your junk, kid.” “Um keep them and nevermind I’ll get Tracy to take me to buy new ones once we get to California,” Cody’s face was tinged in pink from the embarrassment of his Pop asking such questions. Brent and Val had arrived a short time earlier and were bickering over the coffee pot. “Don’t you make the coffee it tastes like tar when you make it. It’s no wonder you drink yours with a half-pound of sugar in it,” Val snarked at Brent. “Bitch, bitch, bitch, take a freakin’ breath and step off your menstrual cycle, would ya,” Brent said mimicking Val before pulling the sugar container away from Val. “I guess your Mydol was expired because I borrowed a few this morning when I rolled out of your bed. Oh, and can’t you afford better shit-paper for the bathroom? I swear to god that’s damn near worthy of being rated as sandpaper,” Val grumbled as he poured the water in the coffee pot to brew. “Then in future get off and fuck off if you don’t like my place,” Brent said, smacking Val on the ass eliciting a yelp from the man. Blu cleared his throat and both men startled and jumped away from each other. “Guys, remember there are kids here.” Blu smirked and hopped on the counter waiting for the coffee. “Now lets discuss in detail about this ‘Get off and fuck off’ theory. How does that go and don’t’ leave anything out.” “Oh. Uh if I recall Brent was getting hit from the rear and beggin’ for me to do him harder. It was “oh Val, I love it when you’re rough,’” Val did his best impersonation of Brent and just to piss him off he had a little lisp at the end. “Daa-aad,” Jonathan squealed as he slid into the kitchen in his socks, the kid inventoried the adults tilted his head and continued warily, “Where’s dad?” “What’s up, little man?” Blu asked his son, while receiving a cup of coffee from Val. “Thanks.” “I can’t find…” Jonathan trailed off as Kyle rushed out of the laundry with Jonathan’s swim trunks and his UV shirt. “Here you go, keep packing we have to be out of here in one hour, chop,chop.” He turned to his husband and stole his coffee. “Thanks, babe.” Blu laughed and stole Val’s. “Thanks, man.” “See at least Blu has manners and doesn’t need to kill the cup of coffee,” Val stated as he poured another cup for him. “Some people do have tastebuds. Unlike some uncivilized individuals,” he said before sipping his coffee. Brent looked over his shoulder to check for little kid ears, “And some people aren’t such drama queens this early in the morning.” Sage wandered into the kitchen and froze in his tracks seeing both Brent and his brother in the same room and neither were attempting to murder one another. “What the hell did I miss? Last time I saw you guys together it was some weird form of Blmixed-martial-arts mayhem in the foyer.” Blu laughed loudly “They figured out they could fight and fu–” Kyle’s hand slapped over Blu’s mouth. “Enough I have a little kid as my shadow,” Kyle chuckled as he removed his hand from his husband’s mouth. “So…” Sage staring at his brother and Brent scratched his head, “Really? Okay, just how is this gonna work? I don’t ever remember seeing you date anybody since you were in high school.” Sage stated. “And you both are like polar opposites or oil and water or whatever weird shit people say.” “Mind your own bees wax,” Val told his brother, “Your sister will be here soon, be prepared for mayhem and drama, that cocksock took off on her and stole the money she’d saved up while she was pregnant. It’s ugly, little brother.” “Couldn’t you have wired her money from Cali’ or something?” Sage asked. “It’s not like she didn’t know the idiot was worthless before.” He sighed, “If she shows up and ruins our vacation Val I swear to god I will take you to the cheapest veterinarian and have you neutered and you will be Brent’s bitch.” Pointing at his brother, Val laid into Sage. “Watch your mouth, she’s your sister. Yes, she’s hard work but we love her and will make sure she’s got a support system. Understood?” The little admonishment garnered a lot of respect from Blu and Kyle. The family and extended as such have the same motto as the marines. ‘No man left behind.’ “Ya,” Sage grumbled. “Fine, but isn’t it convenient the day we are leaving for vacation Juan or whatever his name is, steals all of her money? I mean have you even seen her since she had the baby? I sure haven’t and she doesn’t call or text.” He shook his head before taking another drink from his mug. “I don’t want to hear it, Sage. You will be nice to Thyme, I’m not kidding you, Sage. Things are rough for her, she’s only seventeen just like you and she’s scared. I see how you are with everyone in this house, you could use the same gentle hand with your sister. Do you hear me?” Val was firm and gave his brother the same ‘Don’’t mess with me’ glare that usually made him fall in line. It’s not like Val had had to use it a lot with Sage, but sometimes it was warranted. The younger sister was a handful, Val knew that but it was the three of them against the world. He softened when Sage looked a little admonished, but Sage being Sage had to follow up. “Okay, but maybe rather than giving her cash that Julio can steal, we go buy her some prepaid debit cards?” Sage suggested refusing to call Thyme’s babies daddy by his real name. “Hell if the baby needs diapers Link and I might have some left that Noah outgrew.” He knew that over the last few months Noah has been hitting growth spurts and they had unopened packages of diapers and clothes that even if they used a shoehorn they couldn’t squeeze Noah into them. The only time Sage had seen his nephew was the day Angel was born, even that memory was tainted by Thyme’s boyfriend showing up with a few of his buddies from the Los Lobo gang that he is the leader of. “Hey, guys,” Blu interrupted, “this is not a conversation for today, okay. Val has already told her she’s coming, so she is. Sage, make peace with it and do your best to support your sister. If she acts out we’ll sic Cody on her ass. Let it go and try and enjoy the vacation.” “Okay,” Sage said with acceptance. “Link and I’ll spoil Angel while I can, god knows his sperm-donor doesn’t worry about it.” Blu sighed as the doorbell rang out through the house. “We’re going to finish packing and we’ll get the door on the way through, that’s probably her now.” He steered Kyle from the kitchen because the brothers seemed to have no end in sight for their argument. Kyle opened the door, as expected a female version stood nervously at the door with two suitcases beside her. “Come on in,” Kyle smiled ushering her into the house. “Glad, you could make it. I’m Kyle and the man grabbing your suitcases is my husband, Blu.” He smiled welcomely at the young girl. He chuckled, “And the same man that is now stealing your baby is harmless.” Blu swept past the mother and Kyle and up the stairs while he talked to Angel in his sweetest baby voice. “Sorry about him, you will see your baby again, I promise. Your brothers are in the kitchen through the archway, just there.” He pointed. The affronted girl seemed to be unsettled and confused. Kyle called out to the guys. “Val, come greet your sister, she looks like she’s about to implode, Blu stole her baby.” Val walked into the foyer pulling Thyme into a hug, “You look good. How’s Angel?” “Um, I don’t know,” she answered with her brow furrowed. Leaning forward she whispered, “Some man just took him and disappeared, what should I do?” Chuckling Val released her from the hug, “don’t worry Angel will be back, Blu is greedy with spoiling babies.” Hearing his brother talk about spoiling babies Sage decided to give up on his hostilities for the moment, “Let me guess Blu? And hey Thyme,” He said giving their sister a kind smile. “I guess? And hi.” Thyme said looking down at the floor unwilling to meet Sage’s eyes for fear of seeing judgment in them. “Let’s agree, I won’t make any mean comments while we are on vacation and we’ll spoil Angel and his cousin Noah rotten.” Sage offered as a form of treatise. “Does Angel need diapers for the trip? I’m sure Link and I have extras? Maybe even some clothes? With all the construction on the apartment, Lincoln has been taking Noah shopping so he can nap uninterrupted. ***** The flight to California went off without much fanfare, most of the group slept. Noah found watching out the window fascinating. It seemed like in no time at all they were landing at a private airfield approximately thirty minutes from Bella and Tracy’s house. A charter bus had been rented for their entire vacation so nobody had to worry about driving. However, Bella and Tracy had taken a taxi down to the airport to welcome their family to sunny California. As soon as the door to the plane open Cody and Jonathan were off like a shot, ready for the fun times to begin even if their dads were old and slow. Kyle shook his head at how quick their youngest disappeared, “I wonder if they realize they need to get their luggage?” “Probably not.” Blu sighed. It’s going to be a long vacation. “Well, at least we got all of the kids together, at some point they aren’t going to want these big family vacations,” Kyle said smiling as he spotted Bella and Tracy through the window of the terminal. Spartan decided he was done walking behind Kyle and nuzzled him to the side pulling Levi along. “Sorry, Dad. I think somebody is ready for a pee break,” Levi said with a shrug. “All good, as long he doesn’t use my leg to pee on,” Kyle called out to a retreating Levi. As soon as the family got inside the terminal Tracy snagged Blu into a bear hug, “How was flight? Good?” He added a few slaps on the back before releasing his newest friend. “Long,” Blu chuckled returning the greeting, releasing his daughter's boyfriend he pushed Kyle into the giant. “Better hugs than Stephanie, trust me.” He winked at Kyle. Tracy enveloped Kyle with his bone-crunching hug, “You enjoy California. Yes?” Kyle smiled at the big blonde, “Yes, we enjoy California very much. And you were right Babe his hugs are definitely one for the books.” After receiving his pats on the back Kyle smirked at his husband, very few peoples hugs could invoke the friendliness that Steph and now Tracy’s hugs are capable of. At the little luggage turnstile, they found Jonathan riding the circular conveyer belt around. “Hey, Pop, look at this ride it’s fun!” The boy called out with a gigantic smile on his young face. Cody stood off to the side chuckling at his little brother's antics. Bella shook her head at Jonathan muttering under her breath, “Get off of there. You don’t want Pop seeing that.” She saw their Pop turning toward Jonathan and covered her face with her hand, awaiting whatever was to come. “Oh, freakin’ Jesus, Jonathan, git off of that you’ll hurt your damn self,” Blu griped as he moved at the speed of light to his youngest son. “But it was fun,” Jonathan stated as he hopped off of the conveyor. “Why are adults fuddy-duddies?” He furrowed his brow at Jonathan. “are stitches fun, or amputation?” he grabbed the boy positioning him at his side. “You stay right next to me until we get on the bus. No wandering off.” He turned to Cody. “You keep laughing and you’ll be on dish duty for the entirety of the vacation.” Blu looked around. “Where the hell did your dad go?” he mumbled. Sage came back from the little airport gift shop with a new pair of shades for Lincoln and himself. After the pair had put their new sunglasses on Sage stooped down to Noah who was in his stroller with the canopy pulled over shading him. He reached into the bag pulling a miniature pair of sunglasses out and placing them on Noah along with a hat that said ‘Surfer Dude’ on it. Sage whispered to Noah, “Uh oh Grand-dad is in trouble and Grampy is being grampy.” The little one blew raspberries and threw his little arms in the air like ‘oh well.’ Lincoln turned to Blu, “Pop, I think Dad went to organize the bus while everybody was waiting on their luggage.” “Oh, thanks Sage. Help me keep an eye on these yahoos, would ya. I don’t have eyes in the back – Jonathan,” Blu called out, “I said stay here with me.” Blu scrubbed his hands down his face in frustration then looked around area again. “Where the hell did Levi and Brody go, for effs sake.” Sage was laughing so hard he had tears running down his face. He pointed out the window at what he guessed Californian’s called a patch of grass which resembled more sand than anything and there stood Levi and Brody while Spartan sniffed the ground spinning in circles for just the right spot to do his business. Family: Get your effing asses to the luggage carousel right effing now before I cause a effing scene. Not you Blondie, you get the bus before my head explodes. Kaleb: Is Blu havin’ a tantrum? Blu: Fuck off, shit head. It’s like I’m vacation with 19 Kaleb’s it’s a fucking nightmare and we only just landed. Send Kassidy! Only kidding, that would be too much. Kaleb: Lol. Glad the kids are making you remember me! Kassidy is grounded from all electronics til she’s 40. Maybe longer. Have fun! Blu: Good luck, asshole. Give mom a hug for me. Davis: Kaleb is busy yelling, his face is redder than I’ve ever saw. I’ll give mom a hug. Blu: Thanks TTYL I’m off to kill my kids. Thyme walked up beside Sage, “This is different, being with such a large family.” “Oh, they’re crazy for sure, but a good kind of crazy. Give them a chance, you’re gonna love them. Blu is fun to rile up, Kyle kind sits back and laughs until he has to step in.” Thyme’s phone started ringing so she looked at the display sighing before answering it, “Miguel, I’m on vacation with my brothers.” Sage snatched the phone from his sister. “Listen up, a-hole. You left my sister high and dry. If she wants to talk to you she’ll call.” He dodged Thyme as she tried to get the phone from him. “Don’t call her again.” When he hung up he threw the phone on the floor and stomped on it, then threw it in the trash can. “Come on sis, we’ll get you a new one with a new number. Forget that asshole, you have us.” He wrapped his arms around his sisters wildly swinging arms until she calmed down and sobbed into his chest. Luckily Lincoln had grabbed for Angel when it had all started, he stood alongside them soothing the baby with tears in his eyes for his boyfriend's twin sister. Thyme wiped her eyes and dried her cheeks, “Sage, you shouldn’t have done that to Miguel. He’s not going to be nice when we get back home.” “We’ll figure it out. Me, you, and Val, right? We’re family we stick together. You just need to let us help you,” Sage told her sadly. “But he’s Angel’s dad. Los Lobo won’t let me leave, Sage.” Thyme sighed accepting that her fate was sealed the moment she became pregnant. “Then we’ll send you somewhere he can’t get to you, we’ll figure it out. Don’t stress, let’s enjoy this vacation that the Waters’ have generously bestowed upon us. Spend this time to get to know them, we’ll talk to Val and Brent tonight and they’ll figure something out for when we get back. You just have to trust us.” Sage hugged her. “We love you sis, promise you’ll let us help?” She nodded her head, “I’ll try.” Looking around she spotted the rest of the group heading out the door, “We’d better catch up, don’t wanna become homeless in California.” Taking Angel back in her arms she looked into her son’s eyes, “Daddy can be scary, can’t he my Angel?” She said quietly. ***** “ARABELLA!” Blu screeched through the house as he walked to the living room holding a cat cage like a bomb. His daughter looked up with the innocence of a child. “Yes, Poppy, is something wrong?” she asked. “What.The.Hell.Is.This. And why the freakin’ heck is it here?” he demanded, as Kyle rushed into the room sighing with relief and chuckled happy it wasn’t worse than he’d imagined. “I thought we might need an ambulance they way you were screaming,” Kyle shook his head as he looked in the little pet carrier which contained a very pissed off looking Scarlett her eyes were bugged out and her fur was standing on end like she had been electrocuted all the while she was hissing hysterically. “Take this ninja furball back to your cottage and keep it there,” Blu huffed, “fuking cat.” Tracy reached over opening the door on the carrier plucking the little bundle of fur out, caressing her while whispering to Scarlett, “Who’s Daddies little Scar Scar?” The effing cat rubbed its face against the big man purring as it went, then jumped out of his arms and ran down the hallway. Blu stood stock still glaring at Tracy. “You’re dead to me.” Blu pointed at a laughing Bella. “Find that demon feline and get it out of this house or I’ll bury the thing alive.” Tracy went down the hall calling Scarlett’s name and returned a short while later. “She not like you Blu. She shred your pillow.” He gently placed the purring cat back in her crate and took ahold of it placing it safely under his arm. “Seriously get it out of here,” Blu grouched. ***** After a long day at Disney, the family returned to the villa to unwind and relax. Kyle sang along quietly to the radio as he and Val prepared a cold dinner of salad, bread and luncheon meat on a self serve platter for everyone to sort out their own meal. Sage happily cut up fruit while Blu and Lincoln fed the two babies while Thyme sat and watched Blu with curious eyes and a bit of a crush because of how he treated Angel with such love and kindness. “You okay, Tinny,” Val asked his sister using the pet name he had for her since she was little. “I’m good.” Thyme said as she opened her can of soda. “Boys, dinner’s ready,” Kyle called out to the living room where all the gremlins were lazily kicking back. “I’m starved,” Cody said rushing to the platter of food. “It’s been at an hour since I had anything good. That snickers bar didn’t last long.” He stated as he stacked his sandwich at least six inches high with meats and cheeses, “Mayo, where’s the mayo?” He asked glancing around for condiments, “oh, and pickles we need lots of pickles.” Looking towards the refrigerator he got a smirk on his face, “I could just put some ice cream on this and it would be a complete meal and even dessert.” Brent pushed the freezer tray back into the fridge. “You’re not having ice cream on your sandwich, delinquent. Go!” he glared until the teenager sullenly huffed belligerently and stomped his little ass back to his dinner. Blu gave the man a thumb up while he snuggled with one of the babies. A plate was put in front of Blu, Kyle swept hair out of his husband’s eyes bending over giving him a quick peck on the lips. “Eat that baby, it’s salami, cheese, and mustard just how you like it.” “Thanks, Blondie,” Blu said with an affectionate smile. “Oh, barf,” Cody said with a mouthful of food. “Shut up twerp,” Bella called out from her chair. “You’ll be all goo-goo eyed for somebody dumb enough to fall for you eventually. Well, maybe. You might have to pay them.” “Yeah, Cody. I hope me and Brody are still in love when we’re fifty, just like our dads,” Levi remarked, leaning over and kissing Brody in front of god and everybody. “Fifty?” Kyle looked at his son, “Really? I may have to recheck your math grades. I don’t look fifty, do I?” Kyle walked over picking up the toaster off the counter using it as a mirror. “Sorry, dad. You’re right. I meant sixty.” Levi laughed, shoving a piece of pineapple in his mouth. “Babe, we should’ve splurged and sent him to military school when we had the chance.” Kyle chuckled as he plucked a grape out of the bowl of fruit. Blu snorted, “Just what this country needs, another blonde sociopath at the helm. No thank you. I think it’s safer for everyone if we keep him hidden away.” “At least he’s not orange and has a full head of blonde hair. Also, no one cares about what he posts on twitter.” Kyle laughed. “True dat,” Brent laughed along while piling meat onto his bread. Lincoln finished feeding Noah, placing him on his shoulder to burp him. After a few pats on the back, a loud belch was heard. Link cradled the little one in his arm, handing him the Tinkerbell stuffed doll that Jonathan had bought him at Disney and now the kid wouldn’t even so much as look at the Pluto or Goofy that Sage and he had bought him. “I can’t believe you don’t like your goofy.” “Or Pluto. What kid doesn’t like Pluto?” Sage asked before taking a sip from Link’s glass of iced tea. “Hey, Bella,” Brent called to her, “do you think you and Tracy can watch the kids tonight so Val and I can go to a club with your dads?” “Hey,” Levi grouched, “we don’t need babysitters.” “Not you, idiot,” Brent scoffed, “the younger ones.” Tracy smiled at being asked to watch the kids. He felt he was a part of the clan, “We watch kids tonight, be fun right Elskede?” “Sure, happy to. Tracy can kick their butts at NHL17.” Bella giggled. “Awesome,” Brent grinned, “are you old farts up for a night out?” “Old farts? What the hell is wrong with everybody?” Kyle asked with a chuckle, “I believe I still pay your salary be it through Teddy or not. Plus I’m pretty sure you’re two months older than me.” “Wow, Brent you really are old,” Blu said cheekily. “Christ, he’s in bed before the sun is completely down,” Val scoffed. “Hard to have sex without poking him to wake up.” Blu shrugged. “So don’t wake him.” “Oh, my god. I don’t need to hear this.” Levi stood up yanking Brody from his chair. “Let’s go watch Netflix in the bedroom.” “But this was just getting good the old folks are bickering like they did on ‘Golden Girls’,” Brody said as he followed Levi’s retreating form. “I’m out. Come on Trace, let’s fire up the PlayStation.” Cody pushed Tracy out of the room. ***** “Just go,” Blu said to Sage and Lincoln, “we’ll be fine.” “See, baby, they’ll be fine. You didn’t schlep your guitar all the way to California to chicken out.” Sage told his boyfriend. “Come on, it’ll be fun and you deserve this. You’ve been working hard and you miss performing and playing for an audience.” “But last time we left Noah with pop, it took us a week to get rid of his Harry Potter scar. The time before that…” Lincoln was getting worked up until Sage stepped in to calm him down. “Come on, baby, relax. Your dads were just having fun, no harm was done and Noah seemed to enjoy it. Not that I think Cody did since they made him into a toad and made him hop around the room.” Sage chuckled. “Fine,” Lincoln stated looking at his clothes, “I’m not gettin’ all dressed up though, it’s too damn hot. I think I’d shrivel up and die if we lived here.” Link picked his arm up and sniffed and then shrugged his shoulders, “At least I don’t smell.” Bella and Tracy arrived, “You boys ready, we want to go with you. I didn’t get to see any of your gigs last time because of starting college.” “Okay but I’m only gonna do maybe a couple of covers at most,” Lincoln said as he looked at some of the stickers on his guitar case from different venues his band had performed at during his short career. The small group made their way to a campus of a nearby college which had placed advertisements online that somehow displayed on Sage’s cell when he was googling something about Disney. They found a nice comfy couch at the café and made themselves at home. Brent and Val sat down with them and the foursome looked at the two men incredulously. Bella asked, “Please don’t tell me my dads sent you guys to babysit us?” Brent wobbled his head side to side. “No, not babysit, just to make sure you’re safe. Plus, Val wanted to be here to support Sage’s boyfriend.” Bella waved her hand. “Potato, potahto, you’re here to babysit.” “Elskede, you’re dads just want you and brothers safe, there is nothing wrong with that.” Tracy kissed her forehead then pulled her into his side. “We are um… what is the word, applicate, no,” he glanced to Bella for help. “Appreciate?” she assisted. “Yes, that. Appreciate you coming,” Tracy smiled happily, “lets enjoy. Link, you go sing, we wait here.” Link looked nervously at the stage, the last time he performed had led to a complete change in his life which included the newest additions in his life, Noah and Sage. To say it was a life-altering moment would be an understatement. He grabbed his guitar and walked up on stage, “Hi. How’s everybody doing tonight?” Link said into the microphone, getting a little of the crowd’s energy. He started off singing, American Authors ‘Best Day of My Life.’ With the final strum of the guitar Link sang out, “The best day of my life… my L…i…i..i…ife…” as the final cords were sung the crowd erupted into applause. “Thanks… thank you… I recently became a father and found the love of my life. He actually is the reason I’m here tonight,” Lincoln chuckled. “I pretty much argued with Sage, not wanting to come tonight. But, he won out and as you can tell yeah I’m not gonna be left live the night down. There will be I told you so’s, so fine you were right Sage I’m having fun with my music again. I started writing music when Noah decided he didn’t want to sleep at night. The next song is one Noah inspired me to write, wether is good or just bores him to death he sleeps like a baby,” Link laughed. “Okay, anyway here goes.” The lights lowered and a slow melodic strum of the guitar started off the song segue into the lyrics. ‘I opened my eyes just the other day, alone and unlovable, There you were daddies little boy. You were created to become daddies little boy My life always was empty before you became daddies little boy. A little boy who needs a daddy A daddy who needs his little boy I never thought I’d be anything but unlovable And then there was daddies little boy…’ The final chorus faded out, the café was silent. Link opened his eyes at loud vacant silence feeling devastated that no one had even related to the song. When he looked around the audience people were wiping their eyes, then in a blink of an eye people were standing, cheering, and clapping their asses off. “I just wanna…” Link stopped speaking to gather his emotions that were impersonating a roller coaster at the moment. “Thank you, everybody,” Lincoln stood and walked off of the stage back to the booth the rest of his family was gathered in. “Well. Was it bad?” he asked as he sat down. Bella cried as the tears fell she hugged her brother tightly before anyone else could get to him. “I forgot how talented you are. That song was beautiful Link. I’m so proud of you.” “Thanks, sis,” Link whispered squeezing his sister tight. “Love you.” “Even when you think I’m asleep and you sing that to Noah, it really gets me right here,” Sage pointed to his heart. “I don’t think I could love you anymore than I already do, but if it’s possible I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying too.” A man approached Lincoln, Brent put his hand out to stop him from getting too close to the kids. “Can I help you?” “Uh…” he eyed Brent cautiously, “yeah, are you his agent?” “Huh?” Brent curled his lip up at the guy. “His agent? I’d like to speak about buying that last song. One of my clients,” the man looked directly at Link, “one of my clients is interested in purchasing that song from you.” Lincoln looked skeptically at the man, “Who’s your client? That song means a lot to me.” “I’m not at liberty to say at this time. He’s been looking for a ballad for a while now, when I heard this I called him and he’s adamant that he wants this song. I can tell you he’s a major country music headliner. That’s all I can say at this stage.” He held out his card. “He’s in town for two days. If you’re interested in selling your song get your agent to give me a call.” Brent took the card looking it over then giving it to Link, then moved through the crowd to make sure the man had left the premises. He trusted no one with the Waters’ kids. They were like his own and their safety always came first. Val stayed with the kids as Brent did his job. “That’s pretty exciting, Link. Do you have an agent?” Val asked. “Well no. We were approached by a few when I was with the band on the road but I have no idea whatever happened with that. I kind of fell out with the guys after Noah. What should I do?” Link asked anxiously. “We go back to the house and talk to your dads,” Brent said catching the tail end of the conversation, “I want us to go now. It’s too hard to watch you guys alone, here. You ready?” “Yeah,” Lincoln’s hand found Sage’s intertwining his fingers together. Sage grabbed Lincoln’s guitar, “Let’s go.” ***** As the crew returned to their temporary home, the house was utter chaos. There were plastic pirate swords and all the older kids were doing horrible re-enactments. Jonathan ran up to Val placing the tip of his sword in his crotch saying, “Aye matey gimme your gold or lose your jewels.” “Aye,” Blu approached Jonathan and Val with Noah dressed as a pirate, patch over his eye and Blu had a stuffed parrot gaffer taped to his shoulder. “Do as me pirate king says, or ye shall walk the plank. Aye!” “Your wench shall laugh no more,” Cody barked out at a snickering Brent. Levi joined in the fun, poking Brent in the guts with a plastic sword. “Give us ye gold, we want the gold. Gold! Gold! Gold!” he chanted as the rest joined in skipping and jumping around the two men. “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!” Brent laughed giving Val a “WTF” look, holding his hands in the air. “We have no gold, I’ll walk his plank.” He pointed to the man standing next to him. Jonathan poked Val in his junk, “The plank it is matey,” the boy got behind Val continuing to poke the man this time in the back as the group escorted the men to the pool and nudged them one at a time onto the diving board. “Off with you, your wench shall follow.” Brent glared at Val who was barely holding himself together after he heard Brent being referred to as his ‘wench.’ “You big baby Brent,” Val said as he walked off of the ‘plank.’ He surfaced the pool water sputtering, “this pool isn’t heated.” Cody chuckled, “Aye matey our fortunes are drying up, and your bits are shriveling up.” Val laughed, “I don’t know about that, but they’re certainly climbing back up. I can almost feel them in my throat.” “Bitch please,” Brent grumbled as he took his last fateful step off of the diving board. “Oh, holy mother of god that is fuckin’ cold,” He cursed as soon as he reached the surface of the water. “Who’s the bitch now?” Val chuckled as he pulled himself up out of the pool. ***** Link sat in a high rise building on the 30th floor nervously glancing from one wall to another. After explaining everything with his dads, Kyle, had contacted his lawyer. George the lawyer had organized for them to meet with the man from the card, an agent to represent him and another lawyer recommended from George. Kyle, put his hand on Link’s knee. “Relax, son. It’s going to be okay. You don’t have to sell the song if you don’t want to. Let’s just see what they say,” Kyle told him. When Link said nothing and continued to chew on his thumbnail he peered over his son’s head to his husband pleading for some help. There wasn’t enough time before a rail-thin, impeccably dressed lady approached the trio. “Lincoln Waters?” she asked. Link’s eyes shot to the woman as he took a deep breath, dropping his hand to his lap. “Yes, that’s me.” “Right this way, they’re waiting for you in the conference room. Please follow me.” She said turning around and walking off without a glance. The three men scurried to catch up with the swiftly moving woman. She stopped at a door then knocked twice before opening, stepping inside she waited for the men to move into the room. “Gentlemen, this is Lincoln Waters.” She left the room closing the door behind her. The room was very minimalistic and cold. A glass top conference table big enough to seat at least twenty people. One wall of windows showing downtown Las Angeles, and one piece of artwork on the other wood-paneled walls. A phone sat in the middle of the table, on one side was a silver tray with a Crystal pitcher of water and some glasses, on the other side a platter of pastries. “Gentlemen,” the man at the head of the table stood buttoning his suit jacket as he stepped over to the trio. “I’m Tyrone McCall, lawyer, George has asked me to sit in this meeting with you.” He shook their hands individually then motioned for them to sit as he introduced the other man in the room. “This is Presley Atkins, agent. We’ve asked to meet you early so we can get some details and talk you through the process. We will not sugar coat anything and if you have any questions ask as we don’t have much time before we meet with Mr. Cooper Layton…” Lincoln gasped, his eyes sprung from his head. “Seriously?” barely containing his excitement. “He’s like the biggest country music star there is..” he rattled off the man's music stats as the lawyer and agent grinned at the kid before bringing the meeting back to business. “That’s the one, as well as his agent. Everything will move swiftly until an agreement is met.” Mr. McCall went through everything from a legal standpoint and then the agent spent a quick couple of minutes asking Lincoln questions to get to know the kid until another knock on the door. It opened as all the air was sucked out of the room and a star-struck Link nearly passed out. Mr. Layton smiled at Link with a big genuine welcome. “Nice to meet ya, kid.” He shook his hand and slapped him on the back. “You ready to start your career?” “Let’s get this thing underway,” his agent commanded forcing his client to take a seat. The meeting went completely over Lincoln’s head. He watched as the agents went head to head fighting for every penny, royalty, and copyright. The lawyer only interrupted a few times while he took copious notes. By the end of the meeting he still had no idea what was happening. Did he sell the song, were they taking it from him. The financials, estimates, and predictions were beyond comprehension. Poor Link was so overwhelmed he couldn’t breathe, he stood and left the room. He needed to catch his breath. He stepped out of the room and leaned against the wall slowly sinking to the floor, his knees were bent up and Lincoln found some comfort in hugging them to his chest, making himself a smaller target. Just as he was calming down he felt body warmth sit down next to him. He expected it to be one of his dads, but it wasn’t. It was Cooper Layton. “You okay, kid?” “It’s a bit…” Lincoln searched for the correct words. “Overwhelming, intimidating, confusing?” he smiled at Link. Lincoln nodded, “Yeah, all of them. I went out the other night just to have fun, and reconnect with music and I shared a song that I hold dear to me. And… And now here we are.” Link shivered for no good reason, “I just can’t believe it.” Mr. Layton chuckled. “Yep, it can happen that quick. If this song is received the way I think it will be you’ll be writing songs for the rest of your life. Is that what you wanted?” “Yeah. I do,” Link smiled, “But, I want to be able to sing that song to my little boy at night. If that’s alright still? I know it won’t be mine anymore.” “Uh, I see your hesitation. But you know you’ll always be noted as the songwriter. What if I sweeten the deal, a little?” he asked. “Like what?” Lincoln asked the man who honest to god intimidated the shit out of him. “What’s your singing voice like, do you think you could handle doing some back up in the studio?” “I could sing the song to you acapella right now?” Lincoln said. The intimidating star chuckled, “That’s okay, not necessary. I’ll fly you out to Nashville before we record the song, you can practice with my usual back up singers and you can be on the album too.” “Umm… Wow… What if I suck and ruin your album?” Lincoln’s mind was waging war with itself. The giant asshole laughed. Laughed. Out loud. Link shrunk into himself. “Well, if you don’t mix well with the sound you don’t sing. But you can still hang around while we record the song. I’m planning to make it a single, also. Even so, I don’t think you will suck at it if that was you singing when the talent scout called.” “You heard me? Me singing ‘Daddies little boy’?” Lincoln stuttered nervously. “Let all the suits in there sort out that legal and money stuff. Me and you, we can concentrate on doing the fun bit, and create life's soundtrack for the fans. How does that sound?” Link eyed the man cautiously. “You’re different than I thought you’d be.” Mr. Layton chuckled. “What did you expect?” “Somebody snobbish, that thought he was better than some stupid teen kid that messed up and has a kid of his own at seventeen,” Lincoln shrugged his shoulders, “I honestly wouldn’t change the decision to raise my son with Sage by my side. He really wants me to follow my dreams and reach for the stars,” He sighed, “This is me reaching them.” “Sage sounds like a keeper. It must be a struggle to raise a kid when you’re still a kid yourself. I admire your spirit and sense of responsibility. I have two young girls and a little boy of my own, but I also have my wife and a nanny and I still struggle.” He chuckled, winking at Lincoln. “Are you going to be okay with selling your song?” “I think so,” Lincoln picked at a loose thread that had caught his fascination on his tie. “I’ll be able to say to everybody I sang this song with you when it was recorded.” “We better get back in there,” Mr. Layton slid up the wall. “Mr. Layton?” Link gazed up at the imposing man. “Yeah,” he answered smiling warmly down at the kid who still looked completely terrified. “Thanks,” Link flicked his wrist, “you know, for not being a dick.” “No problem kid.” He winked at Link. “Call me Cooper, I look forward to working with you.” By the time the meeting concluded Cooper and Lincoln had exchanged numbers, swearing to keep in touch. All legal corraling had been signed, sealed, and delivered so to speak. ***** The gang found themselves back in the airplane after a tearful goodbye to Bella and Tracy, who would be seeing them back in Boston in a little over a month. The trip to California had generated many unforgettable memories, and Link seemed to find footing to start his career in the music industry. As always the Waters family may struggle but they always find their way back home.
  4. “Jesus, can’t the contractor’s park on the road and leave the driveway for us?” Lincoln grumbled as he came through the front door carrying Noah in his car seat and bags from his shopping expedition. “Who are you bitching at?” Levi asked, taking a few of the shopping bags from his twin, and smiling at Noah affectionately. “At anybody that will listen and do more than blow raspberries at me,” Link huffed in response. “I know the apartment will give each of us a bit more privacy, but I’ll be glad when all of banging of the hammers is over with. Plus, Noah’s wardrobe is getting huge from all of our shopping trips for him to get his afternoon naps in peacefully.” Levi snickered. “Then stop shopping you moron, or at least give the stuff that doesn’t fit away to one of the shelters or somethin’.” He hefted the bags onto Links bed once they reached the bedroom. “Where’s Sage?” Link scratched his head after setting Noah’s car seat down, “Oh, he ran to pick up an application for some summer editing program.” Lincoln picked up Noah’s teddy that Val had given him and placed it in his son’s hands. “Pop even offered to give Sage a reference for the program.” “Hm, cool,” Levi answered bending over to pick up his nephew but startled by a loud bang and disgruntled voice. “Boys! Where the fuck is that good for nothing ex-baby daddy of yours Lincoln?” Blu spat angrily. “Huh? Sage went to get his application for the summer program.” Lincoln stated, “And he is no ex-anything.” Their pop threw his hand in the air holding a dirty diaper. “Wanna bet, that rat bastard put this in my Johnny Rebs and I will kill him. Hope you know what flowers he wants at his funeral.” Blu stomped off to hear the giggling of his sons. The rotten traitors, they’re supposed to be on his side. “Do you think grampy will still give papa his recommendation for college?” Levi chuckled while talking to Noah. Jonathan ran in after his dad left the room, “I’m sorry, Sage gave me the diaper to throw in the trash last night and the dogs wanted outside to go potty. And I um sat it on top of Pop’s boot and it must have fell down inside and I mighta’ forgot about it.” The boy shrugged his shoulders, “It’s not like I meant to do it.” Lincoln flicked his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it, little man. Pop and Sage have been having the poopy diaper fight since Noah was born. Sage will take the heat, he’ll be jealous he never thought to put it there himself.” Link smiled at this younger brother. “Did you want to help me bath Noah, and then we have to give Khan a bath he’s starting to be a little on the rank side?” “I’ll pass, Noah hits targets too well.” Jonathan chuckled while making a funny face at the boy, “We’ll have Uncle Jonathan time later huh, little guy?” Then he made haste at a valiant retreat before his older brother tried to manipulate him into helping. ***** Kyle and Bella came through the front door having a semi-heated debate. “I don’t understand why I couldn’t just skype for this, and I don’t wanna tell Pop about Tracy, Daddy and you can’t make me. I’m not a little girl anymore!” Bella whined and even stomped her foot. “You can, and you will young lady. You can’t keep this a secret, Bella, you just can’t. Pop will never trust you again if you don’t tell him and finds out some other way. You understand?” Kyle said, completely exasperated with his daughter. “But he’s gonna be all poppa-bear growly and then he’s gonna try to put down Tracy and Daddy, Tracy is big,” she held her hand above her head estimating how tall and what his proportions were. “If Pop goes all protective and tries to back Tracy into a corner I don’t know how it will turn out.” Kyle breathed heavily through his nose trying to calm down. He put Bella’s bag down in the foyer and turned to face his daughter. “Yes, Pop will go all growly. But, if you tell him today, he has a few weeks to be all growly and come to terms with his daughter living with a man. If you surprise him with it who knows what will happen. I can’t imagine Tracy will be happy being your dirty little secret either. Do you want to risk losing him? And, if Tracy is the sort of man – I’d hope you’d choose for yourself – he’ll bear the flack of your dads until he can prove to be worthy of their only daughter.” “Can’t I just fly back home and call him?” Bella asked sticking out her bottom lip. “You know what, Bella. I’m really disappointed right now. Do what you want, but I won’t be on your side when this all blows up in your face. You’re being disrespectful to a man that has done nothing but love you since the moment he met you.” Kyle huffed and left a watery-eyed Bella on her own in the foyer. Bella stomped into the kitchen grabbing a glass from the cupboard, slamming it down on the counter, and retrieving the lemonade from the refrigerator. She took her lemonade and went to sit outside by the pool to calm down. She’d been hoping her Dad would have her back, but it didn’t feel like it. She ran her dad’s words over and over in her head. The noise of the sliding door grabbed her attention, watching as Cody, Johnathan, Kasey, and Shawn run through all dressed in board shorts ready for the pool. Spotty and Khan trotting behind the boys hoping they’d be allowed a swim too. “Hey Bella, come in the pool with us?” Jonathan called out before bombing into the pool. “Take it easy, boys,” Lily admonished the young boys as she sat next to Bella pulling her into a bear hug. “I’ve missed you, my pretty girl.” “Hi grandma, I’ve missed you too.” Bella hugged her back tightly with no release in sight. Her eyes stung while she was held in her loving grandmother’s arms. “Hey, it hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen you to be this emotional honey,” Lily said lovingly, as she cupped Bella’s face in her hands searching her eyes. “Tell grandma what’s wrong, sweetie.” “He’s gonna be all growly and then Tracy is gonna be all protective and then–” Lily cut her grandaughter off. “Um, honey. You need to take a breath and start again. You have half a conversation in your head and sharing the other half. Slow down and start at the beginning.” She smiled warmly at Bella. “Now take that breath, baby girl, and start again.” Cody swam up propping himself on the edge of the pool closest to his sister and grandma, “Oh, this is gonna be priceless. She’s shitting her pants over Pop finding out about her and the hockey player.” “Zip it, zit face,” Bella said through clenched teeth. Cody chuckled and swam off, to play with the younger kids. “Explain,” Lily said patiently. “Well, see I met a super-sweet guy,” Bella fidgeted twisting a lock of hair around her finger. “Tracy is Norwegian, and he is absolutely the most loving person.” “Mhmm.” Lily pulled the hair gently from Bella’s hand taking it in her own. “Continue.” “Well,” Bella glanced toward the ripples in the pool. “Tracy is my roommate and my boyfriend.” Lily continued to smile softly but stayed silent forcing Bella to continue. “Levi and Brody came to visit for springbreak, and they met Tracy. But, I made them swear to not tell Pop, although they must’ve had loose lips because somehow mister I just hit puberty found out,” she shot a glare at Cody. “And Daddy found out too and he insists I tell Pop, which will go all ‘he’s not good enough to be with my baby-girl.’” Bella done her best Blu impersonation. “Sweetheart, firstly, does this boy treat you right?” Lily asked. “Yes, he calls me his princess and other things that I’m still learning because sometimes he speaks Norwegian.” Bella’s eyes glazed over thinking of Tracy, “He is talking about me meeting his parents, who he says will love me.” “Okay, then why wouldn’t you tell your dads about him. Why are you hiding him?” “I’m not hiding him per se,” Bella chewed on her lip a moment, “maybe I am, but Grandma, you’ve seen how protective Pop can be. I don’t want him to think Tracy isn’t good enough for me. He… I love him.” Lily smiled wide and fondly at her granddaughter. “Sweetheart, no one is ever going to be good enough for you in my son’s eyes. He adores you. You can be nineteen or thirty-five, you’re going to get the same reaction from him. He can be a hot head and a little… well you know. But, at the end of the day, this Tracy and your pop are going to have the kind of relationship they build for themselves. If this Tracy stands by you while dealing with all the hoops your pop will make him jump through, that’s what your pop will see. A man who loves his daughter and is unapologetic for it and probably just as protective of you as he is. That’s all my Blu, your pop wants, Sweetheart. Someone to love you, protect you, and treats you right. He will calm down.” “Thanks, Grandma,” Bella smiled slightly, “I just hope Pop doesn’t pick a fight with Tracy. He plays hockey and is built like a god.” Chuckling Lily elbowed her gently. “Lucky you. Do you have a picture?” Bella pulled her cellphone out of her pocket opening it to a picture of Tracy after his team won the Frozen Four this year, “See how cute he is?” “Whoa, that is, hmm, yes he’s um,” Lily stuttered fanning her face, “he’s something. So handsome.” “He doesn’t fight often in games, but he never loses. And when we go places, he opens the car door and everything,” Bella said dreamily, “and Grandma, when all the girls flirt with him in front of me, he’s polite to them but he never flirts back, like ever. And with a few of the aggressive girls, he makes sure they know he’s mine. Oh, Grandma, I love him so much.” “He sounds wonderful, sweetheart. Don’t mess this up because of a conversation you think is going to be a little hard to have with your dads.” Lily smiled. “Promise me you’ll do the right thing.” “I’ll tell him today,” Bella sighed. “Do you think you could be here when I do? That way if Pop loses it, maybe you can talk to him or drop me off at the airport or I don’t know maybe do something.” “Of course, sweetheart. I’d do just about anything for you.” “Really? Would you tell Pop for me?” she asked hopefully. Lily giggled. “Uh, no, you have to tell him yourself, I’m sorry to say,” she said pulling Bella in for a comforting hug. ***** Bella sat nervously in her Dad’s office with Lily sitting by her side. Her dads both staring at her silently while she bit her lower lip anxiously. Grandma had pressured her into doing this as soon as possible to get it over with rather than stress over it, hoping nobody would spill the beans until she managed to ‘man-up’ enough to do it herself. “So,” Bella said staring at her dads. “So,” Blu repeated flatly. “I uh,” Bella wiped her sweaty hands on her pants, “need to tell you something. And you gotta promise not to go all over-protective. Promise?” “Not promising anything until I know what it is,” Blu answered glancing at Kyle to judge his reaction so far. Unfortunately, he was met with a blank expression. He took his husband’s hand and cleared his throat. “You better not be pregnant. Are you?” although he was trying to be calm and almost supportive as he could be was dreading the answer. “What? No! Pop, how could you think that?” Bella huffed out the response. “Oh, okay then. And as for how I could think that, have you met Noah?” he asked sarcastically. Bella let out a long slow sigh, “I met somebody.” “Uh-huh.” Blu’s jaw went rigid while he waited for the bomb to drop. “It’s a he and he’s Norwegian,” Bella stated testing the waters so to speak. “You didn’t meet him at the ‘Foxy Lair’ did you,” Blu asked warily. “No Pop,” Bella paused for a moment looking to see if Blu was gonna become emotional. “We met at a college event.” “Uh-huh.” Blu raised an eyebrow at his husband. “What kind of event?” “A sporting event,” Bella smiled sweetly. “What, like chess?” he asked just to be a smartass since Bella was dragging it out. “No, it’s a little more physically demanding,” Bella stated following Blu down the wise-assed comments. “Bella, I swear to god if you don’t just tell me what’s going on I’m two seconds from freaking the fuck out.” “Blu Sky Waters, you will not use that language with your daughter,” Lily demanded. “Babe, calm down, no need to work yourself up,” Kyle stated as he gave his husband’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Haven’t you ever had a conversation with your parents, and you sorta felt them out throughout the conversation?” His husband glared at him while chewing anxiously on his cheek. Blu looked at Bella, his mother, then Kyle. “I won’t calm down.” Blu stood and paced the room. “Let me ask you this, my calm husband. Who I’m guessing knew about this. If this guy is so damn important why isn’t he here? The naming day for Noah and it’s a big day for this family and for Bella becoming a godmother to her nephew. Answer me that?” Blu swung his arm out aggressively. “Pop. Stop getting mad at Daddy. He insisted I tell you I’m dating Tracy,” Bella blurted out to prevent her dads from arguing. “I love him, and there you have to deal with it.” Blu’s face contorted into shocked surprise. “The poor guy is named, Tracy?” his voice going up at the end. “Yes,” Bella’s voice had a tinge of defiance in it, “and I wouldn’t make fun of him over it. He plays hockey and I think he is a Norwegian god.” “Seriously,” Blu shook his head glaring at Kyle, “I can’t believe you knew about this and didn’t tell me. He held up his hand when Kyle went to answer. “We’ll talk about this later. Right now, no one has answered my question. “Why the hell, is that kid not here to support you at this family event, Bella. He’s obviously not as important as you say he is, otherwise he’d want to be here BY.YOUR.SIDE. What kind of man lets their girlfriend do this alone?” “Pop! I didn’t want you to know about Tracy because you get all over the top poppa-bear-protective and become all growly. And,” Bella held up her finger to slow Blu’s retort. “You can’t deny not being overly protective Pop, I love you but somebody has to tell you that you can be a bit over-bearing. If I’d asked Tracy I can guarantee he’d have come, but I didn’t want to put either of you in a position where you would both feel the need to protect me.” Blu was fuming. “Do you need protecting from him, Bella?” “No! And stop it please, Pop.” Bella stated looking at her dad, “I want my family and the man I love to be able to interact without having to worry about what is going to be said if I were to leave the room.” “Yeah, well, Bella that’s a bit hard to do, since he’s not even here. Is he? I’m out, talk to your dad about whatever you need. I’d hate to put you out,” Blu said bitchily and left the room in a huff. Bella stared at the door that her pop just slammed as he left the room. She wiped her eyes dry and looked imploringly at her dad who was shaking his head. “Honey, I know I told you to tell him… but you just hurt him more than you can imagine.” Kyle stood shaking his head at his daughter and went to leave the room. He reached for the doorknob and stopped. “How could you Bella? You just told pop, you didn’t want him to be part of your life, an important part. I suggest you find a way to get that boy of yours here as soon as possible and find the words, the right words to articulate what you really meant. Because I don’t believe for one second you don’t want pop in your life.” “I didn’t mean it that way, Daddy. I just want Pop to accept Tracy for who he is,” Bella stated as her voice crackled with emotion. Kyle shook his head again as he opened the door. “You didn’t even give him the chance, Bella. I guarantee you’ve just cut him deeply. And have now dragged me into your deception. I hope you have it in your heart to do the right thing.” With that he left the room with a heavy heart and disappointment. Bella looked throughout the house for her dad before finally walking across the street to Jared and Mason’s house. She stopped at the front door ringing the doorbell. Mason answered the door, “Bella, why did you ring the bell instead of coming in? Oh my god,” he opened the door seeing her tear-streaked face pulling his niece into a quick hug inside the house, “you and your pop are so much alike. Get in here, he’s out on the back deck.” She walked straight through the house to the back door. “I’m sorry, Pop.” Bella hiccuped as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I want you to meet Tracy, and I hope you both get along since you’re both so important to me.” She sat down in a chair facing Blu while finishing her apology. “I think you’d like Tracy, he treats me like a princess. Pop, you should also know Tracy lives at the house with me and Stacey.” Blu’s angry and hurt eyes met with hers for a moment, his lips in a thin straight line. Her heart broke that she’d caused her pop any pain. She hadn’t meant to hurt him and her words had come out wrong but didn’t know how to fix it. “Okay,” he said sadly, not really registering that last comment. His head snapped up glaring at Bella. “What do you mean he lives at the house, exactly?” “Well, you know he resides there. He is my boyfriend,” Bella trying to be honest and not hurt her Pop more than she already had, “Pop, you know I’m an adult now. You know how relationships are, I can’t lie to you and I won’t anymore. And daddy doesn’t even know but we share our bedroom. I know you’re probably gonna lecture me about sex and we are careful and use protection.” Her pop tipped his head back with his eyes in the heavens, he scrubbed his face with his hands. He then stood up from his chair. “Fine, thank you for finally being honest.” Blu stood silently warring with himself what to do next. “How’s school?” “It’s good. I still need to declare my major, Tracy wants me to pick something that I will enjoy. He said picking something just from a monetary standpoint isn’t the right decision, and to follow my heart.” Bella looked into Blu’s eyes, “I was thinking of maybe studying Sports Medicine. Tracy is probably going to play professional hockey, and I could maybe even get my doctorate eventually. The trainers are really the first line to getting athletes back on their feet after suffering an injury, think of it as a person developing a plan and implementing it from the time of injury until he recovers. It is fascinating to me if you were to think of Levi’s injury, and how he might have recovered a little more easily having somebody that studied Sports Medicine around. Some athletes suffer head injuries and yet others suffer from muscular-skeletal injuries.” Blu nodded his head. “Just make sure you’re doing it for you, and not someone else. If that’s what you really want as a career, your daddy and I will support you one-hundred percent.” Bella’s phone dinged multiple times indicating text messages. She pulled it out reading the multiple messages. “Oh for god-sakes, I’m gonna kill his pimple-faced little ass.” She texted a reply and got another message, “Pop, I guess you’ll get to meet Tracy in a few hours. Is Cody’s funeral prearranged by chance?” He smiled, tilting his head. “No, why? What did he do?” “Evidentally after our conversation ended badly the little twit got ahold of Tracy and said you demanded to meet him, no exceptions, or I wasn’t returning to California. You don’t care if Cody can’t ever have kids do you?” Bella asked trying to plot some horrific accident in a Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner sort of way. Blu shook his head with a laugh. “I love that kid. He always has my back. And just so you know I would never threaten you with your education. I would also never stop you from living your life, whether I agree with your choices or not. But don’t think for one minute I won’t voice my opinion, I don’t care if you think it’s overbearing. Get the fuck over it. I’m your father, so tuff.” Bella looked at her pop. “I really am sorry, pop. I didn’t mean the way it came out I felt cornered and couldn’t find the words. I never wanted to hurt you. I love you, you know that right?” “I know,” Blu answered as Bella flew into his arms. “I love you too.” He squeezed his daughter so tightly she coughed trying to breathe until her phone dinged again and she checked the message causing her to scowl. “We need to go over to the house, Cody needs some special love,” Bella stated, “he might even recover before Tracy’s plane lands. A permanent limp won’t hurt his college baseball career other than limiting him to playing catcher, hell both of his older brother play catch.” She chuckled at her last comment. “Mmm, well, you kind of brought this upon yourself. So…” Blu smiled cheekily. That kid, Cody always getting himself into trouble. He’s going to be a handful in his later teens. ***** Bella was upstairs ‘tidying up aka beautifying herself for her beau’ while Cody and his brothers continued plotting via text message with Tracy, the final piece was to include their Pop in on the prank which Bella was the centerpiece of. “Pop, come here!” Cody shouted from the living room. “What’s up, buddy?” Blu asked from the bottom of the stairs. “Come in here. Gotta keep it on the DL from Bella.” Cody said as Blu walked into the living room. Cody’s fingers typing a text at the speed of light. A smile spread across his face, “Tracy agreed to play along with any interrogation you can come up with. Lay it on thick.” “Oh, I don’t know Cody, do you think that’s a good idea?” “Come on, pop,” Levi begged. “Bella never has drama, let us have this.” Cody pulled up a picture from the college hockey team roster online and turned his phone toward Blu, “Pop, you gotta take the opportunity to get a good wind up on Bella now.” Pointing at the picture, “His muscles even have muscles on top of them, you wouldn’t stand a chance any other way.” “I don’t know. Why don’t you get your dad to do it. She wouldn’t be expecting that.” Blu teased. “Dad said you deserve to pull the prank on her after her foot in mouth speech earlier,” Cody retorted. “Feels kind of mean.” Blu thought about it. “Maybe. He definitely said he was in on it?” “He’s giving me the keys to his car to pick up Tracy,” Brody stated giving a nod to Cody. “Hm, should I go with you to pick him up? That way we can orchestrate something on the way back.” Cody shrugged his shoulders, “I guess that would work. Just be convincing as you guys come in the front door.” Levi chuckled, “Pop, Tracy is a great guy his English is just a bit rough. He grew up only speaking Norwegian and then learned English prior to heading off for college.” Blu sighed. “Fine, lets do this.” ***** The boys' sav Levi and Brody kept Bella sweating because Blu had gone to the airport to pick up her boyfriend. It didn’t help her any that Cody and Link teased her the whole time. “Hey, Bella,” Link said as he came in the kitchen where Bella was eating her anxiety, “do you think pop and Tracy have killed each other yet?” “Don’t you have a shitty diaper to change or something?” Bella asked as she dug into a slice of Kaleb’s double chocolate cake that had a super creamy milk chocolate icing on it. “I don’t. Sage just changed his diaper.” Link smiled leaning down to kiss Sage who was sitting across from Bella just smiling at the siblings. “Well can’t you two go like make out or something?” Bella cringed and her face scrunched up, “Ooh god no, I can’t believe I just told my little brother that,” She pointed her chocolate-covered fork at both Link and then Sage, “Don’t do that or I’ll have to hurt you both. Is Cody still limping?” “Mmhmm, and that was mean, by the way. You really did this to yourself.” Sage weighed in. “Should have told the truth in the first place,” he sung at Bella. “And Cody shouldn’t have been a twit. Then his baseball bat wouldn’t have accidentally struck his shin,” Bella grumbled before swallowing another bite of cake. “I didn’t even hit him hard, the big baby.” The sound of the front door opening grabbed everyone’s attention. All of them smiling like Cheshire cats except Bella who swallowed audibly and grimaced. And then the raised voices came. “What the…” she said moving at the speed of light to the foyer where her pop and boyfriend were staring angrily glaring at each other. “Bella! We must leave your father is…” Tracy stopped for a moment, “what they call unreasonable.” “I’m not. You will not be staying in this house. You are staying across the road with Jared and Mason.” Blu shouted. “And, you should have come when Bella did not hide like some kind of, of–” “Pop,” Bella pleaded, “please stop.” “My dad would refer to your Pop as an old wind-bag,” Tracy said glaring at him, “American’s are so strange.” “Listen up, pretty boy,” Blu said menacingly taking a step closer to Tracy who was at least six inches taller than him but still stepped backward as the father advanced on him. Blu looked up into the kids face. Bella went to step between them almost crying. Blu gave Bella a fleeting glance and then back up to the giant man-boy. “You’re a big fucker, huh?” Tracy grinned. “Beer?” Blu asked him. “Please,” Tracy nodded, “And nice touch with ‘pretty boy’ I liked that.” Laughing Blu motioned for Tracy to follow him into the kitchen with all the kids in tow while Bella stood dumbstruck in the foyer. “Sweetheart, are you okay?” Kyle asked as he came down the stairs. “He. They.” Bella pointed to the kitchen, “Huh?” She scratched her head contemplating what she missed because it must have been one hell of a lot. “I’m thinking you may have been punked, baby girl. A little payback from your pop and brothers.” Kyle smiled tucking her into his side while they followed to the kitchen. Tracy was smiles from ear-to-ear as he spoke to Bella’s family. “You’re family are wonderful.” He said as he pulled Cody into a headlock, “this one is quite cheeky?” They all laughed as Cody fought to get out of the man’s hold. When he released the boy he reached across stealing Bella from her dad hugging the crap out of her. He whispered, “I missed you, Elskede.” Then tucked her under his arm holding his hand out to Kyle. “Hi, Tracy Kristiansen. Pleasure to meet you, Sir.” “Kyle Waters, Bella’s dad. I see you’ve already met her pop. Have they introduced all the gremlins yet?” “Oh yes we laughed lots and boys were funny,” Tracy smiled at the group before him. “I never have large family, so it be different here.” “I imagine it would.” Kyle smiled. “Are you hungry? You’ve got about an hour before we leave for the restaurant. Did you want a snack?” “Thank you, I wait and eat with family?” Tracy stated hoping his English was enough for a man who studied and teaches English. Kyle clapped his hands together once. “Excellent. No doubt you’d like to freshen up after your long travel. You and Bella are in her old room, she can show where everything is. Boys let Tracy shower first, then you can.” He pointed at Link, do you want some help bathing Noah?” Kyle asked as everyone moved out of the kitchen. ***** The naming of the new godparents made Bella and Levi’s ties to Noah even stronger. Tracy watched Bella as she proudly held Noah as the ceremony finished. The little boy had fussed until Bella held him where he’d settled in and fallen asleep in her arms. The two men, the baby's fathers were beaming happily at their baby while his girlfriend held him protectively. It made his heart beat hard and his stomach did flip flops at the sight. He could imagine her holding their baby. Although he knew they were nowhere near ready for that, the sight had made him breathless. Their relationship may be relatively new, barely eight months in the making, but he had no doubt she was the one for him. No matter where their lives lead they’d be doing it together. Bella grinned over at Tracy, he held his hand over his heart for her. All of her body relaxed as she then softened and smiled affectionately back at him as he winked at her. She was a vision of beauty to him, soft and curvy in all the right places. Her family had accepted him, and even after all the warnings and griping his Elskede had given him, they’d been more welcoming than he could have imagined. “Stop ogling my daughter,” Blu said chuckling as he sidled up next to Tracy. “I not yodel, that’s Scandanavian.” Tracy smiled elbowing Blu. “Oh,” Blu waved over two men, “let me introduce you to some people. This is Jared,” Blu pointed at him seeing the confused look on Tracy’s face. “Kyle’s twin brother,” seeing it register as Tracy chuckled, “and this is husband Mason.” Tracy shook both men’s hand and introduced himself. Blu made his excuses leaving them to get to know each other. Until Bella reached his side. “You looked beautiful up there today, sweetheart,” Jared said to Bella kissing her cheek, then Mason gave him a hug. “I see you met my Tracy,” she said to her uncles. “We did, he’s very impressive.” Jared smiled, then turned to the man himself. “Blu said you won the Frozen Four this year. You must be proud, do you think you’ll go into the draft?” He asked his nieces boyfriend. “Yes, but not for until I get my degree. My mama would kill me.” Tracy laughed. Kaleb ran past chasing Kassidy who was dragging Kole by his little tie, “Kassidy let your brother go you’re strangling him.” Kayden walked up standing beside his oldest cousin’s boyfriend, “Girls I don’t like them.” The boy sighed pushing up his little glasses he recently got and opened the book he was carrying. He shoved the book at the tall unknown man. “Please.” The man smiled at the young boy, taking the book he held out his hand to Kayden. “Come, we sit.”
  5. Val hit the doorbell button at the front door of the Waters residence, or at least he hoped to god he was knocking on the right door – the place gave a new meaning to the word huge. Brent was over visiting with the family, catching the crew up on Kassidy’s newest antics she was pulling on her dad. When the doorbell rang Brent motioned for everybody to stay put he would get the door. He turned the knob opening the door, “What the hell are you doing here?” Val’s face contorted into a snarl, “Fuck you, Hutchinson, I’m here to see my brother and his family.” He tightened his hold on the teddy bear that was in his left hand. Brent’s fists were clenched, “And just who is your brother? You never mentioned one in college?” “Move it asshole. I’m not gonna explain my family to you,” Val shoved Brent and a small scuffle ensued causing the family to converge from multiple directions. Sage arrived at about the same time as Blu and Kyle, by this time both Val and Brent were clutching various pieces of each other's clothing trying to overpower one another. “What the hell? Brent let go of my brother! Val, stop acting like a damn kid.” “He started it!” Val pointed at Brent and his hulking form. Blu growled, “I don’t give a shit who started it.” Grabbing Brent he yanked him away from the other guy. “This is our house, how about you both be respectful, or get the fuck out.” He scowled at Brent, who stepped back from the situation wiping the tiny bit of blood from the corner of his mouth, as Derek the other security guy appeared in the foyer. He glanced at Val and the panting Brent. “Oh, shit,” he said, then turned to Val, “you haven’t done enough damage? What, you came to finish him off?” “Go to hell Derek,” Val huffed at the man that had once been a mutual friend. “I wasn’t the one getting it on with some twink in a bed that Brent and I shared. He deserved getting his ass kicked, he’s just lucky the little thing he dragged home left in one piece.” “Jesus, enough!” Blu said, angrily. “Air your dirty laundry somewhere else, preferably not in front of my kids.” He focused on Val. “I don’t know who you are but I’ve half a mind to call the cops. Now get the hell out of my house.” He swung his arm aggressively toward the door. “Pop! This is better than a hockey fight,” Cody called out from the bottom of the stairs. “You can’t stop this.” Levi and Brody gave each other the stink-eye and shrugged their shoulders at the hockey comment. Sage shook his head at the whole episode, “I’m sorry everybody, the stranger that doesn’t know how to shut his mouth is my big brother Val.” Grabbing his brother by the arm, he yanked his brother over to where he was standing, “Val this is my uh, my family.” He pointed to Lincoln who was holding Noah. “This is Lincoln Waters, our son Noah.” He gestured to Blu and Kyle. “And these two gentlemen are his dads, this is Blu, and Kyle Waters.” Then Sage pointed to the brothers. “Link’s twin as you can tell, is Levi, his boyfriend Brody. That’s Cody here at the stairs, and up there is their youngest Jonathan, who you scared the shit out of, by the way.” Sage gave the young kid an apologetic smile. “Oh, and this muscle-bound dork is a Physical Education teacher.” Val looked like a scolded child in the principal’s office, “Really?” He looked at his not so little brother and Lincoln along with their adorable son. “Sage, Lincoln, I’m sorry about acting like a fool.” Making eye contact with Kyle and Blu, “I apologize for causing such a commotion in your home.” Brent grumbled under his breath, “Val was on every intermural sports team there was in college. Think his stupid ass even coached a few of them.” He glanced at his old flame, his eyes raking over him from head to toe. “Still looks hot, I guess.” Shrugging his shoulders, “I need to head over to Kaleb’s he is testing a new recipe. Sorry guys. I’ll see you later,” turning he attempted making a hasty departure. “Derek, I’ll call you later,” He shouted over his shoulder. ***** Sage navigated his little family to a quiet spot out beside the firepit, which overlooked the pool. “Val, I told you I would stop and visit when things aren’t so chaotic,” Sage stated as he glanced at Noah who was content with gnawing on his fingers at the moment. “I know, but I wanted to meet Noah before he heads off to college,” Val snarkily stated to his brother. Before Sage could retort Val handed the teddy bear that he brought to Link, who was holding Noah. The bear was a cream color and wore a little jersey that had the letter ‘N’ on it instead of a number. “I hope ya don’t mind but I bought that for Noah.” “Of course not.” Lincoln smiled. “Would you like to hold him?” “God, I don’t think I’ve held a baby since Sage grew into a mouthy kid. But, I’d love too.” Val looked at the little boy showing adoration for the infant. “He looks like his daddy. Don’t you Noah?” He said to his nephew who drooled around his hand which was still in his mouth. Reaching out his arms Lincoln placed the little boy into his arms. Sage smiled as he watched his brother shower, Noah, with goofy child-like faces. “How’s work going Val?” Val shrugged his shoulders, “I love my work, but it’s only temporary. The teacher I’m filling in for is almost back from his medical leave.” “Hmm, you’ll be fine, Val,” Sage assured his brother, “something will come along.” Kyle appeared with a tray of hot chocolates, and a plate of freshly made biscotti that Brent had brought over from Kaleb’s earlier in the day. “How is everything going out here?” Kyle asked the boys. Sage looked at Kyle, “Everything is good, Dad. Thank you.” His eyes found their way back to Noah, who was being cooed at by Val. Link looked at his dad, “Are you still interviewing to fill the coach's vacancy?” “Uh…” he looked at Link warily, “yeah, we are. Why?” Sage’s eyes went wide when Lincoln stated, “You should interview Val. I mean he is part of the family.” Kyle took a long assessing look at Val, unsure how to answer after what they just walked in on back at the foyer of the house. Would it be a good idea to hire someone who has no control over his emotions? The man was going to be dealing with hormonal teens, not suited for everyone. Kyle does not doubt that Val is a good man, generally speaking. He only had to see how Sage turned out to know that, but the altercation with Brent had him taking pause. Val glanced over at Lincoln’s dad, “I’m honestly sorry for the ruckus earlier. It’s been years since Brent and I saw each other. I thought I was over that part of my life,” shrugging his shoulders, “I was dumb enough to think about life after college with him. You know the house with the picket fence. Dumb shit.” “No, everyone’s entitled to have their dreams. My only concern is your temper. How are you going to react when one of the kids gets out of line? And they will. A lot of the students spend their life outside of school fighting just to survive day to day. A lot of the home situations aren’t good. It takes a lot of patience,” Kyle told him. Sage interjected his thoughts, “Dad, Val, isn’t one to blow up and lose his cool. When my parents did the stuff they did to me, he was the one there for me. When I tried killing myself, he picked me up and tried helping me find my way in life. I can’t say he didn’t yell at me a few times when I needed it. But he’s not violent, he doesn’t demean a person.” Val chuckled momentarily, “Wow. Thanks, Sage. I um… the last fight I was in was with Brent in our college apartment. I kicked his ass then I took our yellow and chocolate labs better known as Fred and Barney, leaving his ass. Both the boys deserved better than him and his childish ways.” “Hmm, okay, email your resume and references to the school. Link can give you the details, I’ll get it in front of the board and we’ll go from there.” He gave Val a warm smile. “Light the fire or come back inside guys it’s getting cool out here. Did you want me to take Noah, you know if I don’t pop is only going to come out here and get him anyway.” Kyle chuckled. “Thanks, Mister Waters,” Val stated softly looking at the baby who was snoring lightly in his arms. “I need to talk to Sage and Lincoln before I go. So if you’d like to take Noah, I think that would be fine. Wouldn’t it little guy?” Val kissed Noah on the forehead, handing him to his grandpap. Kyle took Noah in his arms tucking his little blanket under the baby's chin, “I’ll be in touch after we receive your paperwork.” He turned walking back inside the house. Val’s attention refocused on his brother, “Sage, I have something for you.” He reached inside his jacket pulling out an envelope and paused holding the parcel. “I don’t know if you remember Gram and Pap West. Pap, didn’t believe in banks. He said, ‘they were the government's way of controlling everything you do.’” He chuckled at the memories of the old man, “Anyhow Pap got real sick after Gram passed. I think he was heartbroken over gram not being with him no more. Pap told me where his stash was.” He shook his head, “the old fella had a moonshine still, I honestly wouldn’t have believed it myself if it weren’t for my own two eyes witnessing it. Inside the still was a bunch of balled up, crinkled up denominations of money, I mean it was packed. The still was hidden out in the woods and looked like it had been there since before the civil war. But, Pap said we deserved a better life than what our parents gave us, and this was Gram and Pap's way of helping us.” Val placed the envelope in Sage’s hand, “Use this money to secure a future for your family Sage, I don’t mean for you to squirrel it all away. Have some fun too along the way. I went to the bank and got cashiers checks for you and thyme you can place it in your bank accounts.” Sage opened the envelope looking inside at the obscene number on the check, “One hundred-fifty-thousand dollars? Jesus, I don’t know what to say.” He swallowed audibly staring at the check. “I can’t take this, Val. You should have it.” He shoved the check back at his brother. “You sacrificed everything for me and Thyme. Take it, Val.” “Nope. My college was paid for with some of the money from Gram and Pap.” Val reached out squeezing Sage’s shoulder, “You and Thyme had to grow up faster than each of you should’ve. I just want to be sure you can have the family and life you deserve. I didn’t sacrifice anything, and no one forced me to raise you two. I did it because I wanted to. Not for any other reason. I love you both. I don’t regret one single decision.” Val smiled warmly at his brother. “Well, maybe the exception of letting your sister date that meathead. But that’s about it. Shoulda just got you to help me get rid of the body.” “There was no talkin’ sense into Thyme about him,” Sage cringed at the thought of having to deal with father of Thyme’s child. Val smiled, “I guess. You look really happy Sage, I’m proud of you for taking the chance to make a life for yourself.” “Thanks,” Sage had a dreamy look on his face. “You remember that Tom Cruise movie with that blonde chick. The one where he is the sports agent?” He paused for a moment. “Well, Link completes me.” He nudged his boyfriend’s shoulder. Link chuckled beside Sage, he shook his head. “That’s too cheesy, would you like some crackers with that?” He punched his boyfriend gently in his shoulder. “I honestly don’t know what I would do without Lincoln or Noah.” Even though he was talking to his brother Sage held his gaze on the love of his life. Val made a fake gagging sound, “Ya. Barf. You two are like some god awful rom-com. But I’m happy for both of you. Use that little nest egg to get yourselves on your feet, there is always something that is needed.” Sage became serious. “Thank you, Val. I appreciate everything you’ve done. Can I ask you a favor though?” “Shoot, bro.” Val nodded with a smile. “I need you to fix whatever the fuck happened with Brent earlier. Or at least fix enough you can agree to be civil. Brent’s important to this family, and you’re important to me–” “Val you’re my brother-in-law or will be anyway. So you’re a part of our family too,” Link said while fidgeting with Sage’s hand. Val let out a long slow breath, “I’ll do my best. But I’m not taking his picture off of my punching bag at home.” Sage rolled his eyes. “Fair enough, thanks big brother.” “On that note, I’ve experienced enough feelings for the day.” Val stood up, “I’m outta here. Talk to you guys soon,” He smiled and offered a quick wave before leaving. ***** Bella sat in the arena with Stacey while they waited for their other roommate, Tracy. He’d just finished practice and they were all traveling home together to save on money getting to and from school. Since most days all their classes were around the same time they pooled their money for gas giving them a little extra to have some little luxuries, like Pepsi and Tracy’s ‘Cheese Wiz.’ “Do you think Levi will tell your dads about Tracy?” Stacy asked her best friend. Bella tilted her head furrowing her brow. “What do you mean? Nothing is going on with Tracy.” Stacy snorted, “Sure there isn’t. But you know what I’m talking about. Your dads aren’t going to be happy that a boy is living with us.” “Are you kidding, having a guy the size of Tracy living with us should deter my pop from sending a security guy to stay with us. All.Through.College.” Bella gave her friend a playful glare. Tracy came out of the locker room talking animatedly on his cell phone, “Ja mamma. Jeg svarte ikke fordi jeg var i dusjen fra praksis. Jeg har en venninne, det gjorde jeg ikke i dusjen. Jeg vet ikke når du vil møte henne, forhåpentligvis snart. Elsker deg Bella venter på meg – Yes Mom. I didn't respond because I was in the shower from practice. I have a girlfriend, I didn't do that in the shower. I don't know when you will meet her, hopefully soon. Love you Bella is waiting for me.” He rolled his eyes as he ended his call placing his phone in his jacket giving Bella a quick peck on the lips, “My Momma, she so embarrassing, thought I was doing boy stuff in shower instead of answering phone. She wants to know when I bring my elske home to meet her.” Bella blushed all the way down to her toes, quickly looking away from Stacey. Tracy threaded his fingers with hers as they walked toward the exit. She heard Stacey laughing next to her while walking to the car. “Yeh, right. There’s absolutely nothing going on. Blu is gonna kill you, or him. But there is a funeral in my near future. Good luck.” Stacey only spoke loud enough for Bella to hear her. “Shh,” Bella admonished her friend quietly before smiling up at Tracy. “You guys want to grab a pizza on the way home?” Tracy nodded, “And Cheese Wiz and grapes. Need snacks.” “God, you’re such a boy.” Bella chuckled. “Yes, I showed you last night. Did you forget?” He grinned down at the girl he was enamored with. “I’ll do better job tonight. You see.” Stacey let out a loud raucous laugh. “Oh my god, you are in soooo much trouble.” She elbowed Bella, then leaned forward so she could see Tracy giving him a conspicuous raised eyebrow. “Have you met Blu yet?” “That you Poppa?” Tracy asked Bella. “Ugh! Yes, Tracy.” Bella then punched her friend in the arm. “He’s not that bad, and you know it. He loves you just as he does me. Don’t be mean.” “Oh. Okay. I meet him soon elskede?” Tracy asked giving Bella fingers a light squeeze. “Levi and Brody were nice. Your Poppa has to be good man.” “He is,” Bella said with a wince, “he’s just a little overprotective. Moreso with me than my brothers, but he’s a total momma bear when it comes to us kids. My other dad is too, I guess but he doesn’t get as riled up as pop. Remind me to tell you about the time he caught Brody and Levi kissing in the laundry.” Stacey cracked up again trying to catch her breath. “Oh shit, I forgot about that.” “I protect you now. Bella owns my heart,” Tracy said lovingly. “My momma will smother you in hugs when she meets you.” Bella blushed again, but her heart was warm and full. If only she could go back ten years and tell her young self not to be so sad, lonely, and closed off. The love she felt from her family and now this man who gave her, her full attention at his every opportunity still made her pause somedays, waiting for the other shoe to drop. ***** Sage, Lincoln, and Noah were on the way home from the car dealership with their new to them Ford Expedition. They had discussed options before going to the dealership and had decided a lightly used vehicle would suit their need as long as it had provided adequate safety features. The salesman had a used Expedition, that was recently sold back to them when the elderly owner lost his license. “You’re happy with this right, Babe?” Sage asked as Lincoln played with different gadgets on the dash. “Huh? Oh yeah.” Link said as he hit a button causing the seat to heat up. “Oh my god, that feels so good.” “Link, stop that my ass is hot now.” Sage chuckled at his other half. “Is Pop still gonna watch Noah for us to go on our double date with Brody and Levi?” “Uh… yep. Movies then Mexican, I think Brody said.” Link smiled over at Sage. “Good deal. Refried beans and burritos,” Sage patted his stomach. Noah let out a little squeal at the mention of his Poppa’s menu selection, “don’t worry you aren’t eating beans. Grampy will give you a nice warm bottle.” They pulled into the driveway with their newly acquired auto, Sage shut off the SUV and smiled as he hopped out opening the passenger door to a happy Noah who was drooling like a fiend. The small family went inside the house to find Blu and Kyle snuggling on the couch. Kyle was watching a documentary on Steely Dan and Blu was lying with his head his husband's lap while he read a book. “How’d it go?” Kyle asked, his fingers tangled in Blu’s hair. He tried to sit up when he saw the boys come in the room but Kyle held Blu firm in his lap. No need for the kids to see their dad in that state. Blu still rang his bell, so to speak. “We still babysitting tonight?” Blu asked excitedly. Lincoln walked over to Blu handing over a slobbering Noah, “Yes, you want to play with Grampy and Grandpa. Don’t you Noah?” Sage chuckled at his little family, “We got a really good deal on an Expedition. The original owner was elderly and lost his license, and it has all the bells and whistles.” “And it has ass warmers,” Lincoln smirked at Sage. “That’ll boil your boys,” Blu chuckled, looking up at his husband, “at least we won’t have to worry about them reproducing to soon if they’re gonna kill their swimmers.” Kyle slapped his husband’s thigh playfully then amusedly agreed. “I concur.” “Before you boys toddle off, me and dad want to talk to you too, quickly,” Blu said then groaned as he tried to sit up but needed some help from Kyle. “God, I’m old.” Link tried not to laugh while his pop looked like a turtle on his back trying to flip right way up, all the while Noah sat on his chest slapping him on the stomach. Sage and Link squeezed into the recliner together. “What’s up?” Link asked. “Guys, since you both drive and have a car now, and Brody drives, me and your pop want to downsize the Escalade to something a bit smaller. Since your brother can’t drive and Brody does all the driving for the both of them, we were wondering if you would mind if we traded the escalade in but also got your brother and Brody a smaller run around SUV. They don’t have the money to buy anything right now?” “What about Cody?” Link asked. “He won’t be driving for another year or so, but the boys will have to help out here and there running Cody and Jonathan to activities when they can,” Kyle answered. “I think it’s fair to do,” Lincoln said looking at Sage, who nodded his head. “Why would we care if you got them a car? We don’t need one,” Sage asked, “We had the means to get a better vehicle that was safer for Noah and reliable for us until we finish college.” Blu sighed. “I know. It’s just that we didn’t want you boys to think we’d overlooked your needs. It’s just–” “No pop. Look, Dad, Pop, don’t okay, we’re not like that. You don’t have to do something for one just because another got something. It doesn’t have to be even you know. You have always done your best by us. Sage and me don’t need anything, you’ve already helped a great deal by letting us have an allowance from my trust. Something we will talk about later by the way. We are more than grateful and appreciate everything you’ve already done. What you do for or with Levi and Brody is between you guys.” He glanced at Sage. “Did I say that right?” Kyle nodded his head, “We appreciate both of your input guys. We just don’t want anybody to have any bad feelings between you or your siblings.” “Pfft, that’s never gonna happen. Coming from our backgrounds we all understand the difference between need and want. Although you’ve given us more than either, we also want to earn our future. It’s not on you and pop to work that for us. We have to secure our own future too. But, we are grateful for you making it easier for us to do that without struggling. Really.” Sage smiled at the men that will eventually become his in-laws, “I also want you to know, we are going to place half the money I received in high-interest bonds. The rest is in an interest-earning bank account to pay toward incidentals.” ***** The guys were sitting around the table at San Chi’s Mexican Restaurant following the movie, waiting on their order to come out enjoying each other's company. “Oh my god who would’ve thought they would ever make a Bad Boys VI? Martin Lawrence looks like he is old enough to be our grandfather,” Lincoln stated as he shoved a chip with salsa in his mouth. “Will Smith is still badassed,” Levi interjected. Brody pointed his finger at the group, “What about the new criminal? I thought Chris Hemsworth played a hell of a villain.” Sage laughed as he recalled part of the movie, “How about when Hemsworth’s character blew up Will Smith’s new Porsche? I thought he was gonna cry.” “Ooh,” Brody rubbed his hands together excitedly, “Chimichanga’s, oh yeah.” His glee with his food as it was served made the other’s laugh along with their server as she laid the plates down in front of their intended victims. “Enjoy, gentlemen, everyone good for drinks. Anyone need a refill?” she asked glancing at each of the young men. “Nope, vwhere goob,” Brody answered with a mouthful. “Gross, Brody,” Link groused then said to the server. “We’re good thank you,” he glanced at her name tag, “Rebecca.” The foursome ate like starved wild animals, not a word spilt between them unless it was to pass something. After about half an hour, with empty plates and full stomachs, they all took a breath. “Baby, can you carry me to the car. I can’t move,” Brody groaned while rubbing his stomach. Spartan’s head popped up over the edge of the table providing each of the guys the sad puppy is starving look. “Sorry buddy, your Poppa ate it all and didn’t save you a crumb,” Levi told his companion, “And now he wants us to carry his cute hiney out to the car,” Spartan whined as his ears drew back – like not today buddy I’m too tired. “We’d better get home, guys. Who knows what Kyle and Blu have done with Noah, although I bet you they’re all asleep on the lounge.” Sage chuckled. ***** The boys entered the house, they could hear the television. Obviously, it was Jonathan’s turn to pick because it was yet another Harry Potter movie. Link and Levi smirked at each other knowing it would have been driving their dads crazy, but they’d suffer through for Jonathan’s sake while Cody bitched and moaned the entire time. So weird. Cody would do that to be with the family instead of excusing himself to hang out in his room. As they approached the living room they heard Jonathan, Cody, and Blu acting out the parts. When they entered the room they were actually play acting the parts out laughing their asses off with Noah playing the part of Harry Potter. The family turned to see the foursome when Lincoln gasped and Levi, Sage, and Brody started laughing. “What the ever-loving hell did you do to Noah?” Link gasped at the scar that ran down his son’s head. “He’s a wizard, see?” Blu turned Noah so they could see him properly and then used the young boy as a marionette doll and cast a spell on his dad. “Accio,” Blu waved Noah’s hand at Lincoln. “Bummer, he was supposed to get me the remote,” he said disappointedly while Jonathan giggled and Cody rolled his eyes. “So where did you come up with the little costume, Pop?” Sage asked while admiring the creativity. “I dunno,” Blu said quietly trailing off, but he wouldn’t meet their eyes. “Uh-huh,” Lincoln mumbled as he took Noah in his arms. “And Grampy is getting dementia. Do you know what dementia is?” He asked his son as he touched Noah’s cheek. The entire room erupted into laughter other than his Pop. A voice carried through from another room. “He got it on Amazon the day you asked us to babysit!” Kyle yelled out. “Traitor,” Blu retorted, “you’re supposed to have my back.” “I have your back,” Kyle came in the room and gave Jonathan and Cody a bowl of ice-cream each. “I also have your front, your top, your bottom, your…” “Don’t finish that,” Levi pleaded, “so gross.” “Now Grandpa is just bein’ goofy,” Sage said. “Did he have his bath yet?” He looked at Blu for a response. Jonathan laughed remembering the ordeal, “Oh yeah he got a bath in the kitchen sink, and Pop got peed on.” He slapped his hand on his leg as he laughed. “Then Pop had to get a shower.” ***** After Sage and Lincoln got Noah settled into his crib for the night, the pair cuddled in their bed. Lincoln had some music he had recorded playing softly in the background. “What is that smell coming from?” “I swear to god it isn’t me,” Sage assured his boyfriend. “Well, I didn’t eat refried nothin’ that shit is gross,” Link playfully flicked Sage’s chest. “Shit!” Sage jumped up off the bed almost dumping Lincoln over the side of it. “Your Pop got me. Where did he hide it?” Sage began the search for the offensive diaper. After tearing apart almost the entire bedroom Sage found the diaper stuffed inside of the diaper bag that was assigned to him. “Son of a doodlebug, he got me.” He said as he glanced over at his and Lincoln’s son, who was soundly asleep in his crib.
  6. Dahawk

    No F'n Way

    Lily is the one it referred to, since there are now great-grandkids Nan just felt appropriate, maybe we will have to rethink a new title. What are peoples thoughts?
  7. Dahawk

    No F'n Way

    Sage placed the thinly sliced potatoes in layers into the casserole dish, along with some bacon, eggs, and cheese. Kaleb had been giving him some cooking lessons along with some of his recipes to try out. His first attempt is a breakfast casserole. “Oh, shit,” he mumbled to himself adding the herbs Kaleb had suggested. He had almost ready for the oven so he sprinkled them over the top before popping it into the heat. Next up was the crumbed, garlic, and herb mushrooms. He hummed the latest song his love, Link had written while he worked. Kyle came into the kitchen freshly showered and dressed, his hair still wet. He made a bee-line for the coffee. “Morning, sunshine. What are us guinea pigs trying this morning?” he askes his son-in-law to be. “Shit if I know, Kaleb taught me it. It’s an eggs and potato surprise mixture.” Sage shrugged his shoulder while pulling out a loaf of bread to toast. “Hmm, sounds yum. Thank you for making breakfast. Can I help with anything?” Kyle asked taking a tentative sip of his coffee, then blowing over the top of it. “Oh yeah, that’s some fancy vanilla bean infused coffee that Kaleb told me to try,” Sage said nonchalantly. Thundering footsteps on the stairs catching their attention, Sage was bent over looking through the glass on the oven, he popped up like a meerkat at the sound. “Uh… back in a sec. I’m just going to–” Sage pointed and hot tailed it out of the kitchen yelling over his shoulder at Kyle. “Keep an eye on the oven, Dad!” Kyle frowned waiting to see who was in a hurry. “Where the hell is that mother–” Blu screeched coming into the kitchen like his ass was on fire holding a plastic diaper bag with a dirty load in it. “Hey, whoa, watch the language babe. What’s going on?” Kyle asked putting his coffee on the counter stepping back to put some distance between him and the smell. “That dirty son-of-a–” Blu stated angrily with Kyle cutting him off again, his husband’s hands moving wildly as he spoke, he did his best to dodge the swinging dirty pooh bag. “Dude, language and stop swinging that offensive odor-de-toilette around.” Kyle’s face scrunched up, waving his hand in front of his face to try and dispel the package of sewage. “Where.Did.He.Go?” Blu iterated through clenched teeth. “Who?” Link walked in carrying Noah who scrunched his little nose and blew bubbles at his Grampy. Grampy now with a new focus, flicked the dirty bag at Kyle, who’s only reaction was to catch it; because that’s what you do when someone throws something at you, started gagging. Blu didn’t even notice as he stole his grandson away with a growl. “Tell your poppa that if he leaves anymore dirty presents for grampy he’s going to lose an appendage that your daddy loves dearly,” Blu baby talked at Noah, “Yes, he is, then you’ll have a mommy and a daddy. That’s right!” the latter said giving Lincoln a filthy look, pointing at him. “Your beau left a present on my nightstand, my son, and there will be retribution. Mark my words Link.” Blu shook his head, then kissed Noah on the forehead talking to him again. “That’s right little man, your poppy is going down.” “Dad, make Pop stop, in some weird way I think Noah just got the birds and the bees talk,” Link had a tremor at the thought of his son needing such a discussion. “Babe,” Kyle admonished Blu then sighed at not being able to get the man’s attention. He gestured at the newly reacquainted couple then said to Lincoln, “Son, this has to stop.” “Sage, if a diaper is stuffed in, under or anywhere around our bedroom,” Lincoln ranted, “you will be cleaning the room from top to bottom by yourself.” Sage wandered back in with a shit-eating smirk on his face laying his hand on Blu’s shoulder, “Sorry Grampy. Noah thought the stink warfare game was fun didn’t you buddy,” He cooed over his future father-in-law’s shoulder looking at Noah. Blu hmpfed and shook Sage’s hand off his shoulder, “You’ll get yours, my pretty, now piss off.” “Oh,” Sage laughed, “I’m shaking Pop.” He walked over to the oven looking at the dish, “Just to make you feel better Pop you can have the first helping of breakfast.” He stated as he pulled the dish out placing it on the hot pad on the island. “Fine. Smells good whatever it is,” Blu mumbled. “Has anyone seen Cody this morning?” “He’s out back playin’ catch with Jonathan,” Sage said as he scooped a portion out of the casserole dish for Blu. Eyeing the breakfast skeptically, Blu picked up his fork to try some as Lincoln yelled out the sliding door, “Breakfast is ready, hurry up.” Cody rushed in holding a hand out behind him keeping Jonathan at bay, “I need me some goodness little bro, Pop already started on the food. And that’s no fair, I was down here when Sage was prepping it.” Clicking his fingers at remembering, Sage quickly went back to the oven to grab the crumbed garlic mushrooms. “Here, he said putting them on the counter. Help yourselves, I hope it’s okay.” He glanced over at Blu biting his bottom lip hoping the man like it. A giggle bubbled out a laugh when he saw Blu digging into his breakfast with one hand like a homeless person with his first meal in days. Jonathan watched his dad with big eyes, “Cody, hurry up I need to get food Pop might eat it all.” He shoved his older brother trying to grab a plate for himself. Kyle chuckled while smacking away the hands. “Settle down. Sage made enough for everyone.” He laughed at the pouting faces of his two youngest. He handed them both a plate and had Sage dish them enough for a first-round on their plates. He let Sage and Lincoln grab a plate before getting his own and sitting at the table. Blu had already finished and was snuggling with Noah giving longing glances over at the casserole dish. “See,” Jonathan huffed. “Pop’s gonna eat it all Dad.” Kyle just laughed knowing surely Blu would. He loved his food, and if he liked something there wouldn’t be any left for anyone else. “Eat up, little one. Big day today, you’re gonna need your energy.” Kyle tapped his fork on Jonathan’s plate. “Let me worry about pop and his ever-growing butt.” “Hey!” Blu retorted loudly scaring Noah into crying. “Shit,” he gave Kyle a filthy look. “See? See what your hurtful words do.” He stood walking away trying to soothe Noah as he went with an apology. ***** Later that evening as Kyle dished out ice cream with Kaleb’s homemade caramel sauce as dessert, Cody sat with a smile. “Guy’s I didn’t tell you where Dad and I went earlier,” the teen said calmly. “Well, today was my check-up for leukemia. It’s been a long time in coming but Doctor Keener said I won’t need another one for at least five years because I’m a normal healthy teenager.” Cody laughed as he said the normal teenager part, “He even said I am gaining the proper amount of weight. So, Sage more breakfasts like today are good with me.” “Wow, congrats bro,” Lincoln stated with brotherly love. “You know how much we love you.” Cody’s cheeks got a pink tinge to them, “thanks, ya I do.” “Cody you don’t wanna get fat,” Jonathan said playfully. “I think I should eat your ice cream.” Sage laughed at the young boy, “I wanna see you take that spoon from him, I’m afraid you may lose a hand as Cody sucks that food down.” Kyle laughed, “Be nice. Link, would you and Sage mind picking your brothers up from the airport in two hours?” Lincoln looked at Sage giving him a shrug, “we could give Noah his bath early and the car ride would put him to sleep.” “Sounds fine to me,” Sage said before licking the last drop of caramel that was in his bowl off of his spoon. “You better take the Escalade, god knows how much crap they brought home with them.” Blu smiled. “Hey, if they have that damn cat with them, leave ‘em at the airport.” A roar of laughter erupted around the table, over the mention of Scarlett. ***** Sage sat in the driver's seat rolling his eyes at his partner, while Link played some little kids cartoon for Noah, even though the boy was still too small to understand it and he was also asleep. “Who enjoys the cartoons more Babe?” Sage asked as he wheeled the Escalade into the arrivals parking area where Brody had texted them to meet. “Hush, you’ll interrupt Noah.” Link whispered quietly. “Here they come,” Sage said, pointing out the windshield. “Kinda cool of them to do that so we didn’t have to drag poor Noah around out in the cool night air.” “Dammit the cartoon isn’t over,” Link pouted. “Dear, god,” Sage mumbled, rolling his eyes at his beloved. Brody opened the door and Spartan hopped in heading to check on Noah. Levi crawled in hefting his new rucksack in with him, “thanks for picking us up,” he said at normal voice level, “oops, sorry, I forgot Noah goes to sleep so early.” Lincoln quickly made sure Noah hadn’t woken up but he was sleeping like the dead. He waved his hand dismissively at Levi. “All good, he’s still sleeping.” He smiled. “How was the trip?” “Oh, it was enlightening,” Brody said with a huge smile. “Ya, Pop’s gonna shit a golden twinky,” Levi chuckled. Link gasped a little too loudly shaking his head. “She better not be pregnant, because if she is, we’re moving out. No way I want to be there for that shit storm.” “Nope.” Levi shook his head. “Not pregnant. Tracy, Bella’s roommate isn’t the feminine Tracy you might expect.” Link and Sage glanced at each other for a moment looking confused. “Transgender?” Sage asked. “OH.MY.GOD!” Brody laughed. Levi had tears running down his cheeks, “Way… way… better Tracy is a dude.” “Huh?” Sage elegantly asked. “Like he’s six-foot-four-inches tall and has broad shoulders and plays on the college hockey team,” Brody was stating as his hands spread to the width of Tracy’s shoulders. “Pretty cute too!” Levi stated, “I wouldn’t trade you for anything though Brody.” Brody grinned, “I would… probably not, he’s hot as fuck Link. I’m talking a walking wet dream. He kept eyeing off my man. I think he’s a little bi-curious, but he did tell us he’s straight.” “No shit,” Sage nodded his head full of amusement. “Yep. Pop will be dragging a shotgun to Cali.” “Don’t say anything to Pop. Bella made us promise to keep it a secret,” Levi stated with fondness. “She helped me to think about what our future could be like. I’m gonna look into some stuff,” he shrugged his shoulders. ***** At midnight Levi, woke up with a dry throat and went downstairs to get some water for him and Brody, he assumed that his boyfriend would need one too. All the recycled air on the plane was irritating his throat so it only made sense that it would for the other. Kyle was sitting at the breakfast table with a mug of hot cocoa going through some paperwork. He looked up to see his son. “Hey, buddy, couldn’t sleep?” “Got a dry throat from the flight,” Levi said, grabbing a couple of bottles of water and sat down. He put the waters on the table along with his phone he didn’t even remember grabbing. He cleared his throat biting his lip contemplating telling his dad. “Just spit it out,” Kyle said with a chuckle. “I, um. I don’t want to betray Bella, but I think you need the heads up for when the shit hits the fan.” Levi leaned back in his chair to make sure no one else was around. “Pops, down for the count. Continue,” Kyle said, motioning with his hand to hurry along. Levi took a deep breath, picked up his phone and flicked through his photos from the trip. He found one of Tracy, then slid it over to his dad. “That’s Tracy.” “Nice lookin’ kid. Should I know him?” Kyle asked curiously. “You didn’t cheat on Brody, right?” “Fuck no,” he gasped, then looked sheepish, “sorry, dad. But hell no, I would never even be tempted to cheat on Brody.” He then chuckled. “I’m sure Brody wouldn’t mind the guy joining us though.” “Well, it’s nice you made a friend while you guys were in California.” Kyle took another sip from his cup. “Ah, yeah sure, friend.” Levi cleared his throat again. “Dad, do you remember the names of Bella’s roommates?” “Huh. Uh… Stacy or something like that and I don’t remember. I can wake Pop up and ask him,” Kyle stated as he scratched the back of his head. “Holy hell,” Levi almost yelled, “do not do that.” He was almost panting from the panic, Spartan nudged Levi with his nose until he got his attention. Without a thought, he started petting the dog and it was calming his down almost immediately. “Dad, this Tracy,” he pointed to the picture, “is Bella’s six-foot-four, hockey stick-wielding, Norwegian god of a very, very, very male roommate.” He shook his head dramatically. “Pop is gonna lose it. I promise we tried to get her to at least tell you, but she insisted they were just friends and it didn’t matter.” He gave his pop a stern look. “They aren’t just friends dad, I’m telling you now. The way he looks at her, it’s like she hung the moon or some shit.” “Oh. Fuck no,” Kyle sat up straighter in his chair. “Your Pop will murder the kid. You’ve seen how poor Sage was treated, and that kid wasn’t hiding the truth from him.” “Can you get me and Brody an apartment, far, far, away?” Levi asked, almost serious. “I don’t wanna tell him. Bella will break his heart,” Kyle stated worriedly. “Not if she comes clean and tells pop. Maybe we should all work on her to bring him home for Thanksgiving or Christmas so pop can actually meet him instead of getting blindsided with it. I mean if the guy comes to you and pop, it’s gotta count for something, right?” Levi asked hopefully. “Plus, trust me the guy could kill pop with one arm and leg tied behind his back. Not that I think he would, I got the impression he doesn’t even know that pop doesn’t know he’s a guy.” “We’ll see. Oh god, why don’t kids come with instruction manuals?” Kyle muttered. ***** Sage sat at the dining room table writing away in a new binder, it was a children’s story for his new creative writing class. The characters he had imagined thanks to the damn cartoon Link claims that Noah likes. He created Penelope the pig, Booger the hound, and Cranky the rooster. He snickered as he dreamt up a part of the storyline using some of Blu’s moodiness as inspiration. Cranky’s hen’s chick had given birth and it was a dirty little thing and Booger had the nerve to tell Cranky how filthy his grand-chick was. “The nerve of you Booger. Just who names a bloodhound Booger?” Cranky asked the droopy looking dog. “Whatcha doing, future dead guy?” Blu asked. Sage smiled, “Workin’ on my creative writing assignment. It’s a children’s short story,” shrugging his shoulders, “that damn cartoon Link likes and blames it on Noah inspired me.” “Oh, that’s cool.” Blu grabbed a mug and filled it with the ready percolated coffee. “Can I have a read?” “Uh, sure.” Sage slid the binder over toward Blu. He waited with bated breath as pop read through the story, watching as Blu’s forehead crease got deeper and deeper. He eventually slid the binder back to Sage and grunted as he drank his coffee. “So… What did you think Pop?” Sage asked reluctantly waiting to hear Blu’s brutal-no-holds-barred truth. The older man drank a few mouthfuls of his coffee pensively, seeming to select the words he wanted to say. He eventually leaned forward rested his forearms on the table then sighed. “Can I be honest, or did you want a version of the truth?” “Truth?” Sage’s adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped a breath of air. “There’s nothing wrong with it…” Blu trailed off. “But? There’s a but, right?” Sage asked. Blu sighed. “There is a but, but I also don’t know what demographic you were going for, what you want to achieve with it. What age group?” “Toddler?” Sage stated tentatively. “Hmm, well then there’s a big but. The writing is too sophisticated. I’m not saying dumb it down but with a kids book you want to use the ‘less is more’ approach. Keep the language simpler. The story is funny, for adults and for kids. Narrate the story simply so the kids can follow along and leave the rest to the images and pictures. Nan can help you with that. Also, you want to make them use their imagination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. But you’re a smart guy who can hold very adult conversations.” Blu looked over at a very discouraged Sage. “How can I explain this differently? Okay, write this story as if you’d bought it and were reading it to Noah. He wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying, right?” Sage reached down pulling a sketch pad out of his bag and sliding it across to Blu, “these are the what I thought the characters would be like.” Penelope the pig was actually a potbellied pig that was mostly black with small blotches of white coloring on her sides and wore a big pink colored bow around her neck. Booger fit the image of a bloodhound except for the smushed in nose that truly dripped boogers. Cranky was an unusual looking rooster his feathers were a baby blue coloring and his comb was a vibrant royal blue coloring. “Wow, these are cool.” He gave Sage a scowly glance. “Don’t think I don’t know who you based the rooster after either, young fella.” “I uh… Cranky is cute and protective,” Sage said with no malice. “I mean, ugh, I get it. You were cranky with me at first, but you did it with love protecting what is yours.” “Ha,” Blu scoffed as he got up from the table. “Flatter me all you want kiddo, I ain’t making sweet love to ya,” he said in a really bad southern accent as he left the room and called over his shoulder. “Try another draft, I’ll take another look.” “Maybe it should be for five-year-olds,” Sage shouted at Blu’s back. “Try it again, Sage. You can do it.” Blu went upstairs to find his husband. “Okay, Cranky,” Sage muttered under his breath to himself. ***** Lincoln was snuggled up with Sage late one night, his head laying upon Sage’s chest while they both read the newest parenting book they had gotten online. It told them of different parenting techniques and different forms of discipline. Some of the forms of discipline seemed rather outlandish, and others were just straight up bizarre. “Oh my god, my mom when she wasn’t passed out used to make Levi and me stand in the corner. Our noses had to touch the crease in the wall,” Lincoln stated. Sage sighed, “My parents didn’t give a damn. I remember my dad shouting, ‘Keep your gay ass away from decent godly people.” Taking a deep breath he then said, “I just want Noah to know we will love him no matter what.” Lincoln gasped, “But he’s not gonna act like Kassidy, I love her and Noah, but he’ll be grounded until he graduates college if he tries her crap.” Sage chuckled and kissed the top of Link’s head. ***** “Your brothers,” Tracy’s English was a bit broken but understandable and Bella loved it and deep down both had feelings for the other, “they were quite nice.” Bella giggled, shrugging her shoulder. “They’re okay, but you met two of the good ones.” “Oh? They’re more?” Tracy asked. “There are four more. Levi has a twin, Lincoln, his boyfriend lives there too. His name is Sage. Nice guy. My pop’s not a huge fan, but they get along okay now. Then I have two more younger brothers, Cody, and Jonathan. Jonathan is my pop’s biological son and Cody was adopted like the rest of us.” She smiled fondly thinking of her family. “You’re Dads’ house. It must be zoo? Yes?” Tracy asked with a true interest in Bella’s life. She plated their dinner and shooed Tracy to sit at the dining room table. “Sometimes, but it’s calm most of the time until the rest of the family come over. Then, yes, definitely a zoo.” Bella laughed thinking of all the wonderful trouble makers amongst them. “I was only child my momma couldn’t have more after I came along,” Tracy said with much appreciation, “she had what you call complications.” “I’m sorry, that must have been lonely. I can’t imagine not having my brothers. I would never have survived.” Bella clammed up excusing her self from the table for a quick minute to gather herself. She didn’t know why she was upset. The topic hadn’t bothered her for a long time. Sharing her former life with this beautiful man made her uncomfortable. What would he think of her? “Bells, elskede, I did something to upset you?” the Norwegian asked overflowing with concern. “I’m fine,” she said through the door, “I’ll be out in a minute.” “Elskede, please come out. I can hear you cry, please.” The man pleaded with her. She slowly unlocked the bathroom door trying to put a smile on her face, but he saw right through it gathering her in his arms. He enveloped her with his massive body holding her tight. He laid little kisses to the top of her head whispering apologies in his native language. Bella had never felt so cared for in her entire life. This man was going to ruin her. She knew it, without a doubt. They’d either end up married or become bitter heartbroken enemies. Bella hoped for the former, even if her pop was gonna shit a brick when he found out about the beautiful man living at the house.
  8. ‘Isn’t she lovely, Isn’t she wonderful, Isn’t she precious’ “Five more minutes,” Blu groaned turning over snuggling into Kyle with a kiss to his bare shoulder. ‘Less than one minute old, I never thought through love we’d be, Making one as lovely as she, But isn’t she lovely made from love’ “Damn it, Bella.” Blu rolled over reaching for his phone, he swiped to answer the call. “Hi beautiful, Daddy wants you.” He tossed the phone onto Kyle’s chest before snuggling back against his husband's side. “Hello?” Kyle mumbled as he was forced awake by his loving husband. “And don’t think you’re goin’ back to sleep,” he uttered and tossed the blanket off of the bed.” “Come back, your all warm and stuff,” Blu whined. Kyle picked up the water squirt bottle Blu kept beside the bed from when Scarlett lived there and squeezed shooting at the sleeping bastards face. “DAD!” Bella yelled into the phone to get his attention. Kyle picked up Blu’s cell, “Oh, hi honey.” He said as he elbowed Blu, “You’re an ass our daughter calls your phone and you chucked it at me and go back to sleep?” “Dad!” Bella laughed. “Is something wrong sweetheart?” Kyle asked now that he was awake and more focused. “No, no, everything is fine. We’re all moved in, Savannah and Tracy are settled. Um…” “That’s good. Do you want me to send Pop down? He can play interior decorator,” Kyle rolled his eyes, “if the jackass would wake up.” “I’m awake, Blondie. Thanks to my loving daughter and husband. Don’t you people ever sleep?” Blu grumbled sitting up in bed holding his hand out for his phone back. “Bella, Pop has decided to grace you now that he’s awake. Love you,” Kyle stated before handing the phone back to Blu. “Hello, girly, how are you this fine morning?” he asked with a yawn. Bella laughed. “It’s what? Nearly eleven in the morning where you are, why are you still in bed, pop?” “Because your damn brother knocked up some chick, that’s why!” Blu smiled negating his bitchiness. He was absolutely besotted with Noah. “We’ve never had a baby, it’s an adjustment.” “He’s so cute,” Bella cooed. “Yeah, well, you can wait for your own one, girlie. Like twenty years.” Blu smiled. “So, everyone moved in?” “Yep, we’re all moved in. We’ve had three orgies already, and had a massive kegger last night.” Bella cheerily listed off the newest activities. “Ugh, are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Blu screeched. All that came through the other end of the phone was laughing, and it wasn’t just from Bella. “I’m coming out there!” Blu exclaimed. The laughter died quickly. “Noooo, don’t do that. I was just kidding, pop. I swear.” Bella backtracked as fast as possible. The moment of silence between them felt like forever. “Is everything okay, daughter of mine?” Blu asked seriously. A short sigh from Bella. “Yeah, pop everything's good. I just missed you, after spending time with all of you I kind of wish you were here.” Blu put the phone on speakerphone motioning for Kyle to come to sit on the bed for a moment as he came back from the bathroom. His husband raised his eyebrow. They heard movement on the other end of the call and a door close. “Bella’s homesick,” Blu told him. “Aww, our baby missed us.” Kyle spoke sweetly, “At least we know she thinks of us.” “Hey, sweetheart, what if we send Levi and Brody out to you for the weekend in a couple of weeks. By themselves, of course. You wouldn’t want your dads ruining your rep.” Blu chuckled. Kyle nodded his head in agreement, plus the variation of activities in Levi’s life seemed to keep him upbeat. “Do you think they’ll want to come?” Bella asked hopefully. Blu snorted a laugh. “Your brother would love to get away from us at the moment.” Blu then stage whispered, “Your dad is smothering him.” Kyle scoffed, “Sure, it’s me that’s smothering him. Like it was me that took him to the park for a walk and took him clothes shopping. I mean seriously, Babe, the kid isn’t a dog needing a walk.” He held up a finger to stop the rebuttal, “Plus the kid is gay, and he hates shopping.” “Whatever, I’m gay and I loathe shopping. As you well know, and–” “DADS!” Bella huffed to get their attention, “I better go, I’ve got a study group meeting for the stupid math credit I need. Thank you for making me feel less homesick.” “Okay, baby girl. Call us any time, we love you and we’ll get Levi to call you,” Blu said watching his husband as he dropped his towel to put on his underwear. “I can sense you perving,” Kyle chuckled as his boxer briefs reached their destination. “Why do I feel like a slab of meat in the butcher shop?” “Ugh, gross. You couldn’t wait until I hung up before you start in on each other. I’m out.” Bella griped and ended the call. ***** As the family gathered around the table for dinner that night, it was controlled chaos. Link handed off a warmed bottle of formula for Sage to feed Noah, along with a fresh burp rag. Cody and Jonathan were making weird faces toward their nephew, and Noah blew bubbles back at them. Levi and Brody sat watching the weirdness of their family. Blu and Kyle were placing bowls and platters of food on the table while being careful to not lose an arm in a feeding frenzy. “Levi, Bella called me back and she said if I can get you guys out to California in the morning, she will pick you up at the airport,” Kyle stated as he rounded the table to his seat. “Yeah, she said we can hit the beach tomorrow afternoon and have a cookout Sunday afternoon,” Levi said as he stabbed a chunk of roast beef on the platter. “We can fly back on Monday since this was a four day weekend. You need to add a pre-summer long weekend into the next school year's schedule.” “I’ll be sure to take your request into consideration,” Kyle joked as he watched the food vanish from the containers on the table. “I texted Teddy already the jet will be waiting for you at six in the morning. Brody, are you comfortable driving Blu’s car to the airport?” Kyle and Blu had discussed that treating the teens more as adults would help Levi’s sometimes erratic attitude. Brody nodded, “I’m good. Thanks for trusting me, I…” he squeezed his boyfriend’s hand. “We appreciate it.” ***** Sage lounged by the pool Saturday afternoon with Noah in his little board shorts resting on his chest singing to the little one. ‘Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye’ Sage stopped singing looking at the boy, “No drinking til you’re at least twenty-one. Understand?” Noah blew raspberries at his comment. “Okay smarty pants, you’re Dad and me are gonna be watchin’ you.” Then he continued singing the song to Lincoln’s and his son. “What’s this?” Blu asked scaring the crap out of Sage who thought he was alone. “Us guys are catchin’ some rays,” Sage checked the sunscreen on Noah, “Gotta impress daddy don’t we Noah?” Blu chuckled since they were both slathered in sunscreen and laying underneath the big poolside umbrella Sage and Lincoln purchased so they could be outside with the baby. “Sure, but I meant this?” Blu asked picking up a copy of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by John Steinbeck. “Oh,” Sage cleared his throat. “That’s for my English Literature class for college.” “Really?” Blu asked surprised. “When did you start that? Where are you going to college? When do you go to classes? You’re always here with Noah.” “Lincoln and I talked right before Noah was born and I enrolled for online studies through B.U.” Noah made some gurgling sounds which made Sage smile, “Both your daddies need to be able to spoil you don’t we buddy?” Sage brushed his finger gently over the babies face. “Hmm, okay. If you need any help with your courses let me know.” Blu smiled at Sage then reached over and stole Noah walking off with his grandson. “Kidnapper!” Sage laughed picking his book up getting comfortable to continue reading. Blu went to the kitchen where Kyle was making sandwiches. “Did you know Sage is taking college classes? Why wouldn’t they tell us? We could have helped a little more than him taking online classes.” Kyle shrugged his shoulders, “No. I didn’t know but think about it, babe, they have a baby and are making decisions as a family.” Lincoln came out of the laundry room with a basket of Noah’s freshly laundered and folded clothes. Seeing Noah in Blu’s arms he stopped and gave his son a kiss on the forehead, “Where’s your Poppa? He’s supposed to be studying and you were supposed to be napping.” Noah swished his hand in the air basically giving his dad a go away motion. Link chuckled. “That’s great pop, what are you teaching my son?” “That his grampy is awesome,” Blu nuzzled Noah, “and he thinks I’m right.” Pulling back with a knowing look on his face, Link laughed. “Yeah, well, awesome grampy you have possession which means you have to take care of business.” He strolled off laughing the whole way to his room. “I’m gonna go… uh… give Sage a sandwich so he has energy for studying,” Kyle stated grabbing the platter, “Wipes and stuff well you know where they are. Good luck his number twos are nasty.” He hustled out toward the pool. “We don’t care do we little one.” Blu sniffed at the baby nearly gagging. “Ew, you really are your father’s kid, huh?” he wandered off to clean the bundle of pungent fragrance. ***** Blu passed Jonathan and Cody on the stairs. “Boys, dad has sandwiches out by the pool for lunch. Why don’t you change into your swim trunks? You can go for a swim after lunch.” “Yes!” Jonathan pumped his fist in the air. “Can Kasey and Shawn come over?” “Um…” Blu mentally checked his bank account. “Yeah, fine.” He sighed. “Awesome.” Jonathan couldn’t get upstairs quick enough while Cody followed closely behind texting their cousins. Blu wandered out to the pool where he found his husband and Link and his not so better half chatting about their new normal with the baby. “I don’t know, Dad,” Sage said to Kyle. “I just want… like you know. I have to do better, it’s not just about me anymore, we’re a family now and I want to be able to show Noah or any future kids we have that I’m good enough for them.” Link leaned into Sage, “Babe, you are more than enough for us.” His heart hurt a little for his boyfriend. Sage had never explored his feelings on the matter with Lincoln. “I want to be a good role model for our kids, you know?” Sage answered self-consciously. Blu sat down next to Kyle on the lounge giving Noah to Kyle. “You’re doing the right thing, Sage, but if you're not doing it for yourself it’s going to be a hard slog to get anywhere,” Blu told him. “What’s the end result for you, once you get your degree? What degree are you heading toward?” “Well, I want to teach English Literature,” Sage stated as he brushed his hair out of his eyes. “Really?” Blu narrowed his eyes at the young man. “Why?” “I know I don’t look smart. But I’ve been tested and either the tests are completely off their rocker or I am.” Sage shrugged, “After the sh– crap with my parents I tested out of school. I love reading so that’s what I did with every spare moment. As a kid, you can sorta get lost in a world where things aren’t as bad as life seems to deal a person. Or go on an adventure and forget everything going on around you. There is no hate because you’re gay, or over the color of your skin, or because you’re different than somebody else or poor. I just feel like I can teach kids there are books and stuff to act as a buffer from the everyday world.” “Wow, okay.” Blu took an assessing look at Sage. “You’re holding something back, there’s more?” Sage averted his gaze momentarily, nodding when he focused back on Blu. The older man saw the subtle movement in the young boy who fidgeted a tad. When his shoulder slumped Blu knew he was right. “What is it?” Blu asked with a smirk. “Well, I’d also like to write.” He bit his bottom lip pensively warring with himself of how much to give away. “I was thinking,” he let out a breath, “thinking since we have Noah, I might try and write a children's book. I’d just have to find someone to do the illustrations.” He finished waiting for judgment from the two older men who would one day become his in-laws. His experience from his own parents was always a let down why would these two men be any different. He was surprised by the reaction he got. Kyle grinned and Blu was still wearing his smirk like a damn jackal. “I know just the person who can help you out with that,” Blu told him. “Check with Mom, she’s always been the artistic one since I became a part of the family and she loves planning,” Kyle suggested to the teen. “Plus,” Blu laughed, “she’s driving dad crazy since they retired.” Lincoln chuckled, “Grandpa is just grumpy because Grammy gives us all of the cookies when we visit.” “Mom’s cookies are pretty good.” Kyle smiled thinking of the last time Lily had sent home a batch of her homemade chocolate chip cookies, they came close to being a family favorite only outdone by Kaleb’s cheesecake. Hmm, cheesecake. He gave a sleeping Noah to Link, then pulled his phone out of his pocket calling Kaleb. “Hello, my favorite brother,” Kyle said into the phone. “I wouldn’t call you just to get pastries,” he pouted. “Okay,” he huffed, “Fine. Yes please.” He grinned at Blu. “Thank you, favorite brother.” Kyle ended the call. “We’ll have cheesecakes, yes that’s plural, and some kind of new ginger and coconut cookie he’s concocted in about an hour,” said Kyle with a cheeky grin. “Yes!” Jonathan exclaimed from behind his dads making them both jump a foot in the air. Kyle brought his hand to his chest. “Warn a guy, jesus.” All the boys laughed while Jonathan sheepishly apologized. “Sorry, dad.” He wrapped his little arms around Kyles's neck. “Okay, you boys eat. Then you can go in the pool once it’s digested,” Blu told them putting his arm around Kyle’s waist since Jonathan basically leaped at the food like a ravenous dog. “I got an interesting letter the other day, Dad.” Lincoln looked at Kyle, “I thought I was done with music, once I uh… well, once Noah was in his mom’s stomach.” Link kissed the baby on the forehead, “But then I got a brochure for Berklee College of Music, Sage and I talked about it. We both agreed that I have to go to college so our family can support itself. Over the summer I want to apply for school that way, come next school year I can focus on finishing high school. Maybe even take a few online college courses to get a headstart on it.” It took a moment for Kyle to gather his thoughts. “Hmm, I think… I think that’s a good plan. Have you thought about daycare for Noah for your senior year?” “What about Sage and college?” Blu asked. Sage sat forward in the chair, “Dad, Pop, we talked about Noah a lot. I’m gonna get my degree through online studies for the most part. I might have an occasional class that I have to pop into the college for, but I will take care of Noah. I want Link to follow his dream of music, I love listening to him play songs for Noah and me. And wow he sings like an angel to us.” Lincoln turned red from the praise from Sage. “You’re important too, Sage,” Lincoln told his boyfriend. “I know baby, we talked about this. I don’t have the ambition or desire like you do. You have to do this Lincoln, I thought we had sorted this out already. To be happy, all of us as a family, we need you to follow your dream. I’m happy with our decision.” Sage glanced over at Blu and Kyle quickly hoping they agreed or didn’t think he was half-assing his college education. Kyle smiled at the pair, “I’m glad to see you’re both concerned about the future of your family and each other. Your relationship is going to rely on communication, and self-sacrifice for your son.” “Sage,” Blu said standing up, “can I have a quick word?” “Yes Sir,” Sage said worriedly following Blu into the kitchen. The two stared at each other for a few long long silent minutes. Blu blinked then squared his shoulders. “Are you sure about this, Sage. You understand what you’re sacrificing?” Sage nodded his head, “I’m not sacrificing anything. I’m making the right decision for Lincoln and my family. I know I don’t want our kids growing up not knowing how much their dads love them, just like each of your kids know.” “I know you love Noah and Lincoln. Look,” Blu sighed, “this is something you better be absolutely positive about. When you have a family a man has to be solid, if you change your mind it’s not as easy to just walk away.” “Pop, if you want me to walk away. I’m not. I swear to god I will fight for them,” Sage pointed toward Link and Noah through the sliding glass door. Blu chuckled. “Me and you,” he said shaking his head, “we suck at communicating. That’s not what I meant or what I want. Not even a little bit. I want you to be sure you’ll be happy with online courses, don’t you want to go to college? Have that experience?” Sage shook his head, “My family is important,” he laughed softly, “I’m not a big people person. Heck, I’m the hippy surfer dude,” he shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t care what anybody says or thinks of me anymore, the only thing that will ever matter is my family.” “I get that, Sage, I do. Okay, how about we make a deal?” Blu asked. “I’m listening. If I don’t say anything I can’t jump to conclusions,” Sage chuckled – it seemed like no matter what either Blu or himself says one or the other has always jumped to conclusions. “About time you shut up,” Blu joked. He turned serious again broaching the subject that had been on his mind a lot the closer the two boys became. “I want you to apply to college,” Blu held up his hand, “ not finished. I want you to apply to college when Link does. If you are accepted into BU you can always defer if you’re happy with the way things are going. You keep up with your online courses while Link is at school next year. This next part is non-negotiable, if at any time you feel trapped or restless you come to me, and Kyle we’ll organize a scholarship for you to go to school. But if you still feel the same way when it comes to changing to actually go to college and you’re happy with life and want to continue online learning, you won’t get any crap from me. What do you think?” “I’m okay, but you do realize I am already accepted to B.U. I just decided I want to be an online studies program. I may have to go to an occasional class on campus to fulfill requirements, but that is it.” Sage said to his future father-in-law. “One other thing, Sir. I want you to know my intentions. I plan to ask Lincoln to marry me, I want us to be in a committed relationship. Noah deserves to have his dads married.” “I understand how you feel, but my concern is for all of you. Right now we are talking about you and your education the relationship stuff was never in question. So, the non-negotiable part of the deal?” Blu asked testily. “One sec. I’ll be right back,” Sage ran into the bedroom grabbing his college acceptance letter from B.U. before returning to Blu handing him the letter. “Here, Pop, I don’t want you doubting I am already accepted to B.U. I’ve spoken to counselor’s of admission and they extended the option of being in classes on campus.” “That’s not really what I was talking about Sage.” Blu handed back the letter without reading it. “I trust you were telling me the truth. My thing is you’re young, I trust you know yourself, but we all change. I want to know that you have me and Kyle. I want you to come to us if you need help if you’re feeling trapped or restless. Usually, these feelings pass by, but you have to address them. Having a family can be hard sometimes and you and Link won’t always agree. We may be Link’s parents but he brought you into this crazy ass family and now you’re stuck with us. Promise me, you’ll come to us if you start to feel overwhelmed or pressured. We’re here to help and have your best interests at heart.” Sage smiled, “Okay, how about we agree if I feel like I need help I’ll come to both you and dad after I talk to Link?” “I can live with that. Also, if you need help with your classes, I’m all ears. I’ve been there, and not that long ago.” Blu smiled. “Okay, piss off. I’m sick of talking to you.” He went to the fridge and grabbed the two pitchers of fresh lemonade he’d made earlier in the morning. “Grab some glasses and take them with you.” “Yes Grampy,” Sage joked grabbing what he was told, humming a tune to himself. “Oh, and I wasn’t kidding about the scholarship. Kyle and I have talked about it. We want to help. Now hold the damn door open for me I have my hands full.” Sage opened the door speaking loudly, “Just don’t hit me no more. I promise to behave,” he joked and grinned ear to ear. “It’s not like I hit you in the face, shit head.” “Oh, I’m saving for my doctorate now. Your new fee is ten dollars per word.” Kasey ran over dripping on Blu’s foot holding out his hand motioning for the money. “Cash or direct deposit?” “Hey Blondie,” Blu called out as he walked closer to his family, “what’s the penalty for bribing teachers at school?” “Not sure we have a policy?” Kyle said with a laugh, “Is the bribe a good one?” “No, it hits us right in the wallet?” Blu groused. “I can hit you in the balls,” Kasey balled his fist, “I accidentally hit Shawn in them n’ he said a really bad word.” “Okay,” Blu said giving Kyle a ‘What the fuck?’ look. “I was thinking more a semester of lunch detentions.” ***** “Pass the potatoes shorty?” Link asked Jonathan. “So, Link, Sage,” Kyle said passing the roasted pumpkin to Cody. “Me and pop have been talking.” Both boys stopped putting their forks down on their plates giving their dads their full attention. “We were wondering if you would both like to have an apartment over the garage built for your little family?” “Why?” Link asked sadly. “Don’t you like having us here?” “Son, we love having you here. You’d still be here. Just you would have larger bedrooms for you and sage, and Noah would have his own room.” Kyle explained. “Maybe even a little study for Sage.” “It would have a kitchenette for you, your own bathroom. It wouldn’t be huge or anything but it would be your own space, it’ll be bigger than what you have now and you can always come to the main house just like you are now.” Blu informed them. “So we would still be a part of the family, right? We didn’t like piss nobody off?” Sage asked skeptically. “What? No! But you’re a family to your own as well. You’ll both be busy with study and the baby, you don’t need the extra chaos around here as more of a distraction. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for the peace and quiet. This is still your home, your room is moving is all.” Blu smiled. “And, your still close enough for me to steal, I mean take Noah.” Lincoln and Sage both smiled while Noah drooled down Sage’s shoulder. Sage dabbed at the goop running down his shirt. “Just make sure we have access to the laundry room. I don’t think we can keep enough clothes clean. And that is gross little dude, but you’re cute so it’s okay.” “Stay out of the laundry room,” Blu said waving his fork between the two of them. “We’ll make sure you have your own.” He turned to Kyle worriedly. “They’re having their own laundry room right?” “Yes, Dear.” Link smirked at his pop, who filled his fork with mash potato and slingshot it at his son getting him right in the forehead. Kyle laughed at the expression on Link’s face and said to his husband, “Good shot, babe.” “La pop est un crétin,” Lincoln grumbled under his breath while taking Cody’s napkin and wiping the food from his head. Jonathan smirked, “Pop’s a jackass?” Cody attempted to cover their little brother’s mouth, however, he ended up falling out of the chair laughing at him over translating Link’s comment. The laughing ended with a faceful of mash potato and Jonathan looking guilty as he looked down at him. “Pop told me too.” He shrugged his little shoulder apologetically.
  9. Kyle had called Teddy who had offered his private jet to chauffeur them to California, while the members traveling were packing. Lincoln and Sage’s bags were packed rather quickly, although the baby’s bag was taking a bit to organize, and somehow it ended up becoming three bags. One bag contained diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, and bibs. The second bag held various onesies and cute boy’s clothes. The third bag was filled to the brim with as many diapers as Link could cram into it, as he wasn’t sure if they had enough. Sage looked at the baby’s bags, “Do we have enough of those barf rags? Those will smell nasty after he burps on them.” Link pulled the contents of the first bag out looked at them and yanked yet another baby bag out of the corner, “I think we need more, oh, and his little tennis shoes, or should I bring his little Timberlands?” “Guys,” Kyle said getting their attention then rolling his eyes, “you don’t need all of that, just bring enough for a day or so. Then either me or pop will take you to get anything else you didn’t bring.” Lincoln held up two bags, “these are diapers, formula, and Sage’s ‘favorite’ barf rags. And this one has bottles and wipes.” “These two contain clothes and his little shoes. Oh and more diapers in case he’s a real shitter,” Sage smiled proudly, “Can’t ever be too prepared.” “Fine,” Kyle huffed, “just hurry up and get the bags into the Escalade, pop is already in there with the motor running.” He turned to leave the boys muttering to himself. “Never seen a man so excited to get rid of a cat than a baby entering the world.” Lincoln started stringing the baby bags shoulder strap around Sage, by the time he was done Sage looked more like a pack mule he had four baby bags and then their two duffel bags. “Move it baby… Nope, you’re not the baby no more… Babe. I’ll grab the car seat and some toys. Oh, maybe a binky thingy.” By the time Link loaded himself up they went to the Escalade. As Link went through the living room he noticed Levi and Brody curled up on the lounge. Panic rushed through his body. “Levi, what the fuck are you doing? Why aren’t you guys in the car?” he looked around, “Where are your bags? What the hell, Levi? I need you there.” “What?” Levi uncurled from Brody. “Hurry up, pop is already backing down the driveway. Come on!” Lincoln headed outside, stepping through the doorway he noticed Sage struggling to get all the bags put into the back of the Escalade and hurried to help him. “Move your ass, guys.” Link yelled back into the house. Three minutes later they were on the road, Link was on the phone to Bella, Kyle talking to Jared asking for him to babysit the younger kids. Blu happened to be singing a diddy about a dead cat while Brody and Levi were already falling back to sleep against each other. Once the plane was in the air Blu noticed Sage trying to keep his shit together. Link had fallen asleep but the panicked look on the boy's face worried him. He sat across from Sage in the vacant chair. “You alright, kid? First time flying?” Sage nodded, “Unless you count jumping out of a tree at six-years-old.” “This might be a little different,” Blu winked with a smile. He set his Kindle down on the coffee table in front of Sage. “Here, there are hundreds of books on the device. It should help take your mind off it, flag me if you get nausea. I got you covered the others don’t need to know. They’ll never let you live it down.” ***** Link dragged Sage down the hallway of the hospital toward the nursery. Bella wasn’t allowed to do more than see the baby through the window as she wasn’t the child’s parent or legal guardian, per hospital policy. She stood smiling with her face plastered to the window as they all arrived. As they approached she swung her head in their direction grinning as a first-time aunt should. “Congrats, Link, he’s so adorable.” She enveloped her brother squeezing him tightly. “I’ve missed you.” “Missed you too Bell,” Lincoln looked into the nursery spotting a bassinette with only the name ‘Waters.’ “Oh, my god, Sage, lookie,” Link pointed at the little boy with a thin blonde tuft of hair on his head. “Get in there bro,” Bella pulled her brother toward the door to the nursery. On the Nursery Door a sign hung, “Please provide proper Identification to the Charge Nurse to obtain an Electronic Bracelet.” Link continued dragging Sage by the hand to find the head nurse. Spotting a pushy looking woman talking to a man wearing a crisply pressed suit, he figured the man had to be a part of his legal team. “Excuse me,” Link said excitedly. “May I help you?” the woman asked. Lincoln pulled his identification out while Sage fished for his, “We’re here to see our baby,” he stated as he offered her his photo id. The woman took the id photocopying it for the hospital records before handing it back. She held out a bracelet to attach it to Lincoln’s wrist, “I’m sorry but I can only give you access into the nursery, and only you may remove him from there and take him to one of the sitting rooms.” Sage squeezed Lincoln’s hand, “It’s fine we can at least sit together right? I mean in the sitting room.” “Oh, yes, that’s fine.” The lady stated professionally. The lawyer looking guy stepped forward, offering his hand. “Mister Waters I believe I’ve spoken with both of you and your dads.” Link and Sage both nodded in agreement. “I’ve gotten all of the required signatures from Melissa and her father. They both requested you have no contact with either of them, and she has been moved to a private room which is part of the medical agreement.” “Um, okay.” Link tightened his hold on Sage’s hand. “Can you tell us if she’s okay?” The Attorney nodded his head, “Melissa was doing fine after delivery, she only required a nerve block in the delivery suite.” “Oh, good, that’s good.” Link’s eyes fell to the floor for a moment. “Sir, can you please pass on a message for us?” “I can see if she would like to receive it, however, that’s the best I can offer,” the man stated as he flipped open his folder. “Um, please tell her, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and he’ll be raised with all the love in the world and he’ll always know she loved him,” Link told the man. He didn’t want his kid ever thinking his own mother didn’t want him. No point trying to hide from the situation as it would come out in the end and he didn’t ever want his kid thinking he’d betrayed or lied to him. He knew that as a mother she would in some way love her own child even if she wasn’t part of his life. “Okay then.” The Attorney handed Lincoln a large manilla envelope, “You’ll need to retain these for your records. The doctor and nurses are already aware of your situation.” He assessed Lincoln for a short moment then without a smile said, “You’re a nice young man, I wish you all the best with your new son. You gentleman have a nice day and congratulations.” He shook Link’s hand then Sage’s before turning back to the nurse to finish up the paperwork with the hospital for Melissa. A different nurse somewhat older, almost his pappy’s age came around the counter. “Boys if you’ll follow me, we’ll set this young man up in the sitting room before I take you,” she indicated to Link, “to meet your son before joining this young man.” The woman walked at a clip, Link and Sage barely able to keep up, it felt like they were running. Sage smirked at Link as the nurse stopped at a closed-door and the two boys nearly barrelled over her at the sudden halt. Sage was shown the private sitting area where he would get to meet their baby for the first time, “Hey this is pretty cool for a hospital room.” “I’ll be back as soon as I can Babe,” Lincoln gave Sage a chaste peck on the lips. ***** Sage sat patiently in the private room. As the door swung open Lincoln stepped inside carrying their little bundle of joy bundled in a small blue swaddle, as the nurse rolled in his little bassinette. Lincoln sat on one of the couches in the room, Sage sitting gently beside him. Link lowered the baby from his shoulder resting him in the crook of his arm. Sage reached out touching the baby’s little hand. “He’s so tiny,” Sage stated with such awe. Lincoln smiled, “Do you remember the name we both liked?” He asked his boyfriend, even though both of their feelings run much deeper beyond such a title. Sage touched the infant’s chin, “Noah Ryan Waters?” Nodding his head, Lincoln couldn’t help when his eyes glistened with unshed tears. “He’s so perfect, aren’t you Noah?” The baby made little spit bubbles, which caused both of the teens to chuckle. ***** A slight tap on the door caught Lincoln and Sage’s attention they both glanced up to see Levi and Brody silently ask if it was okay for them to come in and meet the new addition. Link smiled at his brothers welcoming them. The two teens all but tip-toed over to greet their new nephew. “Hey,” Link whispered gently pushing the blanket aside a little so they could get a better look at the baby’s face. “Guys, meet Noah Ryan Waters.” “I want one,” Brody whispered leaning into Levi wiping away a few happy tears. “Well umm… we don’t have that equipment so you’re outta luck,” Levi snickered at his comment. “He’s so cute just like me.” “He is,” Brody stated wistfully. “Noah,” Levi called his name softly. “Can I uh… like, hold him?” Sage smiled at both of the teens, “Are your hands clean? There is a small sink in the corner,” he pointed toward it. “Then sit in the rocking chair.” Levi and Brody both washed their hands, then Levi took a seat in the rocker. “Ok, give me little Noah,” he extended his arms taking the baby from Lincoln, “Hey little guy. You got lots of Uncles who are gonna love you like crazy.” The baby made little snuffling sounds and a pungent odor emanated around the room. Picking the baby up he sniffed the kids bottom, “Oh gross Noah.” The little boy burst into tears. Sage chuckled taking their son from his uncle, “Let’s change your diaper little dude. Pop-pop will clean you up yes he will,” he said in a childish sounding voice. Placing Noah in his bassinette he unbundled this baby, “Babe, it’s a good thing you brought lots of wipes and diapers.” He said as the more layers came off the baby the more poop was discovered. “Dude, how did you make such a huge mess?” Sage opened up the baby wipes the hospital had in the bed which pulled double duty as a changing station. After five different wipes Sage declared Noah, ‘Clean.’ Once Noah was bundled back up Sage lifted him to his shoulder, “New rule. If Noah toots when you’re holding him, you change him. Ain’t that right baby boy?” Link laughed at Sage, who was in ‘Poppa Bear’ mode, “So, where are Dad and Pop? “Um… they dropped us here and took off. They said they won’t be long just getting us set up in our accommodations. Whatever the hell that means. But then again it’s not like they could bring Scarlett into the hospital either.” Levi answered as the door opened and Bella came in. “Is it okay if I come in?” Sage motioned her over, “Would you like to hold Noah?” Their sister grinned nodding her head. “Definitely.” She couldn’t move fast enough to get her hands on the cutest baby on earth. Smiling Sage started to hand the boy over pausing for a moment, “Noah, you’re Aunt Bella hasn’t read the new rule sheet that has yet to receive the new amendments. Anybody holding Noah is warned, if he toots, you’re responsible for clean up.” Bella held out her arms wiggling her fingers. “Just give me the baby or be prepared that the only thing you’ll be holding for the rest of today is your bikini parts.” Sage handed their son to his very threatening aunt, “Babe, you didn’t say she has a history of abuse.” “Ha! You have no idea. But, she does seem meaner now that she’s in college. I blame it on her education.” Link shrugged a shoulder. “This is what happens when you give a sweet girl like my sister too much freedom and expensive education.” He shook his head. Levi laughed hardily until Bella gave him the look, a look he knew too well than ended with him curled in a ball crying. He cleared his throat comically, “Sorry sis, just trying to be part of the group.” He tilted his head admiring her. “Did you get a haircut, looks nice.” “Such a suck-up,” Sage said with a smirk. “Thyme would never fall for that. When I jumped out of the tree in the backyard when I was six, she laughed and started covering me in dirt and she’s my twin.” He let out a slow sigh, “There was no are you okay, or anything. Val came out after hearing me crying and wiped the dirt outta my face and gave me a bandaid.” Sage’s eyes shined with love only a parent would feel, “Noah will get hugs and kisses along with bandaids for booboo’s.” Link smiled at his other half, “Our baby is already loved more than a lot of kids will ever know.” He stated as he took in the view of everybody in the room. Levi’s phone played some Monkee’s tune he’d assigned for Blu’s phone. It made him chuckle every time it rang. “Grampy, where the hell are you?” Levi said answering the phone. “Hey, ya little shit, where are you. Dad and I have been crawling this damn maze for half-an-hour.” Sage listened in since Levi had them on speaker-phone, “three doors up from the nursery on the opposite side of the hall toward the nurse’s station,” he spoke up like he had scoured the halls before. “Oh, okay. Sure,” Blu said sarcastically. “Are we even in the right hospital?” he asked Kyle but everyone could hear him. “Jesus Christ,” Kyle said coming through the phone obviously taking it from Blu. “Guys, give me a floor and ward number would ya. The reception lady was not helpful.” Lincoln smirked before answering, “Dad, third floor, east wing. But if ya want to mess with Pop, take the elevator to the basement, it’s spooky.” Their dad chuckled. “How ‘bout we don’t be mean to pop today, as far as he’s concerned its still his birthday and he’s so excited about the baby. Be nice, okay, and remember you love him. Just give him this will ya. When we get back home feel free to torture him as much as you usually do.” “Tell Blu I changed Noah’s first poopy diaper,” Sage stated proudly, forgetting that neither grandpas had been told his name. Lincoln sat forward, “Pop, we didn’t mean to forget to tell you his name honestly. And Sage is just so excited to be the first to change him. He counted his little fingers and toes. Anyway, we decided to name him Noah Ryan Waters. We hope that is okay, it just seemed to fit properly with our name.” He told both their dads, as Sage quietly apologized to Lincoln for being too excited and not thinking in the background. “Boys, boys, calm down it’s okay. Pop and I will be there in a few minutes… we hope.” They heard him say, “Babe, this way. I think,” before the line went dead. Sage smiled nervously, “I’m just gonna step out in the hall and watch for your dads. After that faux pas, I need all the brownie points I can earn back.” He gave Link a quick peck before going into the hall. “So Bella. How’s school?” Link asked changing conversations. She smiled down at the baby, “It’s fine, I guess. Harder than I thought it would be. Especially now that I have to work at the ‘Foxy Lair’ because I spent all my tuition on cocaine.” She sighed. “What?” Blu screeched rushing across the room. “Say that again young lady. You’d near have to be kidding me. We didn’t send you all the way across the country to become…” he stopped looking around the room at all sets of eyes on him getting worked up. “Baby, why do you let them wind you up.” Kyle sighed. “You know she was just razzing her brothers.” He hugged his husband looking at their kids over Blu’s shoulder giving them all the stink eye. He’d asked them for one thing. ‘Be nice to pop, today.’ Bella gave him a sheepish look. “Sorry dad, I was messing with the boys.” She stood with Noah in her arms. “Hey, pop. Meet your grandson and the sweet boy that shares your birthday.” She kissed his little cheek before gently passing him over to Blu and Kyle as they huddled together eyes completely focused on the blue bundle. “Sorry, pop. I was only kidding,” Bella whispered giving him a peck to the cheek before moving to sit with Sage and get to know him. “Noah makes this little face when he’s sleepin’ Pop and he blows these little drool bubbles it’s too cute,” Lincoln told Blu, “Oh, and Dad, we’re gonna teach him the guitar when he gets older.” Sage leaned forward, “Link’s gonna teach him the guitar part, I’m gonna teach him how to write stories.” “Yeah,” Blu whispered, “sounds perfect.” He wiped his finger gently down the baby’s cheek then smiling affectionately at Link and winking at Sage. Sage smiled at Blu, “Thanks, Pop. Noah is gonna have the best life we can give him.” “Oh my god, I wish I’d have recorded that,” Levi stated snarkily, “Jonathan’s gonna be pissed missing Pop be nice to Sage.” Link smacked his twin on the back of the head. “Shut.Up.Jackass.” “Watch it dill-hole. Remember Spartan likes to play ball,” Levi joked. “Well at least if Brody leaves you someone will still want them,” Bella snarked at his brothers. “Pop, I have a class in a couple of hours can you drop me back at school, please? Once you’ve finished cuddling Noah, that is.” “School? Or will it be easier to drop you straight at the ‘Foxy Lair’?” “Nah, I’ll uber it from the dorm,” she chuckled. “Okay, now I’m worried you’re not joking.” Blu looked wide-eyed at Kyle. “Babe,” Kyle shook his head. “If you believe everything these kids throw at you, you’re in trouble when Noah figures out how to mess with you. Isn’t that right Noah?” The last part cooed to the infant. Sighing Blu reluctantly gave the baby to Lincoln. “Will you boys be okay for a few hours while we take Bella back to school?” Lincoln squeezed Sage’s hand, “We got this Pop,” his eyes drifting between Noah and Sage. “Ya, we do,” Sage stated lovingly while looking at his little family. ***** “Where are we?” Bella looked through the window confused as they pulled into a strange driveway of townhouse behind a brand new black Volkswagen Golf. “Just a quick stop before school, we want you to re-meet someone,” Blu smirked. He jumped from the car running to the door with the keys while Kyle followed with an affectionate smile and his arm around their daughter’s shoulder. “Dad, where are we?” she whispered as they made it to the open door and Kyle moved them through the opening comfortably. Before Bella could even get her bearings a fluffy bundle was thrust into her chest and had no choice but to grab hold of it, then noticed the red bow. “What the..? Oh my god, Scarlett!” she hugged and purred with the cat. “Yep, that’s yours. You keep it, there are no returns. It’s all yours, registered in your name and everything. Uh-huh. All yours.” Blu grinned all proud of himself and happy as a pig in shit to see the last of Satan’s ninja bride. Kyle laughed and shook his head, “The house is an investment property for your Pop and I. While you’re in college, you can live here and we will rent the extra rooms to your girlfriends. You’ll pay your portion of the rent as if you were paying to remain in the dorm. We expect you to use common sense with the house, we trust you.” “Really?” Bella bounced excitedly on her toes snuggling with Scarlett who was giving Blu the evil eye. “Yes, really.” Kyle chuckled. “We’ll help you move your stuff from the dorm before we go home. Dad has already spoken with the Dean of admissions and organized for another student to take over your dorm so you aren’t responsible for the dorm fees.” Blu smiled. “But wait, there’s more…” he swept his hand toward the door, “come.” Kyle laughed while he guided Bella back to the driveway. “It’s a new car!” Kyle sang as they neared the Volkswagen. He smiled down at a teary Bella. “It’s leased for the next three years. You will only be responsible for the gas. You still have your part-time job at the book store right?” “Yup, you know plus the ‘Foxy Lair’.” She smirked in Blu’s direction who narrowed his eyes at her while she and her dad laughed at Blu. “I’m kidding, pop.” Bella went to Blu to hug him but he backed away. “Put Satan’s bride down, then come give me a hug.” “She’ll run away.” Bella gasped in offense. “I was hopin’.” Blu chuckled. Bella quickly ran into the house putting Scarlett on the counter closing the door as she bounced back to her dads happy tears trickled down her face as she cuddled into them both. “Thank you, thank you so much.” She hugged them tighter. “You’re welcome sweetheart. If your friend’s parents need to call us for any reason so they can move in just let us know. Call George and he’ll forward the documents for the lease agreement to their parents to sign and agree otherwise,” Kyle told her as his grip tightened with the love for his daughter.
  10. Dahawk

    Truth Comes Around

    That is correct, Grandpap and Grandson will share the same birthday.
  11. Dahawk

    Truth Comes Around

    Glad you enjoyed it @Wesley8890, we were striving to bring the juveniles to justice before the baby arrives.
  12. Brody was heading to see Principal Waters in his office because he needed a note for his history teacher after forgetting his project at home. He was so angry with himself after working so hard on it, he’d made a diorama of the battle of Gettysburg. So angry in fact that he’d missed the two police cars and one undercover car at the entrance of the administration office. Although due to the declining neighborhood where the school was situated it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the police weren’t at the school at least once a week. The door to the office was opening so Brody stepped out of the way to wait until it was clear but unfortunately heard the tail end of the conversation. The sound of his guardian and principal’s pained voice had him in full eavesdropping mode. “Thank you, detective. You have the full support of the school and its staff. When will you be arresting the offenders?” “Ooh, somebody’s in trouble,” Brody whispered to himself with amusement. “No, thank you Mr. Waters. We’ll be here tomorrow morning once we obtain the proper warrants, their parents will be notified once they’ve been arrested.” The detective said. Wow, Brody wondered what the hell had happened. “Also, it might be a good idea to keep Levi Waters and Brody Grecco away from the school tomorrow until the offenders have been apprehended. No need for them to suffer through any further trauma be it physical or mental.” “We can’t thank you enough, detective, and you officers.” “We’re just sorry the boys had to go through this at all. If Jason Kepple, Mark Garner, or Thomas Skrodski do not appear in homeroom tomorrow please give us a call. We’ll pick them up at their houses. Mr. Cranson will be arrested tonight as you requested, to not arouse the attention of the juvenile.” What the hell? Brody moved swiftly and angrily as fast as his legs would take him. The bell rang out indicating lunch. Lunch. Lunch with Levi, he had to get to Levi at the cafeteria. He was going to kill those fucktards for hurting his Levi and he was gonna make sure they didn’t go anywhere near his boyfriend. “I will kill them,” Brody muttered barging his way through a line of mean girls. “Hey, watch it. Fag!” The queen bee yelled. Brody doubled back getting in her face. “If I didn’t have more important people to see I might consider wasting a snarky remark to such a rich uptight condescending bitch. However, screw you and your pack of breeders.” Brody flipped the group the one-fingered-salute and rushed off. Fleeing the mean girls he made a beeline for the cafeteria, Cody catching up with him. “Hey, Brody where’s the fire, dude? You look like you’re about to murder somebody. What’s going on?” “Grrr, I know who hurt Levi,” Brody said menacingly, “I’m gonna fucking kill them, Cody.” He looked at his friend or brother or friend. He didn’t know didn’t care about the title. The kid was a brother to him and that’s all that mattered. Cody grabbed him by the arm pulling angry panting Brody to a stop. “What are you going to do, Brody? Let’s find dad or pop, Brent even. How did you find out? Who was it? Why did they do it?” Cody asked in rapid-fire watching his friends face. “I don’t know why, Cody, and I don’t give a shit they’re going down.” He angrily pulled his arm out of Cody’s clutches and stormed into the cafeteria. Cody worried about his brothers as he ran off to find one of their dads or Brent and Derek. “The detective said Coach Cranson put Jason Kepple up to it if he wanted to get team captain–“ Kyle was explaining to Brent and Teddy who was in his office when Cody burst through his Dad’s office door. “Dad. Dad. You gotta… Brody is gonna kick the shit outta those assholes,” Cody rambled, “He’s storming through the cafeteria right now.” Kyle looked up in surprise, “What’s happening Cody?” He had no idea what his son was talking about. “Who’s doing what?” “I’m not sure he says he knows about who hurt Levi,” Cody said taking a deep breath, “he’s going to kill them dad, you have to stop him. He’s going to end up in jail, dad. Hurry!” Cody fled the room to get back to the cafeteria. Brent tore off out of the office hot on Cody’s trail as Kyle dialed the detective’s number which was listed on his business card. As Cody and he entered the cafeteria a crowd had formed over by the vending machines. Brent moved through the crowd dispersing the rowdy teenagers. Once he reached the inner circle of kids, he spotted Brody who had a teenager – who had a good six inches of height on himself – suspended by his letterman jacket in the air cursing at the teen. “Brody put Jason down!” Brent shouted which only got a grunt from the teen. “Brody, stop it you’re bleeding kid!” He shouted yet again, this time Brody did break his hold, and Brody slumped against the vending machine. Teddy grabbed the Kepple kid by the collar placing handcuffs on him, while watching the bloody knife which now laid on the floor. “Brody, stay awake son,” Teddy stated calmly, his years in the military have given him an almost icy calmness when faced in stressful situations. Movement caught Teddy in his peripheral vision, “Hey don’t touch that!” he yelled at a kid who went to grab the knife. The kid freaked turning to leave, Teddy pushed Jason to the floor. “Don’t move,” he growled as he saw Blu coming through the crowd pushing kids out of the way. “Blu, grab that kid.” Brent had placed pressure on Brody’s wounded arm with one hand as he called over his portable radio stating he needed an ambulance along with police in the cafeteria. “ETA three minutes,” Derek’s voice came back over the radio. “Principal en route.” “Copy,” Brent answered with authority. “Brody, stay with me buddy. Where’s Levi?” he asked concerned as the kid was nowhere to be seen. “Don’t know. He’s…” Brody said dazedly. “Shit, come on kid. Where is Levi? Stay awake, Brody.” Brent stated glancing down at the pool of blood that had formed on the floor. “Goddammit!” Brent growled takin off his sweater to help stop the bleeding. “Blu! Where are you?” No answer. “Blu?” “Yep, yep, I’m here. Shit, Brody, baby boy,” he said dropping to his knees next to the boy. “What the hell?” “Hold this tight, okay. Don’t let up, the paramedics are almost here. Levi’s missing, just stay here and keep Brody awake.” Brent stood watching Blu for a few moments, he could see the anguish and heartbreak already written all over the man’s face. Brent gave him his dues though he was mildly calm on the exterior keeping it together. “Go find Levi, Brent. We’re fine, we’re going to be fine,” Blu said almost breathlessly concentrating wholly on one of the kids he loved most in the world. Why do people keep hurting his family? He didn’t understand it. “Go,” Teddy told Brent. Brent stalked down the hall looking and listening for any signs of the teenager. Spartan’s muffled growl echoed from within the restroom nearest the cafeteria. As he entered the bathroom, Spartan had a kid by the crotch backed tight up against the toilet stall door. “I told you to quit pushing me,” Levi stated with a bloody lip to Thomas Skrodski who was a bulky kid who wore a leather jacket and had a huge chain dangling from his pocket which was attached to his wallet. The kids grunted responses to Levi, due to the fact if he talked the kid's voice seemed to invoke a primal instinct from Spartan to protect Levi. “Get your fucking dog off me, asshole. Your dead Waters, ya hear me?” Thomas said angrily through gritted teeth, as Spartan growled thrashing his head about while holding onto the kid’s crotch. “Ha, yeah right. You don’t look real threatening right now. It’s hard to take you seriously,” Levi’s eyes darted down to where Spartan held Thomas, he chuckled. “Oh my god, did you just piss yourself?” “Tell the dog to fuck off!” the guy yelled at Levi. Brent had a hard time maintaining his composure from the door, “Levi, are you okay?” He asked as he smirked at Thomas’s situation. Levi wiped his lip with the back of his hand, “I’ll be fine. I suppose you want Spartan to let him go now?” Spartan now had the boy covered in a slimy coat of drool from his crotch down his right inner thigh. “Yeah, buddy. You have to.” Brent smirked. “Spartan, lay,” Levi commanded, his dog let go of the kids soiled crotch laying directly in front of the defiant teenager. “Don’t move a muscle,” he pointed threateningly to the kid then spoke into his radio, “Simba, cafeteria bathroom with Huey, need EMT, not urgent.” “Copy that, EMT en route, Mufasa has Louie in sight he was finding Dewey,” Derek stated, “Scar out.” Levi looked at their close family friend and scratched his head at the weird Disney names flying about. “Okay, I’m assuming I’m Huey? But who in the world is everybody else?” Smirking Brent got back on the radio, “Confirm Louie and Dewey safe and unharmed, any word on Thumper?” Teddy’s voice rumbled over the radio, “Do we really need ‘Lion King’ nicknames? And Thumper is safely tucked away in art class.” “Just be glad Blu is Pumbaa and not you, Mufasa,” Brent snickered while he imagined the grumbling coming from the boss man. “I thought Blu is Scrooge McDuck?” Derek asked. “He is, just giving the old lion hell,” Brent replied. “Medics are taking Prince Charming to hospital, Donald Duck is waiting at the tank for Huey,” Mufasa called over the radio. “Copy, we need EMT and officer in cafeteria bathroom asap.” Brent quickly glanced at Levi clearing his throat. “Levi, um… you’re supposed to meet your dad at the Escalade, I can’t leave this kid or waste time to get into specifics at the moment.” ***** The car ride to the hospital hectic and hurried, Levi was frantic as the car came to a halt in the hospital parking lot. As soon as the motor stopped the father and son along with Spartan rushed inside the Emergency Room entrance. “Brody Grecco was brought in by ambulance. I’m Kyle Waters, Detective Melbourne said to come here,” Kyle rattled off while Levi scratched Spartan’s ear. The receptionist typed some information into the computer, “Hmm.” Typing yet some more she looked up, “Oh, yes. He’s in the trauma bay, somebody will be out to get you shortly.” She smiled and politely helped the next person in the waiting room. “What am I gonna do if I lose him Dad?” Levi asked worriedly. Spartan nuzzled his master’s hand, “Brody got hurt because of me.” Kyle texted Blu quickly to let them know where they were at the moment and the little information they had obtained at this point. “Levi, Brody didn’t get hurt because of you and you’re not losing him. Just calm down, I’m sure he’ll be okay. A doctor came out a short time later and explained that Brody had gotten some stitches and received an IV to replace some of the fluids he lost but they could come back to see him. The doctor directed them to Brody’s curtained off area. Once Levi had seen Brody was awake with his arm bandaged up in a sling, he made his way over to his boyfriend, “Hi, Babe.” He said to the boy he loved. Brody offered a goofy smile, evidentally the pain medications were really good. “Hi, Baby.” Levi smacked Brody’s good arm, “Don’t you ever scare me again. What the hell Brody? I can’t live without you. What were you thinking? Oh, that’s right you weren’t thinking.” Levi grumbled, cursed, ranted, and raved from all of his insecurities of late. The second the adrenalin wore off the boy dropped onto the bed next to the love of his life sobbing. Brody stroked his boyfriend's hair gently with a grin on his face. Levi’s red and puffy gaze met his loves and hiccupped. “Why are you grinning?” “So pretty,” he now smiled at Levi sweeping the hair out of his eyes, “you need a haircut.” Brody sighed. “Pretty eyes.” He bent down gently pecking a kiss to Levi’s nose. “Pretty nose,” kissed his lips, “very f–“ “Okay,” Levi sat up quickly giving his dad a sheepish look. “Obviously you’re enjoying the medication,” he said with a sad smile. ***** Almost a week had passed since the incident at the school, finally, the weekend had arrived. “Oh, I overheard one of the chicks which hung around with those four goons. Supposedly, Thomas can’t have kids from Spartan playing ball with his crotch,” Cody said with a shrug at the dinner table stuffing a French fry in his mouth. “Bro, I’m just glad they all got locked up and Brody is okay,” Levi stated and the rest of the family nodded in agreement. “I just can’t believe that the coach instigated all of it,” Blu said while moving food around his plate losing his appetite. “I hope they throw the book at him.” Kyle nodded placing his burger down, “Mmm, good burger, Babe. Sage did you speak to your brother for me?” Sage smiled brushing his wild hair out of his eyes, “Val, said the contract he had with the school district he is at was only temporary. He’s looking forward to coming in for an interview with you.” ***** Time had come for Blu’s birthday, Lincoln and Sage took charge of coordinating with the other kids the surprise birthday party. Kyle’s responsibility had been herding Blu off and keeping him out shopping. “Kaleb, I hear you new nickname from the security guys is Rafiki,” Sage chuckled thinking back to the day he learned of everybody’s nicknames. “No, way. I’m clearly Simba!” he said indignantly. “No you’re not,” the entire room chorused. Sage laughed at Kaleb who smirked, “Shut up Zazu, at least I’m not some damn talking bird.” Brent entered the room hearing the end of the bantering. “Hey, Dopey, Sleepy, shut the hell up. Anyone seen Grumpy?” Lincoln smiled, “I made Pop go shopping with Dad, turn about is fair play n’ all that shit. He shouldn’t have forced the DMV on me.” Kaleb and Sage both gasped then talking over the top of each other arguing which one was Dopey. “Sleepy?” Sage shrugged his shoulders, “I can live with that, and Kaleb is a bit Dopey.” “Hey!” Kaleb exclaimed, “If I’m dopey how do you explain your love of that one?” he pointed to Lincoln. “Oh my god. It’s like a freakin’ kindergarten in here.” Brent threw his hands in the air. “Seriously guys, where’s Blu?” The group all turned facing Brent, “Shopping!” Sage smirked, “Lincoln got him to return one crib and twenty cases of toddler diapers that weren’t needed at the moment.” “Well, instead of sitting around here bitching about ya nail polish how ‘bout we get things set up before people start arriving. Yeah?” Brent left the room grumbling. “Dumbasses. Fucking circus.” “Wow. That time of the month?” Sage joked to Brent, “I could set you up with Val.” Brent walked into the room backward-looking over his shoulder at Sage, “I don’t do the woman.” Sage belly laughed, “I’m pretty sure if you call my brother a woman he might beat the shit out of you. He’s a little taller than me and really bulked up from the gym from training for sports.” “Really?” Brent asked intrigued, not that he was a lover of setups but a nice go around with a pretty buff boy might do the trick. “Do you have a photo of said tall bulked up sports boy?” Sage gave Brent a strange look, “I don’t carry a picture of my brother around, that’s just weird. If ya want to see what he looks like go on Facebook and search Valerian West.” Brent’s entire demeanor changed, his jaw ticked and his eyes went hard like steel. “Your brother is Valerian West?” his tone harsh and angry. “Ya. Why?” Sage chucked some of the cold cuts on the platter fanning them out. “No thanks,” Brent stalked angrily out of the kitchen while everyone else swapped glances at the complete turn around from the security guy. They knew he could be stern when needed, but never had they ever seen any kind of temper or fury from the guy. Cody talked their littlest brother into messing with Brent. Jonathan found the man outside hanging the few exterior birthday banners. “Brent and Val k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love. Second, comes marriage. Uh, then comes the babysitting in the carriage,” Jonathan ran out of words to sing so he smiled at the man. ***** As Kyle and Blu returned from their shopping trip the pair spotted birthday balloons attached to the mailbox and a homemade banner that read ‘Happy Birthday Pop’ hanging over the covered porch. “Aw, that’s so cute!” Kyle said with his hand over his heart. Blu, however, glared at his husband then around at all the cars parked in the surrounding area of their house. “Fuck, really?” he admonished Kyle. “What? The kids wanted to do something special for you,” Kyle took Blu’s hand smiling at him, “I think it’s a sweet gesture.” Looking at the ground, Blu toed at the grass feeling like an ass. “I guess,” he sighed. He put on a happy face and followed his husband pulling to the house. Jonathan opened the front door smiling, “Poppy you see the banner we made? It has each of hands on it.” “I did, thank you, baby boy.” Blu crouched down hugging Jonathan tightly. “Thank you, it’s wonderful,” he whispered into the boy's ear. “It’s very special.” “Mhmm,” the boy nodded, “An’ Brent was kissin’ Sage’s brother, an’ they’re getting’ married. Oh, and Brent says Uncle Kaleb is Dopey.” “Uncle Kaleb is Dopey!” Blu said a little confused. “I gotta go,” Brent's deep voice said as he fled the house alone. As Blu watched Brent flee the house like it was on fire, the fleabag of Bella’s started clawing at his leg. “Fucking Ninja cat!” Blu griped swatting at the miserable animal. “Cody,” he yelled, “come and get your sister's cat before it becomes tomorrow's entrée.” Cody saunters up eyeing Scarlett, “I don’t think she’ll make much Chinese, so I guess we are ordering out tomorrow.” He said while picking the cat up. “The next person going to California is taking that freakin’ thing with them. Let Bella look after the hellcat.” “Poppy she’s just lonely,” Jonathan said. “She needs another kitty to play with.” “Aww, so naïve my beautiful boy. That fur-casted skeleton is the bride of Satan sent here to torture me,” Blu said sweetly while thinking of forty-seven different ways to feed the thing to Khan or Spartan. Nobody has to know. “Why are you smiling like that?” Jonathan asked his pop. “Huh? Oh, just happy with the party, little man. You guys did a great job. Now, how ‘bout you and me go and greet some of the guests. I see Captain Reardon and his wife. You haven’t met them yet. You’ll love them,” Blu told his son grabbing his hand as they made their way through the Birthday wishing crowd. As Blu and Jonathan entered the backyard the birthday cake candles were lit, there had to have been seventy or more of the things on it. When lit the older kids chuckled and thought of what a fire hazard their Pop’s cake was. And then the crowd broke out singing “Happy Birthday.” Jonathan finished singing, “You smell like a monkey, and look like one too.” “Brat,” Blu mumbled with a smile, “help me blow these out will ya?” Jonathan nodded, “I’ll help since you’re gonna be a GrandPop you need help.” He sucked in a deep breath and puffed the air out at the candles. Everyone applauded and congratulated the pair once the fire was out. “Happy Birthday, poppy.” Jonathan hugged his pop around the waist tightly. “Thank you.” Blu returning the hug just as enthusiastically. Kaleb shouted out to the crowd, “I know Blu is almost elderly now,” he chuckled at himself. “For those that have to watch their sugar intake like the ‘old fella’ I made a sugar free cake. That just leaves more of the white-chocolate raspberry-filled one for us.” Kasey wandered up pulling a twenty from his pocket holding it out to Blu, “You going into a nursing home soon? You need an allowance for the hard candies to suck on.” “You little,” Blu started stomping his foot as if to run after the kid, Kasey hoofed it as quickly as possible waving the twenty around. “You can have it; if you can catch me, old man,” Kasey teased slowing to let Blu catch up then fleeing out of arm's length again. The guests watched as Blu ran around the yard looking like he was herding chickens while Kasey evaded his grasp every time. “Give up!” Kyle yelled while belly laughing, “You’re never gonna catch him baby, just come and have a beer, and later I’ll make ya feel better.” “Dad! Dad! Pop!” Lincoln shot up out of Sage’s embrace, his voice panicked. He looked around, turned around, put his phone on the chair, turned again, grabbed his phone back. “Dad!” Kyle flew to his son who looked like he was just turning in circles swatting at an insect. “What’s wrong?” “The… it’s… he’s… coming… now… right now…” Lincoln’s flustered appearance also mirrored by Sage who was also at a loss of words. “Who is coming?” Kyle asked a little confused, it seemed everyone had arrived at the party just fine. Sage grabbed Link’s cell thrusting it into Kyle’s hands, then embracing his boyfriend. “Blu!” Kyle yelled excitedly. “Put the cat in a carrier, we’re off to California.”
  13. After spending two hours in the Department of Motor Vehicles, Lincoln came out clutching a paper in his hands but still held a glare for his boyfriend, who had seemed determined to have him jumping through hoops along with his parents. So far his day had consisted of going shopping and being told he bought the wrong thing, then his dads contacted Sage to have them pick up cat litter and onions. Onions? Then Sage somehow decided that Lincoln needed to get his permit, Blu had been riding Lincoln’s ass to get it for quite a few months but everything just seemed to be too stressful following Levi’s injury. Once Lincoln flopped into the seat he turned facing Sage, “I swear to God if you decide I need to do anything else beyond relaxing I am taking you to the Clippers Veterinarian’s office and having you neutered. And quit fearing my Pop, I know the permit was his idea and I passed the damn thing.” He waved the paper in front of Sage’s face. “The instructor I think was born before my Nan and had horrible hygiene, she might have been decaying.” Link cringed at the picture he put in his mind of zombified driving instructors. “Congratulations, baby!” Sage told him excitedly. “We just have to–” “Nope, nuh-uh. We don’t have to do shit! We’re going home, now,” Link whined rubbing his tired eyes. “Just one quick stop,” Sage stated as he started his car and glanced at Lincoln, “it will be quite painless and I will even stop at the ice cream shop and buy you a blizzard.” Link side-eyed his boyfriend, “You’d better, jackass!” “Oh, my grumpy man.” Sage smiled while reaching out and pulling his face to his for a kiss. “Fine,” Link said kissing Sage quickly. “Mush, let’s go.” Sage placed the car in drive, pulling out barely going the speed limit, driving in a direction that Lincoln seemed to pick up on almost immediately. “Why are we driving in the direction of Uncle Kaleb’s restaurant?” Link eyed Sage suspiciously. All Sage done was smile innocently, “Kaleb texted saying Kayden wanted to see me.” Lincoln snatched his cell phone off the car charger looking at Sage’s text messages, “Okay, he did say that, but we aren’t bringing the trips home with us.” “Be nice,” Sage chuckled, “soon we will have a little one that will demand our time. Would you deny the baby family time if it wanted to see Kaleb or the triplets?” “I feel this is leading to me being tricked into something,” Link shifted in his seat. “Is my Pop threatening you, or blackmailing you to irritate me today?” As they pulled into the restaurant parking lot Sage shut off the car, “You’re definitely being a drama queen today Babe, although I do fear the shit out of your Pop. That vein poppin’ thing in his forehead is just plain creepy.” Sage hopped out of the car rounding to the passenger door and opening it. “Come on my prince,” He offered his hand to Lincoln to escort him inside. Jonathan hid behind the hostess station peering out the plate glass window, “They’re here!” He shouted to the group as he ran to hide with the rest of the guests. He plastered himself next to his pop peering up at him. “Pop, don’t be mean to Sage today, okay?” His pop looked into his sons very young eyes feeling guilty. “I’ll be nice. I promise.” “Good, he’s really cool and you’re always mean to him. It’s not fair,” the kid admonished his pop in a way only a young kid can do with their big damn innocent doe eyes and damn mature logic – when it suits them. Not that they know they are doing it. Kids see everything simply. “You’re a good kid, you know that?” Blu said running his hand over his son's head affectionately. “Because I’m yours, pop.” Blu’s heart shattered into a million pieces for so many reasons. The front door opened as Link lectured Sage at being sneaky today, “I swear, I have Clippers on speed-dial from when Bella’s psycho cat was spayed. I’m sure they will be willing to do the deed.” Sage rolled his eyes, “Yes Dear.” He just let his boyfriend continue to ramble since the young man seemed oblivious to the decorations. Kasey who was huddled with Shawn, “Can we yell surprise yet?” He said it loud enough that Shawn slapped his palm against his own forehead. Lincoln stopped dead in his tracks, “Surprise? Sage? What the hell did you do?” His grip on Sage’s hand tightened. The rest of the group of family shouted “Surprise!” “Our baby shower?” Link placed his free hand over his heart, “I still can’t believe our little one will be here in no time. I’m sorry I was bein’ such a bitch, babe.” Cole ran by covered in pink glittery make-up, “you’s no botch, her is,” he pointed at Kassidy, “I no wants to be princess.” Kaleb had accepted the fact his kids were ‘special’ and shrugged his shoulders at least Kayden was calm, somewhere above Nan would be laughing her ass off. He flicked his son’s ear, “Language, Cole. Now scoot.” “Ouchie,” Cole yelped rubbing his ear, “you mean,” he screeched while running to his papa. “Papa, daddy hurt me.” Davis picked his son up who was delicately primped in pink thanks to his daughter. “Well, buddy, you said a bad word and he didn’t hurt you.” He placed a kiss on the side of their son’s head, “Off you go,” glancing at his daughter, “Kassidy if you insist on decorating your brother at least let him pick the color.” Cole puffed his chest up, “I no wants to be princess,” he broke into a run heading toward Kasey and Shawn. Kasey tapped Shawn on the shoulder whispering, “See these kids could make us rich if we get them to push Uncle Kaleb and Davis’ buttons, they break out swearing.” He got an evil grin on his face, “And, Bam, lotsa money in the bank.” Lincoln and Sage stood nearby his cousins listening to the conversation, “that kid could make money without much trouble. We’re never letting him babysit when he’s old enough.” Sage continued to make rounds as Lincoln sat speaking with his Uncle’s business partner, he stopped standing beside Kyle and Blu. Shoving his hands into his pockets to hide his nervousness of being around Blu, “I got him here, but he has threatened to have me neutered at Clippers. I’m a little intimidated of that threat after getting the cat litter dropped on my nuts.” Kyle pinched Blu’s inner arm as he opened his mouth giving him a warning look not to say a word. “Ha, yeah he can get bitchy when he’s in a mood,” Blu stated. “While it’s just us three, I’d like to ask your permission to take Lincoln out on like a real date,” Sage shifted nervously from one foot to the other, “like dinner and a movie type of date.” Throwing his head back with a laugh Kyle squeezed the young boy’s shoulder. “You don’t need our permission. If I were you two I’d get as much dating in as you can before the baby comes.” “I know Mister Waters tolerates me,” Sage shrugged his shoulders, “I’m trying to be respectful, and I’d never intentionally hurt your son. I love him with all of my heart, I’ve been through being hurt from people I loved.” He took a deep breath releasing it slowly, “My sister and me didn’t have a great home.” Blu frowned assessing the kid, he glanced at his husband then back to Sage. “No wonder you spend so much time at our house,” he grumbled, “are you… is it unsafe at home now?” Sage glanced down at the floor steeling himself, it was a defensive mechanism that he had become accustomed to over the years. “When I came out to them, my parents that is, well they beat me near to death. I told you, Mister Waters, I know what Levi is goin’ through. When I woke up three months after the beating,” Sage wipe at his eyes quickly trying to dry them so Blu wouldn’t think he was weak, “I can’t… I don’t remember things real well. They went to jail, Valerian came home from college when he was told Thyme was in foster care and I was in the hospital.” “Fuck me,” Blu uttered, he stepped over to the kid scaring the bejeezus out him when the man gave him the biggest bear hug he’d had in his entire life. “I’m so sorry, kid,” he whispered into his ear. He tensed after being called a kid, “I don’t need pity, felt bad and mad, and just plain pissed off a long time.” Sage loosened the leather band that was wrapped around his wrist uncovering a gnarly looking scar, “I uh… well… I umm push Val and Thyme away and wouldn’t let them support me. My own parents didn’t want me,” he shrugged his shoulders, “Why live, you know? Well a shit ton of therapy and medicine that I’m told I have to take for the rest of my life, I’ve found who I am and who I love. Funny thing is if Thyme didn’t suck at picking out boyfriends, I wouldn’t have found Lincoln at that parenting class.” He let out a dry chuckle at the irony of his life. “You know Link’s had a hard young life, why haven’t you told him?” Blu asked curiously. He glanced over at Link who still had his back toward him. “Mister Waters I’m gonna let Lincoln know all this shit, I swear.” Sage rubbed his temples, he got headaches sometimes when he got stressed. “I just don’t want him overwhelmed by my shit, he’s the sweetest person I know that wears his heart on his sleeve.” Levi walked over with Spartan by his side, “Hey, Sage you gotta see the outfit Brody and I gave Link.” He spotted how red-faced his friend was, turning to his dads, “Dad, why’d you let Pop upset Sage? On today of all days, it was meant to be special for Link and Sage too.” Sage stood there staring at his friend quietly not sure what to say, at the fierceness of his friend protecting him. “Levi, stop,” Kyle said calmly placing his arm around Blu’s shoulders. “It’s wrong Dad, just because Pop can intimidate Sage. He never acts like a bully to anybody else,” Levi looked directly into Blu’s eyes, “I love you Pop, but you taught us to treat people with respect.” He shook his head and leaned into Sage’s shoulder, the teen that seemed to know the shit storms that came upon him and didn’t judge him. “You’re right,” Blu said, his eyes stinging while he felt completely ashamed of himself. He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I…” he pointed to Link, “just going to…” The three of them watched as Blu made his way to Link pulling him aside and exchanged a few words, Link glanced quickly over at Sage smiling. Blu hugged his son and then to their surprise Blu walked out of the restaurant without another word to anyone. “Damn, did I say something I shouldn’t have?” Levi asked after Blu left the building, “I didn’t freak out, did I?” “No, no you didn’t.” Kyle still looking at the door where his husband departed. “It was a long time coming. I’m sorry Sage. Look, guys, give pop some time okay. I think he’s… just give him some time. He loves you kids, more than anything in this world. Okay?” Sage looked around at the people he considered friends, hell a part of him felt like he was family. “I’m sorry if I upset him, Mister Waters. I figured if he knew some of who I was, he might trust me.” Kyle placed a hand on Sage’s shoulder, “Son, first off the Mister Waters stuff has to stop. I get called that enough at work.” He offered a warm smile, “Call me Kyle or Dad, whichever you’re most comfortable with. Blu will let you know what to call him, just give him time to gather his thoughts. One thing I can tell you, Sage, is that you will always be welcome in our home consider it a safe place if you need one.” “Thanks, umm…” Sage looked at the hand that was offering him support, “Dad, not that I ever really had one but it seems a fitting title for you.” Spartan put his cold wet nose in Levi’s hand, pulling him back from some distant place. “I missed something, didn’t I? Pop, wasn’t really intimidating Sage, was he?” Sage shook his head, “No, he was being okay.” Offering a sad smile he said, “I told your dads why I understood so much about your injury. But I owe your brother an explanation before I can share more with you Levi.” “It’s cool dude-man,” Levi patted his friend’s shoulder. “It’s your story to tell.” Kaleb stood up on the stage that was used for banquets and wedding clearing his throat and tapping on the microphone, “If I could have everybody’s attention. Yep up here,” He waved his hand, “See I’ve known this little shit,” he grabbed Lincoln by the collar pulling him backward before wrapping an arm around his shoulders, “since the day my brother and brother-in-law drug their trio home. This boy cause quite a few laughs for all of us and Nan, god rest her soul. That candy bag was always a load of laughs,” he chuckled, “and some pretty decent treats if you could find its hiding spot. Well, this young man is about to become a parent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you but the poopy diapers at three am in the morning really suck. But you’ve already found a partner that wants to share in the dirty diapers and early feeding, take it as a blessing that you have people to support you and the little one.” ***** Sage laid snuggled in the bed with Lincoln a few weeks later, watching some cheesy horror movie that probably cost as much as a single pizza to create with make-up that Kassidy was capable of doing. After a watching a bit of the movie, Sage told Link about his past. “So, I told your Pop at the baby shower and that’s why I guess he left. I never wanted to hide anything about my life from you Lincoln, but I don’t want pity either.” “S’okay,” Link said pressing his lips to Sage’s leaving him with a short tender kiss. “I guess that explains why pop’s been avoiding us though,” Lincoln told him sadly, “pop’s sister killed herself when she was twelve.” He snuggled in closer to Sage gathering as much comfort from him as he could. “Oh my god,” Sage whispered. “Yeah,” Lincoln replied. “Pop was only little at the time, but it’s always seemed to have haunted him. Usually, he can’t stand bullies, but he’s been a little… weird lately, especially with you. I don’t know why.” “Think if I tried to talk to him again it might be alright?” Sage asked with concern, “I mean I know my decisions affected Val and Thyme, I was just lucky to survive my crazed actions.” “Yeah, maybe.” Link sighed. “Do you want to go and see what the other’s are up to? I feel a little left out lately. Everyone seems to be giving us a wide berth.” “Let's go,” Sage kissed the top of Lincoln’s head. Rolling over he planted his feet standing up offering his boyfriend a hand, “Babe, I love you. Thanks for being a part of my life.” “So, sappy. But I love it and you.” Link smiled as the door burst open Jonathan grinning like a loon. “Link, Sage, come play,” he said excitedly, “Brody is teaching me how to play baseball, Shawn and Kasey are here, and the trips and Brent even promised he and Derek were going to join in. Come on, hurry.” The kid practically bounced out of the room. “Come on, hurry.” He waved Levi’s old glove at them. “Levi said I could use this, how cool is that?” Sage chuckled at the kid's enthusiasm, “Do ya think our little one is gonna grow up as cute?” “Way cuter!” Lincoln chuckled. On the way outside Sage spotted Blu setting in a lounge absorbing some rays while watching the chaos unfolding with Levi and Cody both trying to coach Jonathan. “Cody, I’m older, I can’t play but I know what the hell I’m doing,” Levi grumbled. The kid waved his hand forward toward Jonathan, “Have at it then, stop being a grouch and do your thing. Coach Drama Queen.” Sage shook his head at the bickering, “I’m gonna go talk to your Pops and see if I can get him to participate in the loving baseball drama.” Kissing his boyfriend quickly he headed over to where Blu was lounging, plopping himself in the lounge directly beside the man. “How’s it going, Mister Waters?” Blu gave the kid a cursory nod. “Good.” “So, don’t be mad or anything but Link told me about your sister,” Sage glanced over at the man who was wearing sunglasses. Blu’s focus remained on Sage giving him his full attention but stayed silent. “Blu, is it ok to call you that?” Sage scratched his forehead, “If you’re anything like my siblings, they didn’t understand my actions when I tried suicide. I felt so alone, maybe your sister felt the same way? I mean I’ve been told depression is different in everybody.” Taking a deep breath Sage pushed on with the conversation, “If me being here makes you feel uncomfortable I can leave, it’s just you seem uptight since I told you about my life. And Link is starting to feel avoided by the family, which isn’t fair to him.” The older man stared Sage down behind his glasses, his jaw ticked in aggravation. “Maybe it’s not about you. I’ve never said you weren’t welcome here, if you leave and break my kid's heart I will hunt you down, don’t think I won’t. Just give me some space to work out my own shit, and maybe the kids are avoiding Link is to give you two some time and space because your lives are about to change.” Blu stood and went inside the house. Sage sighed and stood taking his shirt off he threw it on the lounge and went to join his boyfriend, partway there he stopped and turned around heading inside hunting down Blu. Locating the man pacing in the office with his husband who stared at the man who was venting. Seeing the situation Sage turned and went to leave until his name was mentioned. “No, Blondie, I won’t apologize. He was so condescending, ‘Can I call you Blu?’ What kind of crap is that?” Blu huffed. “The kid thinks everything is about him. He doesn’t even think we have a past, he brought up Rain, like it’s the same thing. Well, it’s not!” “Babe, it kind of is the same though,” Kyle sighed. “I think Sage is just trying to find some common ground and help you reach it.” “Suicide is common ground now?” Blu’s voice rose. “Jesus fucking Christ, Blondie. You think I’m not ashamed of how I’ve acted toward the kid. I’m an asshole, a bully, just like all those assholes that caused my sister to…” Sage heard a sob come from the man. “Hey,” Kyle said, Sage knew he must have been hugging his husband. “C’mon, babe, you’re not a bully,” the man chuckled sadly. “Not usually anyway. The kid just seems to rub you the wrong way. You just need to remember he loves Link. He’s not given us one reason to doubt him.” They were silent for a few moments. “You need to find a way to let go of your own anger, this isn’t you. Please?” Sage could hear them kissing then the door slam shut and other noises came from the office which told Sage it was time to get the hell out of there before he was scarred for life. Jogging out the back door he considered running straight across the yard and not stopping until he reached the Canadian border – it would only take a month or so if he didn’t stop for rest. Reaching Lincoln’s side his face scrunched up, “I doubt your dads are joining this baseball games unless it goes into extra innings.” “Hey, are you girls going to gossip all day or join the game?” Kaleb called out to the two young men huddled together in the makeshift outfield. “Yep, I’ll play the outfield it looks sexy,” Sage smirked at Lincoln. “Well, cover the gap over there. Or, you could just go to the laundry room…” Kaleb winked at Link. Levi’s eyes went wide and had a shit-eating grin, “He doesn’t have the balls, and Pop would pop a blood vessel.” “I have my own room for shenanigans, just play and mind your own bees wax.” Link gave his brother the bird, so did Cole. “Are you happy now,” Kaleb griped pointing to his kid. “Cole, time out. Go and sit on that chair for five minutes,” Davis told his son firmly then followed the kid to tell him why he was in trouble – again. “Remember there are kids around Lincoln.” “We will Davis,” Sage said as he swatted Link in the ass. “Link you caused this, it’s only fair if Cole is in time-out so are you. Five minutes for bad influence.” He swatted his boyfriend’s butt again. “Kiss first.” Link pecked Sage’s lips quickly then thumped the guys arm with a grunt then joined Cole and Davis for the lecture. Jonathan was up to bat, Levi had shown him how to stand in the batters box and how to hold the bat and to swing through the ball. Cody was pitching, the ball hurled into Kaleb’s glove who was playing catcher as the bat flew at Cody’s head. “What the hell?” Cody shouted. “Levi, did you teach him to do that? Did he Jonathan?” “No, I swear,” he said looking almost in tears. “I’m sorry.” Levi laughed rubbing Jonathan’s back as he shot back at Cody. “Trust me, if I taught him to throw the bat at you he would have his the mark, dude.” He turned back to Jonathan with a grin and whispered, “Nice shot, yeah?” his brother gave him a sad smile. “This time hold on to the bat, okay?” “Yeah, but a bug was flying in my face so I let go last time,” Jonathan stated simply. Levi winked at Jonathan, “Nah, that’s just Cody’s face. You’ll get used to it. Now, remember what I said, it’s all about timing. Keep your eye on the ball and have the bat meet it. I’ll get Cody to slow down his pitches, if not we’ll put Brody in, he’s not as good as Cody at pitching he’s a better catcher.” Levi smirked. Kaleb choked, “Holy shit, keep the bedroom talk off the field coach.” “Bite me, Uncle Kaleb,” Levi shook his head. “What bedroom talk?” the kid screwed up his cute little face confused. Brody trotted over shaking his head, “They’re talking about grown-up stuff just ignore them they are worse than little kids. You’re doing fine Jonathan,” he patted the boy on the back. “Okay, Cody give him a slow pitch let your brother get a hit.” “I’ll try,” Cody sighed, “I didn’t know you played catcher?” he said to Brody. Brody looked over his shoulder at his boyfriend. “Asshole.” Jonathan scowled at the curse word. “That’s five minutes, Brody. Cole got in trouble and so did Lincoln.” Brody took his glove off stuffing it under his arm, “Damn, this game is giving penalties like a god-forsaken hockey game without the contact.” Turning to look at Cody, “And just for your information I’m the pitcher in bed, your brother catches quite gracefully.” “Oh, seriously,” Kaleb covered his face with his glove. “That’s honestly more than I ever needed to know.” “You’re not allowed to play with balls in the house,” Kayden called out, “it’s naughty.” “It’s naughty, alright,” Brody grumbled to the slowly filling penalty bench. “Are we playing or what?” Kyle called out to everyone dragging Blu behind him as they crossed to the grass area. He took in Davis, and an upset Cole, an amused Lincoln and grumpy Brody. “What’s all this?” Kaleb smirked, “They’re all in the time-out penalty box. Cole got five minutes for flipping the bird after Link flipped Levi. Link was given the time-out by Sage for instigating Cole’s time-out. Brody… well are you really sure you want to know his infraction?” “Probably not,” Kyle answered. Blu sat down next to Brody. “I’ll just save time and take my seat here,” Blu said to Kyle. Kayden looked at Kyle, “Brody pitches in bedroom and Levi catches the balls.” Blu glared at Brody. “is that right?” “Uh-huhs but Levi says he pitchs toos n Brody catches,” Kayden scratched his head. “They allowed to play wif balls in bed but we can’t.” “No, they aren’t. But, we’ll be having a chat about it after dinner. Won’t we?” he said sternly looking between the two offenders. “Well, shit,” Levi mumbled and Jonathan pointed to the penalty box. “Come on Spartan we know our place,” the pair made way to the over-flowing penalty box, “make room Pops the area is gonna need expanded.” “You can just sit here, right next to me.” Blu patted the spot on the bench beside him away from Brody. He leaned in to talk quietly with Levi. “We will be having that chat after dinner, Levi.” The kid just nodded his head letting Spartan’s coat calm him as he run his fingers through the dogs fur. Cody chuckled as he looked into the penalty box, “We could get a really cute family picture of you guys.” Kyle brought his phone from his pocket snapping a photo of all the offenders sighing. “We can start the wall of shame with this photo. I’m a proud man standing here right now.” He stated as Kasey sidled up next to him and started pointing his finger along the line of criminals. “You owe me fifty cents,” he told Cole, “You owe me two-fifty, Lincoln. Five dollars for you Brody and Levi. Uncle Blu you’re already covered under our standing agreement. By the way your payment is late this month. I checked my account this morning.” Sage was sitting in the outfield, where he gained the companionship of Shawn and Kayden. Kayden pointed at Kasey, “How he not in bad box?” “I have no idea,” Shawn sighed, “he’s sneaky, I’ll admit that. I think he likes the money too much.” Sage chuckled over the whole Brody and Levi ‘pitching and catching’ situation, then glanced at Blu who sat himself in the penalty box – was he playing catcher in the office earlier god I honestly don’t wanna know. His whole body shuddering at the thought of Blu having sex at all. ***** A week later Sage showed up ringing the doorbell in his least holey of clothes and nicest button-down over a t-shirt for Lincoln and his date in one hand a CD of his boyfriend’s favorite band, in the other a couple of boxed cheesecakes he bought from Kaleb’s restaurant. He waited patiently for the door to open. Link flung the door open, “Sage, you gotta see. I got it in the mail, it’s him. It shows his thingy.” He grabbed his boyfriend dragging him by the arm not giving him a chance to say a word into his bedroom. Lincoln tried thrusting something into Sage’s already filled hands, “Babe, I’d love to look at whatever you want me to, however, I brought something for you and stuff for the family.” Sage handed the CD to Lincoln who might have glanced at it before it being sat on the nightstand. “Thanks, can I show you his thingy now? It’s so cool.” Levi stated like a hyperactive individual. Sage chuckled setting the cheesecakes on Lincoln’s desk, “Okay, now what am I supposed to look at?” Lincoln shoved this 3D sonogram image in Sage’s hand. “See right there?” Link pointed, “That’s our boy’s thingy, his dinky.” He said excitedly, “We’re having a boy, one of the people from the attorney office sent it over earlier. You’re the first person I told or showed or whatever!” He practically floated around the room, “We can buy his clothes now, and one of those music playin’ things for his crib. But it has to play good music.” Sage looked at the picture, he could definitely see it was of a baby but not much else but he wasn’t a doctor. “Wow, our boy is definitely hung,” he chuckled which earned him a smack in the head. Link glared at Sage, “Be nice it’ll grow. Grab those cheesecakes, we’ll take them to the kitchen then we’re goin’ shopping.” He tapped his foot expectantly, “Hurry up Sage, we need to buy a car seat, no two of them one for your car and one for the one I don’t have yet. Oh, and one of those playpen things, and Teddy Bears. Kids like teddy bears, don’t they?” Sage smiled affectionately at his excitable Lincoln leaning his head down and kissing him. “I love you. We can do whatever you want, baby. I just want to spend time with you.” “Love you too,” Link kissed his boyfriend then paused, “Do they make cute little boardshorts like you wear to the beach?” Sage shook his head laughter filling the house, “I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting shopping trip.” The boys stopped long enough to put the cheesecakes in the fridge and left a note on the island telling the rest of the family they would be back later. ***** Four-and-a-half hours later the pair returned home, not only was Sage’s SUV’s hatch filled but the entire back seat was filled from floor to ceiling. Lincoln and Sage both carried two car seats, at Link’s insistence that both of them would need car seats and both grand-dads need one too. Getting to the front door, Lincoln realized he had no clue where is house keys were so he started tapping the doorbell button like a maniac. Blu opened the door, to have two car seats thrust into his hands by Lincoln, “Hi, Pop, those are yours and Dads.” “Uh… sure. Um, does my credit card have the numbers still raised on it?” Blu asked stepping back to let Link and Sage through the door. Link bent down to grab a few more bags beside him. The boys entered the house heading toward Link’s room, Blu put the car seats on the floor stepping out to see Sage’s SUV still stuffed with more boxes. “Holy shit!” he shook his head going back into the house calling up the stairs. “Boys, come help your brother empty the cargo container in the driveway.” The thundering and less than enthusiastic thuds came behind Blu from where he now stood on the porch scratching his head. It felt like it was about to explode as Kyle pulled in behind Sage’s vehicle. Sage came to a halt standing beside Blu, “I swear Blu, he was like a possessed shopper. If it was cute and somewhat close to a shade of blue he bought it. I had no clue you could get customized teddy bears, but he found a shop that made them on the spot.” “Fuck me,” Blu said flabbergasted. “Me or Kyle should have gone with you guys.” “I probably would have preferred you, for some reason Kyle would just let him get whatever he wanted, not what he needed.” Sage scratched his head too, Kyle smiling at them both as he got closer. “Looks like he got everything he needed.” He kissed Blu and waltzed into the house. Sage gave Blu a look that said “See?” Then he spotted the two boxes tied onto the luggage rack, “Can you please tell Link we don’t need two cribs? I tried reasoning with him, it didn’t work.” “Oh, I believe you. Fuck, did he even get diapers?” “Do you think three cases are enough?” Sage chuckled, “And you don’t even want to know about baby wipes and shampoos and all the other things he called necessities. Each of us has a babybag with our names on them, I’m not even sure why.” “Fuck.” Blu sighed. “We’re going to have to sit down with him and sort all this crap out. What we can send back we will. The rest….” Blu shook his head. “Holy crap,” Brody exclaimed from beside Blu scaring the shit out of him. “Some help, guys,” Lincoln swanned by them heading for the car. “The Amish made rocking chair and dresser will be delivered Friday,” Sage stated as he watched his boyfriend bark orders at his brothers. “By the way when he shows you the baby’s sonogram, don’t make fun or laugh at the size of the babies junk,” he motioned toward his crotch, “I got smacked over it.” Blu snorted a laugh. “I’ll be sure to school my reaction.” “Pop, why aren’t you helping?” Link asked stumbling up the stairs to the door, he could barely see where he was walking. He shook his head. “Sorry, just calculating how long I’m going to have to sell my ass on the corner to pay for all this crap.” That earned him a smack to the head from his husband. “Shush, he’s excited.” Sage snickered from next to Blu, which in turn earned him a smack to the back of the head from Kyle. “Stop it.” “Have you ever seen a Chihuahua try humping a stuffed animal? Imagine that energy being spent shopping at a frantic pace. I’m sure credit card companies all over the world are happy today,” Sage saw his other half glaring at him, “I’ll be right there dear.” Blu slapped Sage on the back. “Get used to it, kid. He takes after his dad,” he said while avoiding his husband's hand to his head – again. “One question,” Kyle look at Sage, “everything is blue, does that mean?” “Yes, and ask him to show you the babies dinky,” Sage smirked to Blu. “His dinky, how the hell can you see something that small on a picture?” Kyle asked nobody in particular. After all of the boxes and bags were in the house there was barely a walkway through Link’s bedroom or the hall as the boys called strike and refused to unpackage the stuff they had to cart inside of the house. Sage sat in the middle of the dining room floor looking at the assembly directions for the crib that both Link and he loved. “Is this shit even possible without an engineering degree?” He asked spotting Blu. “Uh…” he looked at all the parts strewn around the space. “I have to… poop. Have fun.” Blu fled the room with a maniacal laugh. “Coward,” Sage mumbled. He swore the first poopy diaper would find its way into the wastebasket on Blu’s side of his bedroom.
  14. Dahawk

    Finding Hope

    Four months had passed since Levi was attacked, he had completed a ton of intense in-house therapy. Levi often found himself frustrated for not being able to do everything the way he used to, or even fast enough for his likings. Since he returned home, it felt like Brody is always on the receiving end of his outbursts. This also left Levi angry and ashamed most of the time. Levi and Brody were playing ‘Baseball All-Stars’ on the Wii game system with Lincoln and Sage in the living room while the rest of the family was relaxing out near the pool. Levi took a swing at a pitch that he miss-timed and lost his balance when his vision blurred more than normal causing Brody to try to steady him. “Stop it!” the teen jerked his shoulder away from his boyfriend. “I don’t need to be treated like a freak,” Levi teetered on the edge of a meltdown. “I didn’t–” “Just save it, Brody, I’m so sick of everybody treating me like I’m an invalid who barely can wipe his own ass,” Levi shouted as he shook from his own emotions. Brody reeled back his eyes filling with tears, he ran from the room causing Sage to follow after the boy who he considered to be a friend over the time he spent with Link’s family. Link looked at his twin, “Seriously? Brody loves you, you jackass.” He sighed and shook his head, as Levi slouched on the couch overcome with frustration. ***** Sage found Brody sitting on the edge of the pool with his feet dangling in the water distancing himself from the rest of the family. Even the laughter and quiet conversation echoing from the other side of the yard was no comfort. If anything it made him feel more alone. He brought one foot up resting on the side, his chin leaning on his bent knee. He wiped away the few tears he’d allowed to spill since he sat down hoping no one had seen him. Placing his hand on Brody’s shoulder as he shucked off his shoes lowering himself beside his friend dipping his feet into the water gingerly testing the temperature. “Hey, B, you mind some company?” Nodding his head before pausing and then shaking his head, “Nah, he can be so mean sometimes.” Brody wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, “He tries so hard, Sage, he places so many unrealistic expectations on himself.” Sage sighed placing his arm across Brody’s shoulder giving him a squeeze, “Dude, you don’t need to make excuses when Levi plays the ass. I think you deserve so much credit man,” Sage removed his arm from the teen’s shoulder when he eyed Blu vigilantly watching from his chair with the other family members. “You’re a saint dealing with those tantrums of Levi’s.” “I love him, you know.” Brody sighed. “I do, I get it. At some point, you’re going to have to push back. I don’t mean create drama or problems but let him know that you’re there for him no matter what, but you’re not his punching bag.” Brody rolled his head watching Sage as he spoke, the boys gaze fixed on the water, distant, as if he was speaking from experience in someway. Had he gone through the same thing at one time? He found Sage somewhat wise for a kid their age. He gently bobbed his head in recognition of Sage’s advice and quietly went back to searching the pool water for some type of epiphany or answers. ***** Sage peeked his head into his and Link’s room, “I’m gonna check on your stubborn brother.” Lincoln paused from reading ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ which was the newest of his parenting books. “I think he’s in his room, he knows he screwed the pooch.” Snickering and rolling his eyes Sage smirked, “So eloquent, Babe. Love ya, be right back.” He turned trotting off in the direction of the stairs. Taking the stairs two at a time Sage made quick-time getting to the door of Levi’s bedroom. He paused knocking on the door frame since the teen left the door slightly open. “What?” Levi laid in his bed staring at the ceiling. Sage opened the door a little further poking his head around, “Can we talk dude?” “Why bother?” Levi let out a long exasperated sigh crossing his arms protectively across his chest. Casually strolling across the room plopping down on the bed beside quite possibly his future brother-in-law, he stretched out elbowing him, “Levi, you really need to cut yourself some slack. Brody, your family, and well I guess we all only want you to be happy.” He laid next to Levi with his hands comfortably set behind his head. “It’s hard being happy all the time,” Levi elbowed Sage then he gave him a slight shove and chuckled, “Umm… dude-man you do realize your sock has a hole in it? Your big toe is sticking out.” Sage raised his leg in the air so they could see his digit sticking through on proud display. “He’s cute, I think we should name him.” He rolled his head grinning at Levi. “God, Sage you’re a dork.” Levi chuckled, “I approve of my brother dating you, even with your horrible sense of style.” Letting out a sigh, “Aren’t gay guys supposed to have some fashion sense?” He shrugged his shoulder, “Aren’t gay guys supposed to be able to handle hard times better?” he snickered at his double entendre. “Our community is riddled with an over abundance of sensless tragedy and difficult times. A lot of people lost their lives, families, identity, you name it.” He shook his head gently looking up at the ceiling. “Don’t you see how lucky you are? You still have all of those things, with everyone’s support – if you let them – you’ll find yourself again, and a new normal.” He sat up quickly giving Levi a thump to the shoulder. “Soldier up, dude. Apologize to your man in the good way.” Sage waggled his eyebrows at Levi grinning. He swung his legs over the side of the bed bouncing onto his feet leaving the bedroom with a swagger. Levi’s eyes followed the guy as he left the room pondering his words. They were almost what Brent had said to him. Levi sighed, “Maybe they’re right,” he mumbled. Forcing himself out of bed, Levi went on the search for his beautiful boyfriend promising himself this is the last apology he would owe him. He would do better, he had to do better. “I have to stop feeling sorry for myself.” ***** Sage entered the kitchen to find Blu standing at the counter with a beer. It almost felt like he was waiting for him, his spidey-senses tingling. His boyfriend’s pop’s scrutinized him from head to toe, clearing his throat before he spoke. “Thank you.” Scratching his head with puzzlement, “For what exactly?” Blu chuckled dropping his gaze to the label of his beer picking at the edges, he cleared his throat again. “For what you said to Levi,” he held up a hand, “I wasn’t eavesdropping,” he tilted his head, “not on purpose anyway. I came in to go to the restroom and talk to Levi but you were already in there.” The man gave Sage a nod. “Thank you.” “Mr. Waters, I know you don’t necessarily like me or trust me.” Sage shoved his hands into his pockets, “I know what Levi’s going through, and family means everything or it should.” “Hmm, okay. Well, thank you again.” Blu went to leave stopping to turn back to Sage. “I don’t not like you kid, I just don’t trust you yet with my baby boys heart - yet. We’ll see how you go, huh?” He stated and left. Sage shrugged his shoulders turning to head to Link’s room – ‘It’s a start,’ he thought to himself. He didn’t appear to want to drive down a highway and hurl Sage out into oncoming traffic at the moment, maybe, just maybe, Jack Frost was thawing out. ***** Sage walked into Lincoln’s bedroom as a cellphone whistled passed his head a popping sound of the screen breaking as it hurled against the wall. “You bitch!” Link screamed with rage, yet filled with worry. “Uh, I haven’t even said anything yet but I agree I can be a bitch,” Sage deadpanned at his boyfriend trying for amusement but failing miserably. Link’s stared at Sage with his mouth hanging open while trying to make sense of how Sage claimed to be a bitch, when the first and god willing last female he will ever “be with” has found a new way to destroy his life. “I uh… you are so not a bitch.” He pointed at his cellphone, “that thing… she… oh fucking no way is she gonna do this.” “What happened?” Sage asked sitting down next to Link pulling him into his arms. Lincoln tried to slow his ragged breathing, “Melissa wants me to pay her from some supposed trust fund her ‘daddy’ found out about. If I can’t come up with the money that she wants they are threatening to put the baby up for adoption.” “Hmm,” Sage kissed the top of Links head. “Can they even do that? Wouldn’t they need your permission as the father to even try?” “I don’t know? Everytime Melissa talks to me, my life turns to shit.” Lincoln’s hands shook from nerves, “I need to talk to my dads, I’d talk to the entire family but I don’t think they can handle much more stress after Levi’s attack.” Clutching his hands together he looked at Sage, “I tried dealing with Melissa on my own, back when she first got pregnant.” “Shh, shh, shh,” Sage cooed softly into the top of Link’s head. He pulled his boyfriend into his lap enveloping as much of him as possible. “I think… first, we need you to calm down. Second, I think it’s wise to get your dads help. This isn’t something you can do on your own. I don’t think anyone would if they didn’t have to. Do you want me to text your dad and ask him to come in here, ask him to do it discreetly so you can talk to just him first. I think your pop might lose his shit – just guessing.” He chuckled. The door burst open and Jonathan started to run in stopping at where the broken cellphone laid on the floor, spotting his brother upset in Sage’s arms the boy turned and ran from the room. With the door to the room still hanging open, the boys could hear Kyle’s voice. “Blu for the love of God, slow down and calm down.” A few moments passed, “Don’t give me that look, you can be so unreasonable sometimes.” Blu whirlwind into the room with Kyle in pursuit of his now nearly psychotic looking husband, glaring at Sage who was holding his baby boy in his perverted lap. “What the hell?” Blu raged. “What did you do to him?” his face red with that one pulsating vein in his forehead that freaked Sage out every time it appeared. Sage’s eyes were huge, he expected Blu to be unreasonable but this man was causing his seventeen-year-old heart to have palpitations. “I… umm,” Sage’s throat felt very dry, “I was only trying to uh–” “Dammit Blu, stop trying to grab Sage,” Kyle said as he attempted to keep ahold of his wiry husband who seemed to be able to wiggle more than a venomous snake at the moment. “MELISSA!” Sage yelled grimacing at his outburst, “It’s Melissa,” he said in his normal volume clearing his throat, “she threatened Link.” Sage pulled tighter around Lincoln nuzzling into the boy's neck. “Oh,” Blu stopped struggling pulling himself together, “why didn’t you say so.” He turned to his husband with a ‘What the fuck’ expression. Kyle shook his head sweeping his hand through his hair. “You’re an idiot. I told you Sage didn’t do anything. I suggest you apologize and go back outside with the other children while I sort this out. Then I’ll come find you.” He tugged on his husband’s arm pulling him to the doorway, pushed him through the gap slamming the door then locking it.” Blu banged on the door, “Let me in or I’m keeping the triplets here for the weekend.” Sage and Kyle’s eyes grew big knowing Blu would do exactly that. Link sat up in Sage’s lap calling out to his pop, “Good, do it! Go and calm down old man.” Kyle texted Kaleb telling him under no circumstances was he to bring the kids over to their house today due to a situation with Lincoln’s baby’s momma. After making sure the text sent he slipped the phone back into his pocket and the boys both filled him in on the threats the teenage princess and her family were leveling he cracked open the door spotting his husband who sat on a kitchen chair glaring at the door. “I uh, Babe before you go all Bates Motel on us, maybe put on some clothes. I called George, my attorney,” Kyle looked at Blu who was approximately the shade of a well-ripened tomato, “we are to meet him at his office in forty-five minutes and I don’t think the speedo is quite appropriate.” “Pop, I swear to God, Sage didn’t hurt me,” Link said over top of Kyle’s shoulder who both teens were using as a shield. “Mister Waters I would never hurt Lincoln, I would rather somebody hurt me first.” Sage added his input hoping to regain some of the kindness the man had shown him earlier. Blu made a growling noise as some type of apology to Sage before heading off to get changed. Kyle shook his head truly at his wits end to know how to handle Blu and his complete and utter denial of Sage being the good guy. Jonathan came around the corner with Khan on a leash trying to drag the dog along pointing at Sage, “Get him!” The boy shouted. Cody walked by eating a hotdog with his headphones on listening to music as the dog took off after him wanting a bite of that delicious looking delicacy the teenager was eating dragging the ten-year-old by the leash since his hand was wrapped through the leash. “Woah, woah, woah,” Sage said to the dog grabbing the leash in one hand and snatching the boy off the ground in the other. “Let go, little buddy. He’ll rip your hand off.” Jonathan flicked his hand until the leash dropped, just as Blu came back into the room. He looked at Sage, then the dog, then Jonathan. “I… I was just helping,” Sage told him anxiously. Blu shrugged his shoulder dismissively. “I know.” He looked toward Kyle. “Are we going or what?” Kyle smiled as he ushered the group toward the door. “Brody, you’re in charge of this chaotic place. Be back soon,” He called out. “M’Kay,” Brody called out from wherever he was. ***** Kyle, Blu, and the boys sat in a conference room at the attorney’s office after two hours of the entire group talking together before an army of attorney descended into the office preparing for some kind of legal battle if need be. “I don’t understand?” Link exclaimed. “If you don’t get her to back off, where the hell am I going to get the money to pay the b… Melissa. There is no trust fund…” he trailed off looking at his dads closely as they eyed each other. “What? Why are you looking at each other like that?” he narrowed his eyes. Kyle cleared his throat leaning forward elbows resting on the conference table, “Well, that’s not true. Each of you kids has two trust funds, one from your Pop and I, and one from Nan. Neither is attainable until you reach twenty-five-years-of-age. I’m not even sure how Melissa’s father obtained any of that information.” George walked back in the room carrying a legal pad, “Our team in California filed an emergency declaration of paternity. However, Melissa and her father have agreed that if you were to pay all medical expenses along with surrogacy fee of fifty-five-thousand-dollars the girl and her family will consider the baby is being carried as a surrogate and sign all custodial of ‘said child’ away, once the baby is born.” The man laid the notepad down showing a bunch of legal jargon, that left the group feeling overwhelmed. Lincoln threw his hands up, “Well that’s just fuckin’ wonderful, let me just drop my pants and pull the money out of my ass!” He shouted. The attorney peered over the top of his glasses at the kid. “Young man, sit down and shut up. This is going to be dealt with and we’ll do it in a calm and adult manner.” He didn’t need to say anything further before Link realized he was lashing out and being a jerk. He sat his ass down to the angry glare of his dads and a disappointed but understanding one from his boyfriend. “Sorry, sir,” Link replied biting his thumbnail, his right leg bouncing a mile a minute on the ball of his foot. After all was said and done the framework for custody had been arranged, although the money that was being talked about still had Lincoln in the dark as to where the payment would come from since his dad had told him he couldn’t get it from his trust fund. George stood offering his hand to Kyle first and then to the other members of the family, and even Sage which cause a small smile from Lincoln that he was included. “I’ll be in touch once the baby is born to finalize the arrangements,” the attorney had state before looking at the pair of teenagers, “I hope you both realize raising children isn’t a thing to take lightly, I’m sure with your fathers Lincoln you have a solid foundation to raise your child.” “Thank you, Sir,” Lincoln laced his fingers with Sages. ***** Link dropped down on his bed after returning from the attorney’s office. Sage had headed home to spend some time with his sister as her baby due date was getting close and he’d been worried about her as the father seemed to be part-time. The ‘when he feels like it’ type of dad. He scrolled through his contact list on his phone stopping when he got to ‘Sis’. He’d been missing Bella like crazy since she’d gone back to California. Just as he went to press the call button Levi appeared in his doorway. “Hey bro,” he sauntered in flopping down laying next to his brother. “Hi, Levi.” Lincoln was sprawled on his bed, one leg bent with his foot tapping away. “I was just gonna call Bella.” “Do it,” he grinned at Link, passing him an oreo cookie from the packaging he’d been hiding. Link tapped the call button to video chat with their sister. She picked up after a few rings. “Hey, Link. Levi!” she exclaimed while her eyes filled with water. “Oh God, the water-works.” Lincoln chuckled, “Missed you too Bella.” “You guys look great.” She smiled wiping her eyes quickly. “What’s been happening back home?” “The dads and Sage and me, saw Dad’s attorney today,” Lincoln stated. “Oh, why? Is everything okay?” she asked concerned. “Uh, it is now. Melissa and her father wanted money,” Link bit his lip lightly. “What the hell? Can they do that?” Bella asked angrily, both snickered at their sister’s outrage. It had always amused them when she got angry on someone else’s behalf. The jut of her chin with her fire eyes, ones when directed at them they knew better than to argue with. “No, but yes if we want to guarantee she relinquishes custodial claims. Oh, and Bella do you know about any trust funds?” Link worried that maybe he shouldn’t broach the subject with his siblings but they weren’t little kids any longer. She screwed up her face trying for pensive then looked completely guilty, her eyes darted away from the screen. “Shit, guys I gotta go. Hey Levi, call me later shithead. I spoke with Brody earlier and promised I’d kick your ass. So call me bro. Ta Ta’s.” She ended the video chat leaving both boys with no answers but thinking she knew more than she was letting on due to her hasty exit. “Uh-huh,” Lincoln stated. “I call bullshit. Oh, and I’d say you’re about to get the ‘I’m the big sister and you will do what you’re told’.” “Ha! No doubt.” Levi bit his bottom lip. “Sorry about earlier, dude. I’m not handling this really well am I? Um, I have to go and meet the service dog this afternoon. Did you want to come?” “Levi, I will if you want me to. But, I think Brody deserves to be the one at your side. I never knew what it felt like to know how loved you can be outside the family until I met Sage. Your man needs to feel like you need him,” Lincoln kept his lecture on the casual side after seeing how dismissed Brody had felt after his twin’s last melt-down. “I know,” Levi said feeling and looking the part of devastated and asshole at the same time. ***** Kyle and Blu waited in the car while Levi and Brody went inside the dog training kennel. The trainer met them at the front desk of the facility. “Hi guys, we spoke on the phone but I’m Heather. Let me show you around and then I will take you to see Spartan. As we discussed, he is pure-bred Belgian Malinois and is eighteen-months-old.” Both of the teens had been video conferencing with the trainer off and on over the last four months but had never met her in person. The one visit the family had paid to the facility had been to meet Spartan, which the dog had taken to Levi immediately sensing his needs. “And here is your boy Spartan.” The trainer said to the dog who was at Levi’s side before she had said it. “Hi, Spartan.” Levi stated as he knelt beside his companion, “Who’s the good boy?” Levi cooed at the dog, which earned him some four-legged loving. “You’d better stop boy, or Brody’s jealous side is gonna come out,” he chuckled. “Waters you’re such a dork,” Brody shook his head as he patted the dog and offering the dog Levi’s side of the bed when they got him home. “Levi, did your Dad pick up food for Spartan?” Heather asked the teenager. “No, I bought it. He’s my responsibility and I’m Spartans.” Levi said with pride. “And I’ll babysit the both of them so they don’t get in trouble,” Brody said with a smirk. ***** A few weeks had passed when Sage dialed Levi’s phone, “Dude. Is everything all prepared for the baby shower?” Levi had told him the caterer, ‘Kaleb,’ had dropped the cake. “Uh-huh.” “I have Link on a wild-goose chase in the store.” There was a brief pause, “No Link that’s the wrong thing, babe.” The car door slammed closed. “Levi, I swear to God if I delay Link much more he will kill me. Just finish up quick.” “You know what, pop told me one time a story about how dad got his permit. Link has been putting it off. Call and see or beg for them to fit him in, don’t tell him though. That should kill a few hours if you can manage it.” Levi shrugged even though Sage couldn’t see him. “If I get kicked in the nuts by your brother I’m gonna pay it forward dude,” Sage sighed, “I’ll try and hopefully it buys you enough time to get shit straight.” “Whatever dude-man,” Levi had given his friend the nickname, “later. Kasey.do.not.feed.Spartan.cake!” Was the last thing that Sage heard as the phone disconnected. Chuckling at his phone, Sage yipped in surprise when Link pinched his arm. “Who were you talking too?” Link held up a bag of kitty litter. “Is this the right one?” “Uh… that was your…” he squinted at the poop crystals, “yeah, I think so. Um, that was your dad making sure we remembered the onions.” “What?” Link stamped his foot pissy and adorable as ever he turned back to the store grumbling to himself after dropping the bag on Sage’s lap crushing his balls. “Nobody asked for onions. What are we their little errand boys? I need a bigger allowance for this shit.” Sage held his injured crotch cursing the other twin while looking up the number for the DMV. Press 3, press 1, press 5. Everybody hates these automated services. “Thank you for calling the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your call is important to us, you are thirteenth in the cue. Please hold.” Sage rolled his eyes watching through the window in case Link came back before he could speak with someone. “For fuck sake,” Sage griped, rubbing his poor nut sac.
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