Jared smiled at Mason as they walked out of the Children’s Group Building holding their Foster Certification, “It’s finally happening we can take Shawn home today. Can you believe it?”
With tears holding in his eyes, he blew out a breath. “No baby, I can’t.”
“You realize Kasey is younger than Shawn, but he’s going to be protective of his new brother,” Jared chuckled knowing that his youngest son was so eager for a brother. “Babe, our family is growing just like we planned. And I love you so much,” he leaned toward his husband leaving a whisper of a kiss on his lips.
The ride to Kaleb’s was filled with excitement knowing that their son would be coming home. Kasey was already at Kaleb’s house, spending time with Shawn while the men completed their required certification class.
Walking into his brother’s condo was like walking into a warzone, there was screaming, baby dolls that were decapitated, smashed trucks, and clothes were strewn about. Jared shook his head, “Kaleb are you alive? Where are my kids? Are they in one piece?”
Kaleb rounded the corner with a garbage bag-in-hand picking up clutter as he moved, “I swear to god they are angels when they are sleeping. I don’t understand what happens after they wake up. Your kids are saints, even when Kassidy was beating the boys with the nerf bat they remained calm. Jesus, how can three-year-olds make such a mess?”
“Ah, no discipline.” Jared laughed.
“I… uh… I give them time outs,” Kaleb said in an exasperated huff, “they just won’t stay still.”
“Well,” Jared said scratching the back of his neck not wanting to upset his brother further, “it doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe, I don’t know, glad wrap them to their beds.”
Looking at his brother Kaleb had a thought, “Velcro… lots and lots of Velcro, we can redo the spare room with it. It can be their time-out room.” Kaleb dropped the garbage he was carrying and started to call Davis on his cell.
“Baby are you busy?”
“The person is dead. They can wait a few minutes for you to complete an autopsy.”
“Don’t you threaten to hang up on me”
“I swear to god if you hang up on me I am bringing three excitable home trashing toddlers to you.”
Taking the phone from his ear he stared at it, “that asshole hung up on me. Can you believe it? Oh, he is so cut off he is NOT getting any more.” Kaleb’s glare focused on his brother, “Spotty still have that collapsible kennel cage thingy? Davis is gonna learn, oh he is gonna learn.”
Kaleb cringed when the elevator dinged with the arrival of…
“Derek,” Kaleb whispered. Derek is going to kick his ass, he’d had the triplets behaving when he left. James had been called away by Teddy for work issues at the security company and they’d sent Derek as a replacement. Something the man was none too happy about but he loved this extended family to bits.
“What the…” Derek’s eyes bugged out. “Kaleb,” he said disappointingly.
“Kassidy called for mutiny after she watched some pirate thing. I couldn’t stop them,” Kaleb waved his hand at the mess, “they do anything she demands. I mean look.”
“Jesus, Kaleb,” Derek uttered holding his hand out for the garbage bag. “KASSIDY! KODY! KOLE! GET YOUR CUTE LITTLE BUTTS IN HERE RIGHT NOW, CADETS!”
To everyone’s amusement, the kids come into the room without a care in the world. The only one hanging their head in shame was Kaleb.
“Stand there,” Derek told them, “single file like I taught you.”
Just like the military, the kids stood in line in front of Derek. They put an arm out each to make sure they were spaced at least an arm apart then stood straight up staring at Derek to bark his next order. To which Derek paced a few times with his hands behind his back still holding the garbage bag. Every time he silently glanced at the kids it was easy to see they were worried about what was to come next. Almost silent anyway.
“We aren’t little!” She huffed at the large bodyguard turned babysitter – by default, really a Kaleb sitter.
Derek picked Kassidy up by her underarms so they were face level. Meeting her hard stare Derek said, “If I have to pick you up so we can talk face to face, you’re little. Understand me, Cadet?”
“Humph, I… you bully… triples attack… if not I fix you later,” Kassidy’s temperamental control showing the true power of controlling her siblings.
Kayden stood perfectly still, “You isn’t my boss. Yous smashes yours an Koley’s stuff.” After his little rant, the boy smoothed his blonde hair out of his eyes, crossing his arms and releasing a huge sigh of exasperation. Derek gave Blu a glare when he chuckled at the little boy. He noticed a young boy standing next to Blu sinking into his side looking completely overwhelmed. Derek winked at Jonathan then put Kassidy back on her feet.
Derek stood facing the three kids. “Did you three make this mess?”
Of course, as children do they all talked over the top of each other. Derek non-plussed stuck his fingers in his mouth and let out an almighty whistle. This move had everyone covering their ears and a St Bernard running for cover in another room.
“Face me,” he said in a commanding voice and to Kasey and Shawn’s complete surprise the kids did. “Did you disrespect your dad while I was gone? Did you make this mess and disrespect your own home?”
Kole raised his hand, not willing to speak without prior approval.
Derek nodded his head, “You may speak cadet.”
“It was her,” Kole pointed to Kassidy, “she says shes put holes in my unner-roos. An I don’t want holes in Spideyman.”
“Derey he ask for air holes,” Kassidy huffed in defense.
He threw up his hand to silence the kids, “Enough, no more fighting. You three are going to apologize to your dad. Then,” Derek held up the garbage bag, “you’re going to put everything in this bag and it’s going into the garbage. Anything that isn’t broken or wrecked beyond repair is going to kids who don’t have any toys. Do I make myself clear?” his voice commanding and brokering no argument. Kassidy went to open her mouth but Derek shut her right up with just a raised eyebrow before she looked at the floor.
Kayden turned toward Kaleb, “Daddy I’s sowwy theys such bads kid. I wuv you.” Shooting his sibling a glare.
Kaleb burst into tears, “See how am I supposed to be mad at them? They are too cute…” he uttered between sobs.
“Dear god, Kaleb, are you sure James raised you. Cause you know he’s pretty alpha right? You kind of, well… not.” Blu felt bad immediately but it’s Kaleb so he didn’t want to back down, but the asshole just wouldn’t quit sobbing. “Oh, for eff sake.” Blu turned to Linc and swung a pointed finger at Kaleb. “Go hug your uncle will ya.”
“Pop,” Link looked at his uncle, “He’s dripping snot and gross.” He scrunched his nose in disgust. “I love him and he makes awesome cheesecake, but no…”
Little Jonathan moved away from the safety of his pop, skirting around the giant with a wary look he wrapped his arms around the hysterical he’d only recently just met feeling bad for the man. “It’s okay Uncle Kaleb,” he whispered.
Blu leaned into the side of his brother-in-law. “Jare,” he tilts his head at Kaleb, “I swear I’ve already seen this episode of ‘I Love Lucy.’”
Jared barked out a laugh that turned to hysterical giggling while Mason looked on amused and jealous he wasn’t in on the joke.
Kyle walked over to Kaleb looking for at his theatrical behavior, “Jesus Kaleb, pull yourself together. I wrangle teenagers at work and don’t cry. You have three little kids, and you’re a pushover. You control them, they don’t control you.” He tapped Jonathan’s shoulder and smiled at him, “why don’t you go hang with the other calm kids' buddy.”
“You’ll be okay uncle,” Jonathan stood up rubbing Kaleb’s back before turning away from him. “Crying feels good sometimes.”
Kaleb lunged at Blu pulling him into a bone-crunching bear hug, “You have such good kids.” He sobbed and wiped his nose on Blu’s shirt, “Can’t you trade yours for mine? Only until they are as big as Jonathan.”
Pushing Kaleb away with a scrunched nose of ‘what the f…”, Blu told him. “Absolutely not. Besides they only turn into Levi and Linc anyway. You really want to put yourself through that?” he shook his head at Kaleb. “Besides, um… I forgot where I was going with this. But don’t snot on my clothes. Kyle lets hit the laundry room.” Blu winked at Kaleb while he dragged Kyle from the room.
“Occupied!” Levi belted out loudly. “Figured if you’re already getting one grandkid lets try for two.”
Jared, laughed again while Blu stood outside the laundry room yelling at his kid while Kyle tried to talk him off the ledge. Turning his focus to Shawn melting into a puddle of excitement as he reaches out blindly for Mason’s hand knowing it would be waiting.
“Pop, I like everybody here but can’t we go home?” Shawn asked while tightening his grip on Mason. “I get to sleep in my new bedroom tonight and play with Spotty?”
“Indeed you do,” Mason said awed that he had another son hugging him to his side. “Thanks Kaleb, goodluck with…” he whirled his finger indicating the room, “all of this.” Derek winked at Jared and Mason as they dragged Kasey kickin’ and screaming from the room while Shawn walked easily with his new dads.
“You owe me twenty-five bucks, Uncle Blu!” Kasey called out as his dad shoved him into the open elevator car. Only to hear Derek barking orders at the triplets. Kayden standing strong because he ‘didn’t make no mess.’
Kyle entered their bedroom with the phone to his ear. “Okay, yes. First-class, great. Thanks for all your help,” he said as he watched his husband pack his luggage bag then called out, “Jonathan.”
“Do you think she’s going to be okay?” Blu asked worriedly looking at Kyle. “Should I bring her home?”
“Babe, kids get homesick.” Kyle sighed leaning against the dresser, “You’re like a protective momma bear waiting to pounce, but our baby girl has to find her way in life as an adult now.”
He scowled at Kyle. “She’s not an adult is she, she’s only eighteen, Blondie. Our baby.”
“Bella will always be our baby. However, we can’t hover and try to control her like the people that I was raised by,” Kyle grimaced remembering his teenage years.
Blu stopped mid-air before throwing his underwear in the bag. “We are nothing like them assholes, Kyle.”
“Babe, I didn’t mean that we are,” Kyle’s shoulders slouched, “it’s just that she needs our support, along with providing her guidance when she needs it. She’s going to fail at stuff, we will be there to pick her up as she stumbles from challenges in life.”
He crumpled sitting on to the bed next to his luggage his eyes sheening. “After everything these kids have gone through in their short lives, I just want the next decade or so be a little bit easier on them emotionally. I understand they have to earn and work for the things they want and a little bit of struggle is normal. But damn it, blondie, she deserves to be happy for fucking once.”
Jonathan popped his head inside the door, “Pop you owe me five dollars for the F word. But, dad, why did you call me?”
Kyle looked at Jonathan with a smirk, “Buddy, you and your Pop are going to visit your sister for the weekend. You guys are going on a big plane ride, to sunny California.”
The boy’s eyes widened with his hands out front of him flapping around. “Uh, I, um… that’s… hmm. On a plane?”
“Yeah,” Kyle chuckled, “you know it’s the thing with wings and goes in the air.”
“Hmm, a plane,” he muttered to himself. He looked at his dads. “Like a plane, plane. A big plane? I’ve never been on a plane.”
Walking over toward the door Kyle patted Jonathan on the shoulder. “You will like flying I got you guys great seats. I’m going to get Cody to help you pack a bag so you guys can get to the airport.”
Blu and Jonathan walked down the hallway of the dorms toward Bella’s room.
“Do you think she’ll like me, pop?” his son asked him nervously.
Looking down at his son his heartbreaking just a little that his boy is so unsure of himself. “I think she is going to love you. I know you are going to absolutely adore her. We all do.” Blu smiled at his son. “She is kind, quiet, she loves books and to read. Trust me if you love grandma you’re going to love Bella. They are very similar.”
“Okay…” the boy fidgeted sticking his hands in his pockets. “Maybe, she will be alright.”
As they approached the open door of Bella’s room he heard voices of a couple of girls laughing. Blu knocked on the door sticking his head tentatively through the opening. “Sweetheart,” he said when his gaze landed on his daughter. He sucked in a breath, in just a few months she seems to have transformed into a beautiful woman.
“Pop,” she cried running to him wrapping her arms around him. “I can’t believe you’re here,” she whispered into his ear so her friends couldn’t hear her.
Jonathan popped his head around Blu’s side looking at his sister nervously, “Hi? Do you like nuts?” He held out a small pack of nuts, “we got them on the big plane that Dad sent Pop and me on and I like them but you can have them. And the plane was huge, but the bathroom was really, really small, and Pop said you were nice, and well do you maybe think you like me?”
A quiet chuckle fell from Blu as he wrapped an arm around the young boy’s shoulder as he leaned down kissing the top of his head. “You’re a sweet, sweet boy.” He looked to his daughter and saw that she seemed confused. Immediately Blu felt guilty because it just occurred to him that they had forgotten to tell Bella. He looked nervously between Bella and her forgotten friends. “Oh, baby girl. I completely forgot with all the other drama we have going on. Please forgive me, this is Jonathan. Your baby brother.”
“But… huh… how… where… when...” Bella stared at her father, “I mean I know how kids are made. God, he looks like a Minnie-you but how?” After finding her footing she focused on her little brother. “You can keep the nuts, but thank you.” She kneeled pinching his cheek, “You’re just too darn cute to not like. I remember when Link was your size and he would never give me a bite of his snacks.” Standing up to meet her father's eyes, “I guess we need to catch up it’s so hard not being with all of you.”
Blu slouched feeling every bit the rotten father. “We do.” He reached out hugging Bella again. “Jonathan and I are here for a couple of days.” It will probably be extended now that he’s seen the forlorn look on his daughter’s face. “We’re going back to the hotel, but can we have dinner?”
“Can you give me a bit to do my hair? Should I change into something nicer?” Bella asked as she smiled at her newest brother, then focusing back on her Pop.
“You already look pretty,” her youngest brother said to her half hiding shyly behind Blu.
“Aww… you’re the sweetest. Just don’t change Jonny-Boy,” Bella turned to her girl-friends, “isn’t he so darn cute?” The girls all cooed about the boy, causing the boy’s cheeks to turn a rosy shade of red.
Kissing Bella on the cheek, Blu waved to Bella’s friends even though they weren’t introduced. “Nice to not meet you ladies. Maybe next time.” He smiled, Bella gave him a sheepish grin for forgetting her manners.
“S’okay, sweetheart. We’ll be back to pick you up in an hour. Love you.” Blu guided a waving Jonathan from the room. Because the door was still open he heard Bella’s friends.
“That’s your dad?” one girl said incredulously.
“Holy fuck, he’s hotter than a naked firefighter.”
“I wouldn’ t say no,” another told his daughter.
Blu and Jonathan giggled all the way to the new car Kyle had organized for Bella to use while she was in college. It was nothing extravagant but it was new and they could be comfortable knowing that it wouldn’t break down. It was just a silver Ford Fusion, big enough for Bella but economical as she would have the cost of running the car. Especially now that Blu was determined to get his daughter out of the dorm room and into the new townhouse as soon as possible.
Levi and Brody wandered into the locker room to prepare for baseball practice, passing the coach's office. Coach Dunkle Broman was new to the school this year as the previous coach decided to retire. The coach glared out of the window glaring at the boys, who were just chatting with each other. He had overheard some of the members of the team ranting about the boys dating one another. Giving the young men a few minutes to get changed, he headed for the baseball field.
Coach Broman located Jasper who played catcher for the team, who also happened to be the player he overheard ranting about the pair. “Jasper,” he called out, “a word with you!”
“Yes, Coach?” Jasper answered as he ran to the man’s side.
Broman’s face contained a snarl, “those two… you know light in the loafers kids…” he made a limp-wristed hand motion, “if you want team captain take care of them. I want them off the team as much as you do.”
Jasper nodded his head, “’N I get no repercussions from the team?”
“Zilch,” the Coach said, “I don’t care how you do it. Just get it done quickly.”
“Got it!” the young man muttered as he jogged off to practice with one of the pitchers.
The rest of the practice passed without any incidence.
Kyle woke the boys to get ready for school since Blu had called and extended the amount of time that Jonathan and he were spending in California. “Let’s get a move on guys, we need to be on the road. Five minutes in the car, or you can walk to school.” He grabbed his briefcase as he headed out the door.
Cody was the first of the boys to reach the car. He crawled into the back seat, “Mornin’ Dad,” Cody’s voice muffled with a mouthful of bagel.
Link hopped in shortly after wearing his Air Pods nodding his head to some music he was jamming to, giving everybody a quick wave of the hand.
Brody and Levi were the last to crawl in the car, then they took hold of one another's hand. Levi looked toward his dad, “Don’t forget we have practice after school today. We will call you after it ends.”
“Okay,” Kyle said, “mister music and I can run to the hardware store for some paint to redo his room before the baby is due.”
“Hey Dad, when are you meeting with Linc’s baby momma’s parents,” Levi called out then receiving a blow to the arm from his twin.
“Not sure yet,” Kyle glanced into the mirror to see Lincoln’s reaction, “I’m waiting to hear back from my attorney.”
“Oh, well ya know the kid will be gorgeous.” He smirks. “Just look how me and Link turned out.”
Kyle turned into the school parking lot, “Well it would have been nice if you learned proper English.”
“What? Pop’s not here. Cut me some slack old man,” Levi whined.
“Get to class,” Kyle chuckled, “I don’t want you in my office slacker.” He walked off toward his off leaving the boys to their own devices.
Later that afternoon between classes Levi used the back staircase because nobody ever used it, and it was always a quick route from math to his American History class. As soon as he got a little way down the stairs, he felt a huge shove from behind launching him down the stairs.
When Levi failed to show up on time to his history class that he shared with Brody, his boyfriend began to worry. Brody asked the teacher for a hall pass to, “run to the restroom.” Upon receiving it, he set out in search of Levi. Brody retraced the route he thought was most normal to be used but failed to locate him. So, he decided he would try another route. Entering the stairwell, he immediately saw books strewn about and lots of blood with Levi laying in the middle of it all.
Brody opened the door to the stairwell screaming for help then ran back to Levi’s side. Kneeling Brody cradled his boyfriend’s head, “Levi, open your eyes. Come on baby, wake up for me.” Tears rolled down his cheeks, as he waited for somebody to help them. “HELP!” Brody sank with Levi in his arms. “SOMEBODY HELP US!” He sobbed cradling Levi.
Jared ran through the door holding a small first-aid kit from his classroom. “Jesus, fuck.” He said running down the stairs to get to his nephew. He immediately knelt down running his hand over Brody’s head as only a father would then checking out Levi, his eyes and hands roaming for any further injury besides the head wound.
“What happened?” he asked hurriedly pulling out his phone.
“I… he… Lev…” sob “Levi did didn’t show up for class,” sob “I got a pass to find him,” Brody held out his bloody hands for only a second. “He was layin’ here. Levi wake-up! Please… Please, please wake up!” Brody sobbed continuing to hold Levi’s head to keep his neck stabilized.
“It’s going to be okay Brody,” Jared said absently. “Hello, yes sorry. Ambulance, boy, 16, head injury from a fall down a flight of stairs, unconscious and bleeding” Jared caught sight of discolored skin on Levi’s tummy where his shirt had come up. He lifted the material back to see a bruise starting to form in the shape of a footprint. Tears belted from his eyes no longer able to keep them at bay. “He’s been beaten also it looks like. Please send the police too... We’re at the high school, yes, that’s the one. Yes, ok, thank you.”
A sound like nothing Jared had ever heard came from Brody, “No, no, no… who would hurt him.” He kept bowing down kissing Levi’s forehead. “Please baby, wake up.”
A fearful Jared stood, “Brody, I’ll be back in a minute okay. I’m going to get Kyle, then meet the ambulance, but Kyle will be here. Hang in there. It’s going to be ok. We love you, buddy.”
“Okay,” Brody sniffled as he held his boyfriend still.
A few minutes later Kyle ran up the stairs from the office. “Fuck me,” Kyle said as he knelt, “he’s going to be ok Brody.” He took Levi’s hand in his, “hang in there son help is almost here, I hear the sirens. Brody as soon as the ambulance comes, go get your backpack and find the boys. Go to the office for passes for the boys, I’m sending an email now. Go to their classroom doors, tell the teacher it’s a family emergency and get to the truck.” Kyle typed on his phone as fast as his fingers would allow then exchanged places with Brody.
Bending quickly to kiss Levi’s lips chastely, “I love you, baby. We’ll see you at the hospital.” He stood quickly glancing back his eyes pleading to Kyle to make it be okay before breaking into a run for the office.
Brody, Link, and Cody sat in the waiting room while their dad had gone behind the doors to be with Levi. All three boys with tear-streaked faces, Lincoln ready to murder anyone that came into his path. The brothers might fight and bicker, but Levi is his other half of him. They share the same face, blood, skin, everything.
“I’m gonna kill the motherfucker who did this to him,” he angrily turned to Brody. “Where were you?”
“I… I… I was in class when he didn’t show up I made up an excuse to get out and hunt for Levi,” Brody trembled from all the tension.
Lincoln assessed Brody as he broke down once again, his stomach feeling like lead because he’d been an asshole and upset his brother's boyfriend. He knew he’d done it to relieve him from the guilt he felt for not being there to protect his brother.
“I’m sorry, Brody. I know it’s not your fault.” Lincoln reached out with both arms pulling Brody who’s only truly been sweet to him since forever. He held him tightly while the poor guy let everything go. While they sat Jared entered the waiting room with Kaleb, Shawn, and Kasey. Kaleb was on the phone telling Davis what had happened, his husband hanging up and making his way up from the morgue as quickly as possible.
“Where’s Uncle Mason?” Cody asked Jared.
Jared looked at the boy, “he’s on his way from work.”
“What about Pop, do you think Dad’s already called him?” Cody asked anxiously.
“I’ll call him,” Link practically shouted, “I feel useless right now.” He stood and began to pace the waiting area as he dialed Blu’s number.
The server put down their food, with a smile asked, “Can I get you anything else?”
“No,” Blu said with a wink, “I think we’re okay for now.”
The young girl blushed hurrying away as fast as possible.
“Dad,” Bella hissed with a chuckle, “geez, I know her.”
Jonathan chuckled and looked at the bottle of ketchup then toward his macaroni and cheese. “Do you think I can have the ketchup?”
“You like Ketchup on your mac ‘n’ cheese?” Bella asked with a raised eyebrow.
Her new brother looked at her skeptically. “Um, yes?”
Bella reached for the ketchup. “That’s just gross.” Then proceeded to cover her own in ketchup with a smirk before handing the bottle to her brother with a side hug, and kiss to the side of his head. “God, you are the cutest thing, ever.”
Jonathan blushed fifty different shades of red, “I… uh… umm… thanks.”
Their pop watched in amusement while biting into his hamburger, enjoying every mouthful since Kyle has been on his ass lately about eating healthier. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt Blu. Smiling to himself he savored the flavor, Jonathan and Bella bantering and doting on each other across the table filled him full of warmth and happiness. The second his phone rang from the table he knew, he absolutely knew by the feeling of dread seeing Lincoln’s cute face pop up on his screen something was wrong.
“Hey, buddy, what’s up?” Blu said with a light tone hoping he was wrong.
“D…dad,” Lincoln whimpered.
“What’s wrong Link? Who’s hurt? What happened?” Blu asked quickly trying but not succeeding keeping the panic out of his voice.
“It’s Levi, Pop, someone beat him and pushed him down the stairs. He hasn’t woken up, you need to come home.” The boy cried. “Please come home.”
“We’re coming baby, we’re coming now.” He hung up the phone without further information, his first concern was to find a way for them to get home, and yesterday.
“Um, Bella. We’ve gotta go, I need you to pack a bag, sweetheart,” he said in a hurried daze sliding out of the booth. “Levi’s in the hospital,” Blu told them throwing some money on the table as he stood waiting for his shocked kids to leave the booth.
First and foremost, we are currently going to try to post every Friday at the moment while the Coronavirus is happening. We hope to provide each of you reading material to help keep you busy. We wish each of you a healthy retreat while all of us endure the lock downs, and new rules placed on our lives.
Remember to leave a reaction, and we love to get comments also.
We are working on a list of character bios, so please be patient. When i first printed it, the thing was fifty-five pages.
Also, this chapter started a major story arc so this will play out over multiple chapters.