“Hey, kids, when we get upstairs you guys go to the waiting room. Your dad is still back with Levi,” he held his hand up to stop Bella from talking. “I don’t know what’s going on. I haven’t been able to talk to dad yet. Levi is more important.” Blu cupped Bella’s sad face, “I promise, sweetheart, as soon as I know anything, I’ll come find you. Okay?”
“Okay, pop,” Bella wiped away a falling tear, “I love you. Tell Levi we love him.” The elevator doors opened and the kids headed directly to where Link had told them to find the waiting room while Blu went to the nurse station to go to Levi.”
Blu followed the directions given by the nurse to a door that required him to push the button to be buzzed inside. Once he gained entry he went to the glass portioned room with the correct room number. Kyle was facing away from the door looking at Levi while holding his hand. He seemed to be off in a distant place, not even realizing Blu had arrived.
“Blondie,” Blu croaked over a sob regaining his head after seeing Levi hooked to so many machines. His skin color almost gray sav the black as black bruises visible at the moment.
Kyle jerked suddenly at the sound of his name, “fuck I can’t do this Blu.” He broke down into uncontrolled sobs, wiping his eyes with the palm of his hand.
“Baby,” Blu quickly reached for Kyle as they cried together, holding on for dear life for their son.
“We aren’t supposed to bury our kid's dammit,” Kyle mumbled. “It’s not right. How? Why would somebody do this to Levi?” His grip tightened around Blu unbeknownst to himself.
“Hush, baby, he’s going to recover and sassing his cute little hind end off before we know it. We have to believe that.” Blu kissed Kyle’s neck.
“He was such a strong kid,” Kyle glanced at their son. “now look at him, they broke him. There is a tube breathing for him for fucks sakes.”
Grabbing Kyle by the elbow guiding him out of the room to quietly consoles his husband not wanting Levi’s subconscious to hear them talking negatively if it came to it. “Baby, stop. I know you're scared, we all are. You have to stop referring to his life in the past. They haven’t broken him yet, he may be battered and bruised right now, but, like you said he’s strong and he’s loved. We’ll make sure they don’t break his spirit.” Blu reached out holding Kyle’s cheeks. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here, Blondie.” He bent forward kissing Kyle chastely on the lips before hugging him again.
“Oh god,” Kyle said with worry, “the boys. I haven’t seen the boys. What time is it?” He felt in his pockets for his cell phone to check the time but it wasn’t there, but he did pull his tie out of his pocket which was covered in blood. Actually, most of his clothes had some amount of blood on it.
“Hey, hey, come on,” he guided them back into Levi’s room. “I’ll stay here with Levi. Here take my phone until you find yours. If anything changes I’ll call. You need to go and tell the kids what’s going on. You can fill me in when you get back.” Blu was barely keeping his shit together but Kyle was falling apart and only one of them could do that at a time. He kissed Kyle on the cheek. “You need to get out of these clothes baby. No, don’t argue with me. I’ll be right here.”
Kyle walked to the side of Levi’s bed leaning forward placing a kiss on the only unbattered spot his son's face. “Daddy’s going to go talk to your brothers. I love you, buddy.” He stood up leaning his forehead against Blu’s, “you promise you’ll call if anything changes? I don’t care how small it seems Blu.”
“You know I will, Blondie. Love you baby.”
“I love you too, Babe,” Kyle gave Levi one last glance, “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Turning he headed out of the room in search of the rest of their family. He somehow found a waiting room he didn’t remember passing on his way into the Intensive Care Unit, and it was now filled with the entire family.
“Daddy,” Bella ran to her father crying out hugging him so tightly while everyone else was asking questions at him like a gaggle of unscrupulous reporters.
Kyle wrapped their daughter in his arms not realizing she had made the trip home too, “Baby girl I didn’t know you made the trip home too. Levi will be happy to know you’re here.” He kissed her on the forehead, “You can tell me you’re too old for a kiss from your Dad later.” He looked at the rest of the family holding up his hand, “just give me a few minutes to gather my thoughts and I promise I will answer what questions I can.”
“Daddy,” a quiet voice quivered from a chair a few feet away. “Is he going to heaven with mama?” Jonathan looked almost inconsolable at the thought of losing someone else he loved. He’d only been with the family a short time but he idolized Levi and Brody, he loved them already.
Releasing Bella from his grasp he walked over to Jonathan kneeling in front of the boy, taking him in his arms. “Hey, buddy, I don’t really think so? The doctors done surgery on Levi’s head, and they said his brain is in there still. He’s in a really deep sleep so we gotta wait for him to be ready to wake up.” Kyle kissed the top of the boy’s head. “I love you, Jonathan, and I know Levi does too.”
The young boy looked his dad in eye, his lip trembling trying to believe it’s true. On the inside he was a mess, he’d been here not so long ago with his mom. Another blow to his very young soul, him wondering if there were any point to getting attached to anyone if they just get taken away. No notice, no warning, no saying goodbye. Just gone.
Kyle hadn’t made any promises that he couldn’t keep. The little information he was given didn’t provide him with a great amount of optimism. The trauma surgeon had said traumatic brain injuries were more of a wait and see in cases like Levi’s. The boy had also suffered multiple fractured ribs and a punctured lung just to add more complications to treating the head injury. At this point, he was in a coma, with the ventilator breathing for him and with more tubes running out of him than was even fathomable.
Jared stepped forward, “Come on, brother,” he said to his twin, “I’ll run you home to have a shower and bring you back. Then you should be able to tell us more. Okay?”
“Did the kids eat?” Kyle asked while scratching his head.
Kaleb stood, his face an absolute dirty tear-streaked mess. “Christopher,” he thumbed over his shoulder, “called our manager at the restaurant. He’s sending over a bunch of food, just regular comfort food. Hope that’s okay?”
“Mhmm, that’s good.” Kyle took a moment to glance at the family members that had gathered to support Levi. “I’m sure I’ll forget to thank you guys for something while we go through this. So, thank you in advance for everything.” Giving a nod to Jared, “Let’s roll so I can get back here.”
Shawn sat in the back seat to ride to school with his dad and brother, tapping his foot as he watched out the window. “What’re you smiling about Kasey?”
“Nothin’,” Kasey chirped, “it’s a pretty day isn’t it?” He tried redirecting the conversation while clutching his backpack. “Dad, are you singin’ any good songs?”
“Huh?” Jared answered a million miles away. The family still rocked to its core over Levi, and since his nephew had been alone and he’s still in a coma the police have nothing to go on. He, Kyle, and Kaleb had approved a tender with Teddy to amp the security of the school plus he’s now installing cameras in all secluded areas as well as the main social places and corridors.
“Oh, I was just saying I hope you have a good day Dad,” Kasey bounce around in his seatbelt.
“Yeah, son, you too.” His answer automatic as he wasn’t really paying attention.
Once the family got to school each got ready to go their separate way. Shawn grabbed his brother by the strap of his backpack, “Kasey, you’re up to something. Don’t make dad mad today, he yelled at you a lot last night after you broke the lamp.”
“Pfft,” Kasey waved his hand, “it’s okay… I’ll be fine. See you at lunch.”
Shawn shook his head releasing his brother, “I warned you.” He had suffered enough beatings at the hand of the man who had taken his mother from him, he just didn’t want Jared’s yelling to become more heated.
“Hi Miss Sunjay,” Kasey smiled sweetly at his first-grade teacher. She was in his eyes old, but anybody, not a kid was old. She was of Indian descendent and tended to wear bright-colored clothing today she wore an orange colored Saris, which he always thought looked weird. “You look really pretty today.”
“Thank you. You sit, mister Kasey,” Miss Sunjay stated as she ushered the students in.
While the teacher was busy Kasey set his plan in motion first thing he did was super-glue her coffee mug and her presentation pointer she uses to point at the things on the blackboard to her desk. He also slid his Bluetooth speaker in the back of her desk drawer. He looked over his shoulder to see the teacher helping one of the girls with her bag as everything had fallen out and she was crying. One squishy rubber frog that ribbited when squished was placed under the roller of her chair, and he put a black rubber snake on the chalk tray. He then scurried back to his desk.
Once she was ready to start class she went to the chalkboard to place some info for today’s class on the board. Reaching for a piece of chalk she grabbed the rubber snake and threw it screeching like a banshee, placing a garbage can upside down over the top of it. She ran to the classroom next door to get one of the other teachers to assist her. Kasey didn’t realize she was terrified of snakes, he shrugged his shoulders bonus for him.
After the assisting teacher left the room Miss Sunjay passed out some worksheets to the kids to occupy them. She then proceeded to pull her chair out squishing the frog which ribbited scaring the woman again.
“This is so, so, so, not funny,” the teacher sat down in her chair and started to settle in.
Kasey watched raptly tapping his pencil to his lips barely containing a snicker. He reached in his pocket hitting something on his phone that caused the Bluetooth speaker to emit a loud farting sound from somewhere within the desk making all of the children in his class to erupt into laughter at Miss Sunjay’s expense.
“Oh, my goodness,” Miss Sunjay shifted in her chair, “I don’t know where that came from. Back to work children.” She reached for her coffee mug to get a drink yanking at it, as she stood up and was grunting as she tried prying the mug up Kasey burst into laughter. “Mister Kasey do you know something about these weird happenings this morning?”
Kasey shrugged his shoulders as he got his laughter under control, “It was funny wasn’t it?”
“Mister Kasey, take this slip,” she scribbled quite a lengthy note up before thrusting it into his hands. “Now expeditiously go directly to the office. I will find somebody to fill in for me, and meet you there after I fetch your father.”
Kasey sighed, “If you insist,” strolling out the door nonchalantly he headed toward the office.
Once reaching the office he handed the secretary the novel the Miss Sunjay had written. Once she completed reading it she tsk’d at the boy as she picked up the phone and spoke to somebody on the other end of it and hung it back up.
A door back behind the big counter opened and Kyle walked out. He took the proferred note the secretary offered him and read it. Kyle rubbed his temple, “Kasey, of course, it would be you. Let’s go, should I get a nameplate made for you for the chair in my office?”
“Probly, Uncle Kyle,” Kasey sauntered in as if he didn’t predict any consequences, hands in his pockets and the whisper of a smirk.
Kyle pointed to the chair shaking his head, “sit down Kasey, we have to wait on your dad and Miss Sunjay.” —As if life wasn’t complicated enough, now Kasey decides to grace me with his presence at school. Why couldn’t he wait until at least the sixth grade? Kyle waited silently for Jared, his intention to give Kasey a little time to get nervous and really start to think about what he’d done. Unfortunately, Kyle wasn’t very optimistic that Kasey would.
The office door crept open with a soft knock, Jared’s head stuck through the opening his brow furrowed looking at his brother before a look of exasperation came over him when they landed on his son. Only then did he fully present himself in the office.
“Kasey,” he said angrily.
He looked at his dad sheepishly, “Yes, Daddy?”
Jared crossed hi arms standing his full height over the top of a seated Kasey. “What did you do?”
“Uh…” Kasey bounced his knee nervously. “I was kinda, well maybe bein’ funny?”
Jared glared at his son, quiet just waiting, taking in his son’s actions.
“Well see…” the boy wouldn’t make eye contact with his dad.
Miss Sunjay knocked on the open door. Kyle and Jared’s focus switched, given her apologetic smiles. Kyle stood from behind his desk. “Please come in, Miss Sunjay,” he moved to close the door behind her. “Take a seat if you wish.”
Miss Sunjay stood stiffly at the chair then back at Kyle without moving.
“Please.” He indicated to the visitor’s chair giving her a comforting smile, concerned by the teacher’s expression. “We were just about to have Kasey tell us what happened but since you’re here now,” Kyle moved back around to sit behind his desk with the hope he’d make her more comfortable, “maybe you can enlighten us to what transpired this morning.”
“Yes, Mr. Waters.” Miss Sunjay took the seat she had been offered. She sat with her posture straight, an unamused expression on her face wary of the two men as it is known that they hold her future in their hands and this was one of their children. “This morning, sir, unfortunately, I was distracted as Miss Jennifer had mishandled her backpack and the contents had spilled onto the floor as she tried to put it in her cubby in the classroom. This caused her some distress and I was helping and providing comfort.” She nodded hoping for Kyle’s approval.
“I see,” Kyle nodded, “Then what happened?”
“Once class started we were going through a worksheet they had been given for their homework. Math. I went to write the problem on the board when I reached for some chalk but it was a snake. If frightened me, Mr. Waters,” she looked down ashamedly, “I’m afraid of snakes, sir.”
“Mr. Slithers found that he liked to stretch out on the chalk holder.” Glancing out the corner of his eyes toward his Dad, Kasey thought there might’ve been steam rolling out of his ears.
“Kasey,” Jared growled warningly. “Sorry, Miss Sunjay. Please continue,” he said glaring unhappily at his son. The boy visibly squirmed in the chair.
“Thank you, Mr. Jessup-Waters. I panicked and went to get the teacher’s aid next door. I didn’t want to disrupt the class, sir.” She looked pleadingly at Kyle to understand. “He came right away,” she assured the men, “when he left I went to sit down to calm myself for a quick moment. Catch my breath from the fright. When I sat down a croaking sound surprised me then a frog jumped out from the wheels of my chair when I pushed back. I’m sorry, sir, I was already on edge from the snake.” Her hands shook as she indicated the size of the snake.
“UH, huh,” Kyle glared at Kasey.
Kasey tugged at his shirt collar like it was starting to choke him, “Oh, ribbit I think fell under the wheel of her chair.”
“Please, Miss Sunjay, tell me that’s it?” Jared asked almost through gritted teeth angrily.
The woman looked exasperatedly between the two men. “No, sir.”
A grumbling mumble growled from Jared audibly as he glared at Kasey then a WTF look to his brother followed by the thought. ‘Is it illegal to sell kids on Craig’s List.’
“I hate to ask,” Kyle grimaced, “What else did he do Miss Sunjay?”
“I mighta spilled a little super-glue on Miss Sunjay’s desk and her coffee cup and her pointer thingy mighta jumped into it.” He shifted around in the chair appearing to have a fire lit under his behind.
“And?” Jared growled again.
“I think my Bluetooth speaker fell outta my hand into her drawer too, and somehow my phone sent farting sounds to it.” Kasey looked at his uncle first and decided to go for the gusto and face his father, “I’m really sorry, Daddy.”
“You did all these things, Kasey?” Kyle asked for clarification.
Kasey gave a weak smile along with a shrug of his shoulders, “It seemed funny at the time?”
“Do you still think it was funny?”
“No sir,” Kasey said weakly while staring at the floor shoulders slumped.
Jared shook his head totally and utterly appalled by his son’s behavior. “Go wait on the bench in the Admin Office, and believe me when I say, Do.Not.Move.A.Muscle.” he flicked his wrist toward the door.
Kasey hopped out of the chair he was in, “sorry Miss Sunjay” he mumbled as he speed-walked from the office.
“Oh my god.” Kyle ran his hand over his reddened face, “First, I wish to apologize for his behavior and for being subjected to such abuse Miss Sunjay. I don’t condone his behavior at all and I can guarantee Mr. Jessup-Waters doesn’t either.”
“Yes, Mr. Waters. Thank you. With all due respect sir, this can not go unpunished. I’ve lost respect from the children as an authority figure. Mister Kasey has been disruptive and unruly for the past few weeks. It will take some time for me to… maybe a suspension if I may suggest. I need time to get the children back in line.” Miss Sunjay blinked looking between the two men as although she’d shown some backbone she was also uncomfortable being so forthright with her opinion. But this was her career, damn it, it had to come before anything else.
“I do agree he needs disciplined, I will agree with in-school-suspension and transferring him out of your class upon completion of disciplinary action,” Kyle said with a pleasant tone, “We as a school, do not want a student to think they can get out of learning by acting out.”
“What does the school believe then, Mr. Waters?” she asked sniping then covering her mouth for being so outspoken. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” she shook her head with her eyes big as saucers.
“Miss Sunjay don’t apologize. You asked a reasonable question,” Kyle assured her. “I know you are new to the school and area. Before the school had been privatized, being the area it is situated the children mainly came from families living in poverty. This is still mostly the case, the parents almost all either single parent households or two parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet. They do the very best they can, but sometimes discipline goes by the wayside. Not because they don’t care but because they’re trying to provide for their children and there isn’t enough hours in the day. They don’t have the luxury to be stay at home parents, or even work a single job. When we took over the school it was decided that not only will we be teaching them knowledge and academics, but discipline, self-respect, and self-worth.” Kyle paused to see if Miss Sunjay had anything to say, but she remained silent. “It is our belief that out-of-school suspension or expulsion depending on the circumstances is not something we are likely to ever do. The lives these kids live outside of these halls is hard enough, we aren’t going to turn them away or give up on them. They need to feel valued and safe. Something we are striving to achieve, the policies are new, the format new, but it will changed as the need arises.
“We have a strike system, but there is no three strikes you’re out, Miss Sunjay. The penalty for bad behavior gets tougher. Thankfully, we haven’t really had to test that theory to date as it is all new. Although, at the moment I think Kasey might be trying his best to help with that.” Kyle gave her a sad smile. “Do you understand where we’re coming from Miss Sunjay?”
“I… I think so, sir.”
“Just because Kasey is Mr. Jessup-Waters' son does not mean in any way his behavior is acceptable or swept under the rug. However, I do not believe an out-of-school suspension is an answer either. Also for personal reasons I’m not at liberty to divulge,” Kyle said sadly thinking of his son at the moment in the ICU. Longing to be there with him. He and Blu decided together that they would alternate at the hospital while the other worked. Blu did not want to fill in for Kyle but due to their circumstances, they were covering for each other as long they would need to.
A week or so later Blu was the stand-in Principal, due to it being Kyle’s day at the hospital with a still comatose Levi. The doctors had made no promises to the family as to the prognosis of Levi, they made it perfectly clear that the boy's life remained in a very precarious state. Brody and Link had made some form of a pact to be there for one another when stress was getting to one or the other. Well, Brody had heard rumors of why Levi got beaten up and left for dead, which had his temper a point of exploding. He met up with his new ‘BFF’ in the hall earlier, they both agreed to meet up in the cafeteria at lunchtime.
Brody entered the cafeteria looking for Lincoln, finally spotting him he made his way to the teen. “You sure you want involved in this? I’d understand not wanting to make your dad’s mad.”
“Brode,” Link slapped his hand on the boy’s shoulder, “Levi is your boyfriend, but he is my twin brother. I’m sure dude.”
Brody nodded his head, squared his shoulders and made his way to the center of the large crowded room and crawled up on the table.
“HEY!” Brody shouted from his raised perch. The room fell silent most students attention locked on him. “Whoever the chicken shit was that jumped Levi Waters was, YOU ARE A COWARD! Just because Levi loves me? I don’t get it,” he shook his head defiantly. “We don’t bother anybody,” the looked around the room making eye contact with everybody he could. “WE.ARE.GOING.TO.CATCH.YOU.” Brody looked back at Lincoln who was standing on the floor beside the table he was on.
“HE’S RIGHT!” Lincoln shouted.
“If you try fucking with his family any more–”
“Your family,” Lincoln uttered angrily.
“–MY family, I promise you more pain than you can imagine possible,” Brody finished his rant and jumped off of the table.
Brent, head of security, happened to be in the cafeteria during the young men’s tirade, which made him proud. He had spotted a student that had recorded the outburst, so he confiscated the student’s phone and forwarded a copy of it to Blu who had designated Principal duty today then deleted the footage before giving the phone back.
“No pictures or video on school grounds kid,” Brent huffed.
“But…” the kid pointed and Brent shook his head.
“Just unlucky you got caught, you’re also lucky I don’t report it to the principal. Pick your battles.” Brent walked off.
Blu sat at Kyle’s desk staring at all the crap his husband has to deal with on a daily basis, shaking his head at all the red-tape and paperwork. “Fuck that,” he muttered to himself as his phone pinged with a message. An unknown number messaged a video. Frowning he opened the app to a stilled video that had been sent showing Brody standing on a table with Lincoln standing underneath with a scowl and his arms crossed.
“These fucking kids are going to be the death of me,” he said to the walls, pressing the play button. Stunned he watched as poor Brody poured his angst, anger, and fury out at the lunchtime crowd with total and absolute support from Lincoln. Finally, those two have common ground, but sadly at what cost.
A knock at the door jarred Blu back into his husband’s prison. The door opening entering with a morose Cody with his arm around a very sad, teary, and puffy-faced Jonathan. Blu stood immediately rushing to the boys.
“Pop, Jonathan’s upset,” Cody said sadly whispering with compassion, “he wants his mom. He misses her.”
Blu’s knees went weak almost collapsing at the sight of his son’s sorrow. His eyes stung with tears and complete horror. This isn’t something he can fix or even really help him with and since Jonathan had been coping quite well thus far it wasn’t at the forefront of his mind with everything else going on. Fuck he was an asshole. Father of the year right there. Scooping up his youngest son then flopping onto the nearest surface with Jonathan in his lap, the weeping boy tucked under his chin.
Cody stood in the doorway with watery eyes watching the two. “I’m going to grab some lunch, pop. You want me to bring something back for Jonathan?”
“No buddy. I’ll call over to the cafeteria and have Ben bring something over,” Blu answered Cody, “we’ll sit and a cuddle until he feels better.” He smiled at his older son. “How are you doing, Cody, are you okay? How are you feeling at the moment?” he asked placing a kiss on Jonathan’s head.
His son dropped his eyes to the floor. “I’m okay,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “I guess.”
“Why don’t you stay, the three of us will have lunch together? Stay with us.”
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