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    John Henry
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This story is meant for mature audiences.  Reader discretion is advised.

Thicker Than Water - 39. Chapter 39

Needless to say, Bryan was not thrilled with the news about his boyfriend.

I don't mind sharing my room, seriously! I was just going through some stuff, but I'm over it. I promise!”

Chico, it isn't about just that,” Diego said for what felt like the twentieth time. “Kenny needs his own space, too.”

I can give him space, Dad. Hell, I'll sleep on the couch, or Caleb and I could share a room. Please don't send him away!” Bryan tried fighting back tears.

Buddy,” Steve said, wrapping an arm around Bryan's shoulder, “nobody is sending anyone away. Even if Kenny's mom wasn't in the hospital, he would eventually be going home full time, anyway. I've known Billy and Trevor for ages. They're the best option for Kenny right now. Even if we wanted to keep him with us, Child Protective Services might not let him live here, and there's no telling where he'd end up. With him going to Billy's, CPS won't even try to mess with him.”

I guess,” Bryan said, defeated.

I'll still be with you after school everyday and won't be leaving till after dinner.”

I've just gotten used to you being here.”

“I know, Chico, we all have.” Diego stood and joined his son and fiancé, shortly followed by Kenny and Caleb for a large, group hug.

*     *     *

To lighten the mood, Diego and Steve took everyone out to dinner, including Billy and Trevor, who had James and Quinton with them. The adults greeted each other warmly, while the boys were still a bit awkward, with Kenny and Quinton a little more relaxed having spent a couple hours hanging out.

James stuck a hand out to Bryan, who looked taken aback, and said, “I want to apologize for the way I talked about your friend. I shouldn't have said what I did.”

It took a moment then Bryan remembered that James was kind of flirty with Terra. “How about you apologize to her instead?” Bryan said, not accepting the handshake.

James dropped his hand. “I would but I don't know where she hangs out, and I don't want to just DM her, you know? I already made a creep out of myself, the last thing she needs is a mysterious message.”

Bryan felt that he was being sincere and said, “I can see if she'd be willing to FaceTime or something, but don't expect it to be private.”

That would be cool, thanks,” James said, sounding better.

Quinton and Kenny were deep in a conversation about Minecraft. “When do you think they'll do an End Update?” Quinton asked. “I was hoping in 1.20, but that clearly didn't happen.”

I know. The end is so boring. You know you got issues when the Warden is a bigger badass than the Ender Dragon.”

Right! Even the Wither is tougher.”

We should totally get a server. I've been trying to play more Java since we talked.”

That would be cool, especially with you living with Uncle Billy and Uncle Trevor. They have an awesome internet connection. I could stay the weekend and we could play the entire time. I mean, that's if you want to. I'm sure you'll be too busy with your boyfriend and his family.”

I'm sure we can work something out,” Kenny said, trying to sound hopeful and excited. During their conversation, it became clear to him that Quinton doesn't have a life outside of James and his friends.

Diego called ahead and reserved a private dining room, usually held for parties; however, he wanted to have some privacy and to send a silent message to his staff that he didn't want to be disturbed. Menus were already on the table and Diego took the orders. Once everyone decided on what they wanted, he placed the orders and instructed the servers to drop everything off quickly and quietly. Although they were intrigued by Diego's desire for privacy, they didn't dare question him directly.

The four adults sat at one end of the table, while the five boys sat at the other end. Kenny and Quinton continued their conversation about Minecraft as if they were the only two people there. The adults discussed the coming custody case, the goings on at the high school, where Steve was a teacher and Trevor a counselor, and they all discussed Kenny's situation.

It's Caleb, right?” James asked, noticing the youngest boys sitting quietly, looking out of place.

Yeah.”

Are you a 6th grader?”

No. I'm in 5th.”

Wow, you sure are big enough to be in junior high. I bet you get confused for an older kid all the time.”

Caleb wasn't sure if he was being teased or not, since he was one of the smaller boys in his class. “Not really.”

Well, I never would've guessed you were in 5th grade. I think Quinton was smaller than you at that age.”

Really?”

Oh yeah. He's always been on the smaller side.”

Caleb looked at Quinton, who was about Kenny's size. “I'm one of the smaller kids in my class, actually.”

What?! That's crazy! What are they feeding you guys in your school? Giant food?”

No,” Caleb said with a small chuckle. “Just normal food. Why don't you and your brother look alike? You're supposed to be twins, right?”

James smiled, though Bryan could tell that James was tired of hearing the question. “We're not identical. We have the same mother but different fathers.” Both Padilla boys looked confused. James laughed and clarified, “We're test tube babies, basically. It's complicated, but it makes sense if you have a Ph. D. Regardless of how it all pans out, we're still twins.”

I'm older,” Quinton piped up with a slight smirk.

By like two minutes,” James said, greatly annoyed.

Two minutes is two minutes, baby bro.”

Q, don't start that shit again!” James lightly warned.

Aw, come on, Jamie!” Quinton said teasingly, then laughed.

Both of you stop it, right now!” Billy called out to his nephews. “Quinton, if you want to come over this weekend, you need to apologize to James right now, and mean it.”

Sorry for teasing you, James,” Quinton said, sincerely.

I accept your apology,” James said rather formally, which caused the other three kids to share looks. As if nothing had happened, James's jovial attitude returned. “Anyway, Bryan, do you play any sports?”

I played basketball last year and it was fun. I might try out for soccer and basketball next year, as well.”

Why not this year?”

Well, somethings happened at the beginning of the school, and I couldn't make it to tryouts for soccer--”

He punched a homophobic kid in class,” Caleb interjected, then laughed.

Really?” James asked, rather impressed.

It wasn't a big deal, really. I got in trouble at school and at home.”

That sucks. Did the kid shut up after that?”

No,” Caleb said, “he picked on Kenny, and Kenny kicked his butt.”

Wow! That's my kinda guy, right there,” James said.

Bryan instantly became annoyed. Was James into Kenny? “Yeah, I'm really proud of my boyfriend.”

I would be too,” James added as if not catching on to Bryan's emphasis. “Glad I don't have to worry about that, personally.”

Yeah, nobody messes with James at our school,” Quinton added. “In 3rd grade, a kid called our dads fags during lunch, and James hit the kid in the face with his tray. Nobody dared say a word about our family since.”

That's rather excessive,” Bryan said, aware that he may come off as a hypocrite.

We were like 8 years old, but yeah, I haven't had to do that sort of thing since. I'm not proud about it, either, but I don't like bullies.”

Bryan nodded and said, “I don't either. This kid in our school has been picking on Kenny for years. Thankfully, he's gone now, and the rest of the school is mostly cool with us dating.”

Nice. I keep trying to tell Quinton that I won't let anything happen to him if he comes out at school, but he's not ready yet. It's not like I'd let anyone pick on my big bro.”

Bryan was a little confused. He thought that James might have been into boys, and it never occurred to him that Quinton might be, though. Granted, he was new to using his gaydar, but never would've pegged either twin as particularly gay, unlike Kenny who was a bit flamboyant long before coming out.

So,” Bryan started, wanting to test the waters, “Are you gay, too?”

James laughed and said, “No, I'm the token straight boy in my family of queers. I even joked about doing a coming out speech to our dads and uncles. Being raised as we were, being related to and being around queer people has never bothered me in the slightest, though. There's no way I could ever be one of those bigots who hate someone because they're different from me. Daddy and Papa would kill me.”

I know what you mean. I came out earlier this year as pan. I think our dad would've skinned me alive if I were a bigot.”

No,” Diego said, moving past the boys on his way to the restroom. “Skinning you would've been too messy, and then who would I get to clean the kitchen?”

*     *     *

Dinner went peacefully enough. There were threats of a food fight between the twins until Trevor stopped them. Billy convinced Diego to let Bryan skip school to help Kenny pack up the apartment and get things moved. Billy had hired professional movers, but felt it might make the transition easier for Kenny to pack up his own belongings and have Bryan there for support. Diego was worried that Bryan had already missed too much school that year, but agreed since it was to help out Kenny.

Are you sure you can handle having Kenny full time?” Steve asked.

Billy laughed and said, “We have those two down there almost every weekend. I think we can handle Kenny.”

Trevor nodded. “Kenny seems quiet and even tempered. I highly doubt he'd be worse on a bad day than either Quinton or James on a good day. I have plenty of practice with troubled teens, and Kenny seems very well adjusted and shouldn't be a problem once he acclimates to living with us.”

Are you sure Bryan being there won't be too much?” Diego asked. “I know it'll help Kenny, but you don't need to make extra work or effort by having Bryan there, as well. I feel like I'm pushing our kid on to you.”

Trevor chuckled, “You're seriously stressing over nothing, Diego. It's not like Billy is moving in, too. He'll be someone Kenny knows and trusts and can help lower Kenny's anxiety. If anything, Bryan will be a boon for us. In fact, we should be asking how we can repay you for having some much trust in us to have your son in our care. I can't imagine what you're going through with what's-his-name, but the fact you're letting your eldest stay a week with us speaks volumes.”

I'd rather my boys live with you than spend a minute with Calvin, if that's any indicator.”

Hopefully, neither of those options will come to fruition,” Billy said. “I can't say that the judge will be pleased with Bryan's behavior, but an argument can be made that it was valid and warranted, given the circumstances. No matter how much authority the judge thinks he has, he can't force them to get along. Calvin got his visits, but he has to make things work out. Sitting like a bump on a log, refusing to engage unless it's with an attitude and then nearly using a homophobic remark will only hurt his claims. If he keeps it up, we can claim that he's doing more harm by being in the boys' lives than any potential good.”

I hope you're right,” Steve said. “He hasn't called me back about a make up meeting.”

That's his choice. Honestly, I wouldn't have called if it was me. He agreed to the terms, got hostile and got himself kicked out. He knew what he was walking into. Even if the judge gets mad over the whole affair, you've done your part to make it up, and his refusal to accept will only hurt him in the long run. It'll only show that when he can't handle a tough situation, he over reacts and gets verbally abusive.”

But the judge already hates us,” Diego pointed out. “I don't have any faith that he'll be impartial.”

Neither do I, but that's why we keep nailing him with objection after objection. Hopefully, he'll slip and we can use that to get him thrown off the case. At the very least, we have grounds for appeal.”

But won't Calvin get custody while the appeal is going on?”

Maybe. We can always petition for a stay on the change of custody while the Court of Appeals hears the case. It's a long shot, but I think we'd have grounds, especially if Calvin continues to behave the way he did on Saturday. However, I'm hoping to get a mistrial before then.” Billy looked at his watch and said, “I think we need to get going. It's almost 8pm, and we need to hit the stores and drop off the twins before we head home.”

*     *     *

Bryan and Kenny said their good nights to Diego, Steve and Caleb.

Diego hugged Bryan and Kenny then said, “I'm still picking you both up the day after tomorrow. Behave yourselves. If Billy or Trevor tell me you've been misbehaving, you'll have me to deal with. Is that understood?”

Yes, Sir,” both boys said.

Steve gave the boys a hug and said, “Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”

Man,” Kenny said, with a little pout, “I guess I won't be calling Bryan 'Daddy,' then.”

Serious!” Bryan cried out, trying to cover his reddening face. “Not you, too!”

Thanks for reading. I really appreciate everyone who reads this story. It's been rather cathartic. Please follow, recommend, write a review, comment and reply. It all helps a lot.
Copyright © 2023 John Henry; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading this story.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

Like others, loved the ending…

Man,” Kenny said, with a little pout, “I guess I won't be calling Bryan 'Daddy,' then.”

Serious!” Bryan cried out, trying to cover his reddening face. “Not you, too!”

And then @Summerabbacat, I’m guessing Judge Crustypants suffers from a well known malady called stickupyourasssideways as it is known in the medical community…

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1 hour ago, drsawzall said:

Like others, loved the ending…

 

Man,” Kenny said, with a little pout, “I guess I won't be calling Bryan 'Daddy,' then.”

Serious!” Bryan cried out, trying to cover his reddening face. “Not you, too!”

And then @Summerabbacat, I’m guessing Judge Crustypants suffers from a well known malady called stickupyourasssideways as it is known in the medical community…

Kenny needed to get a jab in, too, I thought.  After Bryan being snarky in the beginning, I felt he needed take some jokes this time around.

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I’m getting confused. Who is whose daddy? 😇

These lighthearted chapters are a nice break.

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25 minutes ago, Lee Wilson said:

I’m getting confused. Who is whose daddy? 😇

These lighthearted chapters are a nice break.

It's good to let the tension drop periodically.

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