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"Are we showering yet?" Collin asked between feverish kisses.
After another moment of trying to capture Collin's tongue with his own, Christian absently said, "Yeah. I think so."
Collin moved both of his hands down and grabbed Christian's butt firmly, drawing Christian in closer to grind against his crotch as he said, "Good. It's important to be clean."
Christian gasped with surprise at the sensation of being pulled on top of Collin, in between his legs. And at the hands on his butt, guiding him, forcing him to grind and hump so animalistically.
"Dirty can be good too." Christian whispered, barely remembering the conversation that they were almost having.
Collin worked his hands under Christian's shirt and slid them up his sides, not having any specific destination in mind but just roaming wherever the passion took them.
"I want you naked," Christian whispered into Collin's ear, then began to tongue his way down Collin's neck.
"Marc and my dad will be home soon," Collin whispered with regret.
"They've got to know what we're doing, so they won't barge in on us." Christian said assuringly, waiting to see what Collin's reaction was going to be.
"Is the door locked?" Collin asked as he started to pull off his shirt.
"No." Christian said with a grin as he quickly stood. "I'll get it."
"Wait. Don't." Collin said as he tossed his shirt aside. "I actually kind of like the idea that they could walk in on us at any moment."
"Hell yeah!" Christian said as he started shucking off his clothes like he was in a race.
When he was nearly finished, he noticed that Collin was sitting on the bed watching him, not making any move to undress.
"We don't have a lot of time. Hurry." Christian urged.
"You're beautiful." Collin said in an entranced whisper.
Christian smiled at the statement, then held out a hand to Collin, inviting him to take it.
When Collin did, Christian pulled him up to stand.
"Thank you," Christian said before moving in to give Collin a tender kiss.
When he felt a hand moved to his butt, he whispered against Collin's lips, "You need to lose those pants if you want anything good to happen."
"Oh, yeah." Collin whispered in return.
Collin made a valiant effort to take off his pants without breaking his kiss with Christian.
Christian moved his hands down Collin's back, then over his butt.
Taking a firm hold, he turned Collin slightly so he could guide them down to the bed together.
The way they landed on the bed, with Collin more or less on top, encouraged Collin to start thrusting his rampant erection into Christian's thigh.
Christian froze for a moment, then whispered, "Did you hear that? I think they're back."
Collin gave a low growl as his muscles tensed and he nearly vibrated with his passion.
"What do you want to do, Collin? We probably have time to do one thing." Christian whispered, trying to maintain his rational thought for just a moment longer. "You choose."
"Yeah." Collin gasped, then started sliding down the bed so he could get between Christian's legs.
When Christian realized what he was doing, he quietly said, "Swing around here and we can sixty-nine."
"Next time. You said it was my choice, so this time is all for you," Collin said, then started licking his way up the inside of Christian's thighs.
Even though Christian thought there was some reason he should protest, the ability to form words and sentences was temporarily beyond him.
As Collin began to engulf him, there was a slight tapping on the bedroom door.
"We're home." Marc called through the door.
"Okay!" Christian called out in a yelp.
"Don't take too long," Marc said with amusement in his voice.
"Yeah," Christian squeaked, then laid back and gently rested a hand on the back of Collin's head.
"Oh God!" Christian gasped when he felt the low humming in Collin's throat. "I've created a monster."
* * * * *
"You boys look like you had a good shower," Marc said knowingly, as the boys walked into the living room.
"The best." Collin giggled.
"You two look great!" Galen said with wonder at the sight of Collin and Christian both freshly showered and in their new clothes.
"Does my ear look okay?" Christian asked with concern. "It feels like it's about twelve times its normal size."
"The stitches are barely noticeable." Marc said with a grin as he examined the boys critically, then added, "Collin, come over here."
Collin hesitantly walked to Marc, not knowing what he intended to do.
"You've got to get used to wearing clothes like this." Marc said, as he tugged Collin's pants down slightly, then adjusted the waistband of his underwear, so it was even.
"Um, yeah. Thanks." Collin said timidly.
"I hardly recognize you," Galen said in amazement to his son.
"But you like it?" Collin asked cautiously.
"I love it. You look perfect," Galen said with a glowing smile.
"Both of you look perfect," Marc added with his own smile directed at Christian.
"Thanks," Christian mumbled shyly.
"Go ahead and grab anything you want to take with you. We need to leave soon." Marc said gently.
"Do you want to take your car?" Galen asked curiously.
"No. I think I'd rather take the Fairlane," Marc said seriously. "Even though we'll need to stop for gas, I think we'd all be more comfortable with the extra room."
Galen nodded his agreement.
"I just need to get my iPod and I'll be ready to go." Christian said thoughtfully.
"Grab your jackets, too. It might get chilly." Marc said seriously.
Collin and Christian gave identical nods, then hurried out of the room together.
"Do you think we need to have a talk with them about sexual responsibility? It looks like they're starting to get serious." Galen asked Marc quietly.
"We'll probably need to have that talk sometime, but not right now." Marc said peacefully. "I think the boys know that they can come to us and ask us about anything that's bothering them. Let's just let them have some time to enjoy what they've got."
"Yeah. Seeing them so happy... it's better than anything." Galen said with a smile at the doorway.
"Come here." Marc whispered.
Galen smiled and immediately moved into Marc's open arms.
"You're such a great dad." Marc said tenderly, then moved in to give Galen a gentle kiss.
"We're ready." Collin said from the living room doorway.
"Give us a minute." Marc said with a smile, then moved in to give Galen another kiss.
Collin and Christian both smiled at the sight, recognizing the love that Galen and Marc were feeling.
* * * * *
"So what can we expect when we get there?" Christian asked, when they were finally out on the open road.
"It's probably going to be like a visit to the dentist, except longer and more painful." Marc said frankly.
"Sounds nice." Christian said sarcastically.
"Well, just like going to the dentist, it's something that needs to be done, and we just have to get through it." Marc said apologetically.
"Is there anything we should not talk about or anyone we should watch out for?" Galen asked from the driver's seat.
Marc chuckled, then said, "No. If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for being ourselves."
"Are we going to be damned by them?" Collin asked cautiously.
"Oh yeah." Marc said with a sympathetic smile into the back seat. "That's pretty much a given."
"Why are we doing this, again?" Christian asked slowly.
"They're my family." Marc said simply.
At Christian's expectant gaze, Marc continued, "We need to do this so they'll understand that you're my family, too. I love you guys. So whether they accept or reject us doesn't really matter."
Christian seemed to consider the words for a moment, then he finally said, "Yeah. We *are* a family."
"Will there be anyone else around our age there?" Collin asked Marc cautiously.
"Oh yeah. I have quite a few nieces and nephews." Marc said cheerfully.
"Good." Christian said before Collin could respond. "That'll give us something to do."
At Collin's questioning look, Christian continued, "We can search through the kids to see if there's anyone worth hanging around with. That should kill a few hours."
"Plan, " Collin said with a nod.
Marc smiled as he glanced at the boys in the back seat.
* * * * *
"Are we there yet?" Collin asked in a playful, whiny kid's voice.
"Not yet." Galen chuckled.
"We've still got about an hour." Marc said with amusement.
"Do you want to listen to some music with me?" Christian asked to his side.
"Yeah. Sure." Collin said gently.
Christian took out his iPod, then offered one of the ear buds to Collin.
"I should have thought to bring a splitter so they could each have a pair of headphones." Galen said when he noticed.
"I think it works better this way." Marc said gently when he saw that Collin and Christian were cuddled together, each wearing one of the ear buds.
* * * * *
"Boys, we're here." Marc said into the back seat.
"Already?" Collin asked with disappointment as he sat up.
Marc chuckled at the response as he watched Galen pulling into the driveway in front of the expansive house.
"Oh my God! It's huge!" Christian said as he finally looked out the window.
"Yeah. Linda and Dave just moved in here about six months ago, so this is my first time seeing it." Marc said frankly. "It's bigger than I expected."
"They must be loaded." Christian said in awe.
"Not as far as I know, but they must be doing okay to have such a big house." Marc said frankly.
"So Linda is your sister, right?" Galen asked curiously.
"Right. And I don't think you'll need to worry about her." Marc said thoughtfully. "I wouldn't exactly call her 'accepting', but she doesn't go out of her way to be nasty to me."
"Sounds nice." Christian said sarcastically.
"Comparatively... yeah." Marc said anxiously.
"Who's that?" Collin asked as he noticed a car pull in behind them.
"My brother Frank and his wife Sandra." Marc said happily. "Come on, I want to introduce you."
Collin and Christian exchanged an uncertain look, then undid their seatbelts and slowly got out of the car.
By the time the boys were standing, Marc had already run to give his brother a firm hug.
"Maybe this won't be so bad." Galen said quietly to the boys.
At their matching incredulous stares, Galen quietly said, "Never mind."
"Come over here, guys." Marc said urgently.
Galen and the boys walked as a group to join Marc.
"Frank and Sandra, this is my boyfriend Galen, his son Collin and, with any luck, my soon-to-be son, Christian." Marc said happily.
"That's wonderful. I'm so happy for you." Frank said as he hugged his younger brother again.
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Galen said for all of them to the timid woman at Frank's side.
"Yes. It's nice to meet you too." Sandra said quietly.
"Are you looking forward to this as much as I am?" Marc asked with amusement in his tone.
"You know it." Frank said with a weary chuckle.
"Can I have the keys so I can get the fig bars out of the trunk?" Sandra asked timidly.
"Do you need any help carrying things?" Galen asked her as she accepted the keys from her husband.
"No. But thank you." She said quietly as she walked to the back of the car.
"Would you boys get the cheese and crackers?" Galen asked as he held out the keys.
"Sure thing." Christian said immediately as he snatched the keys out of Galen's hand.
"And make sure the doors are all locked." Galen called after the boys.
"I hear that Jordan's been put away for a few years, so the cars will probably be safe." Frank said casually.
"I wasn't implying anything." Galen said quickly, concerned that he might have unintentionally insulted Marc's brother.
"Don't worry about it." Frank said easily. "I was just mentioning that one of our nephews, who has some habits that require large amounts of capital, won't be joining us this year. So all of our hubcaps should be safe."
"Should be." Marc said with a grin at his brother, then guided him to start walking when he noticed that Sandra had joined them with a platter of cookies.
* * * * *
When the door opened, a well dressed woman said, "Oh, look at all of you, come in, come in."
"Who's that?" Collin asked Marc in a whisper.
"Denise." Marc responded hesitantly.
"Oh Sandra! Don't you look lovely this evening. I just never get tired of seeing that dress."
"Hi Denise." Sandra said in her best attempt at being cheerful. "I see you've found a beautiful new dress for the occasion."
"Yes. And believe me, I had to search high and low to find it." Denise said in an exasperated tone.
"It's certainly festive." Sandra said consideringly, then sweetly added, "What a shame that they didn't have it in your size."
"Round one goes to the away team." Marc whispered as he watched Frank and Sandra walk past Denise into the wide open living room full of chatting people.
It took a moment for Denise to regain her composure before she turned to Marc and said, "I see you made it."
"Yeah. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail." Marc said simply.
"And I see you brought your... I don't know what you people call it." She said as she looked at Galen sourly.
"Boyfriend." Marc said simply.
"Who else do we have here?" Denise asked, as if not hearing Marc's response.
"This is Galen's son, Collin, and my soon-to-be son, Christian." Marc said firmly, watching carefully for Denise's reaction.
"You think you're going to adopt?" Denise asked slowly.
Marc nodded, bracing himself for whatever she was about to hit them with.
She shook her head as she said, "Those boys should be taught proper values in a good Christian home. The people of the great state of Florida won't let a couple of sodomite heathens adopt helpless children."
"First of all, Collin doesn't need to be adopted. He's Galen's son." Marc said firmly. "Second, our sexuality has nothing to do with our ability to raise children. Third..."
"It's none of your business." Galen interrupted.
Marc looked at Galen with surprise, then to his sister and nodded his agreement.
Denise seemed to be about to say something, but then seemed to think better of it and quietly said, "We're putting the kids in the family room, over there, until dinner."
Before anyone could respond to that, Denise walked to the front door and stepped outside.
After a long silent moment, Christian hesitantly asked, "Was she born a female?"
Marc and Galen both broke into chuckles at the question.
"Believe it or not, you're not the first person to ask me that." Marc said as he pulled Christian into a quick hug, then turned to Galen and said, "I'll get the boys settled in, then I'll join you in the living room."
* * * * *
"Come on in here so you can get to know the other kids." Marc said as he guided the pair into a room off the hall.
"I thought we'd be hanging out with you and dad." Collin said cautiously.
"What fun would that be?" Marc asked in a forced, cheerful voice that neither boy was buying. "Take the chance to meet some new people, maybe you'll make some friends."
Before either boy could refute the statement, Marc guided them to a boy who was standing alone and looking out the window.
"Jorry, I'd like for you to meet Collin and Christian." Marc said cheerfully as he walked up to the boy and gave him a quick hug. "It's their first time here. Would you mind showing them around?"
"Sure thing, Uncle Marc." Jorry said as he briefly returned the hug.
"I'll be in the living room if you guys need me for anything." Marc said to Collin and Christian quickly. "I don't want to leave Galen at their mercy for too long."
"We'll be fine." Christian said assuringly to Marc as he watched him go.
* * * * *
"So, Jordy. What's up?" Collin asked casually.
"My name is Jorry. That's short for Jor-El." The boy said automatically, then continued with full sarcasm, "And I'm just here, basking in the holiday spirit."
Christian heard Jorry's words and smiled as he said, "I think we already have a winner."
At Jorry's questioning look, he continued, "We were planning to search for a favorite person to hang around with while we're here... it looks like you're it."
"Hey! Do you guys want to sing some Christmas carols?" An older boy asked with excitement as he approached the trio.
"I don't think so." Collin said with a wince.
"No." Christian said firmly.
"I'd rather impale myself on a candy cane." Jorry said with a note of disgust.
"Oh, come on! It'll be fun!" the boy asked with an almost maniacal level of Christmas cheer.
Before Collin or Christian could think of what to say, Jorry looked the boy in the eyes and said, "Fuck off, Brucie."
Bruce blinked at the crude response, then shrugged and started humming Christmas carols to himself as he wandered away.
"Is he for real?" Christian asked with wonder.
"Nope." Jorry said immediately. "He's fake all the way to the bone."
Christian nodded that he could easily believe the assessment.
"But if he can find an excuse to get you alone, he'll suck your dick." Jorry added unenthusiastically.
"Really?" Collin asked with surprise.
"Yeah. But don't get too excited about it." Jorry said frankly. "He's not that good."
"Well, even a bad blowjob is still pretty good." Christian said cautiously.
"I guess so." Jorry said with a noncommittal shrug. "But Brucie just makes it feel... dirty. Like he's doing you this big favor while he's doing it, then like it's all your fault when he's done. I guess in his mind, doing it that way makes him not gay."
"That doesn't sound like too much fun." Collin said quietly.
"Just like anything else in this family, something that's supposed to be fun is made into something ugly." Jorry said absently, then added. "Unfortunately, the 'dickhead gene' is very strong in the Stone family."
"You seem to be immune." Collin said carefully, not quite used to such barbed sarcasm.
"Those that have it, don't seem to realize just how lame they are. I keep fighting it but..." Jory said and ended with another shrug.
"I guess that when you stop fighting, you'll know it's too late." Christian said with a grin.
Jorry nodded, then asked, "By the way, who the hell are you guys?"
Christian fought to keep from laughing as he said, "I'm Christian Stone and this is my boyfriend, Collin Anderson."
Jorry blinked, then slowly said, "Wait. I thought Uncle Marc was the one who hooked up with a guy named Anderson."
"He did, that's my dad." Collin offered hesitantly.
After a moment of mulling it over, Jorry shook his head and said, "I'm sure I'll hear the whole story a few dozen times before the night's over... you know, in whispers, like it's some big dirty secret."
"It's no secret." Collin said frankly. "My dad and Marc don't hide who they are or what they mean to each other from anyone."
Jorry seemed to ponder the words, as if he couldn't imagine anyone living that way.
"But I'll tell you what *is* a dirty secret." Christian said in a playful, conspiratorial tone. "Collin touched me... down there."
Jorry feigned a look of shock at Collin, then said, "You naughty boy."
Collin felt the blush rising up his face and couldn't think of any way to respond.
"God! I love it when he does that." Christian chuckled.
"At least you'll have someone to help get you through this thing." Jorry said frankly.
"How bad does it get?" Christian asked cautiously.
"Think of your worst nightmare. Then you're almost there." Jorry said sourly. "Oh yeah, and for an added bonus, after dinner Grandpa is going to want to get all the kids to sit around while he reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'."
"I've seen stuff like that on TV. It doesn't seem so bad." Christian said cautiously.
"It's boring as hell. It's uncomfortable. And by the time he's done, your butt will be numb." Jorry said grimly.
"Hmmm... I think we could come up with a few uses for a numb butt." Christian said with a wink at Collin.
Jorry chuckled at the statement, then said, "Maybe it won't be so bad with you guys here."
"Do you have any hints for surviving one of these family get togethers?" Christian asked hopefully.
"Just be quiet and try to stay under their radar. Keep telling yourself that it will eventually end and that you won't have to go through it again for another year." Jorry said frankly.
"Plan." Christian said with a decisive nod.
Collin smiled to relate his agreement.
* * * * *
"I guess since this is your first time, you don't know who any of these people are." Jorry said frankly.
"Nope. And Marc didn't even give us any warning on the way here about what to expect." Collin said honestly.
"I doubt that Uncle Marc knew what to say. I've never heard him say an unkind word about anyone... and I can't think of too many kind words to say about this bunch." Jorry said as he looked around.
"That bad?" Collin asked quietly.
"No. Worse." Jorry said frankly. "I suppose I'd better give you the lowdown so you'll know what you're dealing with."
"That girl with the big hair, that's Kirsten. She's a bipolar drama queen." Jorry said casually. "If you catch her in a lucid moment, she's tolerable. When her meds are balanced, she's toward the top of the family list. On a bad day... avoid. No matter what you say to her, there's no right answer and she'll draw you into a fight."
"How do you know if she's having a good or bad day?" Collin asked cautiously.
"By the height of her hair." Jorry said without having to give it a moment of thought. "And from the look of her tonight, we shouldn't even be in the same room with her."
Collin and Christian exchanged a cautious look at the statement.
"Of course, you've already met Brucie." Jorry said as he looked to Kirsten's right. "I suppose that I should warn you about him. He'll stab you in the back in a heartbeat. Anything you say to Brucie will most likely be repeated and used against you."
"Nice." Christian said sarcastically.
"In his mind, he's perfect so he feels justified pointing out the faults in others." Jorry said with a shrug. "I think it's some Christian voodoo thing about casting the first stone."
"Should I take that comment personally?" Christian asked playfully.
At Jorry's uncomprehending look, Christian clarified, "My name is Christian Stone..."
"Oh yeah... Clever." Jorry said flatly, then glanced past Brucie and said, "The twins over there are Erik and Erika."
"Do they always dress the same or is that just a Christmas thing?" Christian asked cautiously.
"I'm not sure. They're from up here, so I usually only see them at Christmas." Jorry said frankly.
"Where are you from?" Collin asked curiously.
"Orlando." Jorry answered simply.
"Us too." Collin said with a smile.
"I thought so, since you came with Uncle Marc." Jorry said frankly.
"So what are the wonder twins like?" Christian asked curiously.
"Blond, beautiful, and dumb as a box of rocks." Jorry said in a considering voice. "As long as you're not expecting them to do anything more interesting than stand there and be beautiful... they're alright."
"Who's the old guy watching TV?" Christian asked curiously.
"Uncle Chuck." Jorry said unenthusiastically. "He's a sports zombie. Nothing outside of ESPN exists to him."
"Sounds like fun." Christian said sarcastically.
"Yeah." Jorry said with an ironic chuckle. "He's 'watching us' while the other adults are doing their thing in the living room."
"I can think of worse things." Christian said honestly.
"I hate him." Jorry said flatly.
The words were so casual and flippant that it would be easy to disregard them, but Christian caught a tinge of sincerity in Jorry's expression.
"Why?" Christian asked, in spite of himself.
Jorry stopped for a moment, as if only just considering the thoughts behind his words. Finally he said, "Uncle Chuck pays more attention to the TV than to me, or anyone else. I hate him for that. I'm a person who is worthy of people's time and attention... at least, that's what my therapist tells me."
"You're in therapy?" Collin asked curiously.
"Not at the moment. But I have been... a few times. I guess it's nice that my parents have the money to pay someone to listen to me and act like they care."
"Is it?" Christian asked cautiously.
After a moment to consider, Jorry shrugged and said, "Well, no. But it beats the alternative."
* * * * *
"Who's that kid watching us?" Collin asked cautiously.
"Which kid?" Christian asked, impressed at the number of offspring the Stone family produced.
"The kid over by the fire, the one in the purple shirt." Collin said as he fought the urge to point.
"Don't worry about him. That's my little brother Nick." Jorry said absently.
"Is he alright?" Collin asked cautiously.
Christian smiled at the question and said, "I think what Collin wants to know is if he's been overcome by the 'dickhead gene' yet."
"Oh no." Jorry said with a smirk. "He's a pain in the ass sometimes, but I wouldn't trade him for any other kid in this house."
Christian looked around, then hesitantly said, "I don't know if that's saying much."
"You've got a point." Jorry admitted, then said, "But Nick is alright. He's just shy around new people, so he's watching us to see if you guys are okay."
"Why don't you tell him we're alright so he can join us?" Collin asked hopefully.
"Because I'm not sure that you *are* alright... I mean, since I found out that you touched Christian... down there." Jorry finished with a devilish smile.
As expected, Collin blushed at the words and Christian fought to contain his giggles.
"Before we go over there, there's one thing that you need to know." Jorry said seriously.
Collin and Christian both settled down and gave Jorry their full attention.
"No one is allowed to tease Nick about his name." Jorry said firmly.
Christian nodded his agreement as Collin cautiously asked, "What's wrong with his name?"
"I told you about the 'dickhead gene', well it went into full bloom when it was time to name us. I've learned to put up with the stupid jokes, but Nick is younger and hasn't learned not to take it personally yet."
"It's his name... that's pretty personal." Christian said quietly.
"Yeah. But one of these days he'll figure out that it's *their* fault." Jorry said as he tilted his head in the general direction of the living room. "Then he can join me on my quest for revenge."
"No teasing. I promise." Collin said seriously.
"Oh no! You can go ahead and tease the hell out of him. It's good for him. Just don't tease him about that one thing." Jorry said quickly.
"Got it." Christian said with a nod.
"Good. Then let's go over by the fire and see if he wants to hang around with us." Jorry said with a smile, then became more serious as he looked at Collin and said, "But I'm watching you."
Collin flashed a scorching look at Christian before walking with Jorry toward the fireplace.
* * * * *
"The flames look like angels' wings." Nick said absently as the three boys approached.
"Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that he's a little pyromaniac too." Jorry said with a grin.
Nick gave a little shrug, obviously not the least bit concerned by the comment.
"I checked out the new guys and I think they're okay." Jorry said more gently.
"The 'dickhead gene' hasn't kicked in yet?" Nick asked as he looked Collin and Christian over.
"Not yet... and Christian is the only one you've got to worry about. Collin isn't a Stone." Jorry said carefully.
Nick pointed and asked, "Christian?"
Christian nodded and gave Nick an assuring smile.
"And you're Collin."
"Yeah. Nice to meet you." Collin said quietly.
"I was just filling them in on who everyone is." Jorry said casually.
"Did you warn them about Kirsten?" Nick asked immediately.
"First thing." Jorry said with a grin at his brother.
Nick turned to look at Collin and Christian before saying, "She has issues."
"Like you don't." Jorry said with a chuckle.
Nick shrugged, not bothering to dispute his brother's comment.
"Brucie hasn't been bothering you, has he?" Jorry asked his brother cautiously.
"Nah. He knows better." Nick said with a grin up at his older brother. "He knows that you'd break his dick off if he tried anything."
"You'd better believe it." Jorry said firmly.
Collin and Christian shared a smile at the exchange.
"Yeah. Yeah. Yeah! YEAH!" Chuck screamed at the TV, then thrust his arms into the air. "Shit YEAH!"
Jorry glanced at him for a moment to see if he was done, then looked back to Collin and Christian and said, "Score-gasm."
"Oh." Christian chuckled.
"He's gonna send Kirsten to get him a beer now." Nick said seriously.
"Honey!" Chuck said as he motioned to the girl with the too-tall hair.
She immediately let out an indignant huff and rolled her eyes, then stomped toward the door.
"It looks like you've got this 'family holiday' thing all worked out." Christian observed.
"All the world is but a stage and we are merely players." Jorry said poetically, then added, "When you've seen this show a few times, it's easy to figure out what comes next."
"Jorry." Nick said in an anxious voice.
"What?" Jorry asked automatically.
When Jorry looked down, he noticed that Nick was pointing at the open door.
"What's wrong? What happened?" Jorry asked with concern.
"I think it's going to be bad tonight." Nick whispered, obviously meaning for only his brother to hear.
"Bad? How?" Jorry asked cautiously.
"I just saw him go past." Nick said with another glance at the doorway. "He's been drinking."
Jorry let out a sigh of resignation, then said, "I guess it's official. The holiday can begin."
"What's wrong?" Collin asked with concern, not able to hold it back anymore.
"Our dad, when he drinks... the 'dickhead gene' pretty much takes full control." Jorry said quietly.
"How bad does it get?" Christian asked darkly.
"Usually he just turns into a loud obnoxious asshole." Jorry said quietly.
"And other times?" Christian asked in a leading tone.
"Well, sometimes he gets real friendly and wants to play with us... and he gets really rough." Jorry said with a worried look toward the living room.
"Not this time." Collin said seriously.
"What?" Jorry asked with confusion.
"Christian, what do you think dad and Marc would say if we asked them if Jorry and Nick could stay over at our place tonight?" Collin asked carefully.
"I'm pretty sure they'd go for it, and if we told them the reason, then I know they would." Christian said thoughtfully.
"Jorry, do you think your mom would let you?" Collin asked firmly.
"Stay with you? Over at Uncle Marc's house?" Jorry confirmed. "I think her answer would be either 'no' or 'hell no'."
"Why?" Collin asked with confusion.
"Because Uncle Marc's gay." Jorry said frankly.
"So?" Collin asked in puzzlement.
"You really don't know?" Jorry asked cautiously.
Collin shook his head and waited, hoping someone would explain it.
"My mom thinks gay people molest little kids." Jorry said carefully.
"Why would she think that?" Collin asked, barely able to comprehend such a sweeping generalization.
"I guess because her preacher must have said it." Jorry said with a shrug. "She believes that whatever he says comes straight from God."
"You've got a really screwed up family." Christian said frankly. "And coming from me, that's saying something."
Jorry nodded with regret.
"No. We're not going to let it go that easily." Collin said with renewed commitment.
"Do you have a plan?" Christian asked cautiously.
"No. But we're not going to leave these guys to have to face their father when he's drunk. Someone has to do something about it and it looks like we're it." Collin said firmly.
"Maybe we should talk to the dads." Christian said slowly.
Collin shook his head, then said, "They'll try to talk us out of it and tell us it's none of our business."
"Well, actually, it isn't." Christian said with an apologetic look at Jorry.
"When one of my friends is being hurt, I make it my business." Collin said with determination, then continued more quietly, "The only way this will work is if you guys are with me."
"Yeah. Sure." Christian said quickly. "I got nothing to lose."
Jorry shrugged and said, "I guess it beats just accepting it."
"What about you, Nick? Do you understand what we're talking about?" Collin asked gently.
"Yeah. Let's do it. I'd want to go stay at Uncle Marc's even if Dad *wasn't* about to turn into a total asshole."
"Good. Because we need to go into the living room and do this before I lose my nerve." Collin said with a smile.
"What do you need us to do?" Jorry asked cautiously.
"Just show me which one is your mom, then back me up when it's time." Collin said seriously.
"Do you know what you're going to say?" Christian asked cautiously.
"I don't have a clue." Collin continuing the exact same, serious, tone of voice.
Christian began to chuckle and said, "Marc called it. You're just like your dad."
* * * * *
"Mrs. Stone?" Collin asked cautiously, now much less sure of himself.
"I'd prefer it if you'd call me Aunt Ruth."
"Yes Ma'am... I mean Aunt Ruth. Christian and I were wanting to know if it would be alright if Jorry and Nick came over to spend the night at our house." Collin said carefully.
Ruth glanced toward Marc, then said, "I don't think that's such a good idea."
"Why not? We live in the same town and I know that the guys would have fun over at our place." Collin persisted.
"We wouldn't want to disrupt the Christmas plans..." Ruth said in a somewhat flustered voice.
"What plans are those? The plan where your husband gets drunk and hurts one of the kids?" Collin asked as his anger began to rise.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Ruth said in a gasp.
Before Collin could dig himself in too deep, Christian stepped forward and said, "Sure you do. You know how it is. He gets liquored up and thinks it would be a lot of fun to play with Jorry and Nick. Fun for him anyway. I've been through it with my own dad, and I'm here to tell you, it ain't fun for the kid being played with."
"Jor-El. Nixon. What have you been telling these boys?" Ruth asked in an authoritative voice that drew the attention of everyone in the room.
"They didn't tell us nothin." Christian said as he looked her in the eyes. "When I arrived at the airport a couple days ago, my dad was already drunk and ready to play. That's where I got this black eye and the stitches in my ear."
"I saw it when Jorry and Nick noticed that their father was drinking. Both of them knew what was coming. That's why we're in here. We're asking you if we can take them over to our house to protect them... since you obviously won't."
"Nolan has NEVER hurt the boys." Ruth said, feeling the stares of everyone in the room.
"Do you mean he hasn't broken any bones yet? Or that he hasn't drawn blood yet? Because I could see it in how they reacted to seeing their father drunk. He *has* hurt them." Christian said seriously.
"Boys." Marc said quietly as he approached with Galen at his side.
"And if the only reason you won't let them come over to our house is because Marc is gay and he might molest them. I'll tell you right here in front of everybody. Jorry and Nick will be safe. I'll watch out for them myself. I *will* protect them." Christian said as a proud declaration.
"Is that why you never let the boys visit?" Marc asked as he looked at his sister-in-law with shock.
"It's unnatural. It's against God's will." Ruth muttered, as though she was repeating words that she was being told without understanding what they meant.
"Ruthie, you've known me since I was younger than Nicky. I would never hurt anyone, much less a child." Marc said as he tried to will her to meet his gaze.
"I'm trying to raise my children to believe in Jesus and to know that people like you are wrong." Ruth said as she seemed to regain at least a little of her coherence.
"That would be the blond haired, blue eyed, American Jesus, I assume." Galen said simply. "You know, the one that looks down on anyone who isn't straight, white, wealthy, protestant and in perfect health."
Ruth turned her attention toward Galen, but seemed at a loss how to respond.
"Just remember that Jesus didn't rub shoulders with the elite. He walked among the prostitutes and tax collectors. He was a living example of what he asked of his followers." Galen said firmly, then asked, "Tell me, Ruth, have you ever actually spoken to a homeless person? A street walker?"
"Thanks, Dad, but I think we're waaaaay off topic now. I'm trying to get Aunt Ruth to let Jorry and Nick come over and spend the night." Collin said seriously.
"You have an interesting way of asking." Galen said with a grin.
"I learned it from you." Collin said, then noticed that everyone was watching them.
"Maybe we should just leave." Marc said as he looked around the family gathering.
"You will NOT!" A strong female voice said from across the room.
Everyone turned to look at an elderly woman in a wheelchair glaring at the group with icy menace.
"Grandma Ellen, I was just..." Ruth began to say, but was silenced when the old woman's glare moved to her alone.
"Ruthie, if you want to fuss and worry about something, be a proper wife and attend to that husband of yours. If the boys want to have a sleep-over at Marc's house, what harm could it do?"
"He's a homosexual! And they're just helpless little babies." Ruth said as tears started streaking down her cheeks.
"Don't turn the water works on for me, Ruthie. I've seen it. I'm not impressed." Ellen said frankly, then turned to Marc and said, "Marc. You hurt those boys and you'll answer to me. Understand?"
"Yes ma'am." Marc said immediately.
"And he knows I mean it." Ellen said in Ruth's direction. "The boys will be as safe as in your arms... maybe safer, considering the condition of your husband. Where did Nolan run off to?"
"I just saw him puking on the roses out front." A voice said from amongst the family lounging around the room.
"Ruthie. Try to get some coffee into him and see if you can get him sober enough to sit at dinner with us." Ellen said with a pained expression, then looked around the room and said, "The rest of you. Nora and Gene have gone to a lot of trouble to put together this family celebration. When they get out of the kitchen, you'd better look like you're having the time of your lives. Got it?"
A chorus of "Yes Ma'am." sounded through the room as Ruth ran out.
"Are we hosting a sleep-over?" Marc asked cautiously.
"Yeah. You don't mind, do you?" Christian asked with a grin.
"No. But it might have been nice to have been asked." Marc said seriously.
"I'm sorry, Marc. We were just worried..." Christian began to say, but was interrupted.
"Uncle Marc?" Nick asked quietly.
"What is it, Nicky?" Marc asked gently, then squatted down to be on Nick's eye level.
"Please don't be mad at Christian and Collin. They was only trying to help us." Nick said softly.
Marc smiled and said, "I'm not mad at all, Nicky. I was just telling Christian so he'll know to ask first next time."
"Next time? So we'll get to do it again?" Nick asked hopefully.
Marc thought for a moment, then said, "Let's see how tonight goes first."
"How is everyone doing in here?" An older man asked as he walked into the living room.
Collin and Christian had to fight to keep from laughing at the way everyone started acting like they were having a good time, all at once.
"Let's get out of here. Now I understand why all the old people are kept in a separate room." Jorry said as he guided Nick to walk with him.
"Plan." Christian said, then on impulse, gave Marc a quick hug.
"See ya at dinner." Collin said to his father, then gave him a quick hug and a peck of a kiss on the cheek.
* * * * *
"You've got some special boys there." A voice said from behind Galen and Marc.
"Jon! I didn't see you come in." Marc said with a smile and gave the man a quick, friendly hug.
"We just got here a few minutes ago." Jon said happily, then asked, "How are you doing, Galen? How are you liking the car?"
"I'm good, and the car is great. I love it." Galen said with a smile.
"As I was saying, I'm impressed by those boys. What's your secret?" Jon asked in what appeared on the surface to be a casual voice.
"Actually, I think we're just lucky. I don't really know of anything we've done that is any different from any other parent." Galen said frankly.
Jon nodded at the response.
"What's up, Jon? Is something wrong with the kids?" Marc asked with concern.
"Well, I'm sure you've heard about Jordan." Jon said hesitantly.
"Not really. Frank mentioned something about it when we got here but I don't know any details." Marc said quietly.
"He got sent up for five years on a list of charges as long as your arm." Jon said quietly. "The next day, his girlfriend dropped the kids off at our house, then she skipped town."
"Ouch." Marc said with a wince.
Jon nodded, then said, "Hailey is away at college, so it's just me and Elaine dealing with everything... we thought we were done raising kids."
"From what I hear, you're never really done raising them." Galen said gently. "I don't know anything about your family, but from the sound of it, I can imagine that your son probably needs his father more now than he ever did before."
Jon seemed to consider the words for a moment, then quietly said, "I didn't think of that."
"As you may have noticed, my son seems to have inherited some rather... proactive tendencies." Galen said carefully, then quickly added, "From his mother."
"Right." Marc said with a roll of his eyes.
"It might get him into trouble someday. And whether I agree with him or not, I know that I'll be there afterward to help him pick up the pieces." Galen said frankly.
"Yeah. And I think I just figured out your parenting secret." Jon said with a weak smile. "You never give up."
"That's actually his secret to everything." Marc said with a fond smile at Galen.
"I guess it's an Anderson thing." Galen said happily.
"So where is Elaine? I bet she needs a hug from her baby brother right now." Marc said as he looked around.
"I don't know. Linda took her somewhere when we arrived so she could take care of the babies." Jon said quietly.
"I'm going to go find her." Marc said decisively. "And I haven't seen Linda yet either."
"Then you'd better go. This is her house, after all." Jon said with a smile at Marc.
Marc was about to leave, then paused and looked at Galen with question.
"I'll hang around here with Jon. If nothing else, we can talk about cars." Galen said with a reassuring smile.
Marc returned the smile, then dashed off to find his sister.
* * * * *
"Thanks, guys." Jorry said as they walked back into the family room.
"I hope we didn't cause too much trouble for you by doing that." Collin said cautiously.
"Mom will probably milk it for a few months, like she's the victim somehow. But if it wasn't this, it would have been something else." Jorry said frankly. "The drama never ends."
"I need a kiss." Christian whispered into Collin's ear.
Much to Christian's surprise, Collin turned and gave him a quick, firm kiss.
It wasn't passionate, and it only lasted a few seconds, but Collin did it without the slightest hint of hesitation or embarrassment.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Nick asked with surprise at the action.
"Yeah." Collin said happily.
"My boyfriend's name is Danny." Nick said with a smile.
"Shhh... you shouldn't talk about that here. Someone might hear you." Jorry warned as he looked around.
Collin and Christian exchanged looks of concern.
"I know what you're thinking, you know, about pride and stuff. But you saw our mom out there." Jorry said frankly. "Imagine being ten years old and having *that* turned on you, full blast, all day, every day."
"Got it." Collin said with a nod.
"Yeah. I know that I couldn't handle it." Christian said honestly.
"But when you're over at Marc's house with us, we can talk about it all you want." Collin said to Nick assuringly.
"Okay." Nick said happily.
"Excuse me." A voice said from behind them.
Collin noticed that it was the nurse that had been pushing Grandma Ellen's wheelchair.
"Mrs. Stone asked me to come and invite you to speak with her." the woman said seriously.
"Which one of us?" Collin asked curiously.
"All four of you." the nurse said simply.
Looks of question went around the group, and in some undefinable manner a consensus was silently reached.
The group of boys gathered behind the nurse and followed her out of the room.
Darryl's Notes: My what a lovely family. I certainly hope they can get through dinner without a fight breaking out. The boys are doing pretty well together, and they may just save Jorry and Nick from some pain and suffering. I am ready for another installment. Maybe we can get another one before Christmas. That would be a very nice Christmas present, Hint Hint.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher