Charlie sighed with contentment. His dreams were filled with images of Kris: beautiful, blond, muscular, smiling, shy Kris. All night long he slept peacefully having dream after dream starring his roommate.
In his last dream, Kris came up behind him and wrapped Charlie in his strong arms. He nuzzled Charlie's neck. Charlie reached behind him and moved his slim fingers down Kris's tight abs and felt the band of his briefs. Blood pounded in his head and he slid his fingers over the sheer material and caressed the hard pulsing organ underneath. His fingers started to close around Kris's cloth-covered cock.
"Don't stop," Charlie mumbled.
"Charlie, wake up," Kris whispered.
"Huh?" Charlie's eyes popped opened. It took him a second to focus and then he remembered where he was…in Kris's bed. He also realized where his hand was.
"Ohmygodimsorry!" he blurted and he yanked his hand away from Kris's crotch. He would have leapt from the bed, but Kris was holding him firmly around the chest.
"Charlie, stop! The glass!"
Charlie looked at the floor surrounding the bed and saw small shards of broken light bulb scattered on the floor. He wriggled in Kris's arms until he was facing the much bigger boy.
"Thanks. I would have jumped right on it," he said. "I'm sorry that I…"
Kris grinned. "Don't be. That's the first time anyone's ever touched me like that. I know you were sleeping and probably didn't know what you were doing, but it was still nice. I woke you up, cuz I was about to cum."
Charlie blushed. "Oh, shit, I'm sorry."
"Stop saying that," Kris replied. "You didn't do anything wrong."
"I was molesting you in your sleep."
"No, you were molesting me in your sleep," Kris laughed.
Charlie grinned. "Thanks."
"For not kicking my ass."
"Charlie, why would I do that? I like you, you're the first person in a long time that I have had any connection to. I'm not ready for anything physical yet, but you make me feel so great."
"You feel it, too?" Charlie asked. "I thought it was just me."
"No, there's something between us," Kris replied. "Like you're the person I was supposed to meet. Like we belong together." He pulled Charlie closer and kissed him gently on the lips.
As Kris embraced him, Charlie felt a heat fill him that he had never felt before. Kris's touch made his skin tingle warmly.
"Is this love?" he thought.
Benji was curled up in a recliner when Alex walked into the living room.
Benji looked up from his tablet and grinned. "What are you doing up at this hour?"
Alex shrugged. "Couldn't sleep."
Benji put the tablet down on the tablet beside his chair. "Are you ok?"
"I guess," Alex replied as he slumped down on the couch.
"Spill it," Benji ordered.
Alex sighed. "I guess I'm just confused."
"Is it that obvious?"
Benji chuckled. "A, it's been obvious since you laid eyes on him. It's also been obvious that he's not just another 'date' and that's the problem isn't it?"
"If he was just another date, I'd know how to act," Alex declared. "We'd have already fucked our brains out and we'd have both moved on."
"But he's something more."
"I told Dad and Pop the other day that I thought I wanted to change, that I wanted that something 'more'. But now I'm realizing I have no real clue what to do with it."
"You don't have to do anything with it," Benji said. "That's what scaring you. You're used to just focusing on a conquest and using your powers of persuasion to have your way with them. Now, with Dyson, you're torn because you don't want to do that."
"Are you reading me?"
Benji laughed. "I don't have to 'read' you, I know you," he explained. "I know all the sex and all the dates were about connections and trying to find something and fill that empty space you have in your heart. You couldn't fill it, because you were trying too hard to protect it. You were with all those people and having all that sex, but there was no real feeling there."
"You're right," Alex answered with a faraway look in his eyes.
Alex blushed. "The first time he kissed me."
"That bad, huh?"
"It was his first kiss…ever and it made me feel like a virgin. It was just so tender and sweet. I've never experienced anything like that. For all the hot, sweaty, ridiculous sex I've had, one kiss from him and I melted. I don't melt."
Benji laughed so hard he was shaking. "When it comes to this you are a virgin. You said it yourself, you've had lots of sex and you've probably done more kinky shit than some of us have even thought of."
"Do I lie?"
"But this is the first time you've let real feelings enter the equation. You're overqualified when it comes to the physical and completely adrift with the emotional. That's what's freaking you out. You're overthinking it. Just let things happen at their own pace; if it's meant to be then it will happen. It's obvious Dyson likes you, but he's been through a lot and you're dealing with a lot, so take the time to make sure that the stress of the moment isn't what's bringing you together."
Alex grinned. "How did my baby brother get so smart?"
A cushion flew at Alex's head.
"Don't call me that!!"
The cushion stopped an inch from Alex's face and fell to the floor.
"Not bad, B"
Benji smiled. "So are you ready for the lacrosse tryouts this week?"
Alex looked down and started picking at his thumb. "Umm."
"I'm not trying out."
"Why not? You love playing."
Alex looked up and his eyes met Benji's.
"Too much stuff going on now."
"You mean Dyson?"
"Not just Dice. The increase in our powers, this stuff with the prophecy and the chosen. I've been thinking about it. With the telepathy and empathy it's getting harder for me to control everything. I think I need to focus on what's going on here."
"I understand. I know how much you were looking forward to playing, but if you think there's a chance something could happen with your powers you're probably better off sitting it out. What are you gonna tell the guys?"
"I'll just tell them that there are some things going on at home and I won't have the time to commit right now; they'll probably be a little pissed but they'll get over it."
"Hey, Oliver and I were talking last night about taking the horses and going up the coast to camp and ride on the beach on Columbus Day weekend. Since you're not going to be playing or practicing why don't you and Dyson come with us. I'm sure Dale will lend us a couple extra horses."
"If we haven't found anything by then, it would probably be a good idea to get away for a few days. We might have to give Dyson some riding lessons beforehand."
"I think we can manage that."
Dylan looked up when he heard the knock on his office door.
The door opened and Charlie walked in followed by Kris.
"Morning, guys," Dylan greeted them.
"Hey, Dylan." Charlie grinned. "Just dropping off my boy, here." He patted Kris on the back. "Didn't want him getting lost."
Kris blushed and coughed, while Dylan and Charlie laughed.
"Well, you've done your part, Charlie. I'll take it from here."
"Cool. I'm gonna hit the pool for some practice since I'll have it to myself today. How long are you gonna be?"
"Probably be a few hours," Dylan answered. "Do you guys want to grab an early dinner with Jesse and me?"
Charlie looked at Kris who nodded.
"Sure," Charlie replied.
"Why don't you meet us at the parking lot at about three?"
"Ok, I'll see you then," Charlie said as he left the office, shutting the door behind him.
Dylan looked up at Kris who looked very nervous. He walked over to a round table in the corner of the room
"Have a seat, Kris," he said motioning to a chair next to the one he took.
Kris sat stiffly in the chair.
"Kris, relax, I'm not a teacher and this isn't the Inquisition."
"Sorry," Kris exhaled. "I just haven't had the best of luck with schools lately and I've come to expect the worst."
"Well, we'll be fixing that," Dylan said as he leaned over and grabbed a folder off his desk. He opened it and flipped through it. "First thing you have to understand is that this stuff," he gestured to the papers in the open folder, "this is your past. It doesn't define you unless you let it. The only things in this folder I care about are the objective facts, the stuff that tells me who you are and where you're from. The notes from past teachers, stuff like that, that's all subjective. It's all from their point of view. There could be a book in here telling me you were the devil himself, but that would be one person's opinion; it would be the same if it said you were a saint. Here, we're going to form all our opinions about you solely based on our interactions with you, not on what someone else has told us."
"That's a first," Kris sighed.
Dylan nodded. "I know. Most schools look at your past and judge you based on it and you're behind the eight ball and never get a chance to get out in front. I'll be honest: there might be some teachers here who will be a little more judgmental, but you need to show them what you showed me and Jesse when we met yesterday and what I think you are obviously showing Charlie."
Kris grinned shyly.
"I'm sure Charlie has told you that he has gone through a few roommates in the last couple years."
Kris nodded. "Yup."
"He's a great guy, very easy going and a lot of fun, but the Head Master seems to like to give him the guys he thinks are 'troublemakers' and sometimes, those guys do live up to their hype. Charlie has a sixth sense when it comes to them. If he had thought you were trouble, he would have been at my door minutes after you met. The fact that he was smiling when he introduced us yesterday told me all I needed to know about you."
"Charlie's cool. Probably the best roommate or friend I've made in all the years I've been shipped off to private schools."
Dylan looked closely at Kris. "It's more than that, isn't it?"
Kris looked down at the table.
Dylan reached across and laid his hand on Kris. Kris's hand was very warm to the touch.
"Kris, it's ok. You know I'm not going to judge you. Charlie is one of my favorite people and if you and he are hitting it off like I think you are then Jesse and I are both thrilled."
Kris looked up and his eyes met Dylan's. "I really like him," he admitted. "It's the first time I've ever allowed myself to feel that way."
"Does he know?"
Kris nodded. "We talked about it last night. I need to take it slow; I'm not ready for anything physical yet, but…"
"But it's nice to have someone to share things with, to be close to."
Kris smiled and nodded, "Yes."
"Kris, don't worry about the sex part," Dylan advised. "Jesse and I have been together since I was fourteen and he was fifteen; we both had rough backgrounds and we took a long time before we were intimate. We waited until we were both ready. Some of our friends were very sexually active, but they never pressured us, in fact, they didn't really care if we were doing it or not, and your real friends won't either. What you do or don't do behind closed doors is between you and Charlie, or whoever is behind there with you."
Kris chuckled. "Thanks, Dylan."
"No problem," Dylan replied as he returned to the folder. He read for a few minutes. "Wait a second!" He looked up at Kris. "Your birthday is August fifteenth?"
"Right, I just turned sixteen."
"That's some coincidence." Dylan shook his head.
"That's Charlie's birthday, too."
"That's pretty cool."
"You'll have to tell him, I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it," Dylan said as he continued flipping through the file. "Your grades are really good, Kris. In spite of the stuff the teachers are saying about you, which seems to be extremely subjective, you managed to get A's and high B's in all your classes."
"Well, they can't knock your grades no matter how much they don't like you," Kris said. "I had some teachers that would try to ding me on research papers or things that weren't concrete right or wrong, but I could usually fight them for the better grades."
Dylan shook his head. "Kris, I'll be honest, I don't get it. I'm serious about a fresh start, but what did these teachers have against you?"
Kris shook his head and looked away. When he turned back, anger blazed in his eyes. "It wasn't me," he said shakily. "It was my father."
"Your father?" Dylan asked looking back at the file. "It says here that your father is a businessman in New York."
Kris rolled his eyes. "That's only because there's no box to check for mobster on the form."
"Well, that's what I call him," Kris said. "I guess he is a businessman. He owns a number of successful businesses in Manhattan, but most of his money is made from not so legal sources."
"And your teachers knew this?"
"Most of the schools I went to were in New York and around there, my father is pretty well known. Plus, he would always donate a building or a scholarship whenever I started at a new school; this made the teachers think I was a problem that needed to be paid for."
"So they were predisposed to thinking you were trouble simply because of your dad and the way he acted before you arrived."
"Uh huh," Kris grunted. "Guilty and never proven innocent."
"Well, I'm sorry that you've been treated that way," Dylan said. "No one should be judged on anything other than their own actions."
"That's not the way it usually works."
"That's the way it should work and the way that it often does work," Dylan replied. "I know this guy back home; he was a bully--in fact, when Jesse and I first moved there he came after us all the time. One time it was so bad, he triggered a panic attack in me. But he met a friend of ours and something between them changed him. He became a different person. In fact, he ended up helping me close one of the darkest chapters of my life one night. Now, he's one of my closest friends. I believe that people are capable of changing and I will only judge them based on how they act and how they treat me and those around them."
Dylan smiled. "Let's get out of here. It's time to give you the full tour."
Kai opened the front door to two young men. Both were about nineteen or twenty. One was about 5'8" and thin with blond hair and blue eyes and the other was a few inches taller and more muscular; he had a darker complexion, black hair and hazel eyes.
"Good morning, sir," the blond said cheerfully. "I'm David King and this is my boyfriend, Esteban Ortega. I was looking for Alex and Dyson; they asked me to come and help them install their computer."
"Of course," Kai replied offering his hand to Dave. "I'm Kai Martin, Alex's father." He looked at the second boy, who simply stared. "Is he ok?"
"Stevie?" Dave asked as he shook his boyfriend's shoulder. "Stevie, are you awake?"
"Huh?" Stevie shook his head. "Dave, you didn't tell me we were coming to Kai Martin's home!"
"Um, I didn't know?" Dave shrugged.
Stevie grabbed Kai's hand and shook it vigorously. "Mr. Martin, I'm such a huge fan. I'm a music major at UCLA. I've studied so much of your work."
Kai grinned. "Thanks; Stevie, is it?"
Stevie nodded. "Yes, sir. Actually, it's Esteban, but everyone just calls me Stevie."
"Well, Stevie, it's nice to meet you. If you'd like, after we get Dave settled with Alex and Dyson, I can give you a tour of my studio."
"Are you serious?! That would be awesome!"
"My pleasure, always glad to help out a budding musician," Kai said. "Come in; I think the boys are down at the playhouse, let me call and make sure."
Kai led them into the kitchen where Benji and Oliver were sitting at the counter.
"Hey, Alex," Dave said as they entered.
Benji and Oliver laughed.
"Sorry, I'm Benji, Alex's brother."
"Yup, only he's better looking," Oliver answered.
Kai introduced everyone and then called down to the playhouse and found Alex and Dyson.
"Benji, why don't you and Oliver take Stevie over to the studio? I'll take Dave to the playhouse and then meet you guys, ok?"
"Sure," Benji replied. "What time are we eating? We were gonna head over to the ranch for a bit."
"Ranch?" Stevie perked up.
Dave laughed and shook his head. "Now you've done it."
"You like horses?" Benji asked.
Stevie nodded. "I grew up on a ranch in Northern California. My dad was the foreman. He passed away last year and the owner decided to sell. Since I had grown up there and the owner had been like a grandfather to me, he offered to pay for my college education. That's how I ended up at UCLA. I don't get to ride as much as I'd like; too busy and too expensive."
"Well, I don't know how long it's gonna take for Dave to help Alex and Dyson get the computer set up, but Oliver and I are going to head over to the ranch where we board in a little bit; you can come along if you want."
Stevie looked at Dave for approval.
Dave grinned and nodded. "I'm sure it will be a few hours to get everything going."
"And Alex said you were staying for dinner and we weren't planning to eat until 4 or 4:30, so that will give you all afternoon," Kai said. "In fact, if you guys want to head over, I can show you the studio after dinner. It's more fun with Alex there as well."
"Really?" Stevie asked.
"Oh, yeah!" Benji exclaimed. "We can jam! What do you play?"
"Piano, guitar, bass, violin, little trombone and sax."
"Pop, you may have a full band before we're through," Benji laughed.
"So those are the academic buildings," Dylan said as he and Kris walked across the quad. "Have you seen the athletic buildings yet?"
Kris shook his head. "No, but other than watching Charlie swim, I don't think I'll spend too much time in there."
"I'm curious; you said you didn't play much sports, but you are obviously in great shape, how's that?"
Kris shrugged. "Probably genes, but I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"I was adopted."
"Really? I don't remember that being in your file," Dylan said. "Not that it's in everyone's, but usually when kids know it is."
Kris sat down on a bench next to a maple tree. Dylan sat beside him.
"I'm not supposed to know," Kris explained. "But, I suspected for a while and finally confirmed it a few years ago."
"My dad was in his late fifties when I was born; he had been married before and had two sons. His wife and sons were killed in a plane crash; my dad grieved and stayed single for almost twenty years until he met my mother. She was a dancer in a show in Las Vegas. She was barely in her twenties, beautiful, but not too bright. They were married almost as soon as they met and my dad wanted a son right away. They tried for three years and my mom never got pregnant. My dad was getting more and more angry since he wanted an heir to carry on. I think that was the only reason he married my mother.
"My mom went to a fertility doctor without telling my father. The doctor told her she should have no problem conceiving so she concluded that my father must be sterile. Not wanting to lose the life she was becoming accustomed to she concocted a plan. She started tracking her fertile periods and when she knew she should be able to conceive, she told my father she was going away for a spa weekend to relax. She convinced him that relaxation would help her to conceive. What she really did was fly back to Vegas and check into a hotel and hit up an old boyfriend and spent the weekend in bed. By the time she got back to New York, she was pregnant with me."
"How do you know all this?" Dylan asked.
Kris sighed. "When I was five, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer; it was aggressive and she died when I was seven. By that point, I had started to suspect something wasn't right between me and my father. My father is only about 5'8"; I was that almost that tall by the second grade. He has very sharp features and dark hair and eyes. My mother had brown hair and brown eyes, so it seemed odd to me that I was blond and blue-eyed. As I got older, my father became more distant. He shipped me off to boarding school right after my mom died, but at first I was allowed to come home on breaks; after a few years that ended.
"The last time I was home for an extended break, I was about twelve. My father was on a business trip so I had the place to myself. I was in my mother's room and I found a box full of her stuff. I found some diaries that she had kept while she was married to my dad and they told the whole story. I don't know how much of it my dad knows. I'm sure he knows that I'm not his real son, but I also know he'd never admit it. He'll figure out a way to disinherit me without ever admitting that he didn't have an heir."
"But he raised you; that must mean something to him."
"No. To him, blood is the only thing," Kris explained. "When I was in first grade, I had a friend whose mom had remarried. He had a step-brother who was in high school. He was a really good guy, he was nice to us, took us to the movies and picked us up from school and treated Jimmy like a real brother, but my father went to great lengths to let me know that they were not 'real' brothers and never would be, because they did not share blood."
Dylan shook his head. "Jesse and I need to tell you about our family sometime," he said. "Not our biological families, who we love, but the people we consider family, we consider brothers. There's not a drop of blood between us, but they are our family in every way and we would do anything for each other."
"Sounds great," Kris mumbled. "Most of the time I feel like I don't have a real family. My mom is dead, I have no idea who my real father is and the man who calls himself my father wants to just hide me away."
"So how did everything come to a head with you being sent here?"
"Well, with each school he sent me to in New York things just got worse and worse," Kris began. "At first it was just teachers being indifferent. I was never looking for attention or special treatment, but they would go out of their way to punish me or blame me for things. At first I had no clue why. It would just end with my father showing up, meeting with the headmaster, yelling at me, taking me a new school and throwing some money around. When he would leave he would give me some not-so-veiled threat about behaving. The problem was, every time he threw more money, he created a bigger problem and more resentment. If he had simply enrolled me in school and no one had known who he was, everything would have been fine.
"When I found my mom's diary I learned more than the story of my birth, I learned about my father's business and it started to make sense why all the teachers and a lot of the other students thought I was a bad penny: they all assumed I was my father's son.
"Things finally came to a head last week. I had been in summer session at my old school. The bitch I had for English was the worst teacher I ever had; she hated me and she made no secret about it. No matter how much work I did, how much I studied, how well I did on tests, she would look for any reason to punish me. We had a final paper due for the end of the term that was worth fifty percent of our final grade. I had a high A average and I wanted to keep it, so I had been busting my ass all term on that paper. The day before it was due, I didn't have any classes. I had started to come down with something, I don't know what. I was running a fever and I had a terrible headache. I should have gone to the infirmary, but I knew that would give her all the reason she needed to fail me.
"I kept working all day until that paper was finished. It was about seven o'clock that night. I felt so rotten, I thought I was gonna die. I knew if I went to infirmary they might not let me out for class the next day, so I decided that I would drop off the paper first so that it was not late. When I got to her office, my teacher was just leaving. She was surprised to see me. I told her I was sick and on my way to the infirmary and wanted to drop off my paper in case I wasn't able to make it class the next day. She looked at me and told me that I couldn't turn it in early, that she wasn't able to give me preferential treatment and if I didn't turn it in during class like everyone else I would fail.
"At that point, my temperature was probably well over a hundred, I was sweating bullets, my head was throbbing, my body was aching and on fire and I had had it. I never lose my temper, but I did then. I screamed at her that I didn't know what her problem was, but I knew for a fact that she had allowed other students to turn in work early and that I worked all day even though I was sick to finish the paper and make sure it was perfect. I raged like I never had before. She glared at me and told me that she would not accept the paper and that I would fail and then she stomped off.
"I took the paper and shoved it under her office door and ran back to my dorm room. I didn't feel like dealing with the infirmary at that point. I didn't want to deal with any adults. I just locked the door, cranked up the air conditioner, stripped down and collapsed on my bed. I must have fallen right to sleep. I don't remember much after that. I vaguely remember a dream where there was a fire, but I wrote that off to the fever and the fact that I was so hot.
"The next thing I know, someone is pounding on my door. I stumbled out of bed and opened the door and the Head Master and two security guards were there. I realized I was standing in front of them in just my underwear and turned to grab some clothes and the Head Master grabbed my arm and started yelling about me starting a fire in the teacher's office. It's a blur after that. They let me get dressed and took me to the security office, where they questioned me, actually accused me, for hours. I kept telling them I didn't do it. They found a button from a school blazer and I was missing one, but people are always losing buttons--I might have even lost it when I was there the night before. By the end of the day, my father was there paying everyone off and arranging for me to be sent here. To him this is 'Purgatory', far away from New York and the 'civilized' world."
"And in trying to punish you, he probably did you the greatest of favors," Dylan said. "Here you can get a clean slate and a fresh start. You've already got Charlie, Jesse and me on your side and I have a feeling you'll be making plenty more friends once classes start up again on Tuesday." He slid next to Kris and slipped his arm around the younger boy's shoulder. "I told you about my family at home and how we think of each other as brothers?"
"That's how Jesse and I have felt about Charlie since we met him and how we feel about you now," Dylan explained. "You guys are our little brothers and we are always here for you no matter what, ok?"
Kris turned to look at Dylan, his crystal blue eyes brimming with tears. "Thanks, Dylan," he said as he hugged the older boy tight.
Dylan just nodded and returned the hug.
The boys had been on the trail for over an hour. When they arrived at the ranch, Dale offered to let Stevie ride Copper, a 16.2 hand chestnut quarter horse gelding.
Benji laughed and told Stevie Dale must like him as she never let anyone new near Copper.
Stevie and the gelding quickly bonded and the three hit the trail.
Benji and Oliver had been planning on a leisurely ride, but Stevie hadn't ridden in a while and wanted to race in the worst way.
Finally, Benji told Stevie that they were in a stretch of trail that was clear for miles and if he wanted to canter or run, he was more than welcome to. With a whoop, Stevie and Copper took off.
The boyfriends watched the older boy take off in a cloud of dust and continued walking and trotting down the trail.
After twenty minutes or so, they heard hoof beats quickly coming towards them. They saw Stevie and Copper come around a bend in the trail at a gallop. Stevie was giving the big gelding his head and letting him run.
Benji was impressed at how subtly Stevie signaled Copper to slow down as he approached the other horses and riders. Finally, Stevie and Copper were walking between Benji and Arya and Oliver and Jester.
"Oh, wow!!" panted Stevie. "Don't tell Dave, but I think I'm in love."
Oliver laughed. "Your secret's safe with us, as we suffer from the same affliction."
"But in your case, your boyfriend shares the affliction," Stevie lamented as they rode along the trail.
"Dave doesn't like horses?" Benji asked.
Stevie shrugged. "Dave's not much of an outdoors person and I haven't had much of a chance to ride since we've been together so it really hasn't been an issue for us. He knows about where I grew up, so he knows I love the outdoors, camping and riding, but with school, we really don't have a lot of time, or money for that stuff."
"You said your father had passed, do you have any other family?" Oliver asked.
"No. It was just Papa and I. My Mama died when I was a baby; Papa had a hard time dealing with it, he drank a lot when I was growing up and he tended to get mean when he drank. Mr. Titus, the owner of the ranch, he was like a grandfather to me. He made sure I went to school, had new clothes and was taken care of growing up. He did what he could to protect me from Papa, but he knew if he pushed too hard Papa would quit and take me away and then there would be no one to help me, so he did what he could. I honestly think he would have sold the ranch years ago if not for me."
"Yeah. He was ready to retire, but the ranch gave Papa a job and it gave me a home. I broke and trained horses, I showed at local fairs and horse shows, I would camp alone in the mountains. It was my heaven."
"Well, I can't relate to the absent parent part, but I can relate to the ranch as nirvana," Benji said.
"If your dad is as great in person as he comes across in interviews, you and your brother are lucky."
"Actually, it's dads, and they are."
Benji nodded. "The man you met, that's my Pop, his husband is my Dad."
"Your biological father?"
"Nope. Dad and Pop have been together since they were younger than me and Alex. They went to school with our parents; they were all best friends in college. My parents were married after grad, just like Dad and Pop and they got pregnant almost right away. They asked Dad and Pop to be the baby's godparents. My parents were in a car accident on the way to hospital; my father was killed and my mom died right after we were born. Dad and Pop adopted us right away."
"Wow, I don't know what to say," Stevie responded. "To say you and Alex are 'lucky' seems inappropriate since you lost your parents."
"But we are lucky and we know it," Benji explained. "If Dad and Pop hadn't been there we would have ended up as wards of the state and probably have been separated. Instead we were taken in by the two greatest parents anyone could ask for. Sometimes I miss the thought of my parents, but since I never knew them I don't actually miss them. Damon Abercrombie and Kai Martin are the only parents I have ever known."
"Then my first impulse was right, you are lucky," Stevie grinned. "And you, Oliver?"
"I was actually adopted as well," he replied. "More conventionally, my parents had a hard time conceiving and they adopted me. I grew up in England and relocated here with my parents about few weeks ago."
"And you guys are already together?"
"We knew right away," Benji declared. "What about Dave? Does he have any family?"
"He has family," Stevie spat. "But he might as well be an orphan."
'That bad?" Oliver asked.
"Dave's from Utah," Stevie explained. "He grew up Mormon. He's the youngest of seven--three older brothers and three older sisters. When he graduated high school he was supposed to leave on his 'mission'."
"I don't understand it either. Apparently, they go off for two years and try to convert people."
Oliver laughed. "Surely it must be more than that."
Stevie shrugged. "I'm sure they think it is. Anyways, when he was supposed to leave for his mission, Dave instead decided to tell his parents that he was gay, knowing what the reaction would be. He was excommunicated by the church and disowned by his family. His parents wanted to send him for 'conversion' therapy, but Dave, being the genius that I love, had other plans. He had spent his senior year applying to colleges outside of the church's influence and by the time he came out to his family, he had been offered a full scholarship to UCLA. He timed his coming out so that he was being thrown out just when it was time for the summer semester to start."
"Is that where you met?" Benji asked.
"Yes. He started in the summer; I started as a freshman in the fall. We met in some intro classes, but it took a while for us to warm up to each other. By Christmas, we were a couple and at the end of our freshman year, we decided that we wanted to get an apartment together. Mr. Titus came to visit us and insisted that we get a nice apartment near campus and he helps us with the rent. Since neither of us have any family to visit during the summer, we go to school year round so that we can graduate early. Well, we'll get our Bachelor's early. Dave wants to get his Master's in Computer Science and I'll probably get a teaching certificate as a back-up."
"Well, I'd like to be a composer and producer like your father, but not everyone becomes that successful, so having a back-up is prudent."
"But having a mentor who's a successful composer, musician, and producer is also prudent," Benji offered.
"But I just met your father," Stevie protested.
"So, Pop's gonna be more concerned with whether or not you have any talent," Benji replied. "If you're good, then he's gonna help you, I guarantee it."
"Just meeting him is enough for me," Stevie said. "He's been one of my influences for years."
"How did a cowboy end up a music major anyways?" Benji asked.
"Mr. Titus strikes again," Stevie replied. "He saw one of the younger hands teaching me guitar when I was about six and decided I had some aptitude for music. He had friends on the school board and he managed to get me into music classes and bands right away. I just seemed to have a natural talent for picking up new instruments quickly."
"Cool. Pop taught me to play guitar and Alex to play drums when we were younger. We mainly jam in the studio, but Pop's used some of our stuff on his recordings."
"Uh huh, in fact, the first time Oliver joined us was last week. We found out he could play keyboards. Pop recorded the whole session and he's been working on it for the last few days."
"It must be great to have the equipment at your disposal."
"I'm telling you, Stevie, if you have the talent I think you do and Pop sees it, you'll be able to use the studio yourself."
"I can't believe how this day has turned out," Stevie grinned. "I was bitching at Dave for volunteering to help Alex and Dyson on the first day we've had to ourselves in forever and it turns out I meet one of my idols and find a place to ride."
"You're welcome to come with Benji and me anytime," Oliver offered. He winked at Benji and cued Jester. "As long as you can keep up!" he called as he and Benji took off.
Stevie gave Copper his head and took off in pursuit of his two new friends.