THE LAST SHAMAN
As they all trooped into the cabin, they were met with the smell of spices and the heady aroma of cooking, it was unlike anything they had had so far, over the stove stood the large, plump figure of Consuela, a wooden ladle in one hand as she stirred something hot on the stove, Antonio and Margret stood by her side watching intently as Consuela chatted to them both in Spanish.
With everyone inside the cabin, there was little space left for seating; the table had been set in such a way that each could help themselves to the bowls and pans of hot steaming food on the table, as they all looked on, Consuela turned off the stove and carried the large pot to the table, Ravenhawk got a glimpse of what looked like red beans in a thick tomato soup mixture, there were two plates of thin flat bread as well as salads and other hot foods.
The newcomers could not believe their eyes when they saw the veritable mountain of food, the two little boys did not wait to be told, with the hunger of small children, they took a bowl each and spooned in a mass of the beans, picked up a spoon and went to find a place near the open door to eat, Robert nudged Ravenhawk in the side and nodded towards the two young ones, Robert had come across Mexican chilli beans before.
There was suddenly a silence over the others in the cabin as they all watched the two youngest ones lift the first spoon to their mouths and swallow without chewing, the reaction was not long in coming which was followed by raucous laughter of the older ones, even Consuela and Manuel joined in as they watched the contortions on the faces of the two boys.
Little Bear was the first to react, ten seconds after he swallowed, his mouth dropped open, his eyes bulged and he began to hop up and down on the spot, his face flushed and he began to wave his small hands in front of his mouth and tried to call for water but his throat seemed to be to constricted, it was only seconds later when he was joined by Peter, the laughter echoed around the cabin as the others watched.
Consuela said something to the small girl who immediately got a glass of water and a small plate with pickled cucumber slices, she took them over to the two stunned boys and spoke softly to Little Bear, she then gave him the glass of water and offered the plate to him, it took a few seconds before both boys could speak again but the water and cucumber seemed to do the trick, their next spoon full was taken a bit more slowly and with greater care.
When the last of the laughter had died down the others turned to the table full of food, Ravenhawk noticed, as did Liam Senior, that Philippe and Liam Junior kept their distance from each other, another glance was exchanged between Ravenhawk and Liam Senior, there was definitely something going on with those two, it was almost as though the very air crackled with electricity between them.
Antonio sat beside Ravenhawk out on the veranda as they ate, the other men joined them there, it was still warm from the spring sun and gave each of them enough space, inside the chatter between Consuela and Manuel continued as they all went back for seconds, the whole clearing seemed to have a new feeling of family about it.
It was very early the next morning when Robert and Ravenhawk went to fetch the horses, they would use the two large wagon horses for Liam Junior and Philippe, Robert was reassured that Antonio's Gelding would let him ride it, Ravenhawk had little to do to have the Pinto run up to him, the Appaloosa stayed back by the two mares as though guarding his new family.
As the first rays of the new days sun rose, Ravenhawk roused Liam Junior and Philippe from their beds, the others were still asleep, all except Consuela who seemed to not sleep at all, she already had a good breakfast waiting for them with the help of Antonio, the two of them seemed to chatter nonstop as they worked.
As there was space at the table they all sat together although Ravenhawk noticed that the two boys took opposite ends of the table from each other, occasionally they would glance up and give the other a glare then lower their heads back to the plate in front of them, Ravenhawk had already drawn up a plan for these two.
When breakfast was over, Ravenhawk checked the gear they would be taking, it was minimal but enough for two or three days just in case they had to stay out longer than he first thought, he had decided to split the boys up, Liam Junior would go with him, Philippe would go with Robert once they found the place they were going to hunt, in the mean time they would keep an eye on both boys just in case.
The quartet had been moving for more than an hour, Ravenhawk could see that Liam was a little unused to riding but had a determined set look on his young face, it was not hard to work out why, the occasional glance by Liam to see how Philippe was doing told its own story.
They had travelled Eastward and by midday they had come to a long open rolling plain, it was occasionally studded with small rock outcrops and low growing bushes, off to one side near the very edge of the clear land was a small copse of trees, it was an ideal place for them to camp and then start to hunt from, Ravenhawk decided it was best to see if both could shoot, he did not want to dishonour the spirit of any game by wounding it.
As he knew that Robert was proficient with the rifle, he asked him to take Philippe some little distance away to test the young Mexican, he would look after Liam although he was sure the teen had been well trained by his Grandfather he still needed to know that any game they shot at was honoured with a quick death.
Liam proved he was well capable of hitting what he aimed for, within only a few minutes Ravenhawk knew he would have little problems with Liam, off to the side a little distance away he watched as Robert put Philippe through his paces, it was very obvious that Philippe did not know how to shoot but was learning fast.
Robert watched again as Philippe fired at the old worn stump they were using for a target, again the boy missed and said something in Spanish that could not be mistaken for anything other than a swear word, Robert quite liked the lilting and accented English of Philippe, Robert thought that if he liked boys, Philippe's voice would be quite sexy but with an undertone of Macho about it.
Robert checked that the .223 Remington was being properly held and that Philippe had the right position, as he watched the boy fire again he saw why he kept missing the stump.
"Philippe, you have to keep your eyes open when you fire, you are closing both of them just as you pull the trigger, try just closing one so you can keep the other on the target, it should help a lot."
Philippe gave Robert a funny look then said in his accented English.
"I do not close the eyes."
"Yes you do, that's why you miss, if you try it my way you will hit the stump, try it and see."
Philippe looked as though he did not believe Robert but leant into the rifle again, this time he concentrated on keeping his sighting eye open as he pulled the trigger, much to his surprise a spray of wood chips flew off the old stump, Robert watched as a look of realisation came over the once scowling face of Philippe.
"Now that's much easier, don't you think?"
"Si, ah... yes, that is more good, uhm... that is better, yes?"
"Yes a lot better, now we are ready to hunt, try three more shots so you are comfortable then we can go."
Robert watched as Philippe fired three more times, each bullet hitting the stump in a cloud of wood chips, they were ready, Robert looked over his shoulder to see Ravenhawk and Liam standing watching them, it was time to go hunting.
Ravenhawk told Robert to meet them back here just before dusk or to come back when they had shot something, they would clean their kills here and prepare them for taking back to the cabin, it appeared they would be spending at least one night out here.
Ravenhawk took Liam with him, they turned South and Robert along with Philippe would go North, this way there was little chance of scaring game away from each other or, at the worst accidently shooting each other by mistake.
Ravenhawk had been riding for nearly an hour, he kept watch on Liam and saw that the boy had something on his mind but was unsure if he could talk to a stranger about it, Ravenhawk waited, as they were similar in age he thought that Liam might just confide in him why he was so anti Philippe, Ravenhawk settled down to wait, this was a time of patience, if Liam wanted to talk he would, Ravenhawk could not force him to speak.
Ten minutes later, as they came up over a low rise, Ravenhawk pulled them to a stop, below them was a midsized herd of deer grazing peacefully, they barely lifted their heads as the horses broke the top of the rise.
Ravenhawk put his finger to his lips in the sign for silence, he then indicated that Liam should take the first shot, if he missed then Ravenhawk would take his turn, slipping from the backs of their horses Liam got comfortable and took aim, Ravenhawk had told him to only shoot for a buck, it was best to leave the hinds for future breeding.
Liam's shot was perfect, he had been well schooled by his Grandfather, the buck dropped in its tracks as the others in the heard fled from the sharp sound, without wasting time the two boys remounted and galloped down to their first kill, when they reached the deer, Ravenhawk took his small tobacco pouch from his shoulder bag and sprinkled some over the deer while he sent a prayer for the spirit of the deer and thanked it for its sacrifice, Liam watched on with interest.
When he had finished the prayer to the deer spirit, Ravenhawk took his hunting knife and slit the throat to bleed it out, as he did so he called Liam up to his side, taking one finger he dipped it into the still hot blood, Ravenhawk held Liam's shoulder while he ran his blood covered finger down the boys forehead and along the length of his nose, Liam, taken by surprise asked what he was doing.
"It has a number of purposes, this is your fist kill so I am marking you as a hunter, also by wearing the blood of this deer you are honouring his spirit, you must leave the blood on until it wears off naturally to show your thanks for the kill."
"Yuck, a bit messy isn't it?"
"Yes and no, you are honouring the deer's spirit, it is a part of being one of the children of the Creator, one day if you want to know more I will explain it all but it is your decision if you wish to learn or not."
"Thanks', I think, now what do we do?"
"When we have bled it out fully, we will put it on the horse and go back to the camp site, there we will prepare the carcass and wait for the others."
"Oh, Ok, well let's get on with it, oh by the way, how will I ride with the deer on the horse?"
"You won't, we will both walk, it is not far and the time it takes will give us space to look at what the Creator has given us."
"You really do say some funny things Ravenhawk."
The deer had finally been fully bled, after they got it up on the large wagon horses back, they set out for the camp site, as they walked the sound of birds and other small ground animals could start to be heard again, overhead Ravenhawk saw a pair of Ravens flying high above them, Ravenhawk said a silent greeting to the pair but held his silence, he had a feeling that Liam was ready to talk but did not want to push it, the excitement of his first kill had given Liam a new perspective on his place in the new world.
They had been walking for almost half an hour when Liam coughed softly and asked.
"Ravenhawk, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, we are brothers are we not?"
"You won't get angry or anything will you?"
"Would I have reason to be angry, it would be best to ask and then we can see what must be done."
"Well...uhm...I... have, well I have seen how you and Antonio are good for each other, well you know, like... well like more than friends."
"Yes we are more than friends, but you know that already, he is my Berdach, he is what I live for, him and Little Bear."
"Well, it's sort of hard to say it, but... well you won't say anything to Grandfather if I tell you a secret would you?"
"Sometimes my Brother, the secret we perceive to have is not really a secret to others that have their eyes open to the world around them."
"Well...it's like...well; I'm like you and Antonio."
The sudden silence from Liam and the downcast eyes almost made Ravenhawk laugh out loud but he kept control of himself as he said.
"Well you are very fortunate, you have been blessed by the Creator with two spirits, you should be proud that he has seen fit to bless you with such an honour, he has given you the spirits of compassion and bravery, it is a good thing to have."
"But everyone says it's wrong to like other boys, even the bible says it's wrong, please, don't tell my Grandfather, he will probably kill me if he knew."
"I promise I will not say a word but I think you underestimate your Grandfather; I will keep your secret but, what happens if you meet another boy and cannot keep it to yourself, you will then have to tell your Grandfather?"
Ravenhawk watched as Liam's pale white face suddenly took on the same colour as the deer's blood, the blush seemed to radiate from every pore of the boy.
"I have met someone I like but he hates me and would probably kill me if I said anything."
"Aha, so now it all becomes clear, so you have a crush on Philippe?"
"How...how did you know it was him?"
"Like I said before Liam, there are no secrets to those that have their eyes open, have you thought about talking to Philippe, perhaps it is not as bad as you think?"
"No, no I couldn't, he is so macho and he would probably tell everyone else then I would have to kill myself, no I can't do that."
"Well it is your life and your decision but I would not wait too long."
"I just can't Ravenhawk, please don't say anything to anyone, I would just die if they all knew."
"I will promise you my Brother, that I will not speak of this to anyone, it is for you to tell or not tell, just remember, the Creator gave you this honour of two spirits for a reason, I would suggest you not waste it but it is for you to decide."
For the rest of the walk back to the camp site not another word was spoken, it was time for Liam to think his own thoughts and make his own decisions, time would tell if he made the right one or not, as they walked into the temporary camp site, the two boys heard the faint echo of a shot in the far distance, it appeared that Robert and Philippe may have made their own kill or attempted too.
Robert looked down the slope, Philippe's shot had been clean, the old buck had staggered when hit and then jumped high and run off for fifty yards or so then collapsed on the ground, Robert slapped Philippe on the shoulder and grinned at the Mexican boy with pride.
"Well done, you have got your first deer, come on, we have things to do."
The two boys set out for the dead deer lying out on the open plain, the night before Ravenhawk had talked long with Robert about the real reason for bringing the two boys with them, he had also explained what Robert should do if they shot an animal, while Robert did not know the prayer for the spirit of the animal, Ravenhawk had told him to use his own words, the intent was what was important more than the actual words, Creator would know that Robert was trying to do his best.
When they reached the old bucks carcass, Robert slit the throat just as he had been told and dipped a finger in the blood, before Philippe could resist, he had painted the single stripe down the boys face and then used some of the tobacco that Ravenhawk had given him and began to thank the spirit of the deer for his sacrifice just as he had been told to do even though he didn't know the right prayer, he only hoped his intent was correct.
Philippe stood still in shock at the sudden application of fresh blood to his face, as he was about to wipe it off but Robert told him not to, it had to stay there as a mark of respect for the spirit of the deer he had shot, Philippe thought it a little weird but then everything about this new family was a little weird.
The two boys then worked to place the deer carcass up on the larger horse, Ravenhawk had told Robert to make it look as though they both had to walk, it would give Robert time to ask questions although Robert thought he did not have the gift of Ravenhawk's insight, he still had promised to try to work out why Philippe and Liam seemed to be ready to tear each other apart if given the opportunity.
As they walked back towards the far off camp site, Robert tried to broach the subject of Liam and Philippe's distrust of each other, it took a while before Philippe decided to talk, his soft lilting accent filled the air around them as his voice rose higher, much to Robert's surprise it was not what he thought it would be.
"Senior Liam is too high and mighty, it is the same with all Americano's, he walks around flashing his green eyes like it is a gift of god, he even seems to make sure everyone notices his bright red hair by holding his head high so that all will take notice of him, he is just like all Yanques, vane and rich, does he drive around in an old beat up truck, no he has a nice new truck his Grandfather gives to him, have you seen how he sways his slim body around the camp, it is to show off to others that he is better than them, he makes me angry."
"Angry or jealous?"
"Jealous? What is this Jealous, what have I to be jealous about, look at me; am I not handsome, I am bigger than him, I would protect him from others but No, he has to throw himself at everyone in the camp, he should be made to do what I say, he is a spoilt boy with no feelings for others."
Robert could not believe his ears, raising a hand to his face to hide the widening smile, he turned away to look around, Ravenhawk had been right all along, the boys liked each other but were too afraid to say so, instead they tried to push each other apart, this was going to be a very interesting night ahead, he would have to get Ravenhawk aside to see what they could do about the two boys, he was sure that Ravenhawk would have a plan of sorts, he always did.
When they returned to the camp with their deer, Robert saw they had a small fire going with a pot set on it to cook dinner, their deer was hung in a nearby tree and they were skinning it, the guts had been taken out and dragged away from the camp for the night creatures to feed on, only the pieces that Ravenhawk said would come in handy were kept apart.
Robert led the horse over with their own buck, it took another half an hour before it too was strung up beside the other one and gutted, for Liam and Philippe it was a new experience but it was also noticeable that they both kept their distance, Ravenhawk glanced at Robert and received a nod of understanding from the other boy, it looked as though they had their work cut out with these two.
When both carcasses were finally dressed out, Ravenhawk asked Robert and Philippe to find enough wood for a separate fire to start the drying and smoking of the meat, it would do no harm to have it all begun before dark, they would then have time to sit around the fire in peace.
It was another hour before the two carcasses were cut up and ready for the fire, the best pieces Ravenhawk took for their dinner, once the new fire was going strong and there was a good trail of heavy smoke to work on the meat, the four boys sat down around their camp fire and began to tell their tale of the hunt, it was noticeable that Liam and Philippe still kept their distance from each other.
As darkness came down, and they had finished off the last of the thick stew in the pot, Robert asked Ravenhawk if he could speak with him in private for a few minutes, taking up on the clue, Ravenhawk readily agreed to go a little way from the camp leaving Liam and Philippe alone for what must have been the first time since they had met, each was seated on opposite sides of the fire.
Ravenhawk and Robert went out into the dark just far enough away from the other pair not to be heard, Robert soon came to the point, it was no surprise to Ravenhawk as he related his own conversation with Liam, it was as they came to the end of their own versions of what Liam and Philippe were up to that they heard the first loud voice coming from the camp, as Robert made to go back to keep the peace, Ravenhawk caught his shoulder and held him back.
"This is something they have to work out for themselves, let's wait back here; we can always break them up if it gets too serious."
They stood out in the dark and watched the pair near the fire in the camp; it was Liam's voice they had heard first.
"What are you looking at?"
"What's this Putana shit?"
"You do not know what you are?"
"Just what the fuck are you going on about?"
"You, you walk around the camp like some street Putana, you should have a real man to keep you in your place."
"What the fuck! Are you calling me a fucking whore you fucking wet back?"
"Don't you call me no wet back you fucking Puta; you should be ashamed of yourself."
The voices got louder and louder in the stillness of the night, the fire light flickered on the two boys as they rose up and were now almost standing nose to nose as they shouted.
"Ashamed, ashamed of fucking what, you don't go telling me anything you fucking wet back, I'm not one of your fucking whores from Mexico."
Ravenhawk had to keep a hold of Robert's shoulder to stop him from going in there to break it up, this was something the two boys had to work out for themselves.
Philippe stepped back, he was about to teach this little Puta who was boss but he was too slow, as he stopped moving Liam let go with his right fist, while he was smaller and lighter than Philippe he had speed on his side, his closed fist shot out and caught Philippe right on the cheek bone, the larger boy staggered back a few steps, when Liam looked at him he saw the fire rise up in those dark flashing eyes, he set his feet ready for the attack.
Philippe could not believe the little Puta had struck him but, if that's what the Puta needed then Philippe was just the one to teach him his place, with a roar, Philippe charged, he was not about to stand back and trade blows, he was going to finish this fast, the Puta needed a lesson in who was boss and it was not the smaller boy.
Philippe's long years of hard work had given him more strength than Liam, he was bigger built and a lot stronger, like a great bear he wrapped his strong arms around the slimmer and smaller boy and squeezed tightly, he had trapped those fast arms together at Liam's side and now lifted him off his feet so he could not get any purchase to hit back.
Liam felt his ribs ache as those strong arms encircled him, he was now lifted off the ground and could not use his superior speed, struggling and kicking as best he could, Liam tried to free himself, finally he resorted to the only thing he had left, moving his head back he attempted to head-butt Philippe but, just as he was about to smash the larger boys nose all over his face, Philippe lowered his own head, the resounding clash of foreheads sent both boys to the ground with Philippe on top, all the fight had just been knocked out of both of them.
Philippe was the first to recover, his strong arms still tightly around the smaller boy.
"Now you see who your man is, no longer will you flash yourself around the camp, you are mine and I will not take any rubbish from you, you understand me, no more playing the Putana, you will obey me and do as I say."
Before Liam could reply he felt the forceful but soft lips come down on his own and stop any form of reply from getting out, it took little effort for him to surrender to those warm lips, it was at this time that Ravenhawk and Robert decided to return to the camp, the smiles on their faces were as wide as they could be.
Philippe looked up from where he was laying on top of Liam, in no uncertain terms he said.
"If this one tries to play tricks you will tell me, he is mine and will do as I say."
Both Ravenhawk and Robert looked at the supine couple, it looked as though Liam was quite happy to stay underneath the larger Philippe, he looked up at the pair and gave a small embarrassed smile as he wrapped his thinner arms around the body of Philippe.
"I don't think you need to worry about that Philippe, I think he gets the idea now that you have both sorted it all out, now let him go, we have a lot of work to do tomorrow and we all need our sleep,"
"Sleep is for old men, my boy needs one more lesson, so, if you will excuse us we are moving over there by the tree for the night."
So saying Philippe helped Liam up from the ground and pulled him forcefully towards a tree not far from the camp, as they moved past him, Ravenhawk tossed a sleeping bag to them, he tried to keep the smile off his face as Liam followed along without resistance.
Ravenhawk and Robert found their sleep hard to come by, every time they dropped off they were awoken to the sounds coming from under the tree, they would look at each other over the small fire and lift their eyebrows in a universal recognition of what was going on, it was not hard to guess as there were often the sounds of flesh slapping on flesh mixed with yelps and groans, neither Liam nor Philippe were going to get much rest.
The two boys had first been awoken when they heard a rather loud yelp from Liam, the muffled words of, "It's too big" followed by a very loud yelp and then a long slow groan told them what had happened, from then on it was a very disturbed night's sleep, Philippe was determined to prove his manhood to his boy, he would set the rules right here, right now.
When the first light of morning broke through the darkness of the night, Ravenhawk lifted his head to check around them, under the tree was a small mound that could only be one body on top of another but both were unmoving, across the fire he heard Robert grunt as he also lifted his head and looked in the direction of the tree, he glanced over at Ravenhawk and said.
"Looks like Liam has met his match, I wonder how he is going to tell his Grandfather about this little trip?"
"I think it might be less of a surprise than Liam thinks, we will have to wait and see when we get back to the clearing, we have enough meat for now, we can leave this morning just as soon as they surface."
"A good Idea, I'll get the coffee on."
Ravenhawk nodded and then rose to look at the smoked meat, any of the thicker cuts that had not been smoked entirely would now last until they could go into the smoke house at the cabin, he had kept one hind quarter separate so that they would have fresh meat for the table, Ravenhawk went to fetch one of the wagon horses, it would carry all the meat, the other could be used by the new couple to ride home on.
It must have been the smell of fresh coffee that finally woke the two boys under the tree, Philippe lifted his head and sniffed the air, he then nudged Liam who was well wrapped up in Philippe's strong arms.
"I would like my coffee and put your pants on, there is no need for them to see your naked body; that belongs to me, now go."
It was no surprise to either Ravenhawk or Robert when they saw Liam wriggling under the sleeping bag to put his pants back on, as he got out they also noticed he was moving very carefully, his blush was from his waist to the top of his head as he walked towards the fire, Ravenhawk and Robert pretended to not notice his condition, Philippe lay back in the sleeping bag to wait for his coffee.
While the others drank their coffee, Ravenhawk moved off a little way to say the morning prayer to Creator and thanked him for their good hunting, after also thanking the animal spirits for their sacrifice, he returned to the small fire and took up his own cup, Liam was now sitting beside Philippe as the Mexican teen lay in the sleeping bag sipping his coffee, it was noticeable that Philippe was casually stroking Liam's hip with his free hand.
Another hour passed before everyone was up and about, the horses were loaded and ready, Philippe lead Liam to the large wagon horse and helped him mount, he then jumped up behind Liam and wrapped one arm around the smaller boys waist to hold him tightly, Ravenhawk smiled at Robert and they both mounted, it was time to head back to the cabin and see what would happen when the two boys were seen.
Ravenhawk would occasionally glance at the pair on the wagon horse, it was evident that Liam had a few sore spots, especially between his buns as he often shifted to find a more comfortable position on the horses back, Philippe would just tighten his hold on Liam's waist but then lean forward and nuzzle the smaller boys neck before sitting up straight and watching where he was going.
It was mid afternoon before the slow moving hunting party made its way into the clearing, it was a pleasant feeling to return to the familiarity of the cabin, from the cabin itself came the sounds of laughter and the chatter of Consuela and Antonio, Margret was on the veranda with the two little ones as they were given their daily lessons, Manuel was near the tent sorting through a large pile of gardening tools and Liam Senior was helping direct Dean and Karl in the mixing of concrete for the floor of the new cabin.
As the hunting party came into the clearing, everything seemed to stop, they had been moving almost soundlessly and so caught the others by surprise, Liam Senior's hand went for his rifle before he realised who they were, Ravenhawk was happily surprised by the older man's reaction time, Liam Senior was even more surprised to see his Grandson held tightly by the young Mexican boy, it took all he had to stop from smiling, at least now he knew for sure.
Ravenhawk lead the group to the side of the smoke house, all except for Philippe, he turned his horse towards where Liam Senior stood with the rifle in his hands, he watched as the young teen sat almost arrogantly on the horse, Liam Senior kept his face impassive as the teen approached him, once he was close enough, Philippe slid from the horse and helped Liam Junior to the ground.
Philippe took Liam Junior by the arm and lead him in front of his Grandfather, Philippe then stood as tall as he could, his solid chest pushed out and he looked Liam Senior full in the eye, Liam then noticed that the teen was not as sure as he made out but his Macho image refused to let him be afraid of the older man.
"Senor Kelly, I have claimed your Grandson, from this moment he will do as I say, I have come to ask your blessing but be assured, I will keep him regardless of your decision, that is all I have to say."
Liam Senior tried as best he could to hide his smile, even the sheer audacity of the teen could not break his happiness for his Grandson, at least if he was going to be with a boy he had found one that was strong enough and determined enough to keep him in line, not an easy thing to do to any Kelly, Liam Senior straightened his shoulders and looked at Junior, to the boy it looked more of a glare than a welcome, Junior began to have second thoughts as he saw the look on his Grandfathers face.
"What have you got to say Junior?"
Liam Senior was not surprise to hear the other teen answer.
"Senor Kelly, it is not for him to say anything, he has accepted me and will do as I say."
"I would like to hear it from him, well Junior?"
"Uhm...well...ah...it's like...ah...what he says."
"Humph, well I suppose it's about time, at least you have someone that will keep that temper of yours in check, Philippe, you have my blessing and also my warning, watch out for his temper, it is a common trait with the Kelly's."
"Senor Kelly, I thank you for your blessing and as to his temper, he has already found out what will happen if he lets it out of the bag, now I must go and tell my Uncle."
Liam Senior looked over the compact and strong build of Philippe as well as the most obvious signs of possession over Liam Junior, he smiled to himself as he said.
"Well in that case Philippe, welcome to the Kelly family, all two of us."
Philippe gave a half hearted bow and smile to Liam Senior, he then took Junior by the arm and lead him towards where Manuel was standing, beside him was the rest of their small family, Philippe gulped as he neared his family, while it was known that there were boys who liked other boys, being from a very strict Catholic family did not make this move any easier, Philippe straightened his shoulders, he had his boy friend to protect and could not let his own fears show to others.
By this time everyone was out in the yard watching what was going on, Antonio appeared by Ravenhawk's side, it was fortunate for the others as the next conversation was held in rapid fire Spanish which Antonio translated for the others, they all watched as Philippe stopped in front of his last remaining relatives, Manuel did not look pleased as Philippe began to speak.
"Uncle, Aunty, this is Liam Kelly, he is now my partner, he is now my responsibility and I ask you to welcome him into our family and to give us your blessing, if this is not to your liking then I will have to take him away but I will not give him up."
Even from the distance it was obvious that Manuel was not happy, as his eyes grew wide with anger and he was about to reply to Philippe's bad decision, Consuela caught his arm in a vice like grip.
"Do not dare to reject him, he is blood and we do not reject our own blood just because he is different, if you do not make the right decision here then you will be on your own, I will not have anyone of our blood rejected, think carefully Brother."
It was as though a switched had been flicked, the anger and fight went out of Manuel just as quickly as it had appeared, it was easy to see who wielded the real power in the Gomez family.
"You have our blessing Nephew, now how do you propose to look after your partner; there is little privacy in our tent?"
"I will find a way Uncle and I thank you for your blessing."
It was Liam senior that spoke up after he heard the translation.
"Excuse me Manuel, but I think I have an answer for that small problem, if Ravenhawk will allow me, I will stay in the cabin until there is a new cabin built, once that is done then I will move back out but in the mean time I suggest that the two boys make use of the trailer home, they need their privacy and I will be quite comfortable on the sofa for a few days."
"Thank you Senor Kelly, that would solve this small problem, I know it is a new time and we have to change our thinking to new ways, I was just a little disappointed that he will not produce heirs for the family."
"I know what you mean Manuel, I too am a little disappointed but if it is what they want then we have to let them make their own way, now what are we going to do?"
Consuela spoke up with the sound of laughter in her voice, Antonio translated for her.
"Why Senor, we are going to have a fiesta, I will start the cooking now, we must have music and dancing, I know we have no priest here and they would not wed these two even if there were one but that is no reason not to celebrate, at least now there will be no more long faces from those two."
Robert turned to Ravenhawk.
"You know you are the only one here that has any spiritual connection, why don't you perform a ceremony for the ones that have partners, there must be some type of ceremony you can use?"
"There is but I am not sure of it, I am still too young to perform such ceremonies."
"Well we certainly need something, I know that Margret and I would feel better if we knew we had some words to say we were permanent partners, you should think on it, there must be a way it can be done."
"What about Liam Senior, he must have been married so he would know how to do it, why don't you ask him?"
"Ravenhawk, you are our leader, it is the responsibility of the leader to perform marriages or whatever we want to call it now, this is a new time just like Manuel said, we have to have our own ways for some things."
"I suppose you're right, I'll think it over and let you know, now let's get these carcasses in the smoke house or they will ruin out here in the sun."
They soon had help from the others to put away the new meat stock, the fresh hind quarter was given to Consuela for the fiesta party and everything settled back to almost normal although both Philippe and Liam Junior had somehow disappeared but certain movements of the large trailer home soon told everyone where they could be.