Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 18

Posted: N/A

When she got to work, Alma Geddes put her purse in a bottom drawer of her desk and laid her bag on a small table behind her next to a small stack of folders. She sat down with a cup of tea as she checked her appointments for the day. She nodded, satisfied with what she expected for today.

She picked up a folder that she had put on the side of her desk a couple of days before, after she had finished her review of the Wood home. She looked through James Carpenter's file to see if she could find out who had given authorization for the brat to get any of those items from out of storage. She had left strict instructions that said that only she could authorize the disbursements of any of the property of the Carpenter estate. She had plans for most of the items and they did not include the brat getting any of it other than what she had allowed him on that one day when she brought him to the house to get a few items. An orphan didn't deserve much more than she had allowed him to take. If they have too much, they become spoiled and unruly, causing more trouble than they were worth. Most of them turned out to be drains on society.

She looked through the file and came across a page in there that she did not remember seeing before. It was not something she had put in. She read it over and saw that it was a release of property authorization. She read through it and saw that it seemed to include everything that she had seen in the room. The checked the signatures and one of them was her supervisor and the other was a Hal Jackson, Esq. She knew from the Esq. at the end of the signature that he was a lawyer.

Well, she didn't know who this Jackson person was, but she would talk about this with the supervisor. She was sure she could get him to rescind the authorization. He was easy to manipulate. She tore the paper out of the folder and got up from her desk. She marched out of her office and down the hall to the supervisor's office to convince him to rescind the order. As was her custom, she didn't knock, she simply walked in, "Robert we have a problem that I need you to fix…"

"Alma, good, I was just going to ask you to come in here."

"That's fine, Robert. We need to talk about this authorization that I found in the Carpenter boy's file. Don't you think that it was a bit premature? I mean, we still haven't completely settled everything. I gave explicit instructions that the release of any property was to be arranged through me."

Robert motioned with his hand to another part of the room.

"Alma, may I introduce Mister Hal Jackson, attorney of record for the Carpenter estate. Mister Jackson, this is Miz Alma Geddes. He is young James Carpenter's attorney to oversee the estate of his mother."

She looked over at the man who looked to be in his late thirties. She noted that he was a good looking man with sandy hair and brown eyes. He was dressed in a well made light brown suit. He was standing and leaning against the wall. He gave her a smile.

"What nonsense is this Robert? I was not informed that an attorney had been hired to oversee this. Surely we can't afford such an unnecessary expense. I am perfectly capable of handling everything. I have done it before, you know that."

"Alma, his law firm was apparently retained by Christine Carpenter to act on behalf of her son, in the case of something happening to her. He showed me her signed power of attorney."

"May I see the paper?"


She turned to Hal when he answered her question. He reached into his briefcase, which was sitting on a table next to him and pulled out a paper. He walked over to her and held it out to her. She barely restrained herself from snatching it from him. She saw that it was a copy of a form that gave him authority over the estate. She held it out to him, "This is merely a copy. For something as important as this, we should have the original; unless, of course, you don't have the original."

"Of course, my mistake, I handed you the copy, I meant to show you the original form. You can keep that copy for your records." He reached back into his briefcase and pulled out another paper. "Here is the form Miz Geddes. I'm sure you'll find everything is in order."

Alma scanned the form, looking for anything out of order that she could use to refute his authority. Hal stood nearby watching her with a faint friendly smile. He saw her grimace as she put it with the other papers in her hand and looked at him.

"Well, everything appears to be in order, I suppose."

Hal held his hand out to her. She looked down at his hand and then a look of feigned puzzlement, "Yes?"

"May I have the original form back please? I must have it for my records so that I may do what is necessary for James."

Alma frowned a little as she pulled it out from among the other papers in her hand and handed it back to Hal. He gave her a friendly smile as he took it and returned it to his case. He turned his attention to Robert and walked over to his desk.

"Thank you Mister Sunder for your assistance. Miz Geddes, I'll follow you back to your office."

"For what reason?"

"Why, to discuss the estate for Christine Carpenter, and how we can assist young James of course."

"I don't believe I have the time today, I'm very busy. I have a huge caseload. It would be best to call and make an appointment. I'm sure we can meet sometime in the next few weeks."

"Come now Alma. I'm sure you can spare a few minutes."

"I promise you, I only need a few minutes of your time. I ask you to please indulge me and then you can get back to your very important work."

Alma gave a small exasperated sigh.

"Very well, Mister Jackson, a few minutes only and then I must insist that if you need more time, you will schedule an appointment so that I can properly arrange my schedule to allow enough time to meet."

"Of course, Miz Geddes, thank you for your consideration."

Hal motioned with his hand for her to precede him as he grabbed his case. He smiled his thanks to Mister Sunder as he left, closing the door behind him. Alma did not wait for him as she marched back to her office and sat in her chair. She looked down her nose at him and did not offer him a seat. He sat down anyway.

"Remember, I only have a few moments and then I must insist you let me get on to my work."

Hal gave her a smile once again, only this time he did not allow it to reach his eyes as he pulled a file from his briefcase and quickly looked through it before pulling a small stapled packet of papers and handed them over to Alma. She did not reach out for it, so he placed on the desk in front of her.

"What is this?"

"It is a list of Christine Carpenter's property assets. I have not been informed of their whereabouts and need take an inventory of them. If you would kindly let me know where they are stored, I will take care of the other details. Also, I need to know what arrangements have been made for the sale of the house so that I can take care of that as well. I also need any papers and documents that CPS may have in their possession pertaining to Missus Carpenter's estate."

"Well, Mister Jackson. I'm sure you understand that it may take us some time to get all of this information together for you. I must ask that you give us the time to get it all together and we will call you when we have it for you."

She put on her best fake smile as she said that. He looked at her for a few moments before nodding his acceptance.

"Very well, Miz Geddes. I will await your call. Thank you for your time. I will let you get back to your very important work. It is good to know that such people like you are taking care of the welfare of those children who have been left in such dire straits at times. I will leave this copy of the list for you. Have a nice day." He stood up and grabbed his briefcase.

Alma watched him go. She got up and closed the door behind him before nearly stomping back to her desk. She snatched up the list from her desk and angrily flipped through the pages. She threw it back down on the desk and picked up her tea and sipped it as she tried to calm herself down. She thought about how she could delay turning the information over to this lawyer. The holiday season was coming soon, perhaps she could at least delay until after the New Year. She knew that if she gave him the location of where the household items were stored he may find some discrepancies.

Alma had a little side plan going where she would divert money from trust funds that were set up for those children who had been orphaned and the parents had property and assets that CPS had to manage. It didn't happen often, as the majority of the children she had to deal with came from poor families that had little or nothing to make it worth her while.

She had gone into the Carpenter house a couple of times to look around and take stock of what was in the house. Since there was no next of kin other than the brat, no one would notice her taking a few small items, such as jewelry, or other small items like that, and selling them or even keeping them for herself. She had helped herself several times during her career, when a child was orphaned and CPS had to make all the arrangements for disposal of the properties and assets owned by the parent or parents of the child for the purposes of putting the value in a trust fund for the child's use.

Over the years she had been able to siphon a fair amount of money off of the personal property of several such children whose parents died suddenly and the children had no next of kin to take them in. What was supposed to happen in those instances was that CPS would take care of all such money and property and it would be managed in a trust until the child was eighteen and out of the foster program, at which time it would be given to the child. Alma had found that the younger the child, the easier it would be to hide any money that was missing if they stayed in the foster program, rather than be adopted, because upon adoption the adoptive parents were supposed to be given information about what trust, if any, had been set up for the child.

Several years back she had befriended someone at a bank that she gave a portion of most of the money to, in exchange for helping her hide any irregularities that came up in the process of stealing the money. Any accounts that she thought could be stolen from were steered to that bank on her recommendation. There had been a very few times that she and her partner in crime had to cover their tracks, when a child that she never thought would be adopted because they had spent several years in the system and then suddenly they were adopted. It had been necessary to put some of the money back into the trust account that they had removed earlier. They never emptied the account of all of the money, but they did take a significant portion and Alma always neglected to mention to the child that they had such a trust fund until they were about to age out of the system, at which time they would be given the information about the trust and many were so glad to get any money, that they never questioned the amount. She had even been able to hide the sale of larger ticket items, like a house or car, and pocketed that money.

She had hoped to do something like that with the Carpenter brat, but since there was a lawyer in the picture now she would have to look at the list carefully and plan how she would cover the disappearance of some of the jewelry items if they were listed. Perhaps she could blame it on the moving company that had been hired to pack up and bring the items to the storage facility. She knew that those companies hired unskilled workers for the job. Such workers didn't even need a high school diploma to move furniture and such things? She smiled to herself as she realized that blaming the moving company would be the easiest way to cover her tracks for the jewelry that she had taken. Such low class people would be easy to paint as tempted by such things. She sat back and smiled as she contemplated about how much more she could blame on the moving company.

The money from the sale of the house was out of the question now and she realized that she would have to put the money from the insurance payment for the SUV back into the trust account. What she really was unhappy about was the investment portfolio that the brat's mother had and of course the life insurance. She had hoped to be able to raid both accounts and then put a portion into the trust account, but again the lawyer had put a stop on that happening now. It looked like all she was going to be able to get away with was only the jewelry and other small items that she had taken. Of course, if they were not on the lawyer's list, then she was home free. When she took such things, she usually just pawned them herself and did not involve her bank partner so that she got all the money. She believed that the 20% that she shared with her bank partner was more than sufficient for what little the partner had to do in her opinion.

Satisfied she had made proper plans to cover all the bases she finished her tea, put the list inside the Carpenter brat's file and set it to the side, to look at later at home that evening. She started reviewing the files of those appointments that she had to take care of today. She frowned as she saw that one of her cases had to appear in court that day on a drug charge, a typical low life ward of the state. He had been from a poor family and so she had not gotten anything out of him. She always enjoyed it when one of her better off cases ended up in trouble with the law, because she could usually divert nearly all the account and then pass off the loss of the rest of the account to fines and restitution to victims of their crimes. When she had been notified by the police about James, she nearly danced with glee, because she knew she could get a very large payout from his estate. She was extremely disappointed that the boy apparently was a potential victim, not a perpetrator of a crime.

A thought occurred to her. Maybe with a little nudging on her part, she could change that. One thing would be to get him removed from the Wood's home and into that more secure environment. Many of the boys at the facility she was thinking of were one step removed from being criminals themselves. Some had been in some minor trouble with the law. Others had been in foster homes but had caused problems and had to be removed to the group home. She knew that some had had some minor brushes with the law, so if she could get him transferred there, maybe with the right incentive to the right person she could get James involved with drugs or crime in some way. Then she might be able to head this lawyer off and at least get some more money out of the trust before handing everything over to him. It was worth thinking about. Now however, it was time to head to the courthouse to represent CPS at the teenager's trial. Maybe she could be rid of him and let the juvenile justice system take over. The boy was charged with possession with intent to sell, so with any luck he would be put away long enough that he would be over eighteen before he got out, which meant she could put his file away and not have to deal with him any longer. That prospect brightened her day a little. Her attitude was a, one for all and all for me, type of attitude. She picked up her purse and bag and left the office to head to the courthouse.

That evening in another part of town, several members of the Treces were hanging out at one of their member's houses. Sitting at the kitchen table was Victor Mendes with his shirt off. Across from him was his little brother Enrique who looked anxiously at his older brother. An older man was sitting next to Victor and was working on the wound in his arm that he had gotten during their attempted drive by the other day.

He knew that they had not been successful, because Leo had seen the kid still moving after Javier had shot at him. When they got to the place, Victor had kicked the shit out of Javier for getting him shot. It had taken them some time to find someone to fix Victor up. The guy they found had been a medic in Vietnam and because of post-traumatic stress he had never gotten over what he had seen. When he was sober the Treces used his skills to take care of gunshot wounds since he had experience treating such things. They paid him for his skills and his silence. The only problem was usually when they needed him, he was not sober, he was either high or drunk or both. So they had to wait until he was sober again to fix Victor's arm.

Victor had a bottle Jack Daniels that he had been drinking since before the Doc started working on him. It was about half empty. The medic had used some local anesthetic, to numb some of the pain, but Victor was definitely feeling it. At that moment the medic was probing the wound with some forceps trying to grab the small bullet that was embedded in his upper arm. Luckily it had not hit bone, and it had nearly gone all the way through, so the man had only needed to make a small incision on the inside of his arm opposite the entry point. A few moments later he was successful.

"Got the little bastard."

He pulled the forceps out and in them was a small .22 caliber bullet. He dropped it in the bowl on the table and picked up the suture he had ready. He started stitching the wound closed without causing very much pain to Victor because the local anesthetic was stronger at the surface of the wound than it was deeper inside. It only took him a short time and he was done stitching and he cleaned around the wound and covered it with Neosporin before bandaging it. Victor had a slight fever due to a minor infection because the wound had been left untreated for a few days.

"Okay that should do it. You need to be cautious about that infection since the bullet was left in there for a couple of days. It would be a good idea to take some antibiotics to make sure that you can beat the infection back. If you can't get any antibiotics, keep an eye on the wound. If you see any increased redness you better get a hold of an antibiotic of some kind to kill the infection, otherwise you will need to go to the hospital or you will die of it."

"Gracias, amigo."

Victor nodded to one of the other guys there and he brought over a small roll of money, a bag of meth and handed it to the medic. Victor could see the hunger in the man's eyes when he saw the bag of meth.

The man smiled at Victor, "Thanks. As always, it's a pleasure doing business with you."

"Hey amigo, finish this off too." Victor took one last gulp before putting the cap back on and holding out the bottle of Jack Daniels. The man accepted it with a smile and left.

"Victor, are you going to be okay?"

Victor looked over at Enrique and grinned.

"Si Carnal. I'll be fine. The doc has fixed me up."

Victor picked up the small bloodstained bullet from the bowl on the table and studied it.

"Once I'm healed, then I'm going to find the little bendejo who shot me, and this time I'll be the one pulling the trigger. I won't be depending on a boy to do a man's job."

"Let me help Vic. I want to help you get this payaso."

Victor looked at his little brother. He was fourteen, but he looked a little older. He was big for his age anyway.

"Maybe so Ricky. I'll think about it. Maybe that will be your Christmas present little homie. We'll let you get jumped in and then you and I can hunt down that bendejo together and take him out."

"Yeah Vic, cool."

The two brothers clasped hands and then bumped fists.

The weather was good for that last week and a half before the Christmas break and Jamie was able to meet up with Josh, Dylan and Ethan to ride to school. He hated having to ride the bus, because then he had less time to spend with Josh. The two of them were getting comfortable with Dylan knowing about them, now they had to keep it hidden still from Ethan, since he didn't know.

They had just left Dylan's house on Friday after making plans to go see a movie or something the next day. They were on break now and were looking forward to a couple of weeks of hanging out. After saying goodbye to Dylan, they headed to Josh's condo. They put their bikes in the little porch area and locked them before going inside. They went to Josh's bedroom and dropped on the bed. They cuddled together.

"It's too bad the college is closed too. Otherwise we could hang out here because your dad would be there with his classes."

"Yeah, that would've been cool, but since your dad will be here, we can't do that."

"Well, we might as well take advantage of what we have right now, at least for a little while."

Jamie didn't say anything more, he just leaned in and gave Josh a kiss, that was returned with gusto by Josh. The two were soon doing some serious spit swapping. Their hands roamed everywhere on each other's bodies. Hands slipped under their shirts and rubbed chests and backs. They rolled around a little taking turns being on top of each other. When they came up for air, both had huge grins on their faces. Jamie leaned back in for more, but Josh stopped him as he looked at the clock on his bedside table.

"My dad might be home soon."

Jamie glanced at the clock and groaned a little. "I guess I should be heading home. At least in the movie theatre tomorrow we might be able to hold hands if it's dark enough."

"I'll walk you out."

They stood up and straightened their clothes. They also had to make some other adjustments, so their pants didn't feel so tight, but things started calming down as they made their way to the living room. Before he let Jamie leave, Josh grabbed him and pulled him back from the door and into a hug. They were about to kiss when they heard someone start to open the door. They jumped apart and looked at the door just as Josh's dad, Derrick, opened the door and then turned back to pick up a letter that he had dropped from small stack that he had in his hand. He didn't appear to have seen the boys hugging. Both of them were trying to hide their red faces at nearly getting caught by Josh's dad.

"Uh, hi…hi Dad."

"Afternoon Joshua."

Derrick looked up absently when he spoke, barely acknowledging Josh and saying nothing he then put his briefcase down and started looking through the mail as he walked by the boys and into the kitchen, where he grabbed a beer from the fridge. Josh ushered Jamie outside and closed the door behind him. Jamie started to unlock his bike.

"Whew, that was close. I don't think he saw us."

"Do you think he'd freak if he did?"

"I don't know. We never talked about anything like that. I haven't heard him say anything bad about gays, but maybe because he doesn't know he has a gay son. I just don't know, he's changed a little since Mom died. He's a little distant sometimes. That's why we moved here to this condo because he said there were too many memories of my Mom in the house we use to have and besides he said he didn't have time to be taking care of a yard and all that. Here we have a nice enough place and no yard to have to maintain. So I don't really know what he would do or say if he found out I was gay."

"Well I'm certainly not telling him. I'm not planning on saying anything at my house either. Maggie and Tom might be okay with it, but I don't know. I especially don't want that witch who's my caseworker to know. I'm sure she'd become even meaner than she already is. The last time I saw her she practically threatened me. She said she was going to take my personal stuff from my old house that my Mom had gotten for me away and had been brought over to the foster's house. Maggie said she would do what she could to prevent it."

"That sucks bud. Well I better get back inside. I wish I could give you the kind of goodbye I'd really like to, but we can't. Anyway, see you tomorrow."

"Yeah, tomorrow."

They bumped fists and Jamie left the complex. When he got home Maggie called to him.

"Hi Jamie, I have some good news. Miz Geddes will not be taking any of your things. I guess she didn't know that everything had been properly authorized. Remember I told you about that nice man who had your things delivered here, Mister Jackson? Well he called me today to let me know that everything was taken care of. So you won't have to worry about it."

"Cool. Thanks for taking care of that Maggie."

"You should thank Mister Jackson, all I did was make a call."

"Well if you talk to him again, could you tell him thanks?"

"I will surely do that."

Jamie gave her a quick hug in thanks as well. He went to his room to put his backpack away and change out of his school clothes.

Across town Sean and Dakota were hanging out in Sean's room. Sean was sitting at his desk in front of the computer. Dakota was lying on the bed, looking up at the ceiling. Sean was checking email and Facebook for a little while before he noticed Dakota hadn't said anything for a little while. He stopped what he was doing and looked at the larger boy. Dakota's eyes were closed and he seemed to be asleep. Sean turned around in his chair, crossed his arms across the back of it and rested his chin on his arms as he gazed at the boy. Dakota's long hair was fanned out on the pillow in a halo. Sean thought about how he could just look at Dakota all day long. His eyes traveled down Dakota's body. He used his imagination to remember the many times he had seen Dakota undressing. He so wanted to go over there and lie on top of him and feel those muscles and then lean closer and kiss him. His eyes became focused on Dakota's pelvis and what he knew was underneath all that cloth. He wanted to…

"You should take a picture."

Sean's head whipped towards Dakota's face and saw his eyes looking his way. He felt his face heat up and he quickly turned around and began typing something on the computer. He was silently cursing to himself as he ended up on some web page about home improvement or something. His heart was pounding so hard and there was almost a roaring in his ears, so much so that he didn't notice the sound of Dakota getting up from the bed. He sensed Dakota come up behind him and he hunched in, waiting for…he didn't know what. Tears filled his eyes and his chin started to tremble a little as he tried not to cry. He was going to lose his best friend. It was going to go back to the days when everybody and their brother ran into him or shoved him into lockers between classes. He flinched when he felt Dakota's hands clench his shoulders tightly and pull him up. As he stood up, his fingers were air typing like he was still on the computer as Dakota dragged him away from the computer. He wanted to pull away, but Dakota's grip was too strong and he figured he may as well get this over with. Hopefully Dakota wouldn't hit him too many times. He closed his eyes and tried to raise his hands in front of him. The tears in his eyes overflowed and dripped down his face.

"I…I'm sorry, Dakota…I…did…didn't mean it, please don't…I'll stay away…I'll ask to switch classes…just please don't hate me…I swear…I'll stay away from you."

He felt the strong hands pull him closer, probably to make sure he didn't miss when he hit Sean. Sean's eyes were screwed tightly shut as the arms drew him in. He felt a hand at his neck and then the thumb of the hand pushed his chin up. Oh god no, he was going to choke me. He started to pull away but he stopped as something feather light touched first one cheek and then the other. Then he felt silky strands brushing his ears lightly and that hand at his neck moved up to his cheek followed by another hand touching his other cheek. He felt two thumbs brushing away the tears on his cheeks. His face slowly relaxed and then he slowly and cautiously opened his eyes and found that he was looking up at the taller boy, who had both hands on either side of his head. His fingers were running lightly around his ears and the hair on either side of his head.

"Shh, Sean. Everything is okay."

Sean couldn't help himself and he grabbed Dakota in a near a bone crushing hug as his slighter body could do. He buried his face into Dakota's shoulder. Dakota's hand came up to the back of his head and slowly stroked his hair and kissed the top of his head, as the smaller boy let his tears of relief fall, soaking Dakota's shoulder. Sean finally got control of himself and pulled his head back to look up at Dakota and was immediately met by Dakota's lips touching lightly on his. When Dakota started to pull back, Sean reached up and buried his hands in Dakota's long hair at the back of his neck and pulled Dakota's head back down to keep their lips pressed together to prolong the kiss. He felt the feather touch of Dakota's tongue against his lips and he parted them, his own tongue reaching out to meet Dakota's.

The two boys stood there lost in their kiss, hardly breathing until lack of oxygen caused them to pull back and catch their breath. They only pulled back enough to look at each other. Sean saw that Dakota's eyes looked a little misty too. They both grinned and then Sean let out a whoop of joy as his grin threatened to split his face in half. Dakota joined him in laughter and then pulled Sean back snugly into his arms. The smaller boy turned his head and laid it against Dakota's shoulder as he melted into him. Dakota gently swayed with Sean in his arms, rocking him a little as they stood together. Both of the boy's eyes were closed as they held each other. The mood was suddenly broken as Sean gave a big yawn, which inevitably caused Dakota to yawn too.

"Sorry, I'm boring you."

"Wha...oh shit…uh…I'm…I mean you're not…I mean…sorry."

Sean started to pull back but Dakota tightened his arms and wouldn't let go.

"I was teasing."


Sean just continued to hold on as Dakota's hands stroked up and down his back. He was almost purring when they heard a noise downstairs. They quickly separated and blushed as they realized they needed to makes some adjustments. They both turned away embarrassed as they adjusted each other. They calmed down a little and then wiped their faces to hide all traces of any tears. They smiled at each other as they left the room and walked downstairs. They saw Sean's parents standing by the kitchen table looking through the mail.

"Hi Mom and Dad. When did you, uh, get home?"

His dad glanced at the two boys and smiled before turning his attention back to the mail. "A few minutes ago, why?"

"Oh, uh nothing, just wondering. Hey Dakota, you want to play a video game before you have to go?"

"Uh, sure, I guess."


He looked at Sean's mom who had called him.


"You can stay for dinner if you want."

"Um…" He looked outside and saw that it was getting darker, so he shook his head, "Thanks Missus McClendon, but it's getting darker out there and I guess I should be getting home."

He turned back to Sean and saw the disappointment on his face. He gave him an apologetic shrug before turning back to Sean's parents. "Thank you for asking, but I guess I should be going. I really appreciate it."

"Okay, if you're sure."

He nodded and picked up his backpack as they headed to the garage to get his bike. They closed the inner door and Dakota stopped Sean's hand from pushing the button that would open the garage door. He entwined their fingers and pulled Sean to him, his other hand going to Sean's neck as he brought him close for a quick kiss. Sean returned it and then hugged him as well before reluctantly pulling away and pushing the button. Dakota saw a look on Sean's face, like something occurred to him.

Sean held up his hand, "Wait a minute, Dakota." He turned and went back into the house, returning a few moments later. "Why don't you sleep over tomorrow night? My parents said it was okay?"

"That sounds cool. I'll talk to mine when I get home and call you."


Sean started to move in for another hug, but stopped himself when he realized that the garage door was wide open, so he extended his fist instead. Dakota grinned and they bumped fists. With a smile, Dakota grabbed his bike and quickly pushed it outside and hopped on. He gave a final wave before he headed home. Sean walked out to the driveway and watched Dakota pedaling away into the sunset until he was out of sight before going back into the garage. When he turned around he saw his dad throwing some newspaper in the recycling bin. He thought he saw a grin on his dad's face as his dad turned around and went inside the house. Sean went back inside the garage and pushed the button to close the door. He kept his head down as he walked by his parents and up the stairs to his room. He plopped down in front of his computer and wondered if he had really seen a smile on his dad's face. He also wondered how long they had been home and if they had come upstairs while he and Dakota were up there. They hadn't said anything, but he sensed something from his parents, he just wasn't sure what it was. Later that evening Sean got a call from Dakota telling him that his parents said it was okay for him to spend the night.

The next afternoon, Dakota rode up the driveway to Sean's house wearing his backpack with some clothes and things inside it. Just as he dropped his bike in the front yard the garage door opened and Sean came out with a big smile on his face. Dakota gave Sean an answering smile.

"C'mon, bring your bike inside the garage."

Dakota picked it back up and followed Sean in the garage. As soon as he was inside, Sean closed the garage door and walked over to Dakota. Before the door was even closed Sean came up to him and hugged him tightly, resting his head against Dakota's shoulder.

After a few moments he pulled back, "Uh, I guess we better go inside. I'm sure my parents heard the door close and they might be wondering where we are or what we're doing."

"Yeah, I suppose so."

Sean led the way and they went into the house. As they made their way upstairs to Sean's room, his parents greeted him.

"Hi Dakota."

"Hi Mister and Missus McClendon, thanks for letting me stay over tonight."

"We're glad to have you. You boys enjoy yourselves. We'll have dinner at six."

"Okay Mom. C'mon Dakota, do you want to play a video game?"

The boys continued upstairs to Sean's room. He pushed the door close behind them and hugged Dakota before he even got his backpack off.

"Sean, let me at least get my backpack and jacket off."

Sean started giggling and reluctantly let go. Dakota stepped back and shrugged his backpack off and dropped it next to Sean's dresser. He put his jacket on the back of the desk chair and turned his attention back to Sean. They came together and Sean reached up to put his hands in Dakota's hair. He let the strands flow through his fingers.

"God I've wanted to do that for so long."

"Well you can do that whenever you want. Well, maybe not whenever you want. It might look kinda strange in public, so maybe not there, but whenever we're alone, that would be okay."

"I guess I can live with that."

They smiled at each other before Dakota bent down and gave Sean a kiss which they held for a little bit before they pulled back and just looked at each other. They separated and Sean got the controllers out to play the game. As they played it was apparent that Sean was the better player by a long shot. Dakota didn't really play video games very much. They were playing Halo and Dakota hadn't played that version before. They bantered back and forth as they played. They were playing it split screen and Dakota kept getting killed while Sean much more easily as he fought off the aliens.

"Damn, how do you keep from getting killed, Sean? It seems like I barely get going and then…Blam!...dead again. I think this controller is jinxed."

"Yeah, right. Okay, here take this one and I'll use that one. Then I'll prove that you just suck."

"Fine, but remember, I haven't played this game, so give me a break."

They exchanged controllers and Dakota held the one that Sean had been using in his hands for a few moments. He closed his eyes and when he opened them a few moments later, something felt different to him. The controller felt comfortable in his hands. Sean started the game and they were off. As they worked through the game, something was different. It was like Dakota finally got it. He was playing just as well as Sean. It was as if someone else was playing.

Sean stopped the game and turned to Dakota. "How'd you do that? A minute ago, you could barely play and now it's like you were a play tester for the game. I don't understand it."

Sean looked from Dakota's face to the controller and back to his face.

Dakota merely shrugged, "I don't know, it just felt right this time. It was easy. Maybe your controller is just the better one."

"I doubt it. That's just the one I use most of the time, but it shouldn't be any different than this one."

They played some more and again Dakota was still playing well. They were playing when his dad knocked on the door. When Sean opened the door, his dad was there looking behind him where he saw Dakota sitting on the end of the bed with the controller in his hand.

"Hey guys, dinners ready."

"Oh, uh, thanks Dad."

The boys turned off the game and put the controllers away. They went downstairs for dinner. It was pork chops, green beans and applesauce. The boys helped clean up after dinner and went up to Sean's room to play some more games. This time they chose a driving game to play. With this game, Dakota was better than he had been with Halo, but still Sean beat him every time, sometimes even lapping him. At the end of one of the races, Dakota was ready to stop, but Sean gave him a speculative look.

"Let's do one more. You use this controller and I'll use that one."

"Okay, I guess."

They traded controllers and Dakota handled the controller for a few moments and again he closed his eyes. This time however, Sean was watching him.

"Why did you do that, Dakota?"

"Hm, do what?"

"You closed your eyes for a few moments."

"I did, are you sure?"

"Yeah, you were holding the controller and then you closed your eyes for a few moments."

"Oh, uh, I don't know. Well, let's play then."

Sean started the game and they began racing. Sean got a good start and was leading the race, then suddenly Dakota's car went zooming past and jumped in front. With each lap, he continued to extend his lead and by the end of the race he was way ahead.

Sean stopped the game and looked at Dakota with curiosity. "So, how did you do that?"

"I don't know. It just seemed…"

"Right. Yeah, I get it, but how did it seem right? I mean, when we first started playing the game, you basically stunk, and then the only thing we did that was different was, we exchanged controllers. When you used that one, you were better."

"Dunno. Maybe we've been playing enough that I finally got the moves down I guess. Let's watch TV now. I'm tired of playing games for now."


They quickly put the game away and Sean turned on the cable. They searched through the online channel guide until they found a movie to watch. They settled back against the headboard and pillows to watch with the overhead light off and just the bedside table light on. As they watched, they started getting sleepy and soon they were leaning against each other and had fallen asleep. Sean was curled up against Dakota and his head was resting on Dakota's chest, one arm was across his stomach. Dakota had one arm around Sean's shoulders and one hand was resting on Sean's arm where it lay across his stomach.

Sean's parents found them like that when they went up to bed. They heard the TV still on and knew that it was a bit late. The door was slightly ajar so Sean's mom pushed it open. "Boys, it's kind of late…" She saw them and backed out quickly. She went to her room and grabbed the camera.

Cory saw her with the camera, "What…"


She motioned for him to follow her and carefully crept back to the Sean's room. She eased the door open and they looked in. She looked over at Cory and they both smiled. She raised the camera and took a picture. When the flash went off, the boys started to stir. They backed out of the room and went back to their room downstairs.

"I guess you're right Cory, you did see them kissing in the garage yesterday. I guess that means they're a couple. Well, at least as much of a couple as they can be. I mean they are only thirteen."

"Maybe. Do you think we should talk to them?"

"I don't know, but maybe, just in case, you know, I mean it could be just experimenting, that's common with boy's their age."

"Do you think they are doing anything else?"

"I don't know."

They could hear the boys stirring in the other room. Cory and Teresa decided to 'go upstairs' to say goodnight to the boys before they went to bed. They went to Sean's room and knocked on the doorjamb of the partially opened door before opening it. Sean was pulling the covers back on the queen size bed and arranging the pillows. He looked up at their knock.

"You boys getting ready to go to bed?"

"Yeah, uh, we were both getting kinda tired, and noticed it was late. Dakota's in the bathroom brushing his teeth."

"Okay, good night then."

They started to head to their room when his mom looked over her shoulder at Sean.

"I like him. He's a nice boy. Is he an Indian?"

"He's half."

"Oh, well I like him."

"Yeah, me too. Thanks Mom, goodnight."

"Night Honey."

She turned and he saw that she had her camera in her hand. Sean was about to ask her why she had it, but he wasn't sure that he wanted to know. His face got flushed. Had she seen him and Dakota and even worse had she taken a picture? Oh, man what if she did. Did she tell Dad too? If she did see them, she didn't say anything. But would she? He didn't know what to think.

About that time Dakota came back in the room. Sean took his turn and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he returned to the room Dakota was sitting on the bed, wearing a t-shirt and some gym shorts. Sean realized that they hadn't talked about what they would wear to bed, normally he wore just his briefs and sometimes a t-shirt, but he thought Dakota had the right idea. He went to his dresser to get a pair of gym shorts to put on. He took his pants off and pulled the shorts up. Dakota was leaning back against the headboard and was watching Sean change. When Sean turned around he saw how Dakota was smiling at him and he blushed. He closed the bedroom door all the way and he slipped into the bed on the other side. He turned off the light and scooted down in the bed before turning on his side to face Dakota. He forgot about his mom and the camera as they both smiled at each other and scooted closer. Dakota leaned forward and kissed Sean. They reached for each other and pulled each other close until they were touching from head to toe, their legs intertwined. Sean's hands went to Dakota's hair and ran through its silky softness. They pulled back.

"Dakota, do you feel a little warm?"

Dakota nodded.

"Yeah, I usually only wear my underwear to bed, but I didn't want to do anything to freak you out or anything."

"Cool, me too."

Sean immediately put action to words and sat up in bed to remove his t-shirt and tossed it on the floor. He then scooted back down and lifted his hips up to remove his shorts. He threw them on the floor as well. He grinned at Dakota who had watched him. Dakota grinned back and stripped off his t-shirt and did the same thing to strip off his shorts too. He turned on his side and they scooted close together once again. As they started to bring their bodies close together again. Dakota suddenly pulled back and looked at Sean in shock.

"You're still wearing your underwear. I thought…oh shit, I'm sorry, I…."

Sean didn't say anything, he just squirmed around a little under the covers and soon a pair of white briefs went sailing out from under the covers and landed on the floor.

"Now where were we?"

Dakota smiled and moved closer to Sean. The two boys held each other close and for the next half hour they explored each other's bodies, getting to know every part that they could. When they came down from the high, Sean was lying on top of Dakota as they both caught their breath. He listened to Dakota's heartbeat. It was a sound that he was really starting to love.

"Wow, that was…wow!"

"Yeah. I think we need to clean up a little."

Sean agreed and got off of Dakota and grabbed up his t shirt to clean both of them up. Once all evidence of what they had done was cleaned up, Sean snuggled back up against Dakota and they were soon both asleep.

Sean woke up to something feather soft touching his lips. His mouth became a small grin as he realized what it was and opened his eyes to find himself looking up into Dakota's warm brown eyes.

"Morning Sean."

"Morning Dakota. What a great morning."

"Yeah it is."

Dakota got up from the bed, still naked. Sean watched him as he picked his boxer briefs off of the floor and put them on. Dakota smiled at him.

"Gotta pee. Don't move 'til I get back, promise?"

"But why?"

"I'll tell you when I get back."


Dakota put his jeans on and left the room to go to the bathroom. He was back in a few minutes to find Sean still lying in bed waiting. Dakota smiled and sat down on the bed to give Sean a quick kiss.

"Okay, you can get dressed now."


"Well you got to see me get up and put my pants on. I want to see you do the same."

Sean blushed, but he scooted to the side of the bed and made a show of covering himself with the covers as he stood up at the side of the bed. Then he slowly lowered the covers until it was down to his thighs and then he dropped them and turned around to pick up his briefs that were on the floor and slip them on. He faced away and slowly pulled them up while he looked over his shoulder at Dakota. Once he had them on, he put his gym shorts on as well and went to the bathroom to clean up. At the door he turned back and blew Dakota a kiss.

"Morning son."

Sean froze and turned around to see his dad smiling at him from the doorway of his room. His eyes opened wide.

"Uh, yeah, uh, morning Dad."

He nearly ran to the bathroom and shut the door. Inside he leaned against the door and held his hand to his wildly beating heart. Had his dad seen him blow Dakota a kiss? He hoped not. He shook his head and finished his business in there. He peeked out the door to see if his dad was still out there. When he saw that he wasn't there, Sean hurried to his bedroom and shut the door. Dakota had finished getting dressed and was putting his stuff in his backpack. Sean quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt and they both headed downstairs for breakfast. His dad was sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading the paper. He looked over the top of his newspaper as they came downstairs and Sean saw something in his dad's eye. It looked like a twinkle of amusement. That started to worry him.

"Morning boys, we're having bacon and eggs. Come and help me get the things on the table."

"Kay Mom."

"Sure Missus McClendon."

"Look Dakota, call me Terry."

"Yes, ma'am, I mean Terry."

"Better. Now you boys sit down and eat. I've made plenty. I'm sure there'll be enough to fill even the hollow legs of two boys."

The breakfast was filling and boys helped clean up. They went back to Sean's room to straighten it up before they headed out for the day. Cory and Terry watched them go.

"Well they are a cute couple. Cory, I think you'll need to talk to Sean about safe sex."

"Yep, after his little striptease there, I guess I should. I think I'll remind him to close his door all the way too."

"He was so cute though."

They shared a laugh.

It was a short ride for the two boys for them to get to Dakota's home. They just dropped their bikes on the front yard and ran in. His parents were sitting at the table reading the paper.

"Morning Mom. Morning Dad."

They looked up at the boys as Dakota and Sean went by on the way to his room to drop off his backpack. His father Ben's eyebrow lifted up as they went by. Without thinking Dakota had taken Sean's hand in his and was pulling him to his room. He looked over at Julie.

"Did you see that?"

"See what?"

"Our son and his boyfriend."


"Yep, unless I'm mistaken. You just watch those two, you'll see."

The two boys came back from Dakota's room.

"We're going to go to the mall and maybe see a movie."

"Have fun boys. See you later."

Once they had left, Judy shook her head.

"I didn't see anything."

"Well, just wait. The next time Sean is over here, watch the two of them together. You'll see it."

"Are you sure?"

Ben folded his arms and had a stern look on his face. "Yes, Injun have strong medicine, can see in young brave's heart. Me know much, see much, you watch, you see. Then maybe squaw see much too."

Judy laughed, "Maybe Injun need makem more medicine. Squaw needum much more, if she wish to swallow, big chief's bull."

She held out her cup and Ben took it for a refill.

The boys walked around the mall, which was kind of a madhouse since it was just a couple of days before Christmas and it was packed. They looked in some of the stores and finally went to the nearby Regal Cinema. They found a movie that they wanted to watch and had a good time. They wanted to hold hands, but the theater was pretty packed. Afterwards that stopped at the food court for lunch before heading home. They paused at the turn off towards Sean's home and bumped fists before heading their separate ways.

At home that evening Sean was in his room on the computer when he remembered what Dakota had done the night before with the controllers. He turned to the computer and went on Google. He sat there and thought about what to put in. He closed his eyes for a moment to concentrate, much like he'd done when he had hacked into those secret military files for March Air Force Base before he started typing.

He found a site that had a list of different psychic abilities. He read through the list. In the list he found something called Psychometry or Object Reading. It didn't lead him anywhere really until he stumbled across a reference of a form of Psychometry as it was defined in a Science Fiction book. It talked about how someone with this could hold an object and be able to absorb the abilities of someone who had used it and make use of those abilities as if they were his own. It sounded farfetched but he remembered how Dakota's skills got better after he used the controller that Sean normally used when he played his video games. He suddenly got to be at least as good as Sean, when before Sean had no problem beating him. Then he remembered the skate park. How Dakota had picked up that kid's skateboard and when he got out there and started skating, it was like he was at least as good as the kid had been and he said that he had hardly ever skated before. Sean remembered Dakota's comment then, was similar to what he had said last night, 'It felt right', like suddenly he knew what to do. If Dakota could do that, wow, that was big. Sean tried to figure out if there was a way for him to get Dakota to try this ability out. It might have just been luck, but it had happened more than once.

"Sean, do you have a minute?"

He turned around and saw his dad in the doorway. He nodded and turned his chair around, "Sure Dad, what's up?"

His dad came and sat on the bed. Sean waited and then he got nervous when he noticed that his dad looked a little nervous as well.

"What is it Dad? Is Mom okay?"

His dad smiled and nodded, "Yeah, she's okay. Well, uh, here it is. I know we, uh, had the 'talk', but I think we need to talk about something else."

In his mind, Sean was starting to panic as he thought about what this might be about. He remembered that he thought his dad might have seen them kiss the other day in the garage. Then there was that weird vibe he had been getting from them that evening, like they had some kind of secret. Then there was his mom with the camera in her hand last night and this morning when he went to the bathroom, his dad was conveniently waiting just outside his…oh my god, his partly open door. The panic started to be full blown. His dad had seen him get out of bed naked. They'd forbid him from seeing Dakota. Maybe they'd send him to one of those places that said that they could make gay kids straight. Oh, no, he was screwed now.

Cory saw the change in his son's face as Sean stared off. He could see the wheels were turning wildly and it was leading Sean the wrong way. He quickly got up and hugged Sean and got him to get up from the chair and guided him to sit beside him on the bed.

"Calm down son.'

He heard the muffled voice from his chest, "What are you going to do to me?"

Cory gently pulled him back a little, "Do to you? Nothing, I just wanted to talk to you about your friend Dakota."

"But, he's my best…"

"Hush and listen to me."

Sean quit talking as Cory laid his hand gently on Sean's mouth.

"Okay. We know what's going on. I saw you guys in the garage on Friday, you had just finished kissing, but I did see it. Also, we found you guys cuddled up last night when we came upstairs for bed. You looked so cute, that your mom had to have a picture."


Sean buried his face in his dad's chest as his cheeks turned almost as red as Ian's hair. He could feel the heat rush to his face.

"And you really should close your door all the way if you're going to dance naked for your boyfriend."

Sean moaned in complete embarrassment.

"You're mom and I think that I should talk to you about safe sex, so that's why I came in here tonight."

"Oh, no, Dad. I really don't want to talk about that."

"Well, we want to be sure you boys are being careful."

"Dad, we're not really doing anything like that and I don't think we will for some time. Neither of us is ready for anything like that. Man, I can't believe we're talking about this."

"I want to make sure you guys know about condoms…"

"Jeesh, Dad, we know okay. Please can we not talk about this? It's really embarrassing, especially that you guys know."

Cory looked at his son in sympathy, "Okay, I guess you do know about saf…all that. Just remember if you have any questions, your mother and I would be happy to answer them."

"Okay, okay, I know.'

"Good, I just want to be sure you know."

Sean nodded his head. His dad gave him another hug and then got up to leave, but Sean asked him a question and he paused at the doorway.

"You're not mad at me are you? You or Mom?"

"No, never, you're our son and we love you no matter what. Even if you were an axe murderer we'd love you. We wouldn't like it if you were, but we'd still love you. So leave the axes to the lumber jacks."

"So you don't mind that I'm gay. Well, Dakota and I are gay?"

Cory shook his head, "Are you sure you're gay and this isn't two guys experimenting? A lot of boys your age do that."

"No, Dakota makes me feel special. No girl ever made me feel like he does."

"Okay, as long as you both agree to what you're doing and I'd hold off on the big stuff, for awhile at least."

"This big…oh, uh, yeah. I don't think that will be a problem. We've barely done much more than hug and kiss."

"Fair enough, then no, I don't think we mind that you guys are gay. We'll worry though about you two, you need to remember to be careful about who else finds out. If you ever have any trouble let us know, and we'll help you, got it? Do Dakota's parents know?"

"Got it. Thanks Dad. No, I don't think they know yet."

"You're welcome Son. Well, if there is a problem with it, we'll do what we can to help Dakota out as well."

Cory left the room and Sean was going to log out and turn off the computer but he remembered what he had been researching. He wondered if he should ask this Hlander guy about this object reading, about if he had ever heard about it. He wasn't sure he should though since he really didn't know much about him, so he decided to think about it. He logged off and decided to go to bed and maybe watch a little TV. He watched for a little while as he tried to think about how he and Dakota could try to test this thing that Dakota could do and see if it was real. Maybe some more research was in order first. He wondered, also, if Dakota could do that kind of object reading that they talked about where a psychic helps the police solve a crime by holding something that belonged to the person. After a while, he turned off the TV, turned on his side and he imagined that he could smell Dakota's scent on the pillow he had used last night. Sean hugged it to him and smiled as he drifted off to sleep.

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