On a Saturday, two weeks after the ski trip, Luke was with the boys and they were gathered in the backyard of Trevor's house. With them were Jake and Tom. Everyone was dressed in t-shirts and shorts. The boys were sitting on the grass looking at the two men who stood before them, giving them their full attention. Sandy was sitting on the patio, drinking a soda as she watched.
"Boys, as you know, we have agreed to teach you self defense. Now, with that in mind, I never want to hear of you using this to attack or bully other kids. We hear of anything like that happening and you're done with the classes. We will not teach you and there will be dire punishments. We are teaching this for self defense. That means you are to use it to only defend yourself if attacked by someone, preferably bigger than you. If someone is smaller, do what you can to defuse the situation. This also goes if you see someone in danger; we will understand if you are using what we teach you to defend them as well. Is that understood?"
"Good. I know you guys, so I would be eternally shocked if you ever did anything like being a bully or anything like that. You are all good kids and I know that I don't have anything to worry about concerning that, but I wanted you to understand how important it is that you only use what we will teach you for your protection. Now we are going to start with some breathing and stretching exercises to get you loosened up. After that we will do some PT, that's physical training."
"He means us old guys have to get loosened up."
"Thanks, 'Old' buddy. Okay, stand up and follow what I do."
The boys stood up and started to follow Jake and Tom in the exercises. They did several different stretches, trying to loosen up their muscles. He had them do breathing exercises while doing this, as they loosened up. After about ten minutes, he got them up and they did some physical exercises, jumping jacks, push ups, etc... After ten minutes they stopped the exercises and got the boys lined up.
"Good job. Now we will work on your stance. Stand so that your side is mostly facing to the front and you bring your hands up to protect your face, like this."
Jake demonstrated. After everyone got into position, Jake and Tom, checked everyone, they made adjustments here and there, until they were satisfied.
"Now the reason for this is that it helps with your balance. Tom, stand facing forward."
Tom got in position and Jake did a short charge toward him and pushed him to the ground. Tom rolled and got back up.
"If you have the proper stance, that won't happen as easy. Tom, get in the correct stance."
Tom adjusted to a good martial arts stance. Jake charged again and this time he could not easily knock him over.
"See, your back foot behind you acts as a support for the rest of your body. However, you have to be aware of what's going on around you. Someone could come from the side or back, so you have to work on your 'situational awareness', as we called it in the SEALS. Be aware of what is around you. Now from here you can more easily block an attack and deliver an attack by fist or foot or other parts of your body. Tom and I will demonstrate a few of the things now. Tom?"
Tom nodded and they faced and bowed to each other. They got into their stances and moved toward each other. Tom moved forward with a punch, which Jake blocked and moved to the side. Jake attacked with a kick and Tom used a different block. They continued mixing up different attacks with various blocks. Finally Jake called a halt.
"As you can see, if you know how to block well, that will help protect you. Okay, now follow us; we are going to show you some blocks. You will have to imagine having an opponent in front of you. All right, let's begin."
For the next twenty minutes they worked on doing a couple of different blocking techniques. Jake and Tom moved among the boys as they gave instruction and advice on how to do the moves correctly. Jake went back up to the front.
"Good job again. You guys are getting it. Now we are going to work on a punch move. You get in your stance and using your back arm, step forward and drive the punch. Rotate your arm like this as you step and punch. Okay, now with me, punch!"
They again followed the adults' movements for a few minutes, and then the adults moved among them, correcting where necessary. They called a halt, and gathered everyone together.
"Okay, great job, everyone. Have a seat. The plan will be to do this at least once a week if possible. Usually on Saturday if we can. I know that pretty soon, you guys are going to get into Little League, so that will get in the way of Saturdays, but we will try another day, okay?"
"Now one final thing to tell you. What we are teaching you is the last resort. Always try to get away from the problem first. Don't use this as your first move. If you feel threatened or bullied, try to get away as much as possible. We understand that is not always possible, but most of the time do your best to try to just walk away. If you truly have to use it, we will back any of you all the way. I already told you what happens if you" (Darth Vader voice) "'Go to the Dark Side, Luke'."
All the boys laughed and the adults joined them.
"Okay, that's the end of the first lesson. We'll keep you informed for the next lesson, probably next Saturday."
"Thanks, Uncle Jake."
"Yeah, thanks, Jake."
"Glad to help, boys. Now, why don't we take a short run?"
"Across the street and get in the spa."
"Uh... Mr. MacLaren, I didn't bring anything to wear in the spa."
"No problem, Lucas, Trevor probably has something that you can wear, any kind of shorts are fine."
"C'mon, Luke. I think I have some old shorts that you can wear."
"Okay, you guys come on over when you're changed. Oh, you can come over too, Sandy, if you want."
"No, thanks, Jake, I think I'm going to do some grocery shopping; you go along ahead and I'll talk to you when you get back."
"Zach, Jared, your stuff is in the truck."
"Okay Dad. See you guys in a bit."
Trevor, Jeremy and Luke went to Trevor's room and got changed there. They quickly stripped down naked, something all of them were used to now, since they stripped for gym, and put on shorts or a bathing suit. When they were ready, they went outside and hurried across the street. They went through the house and to the backyard. The others were already sitting in the spa, so they joined them. Luckily Jake had gotten a spa big enough for about ten people, so they were able to fit everyone comfortably. They stayed in there for about thirty minutes, relaxing and talking about school and getting ready for Little League tryouts.
"So are all of you trying out, then?"
"Yeah, I think the tryouts are in two weeks at the park, so we're going to try to get on the same team."
"Well, Tom and I will help you get on the same team if possible, if we can."
They talked for a little while, before Tom announced that he and the twins needed to get going. They reluctantly got out and the three boys went back across the street to change. Trevor got them all towels to dry off. They went to his bedroom, stripped again, dried off and got their clothes back on. By the time they finished, Sandy got home from shopping. She shanghaied the boys to help bring the groceries in. Once that was done, they went back across the street and saw Tom and his sons come out of the house. The boys bumped fists with Trevor before they got in the truck. Zach held his fist against Trevor's a little longer than the others and looked in Trevor's eyes. Trevor somehow was able to feel the love coming from Zach. They smiled and Trevor went to stand next to Jake. Jake put his arm across Trevor's shoulders as they waved goodbye to their friends. Trevor then hugged Jake.
"Thanks, Dad, for doing this."
"I'm happy to do it. I want you to feel safe wherever you are, and this is one way to accomplish that. I would hate for anything to happen to you, Son."
"I'm going to go home and see if my mom needs any help. I'll talk to you later, Dad."
"Okay, bye, Son."
Trevor gave Jake one last hug and then went across the street. Jake watched as he went inside. He was not inside more than a couple of minutes before the phone rang. He saw that the caller was from Trevor's house.
"County Morgue, you stab 'em, we slab 'em."
(giggle) "Very funny, Jake. Mom wants you to come over for dinner."
"I'll be over in a few. I've got to get cleaned up and get this chlorine smell off. You should too. Tell your mom... better yet, I'll tell her, thanks."
"Ooooo. Yeah, mom already said I stink like chlorine, so I'm going to get a shower too. See ya, Jake."
Jake hung up and went to clean up a bit. He took a quick shower to get the chlorine off, and then got dressed. He made sure that Dee was fed. He locked up and headed across the street. A squeaky clean Trevor met him at the door and gave him a hug.
"You smell much better now."
"Yeah, so do you. Dinner is almost ready."
Trevor pulled him into the dining room where Sandy had just finished putting the plates out.
"Spaghetti tonight sounds okay?"
"Anytime I don't have to cook is always fine. Thanks for inviting me."
"Would you like a glass of wine with dinner?"
"I'll get it."
Trevor came back a couple of minutes later holding the open bottle and a couple of wine glasses. He put one down for his mom and filled it, and then went to Jake and did the same for him. He put the bottle down and he returned to his seat. They enjoyed the dinner and conversation. Jake and Trevor helped clear the table. When Sandy started to clean up, Jake grabbed her and gave her a good long kiss.
"Hey, child still in the room, guys."
They laughed and separated. Trevor smiled at them.
"Sandy, that was for the dinner. It was great, although the company was better."
"Why, thank you, kind sir."
"Sandy, go relax; we'll clean up here."
"I'm not going to argue with that."
She left for the living room. Soon they heard the TV come on. Jake and Trevor made short work of the cleanup; they got things rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Trevor put the soap in and got it started. They went into the living room; Jake brought the wine and a couple of glasses. He filled them and sat next to Sandy on the couch, Trevor snuggled up on the other side. They watched TV, talked and the adults finished their wine. Jake gave Sandy another kiss and got up.
"I think I'll go home now. Thanks again for the meal and the company. This has been a very pleasant evening with my two favorite people."
"Jake, can I spend the night at your house?"
Jake looked at Sandy and shrugged.
"I don't mind, as long as your mom doesn't."
"You don't, do you, Mom?"
He gave her his puppy dog face; she looked at him and started to laugh.
"Now how can I resist such a face?"
She pinched his cheeks.
"Oww! Why'd ya do that?"
"Because you are so cute. Go ahead and get some clothes to take with you."
"I already have some over there, so I don't need anything."
"Okay, then I guess you're set. I'll see you tomorrow, honey."
They walked to the door and Trevor gave his mom a hug and a kiss goodbye. Jake did the same; his just lasted a little longer. It had started to get a little cold outside, so they hurried across the street. Jake got a fire going and they decided to watch a movie. Trevor picked The Cowboys and he put it in. Jake made some popcorn and they sat and enjoyed the movie. When the movie was finished Trevor started to yawn.
"Well, it's time for bed. Ready?"
"Yeah, I'm tired."
"Okay, go get ready for bed and I'll tuck you in.'
Trevor went to get ready. Jake took care of the clean up and went into Trevor's room. Trevor was waiting. Jake sat down on the bed and smoothed the hair from Trevor's forehead, gave him a kiss there.
"Okay, baby boy. Get some rest now. I'll see you in the morning."
Trevor smiled and turned on his side, and closed his eyes. Jake paused at the door and smiled at the boy, before he turned off the light. He went to his room after using the bathroom and stripped to his underwear and got into bed. After he turned off the bedside light, he looked up at the ceiling.
"Great Spirit. Thank you for bringing that wonderful boy into my life. He and his mom have filled an emptiness in me. Make me worthy of their love."
He turned on his side and closed his eyes. After a few minutes, he heard something. He slowly opened his eyes and saw Trevor walking quietly into his room, clad in briefs and t-shirt. He saw Jake's eyes open up.
"Uh... J... Dad, can I sleep with you?"
Jake said nothing, but lifted the covers up. There was no mistaking that smile even in the dim light of the room. Trevor scrambled over Jake. Jake turned around and Trevor snuggled up against him, pulling Jake's arm over his chest like another blanket. Jake gave him a gentle hug and a kiss on the back of his head. Trevor almost purred as he snuggled back against Jake. They fell asleep with smiles on their faces.
In the morning, Jake slowly awakened. He felt something that he was not used to, another person in bed with him. He was lying on his back when he opened his eyes. He looked down at the boy who was wrapped around him. Trevor had pillowed his head on Jake's shoulder. Jake could feel the soft breath of the sleeping boy on his neck. He had wrapped his leg around Jake's and his left arm was across Jake's chest. Sometime during the night, Trevor had taken off his t-shirt and he was only in his briefs. Jake looked down on the sleeping boy again and shifted a little so he could take Trevor in his arms and gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead. Trevor stirred a bit and mumbled but didn't wake. Jake stroked his head and down his bare back lightly, trying not to wake him up. After a few minutes, Trevor started to stir some more, probably having to do with the need to pee. Trevor started to stir more and Jake watched as his eyes fluttered and then opened. His eyes were only half open, and then as they saw Jake looking back at him, with love and gentleness, he opened his eyes wider and slowly came fully awake. He smiled back.
I love you, Dad.
I love you too, Son.
Thanks for letting me sleep here last night with you. I felt lonely in the other bed and you made me feel safe.
You know, anytime you need a hug or cuddle time from me. You don't even need to ask. I'll always make time for you.
I know, that's just one the many reasons, I love you.
Trevor's eyes started to get watery. Jake got a concerned look on his face and was about to say something.
Ja... Dad. Sometimes I think of my real Dad and I miss him so much. He sometimes used to let me sleep with him like this, when I was scared. Like if I had a nightmare or something. And now I feel the same with you like this. Am I wrong to feel this with you? Sometimes I feel like I'm betraying him. But I love you so much too. Not the exactly the same as my Dad, but it feels the same, only kind of different.
Oh, honey, no, not at all. When you have a great Dad, you will always love them, no matter who else is in your life. You will never lose that. You, my boy, have a great capacity to love others. You love your Dad, your Mom, and to my very great honor, me. There is also a certain twelve year old boy, who has a part of your heart.
Jake smiled as Trevor blushed.
Yeah, I guess so. I just don't want to forget him. He was a great Dad.
I have no doubt of that. He turned out a great son, and he and the Great Spirit have honored me by allowing me to get to know him and love him.
Thanks Dad, that helps a lot. The Great Spirit, that's what Indians call God, right?
Yes, it is our word for him. Some also say Grandfather Sky, Father Sky, or Grandfather. I think he is there and he helps people that deserve it. But how I deserved to find you and your Mom, I don't know about that, I'm just thankful it happened. Now, Trev, anytime you feel sad about your Dad, don't hesitate to come talk to me if you want. I will always listen.
I know you are going to be there for me, and that's another of the many reasons why I love you.
That's right and I have a question for you. How long have you been able to do this?
Talk without moving your mouth.
What do you mean, talk without moving my mouth? We've been talking for the last few minutes.
Yes, we have, but think about it for a moment. We have not actually said anything.
Trevor looked at Jake's mouth as he said the last and his eyes opened wide. He started to get a little fearful look on his face. Jake felt him start to pull back, but he held him tighter.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jake. I didn't mean... I mean, I didn't... Oh I don't know what I mean. Now you'll think I'm a freak or something."
Tears started to spill down Trevor's cheeks and he squirmed some more, but Jake held him tight until he quit squirming and just started crying into Jake's shoulder. Jake stroked his hair as he calmed him down.
"I do not and never will think you're a freak. I will love you forever and beyond. You are and always will be my baby boy. Although I have to share you with the other people you love now and will love in the future. I could never hate you. I repeat, you are not a freak, but a very special boy, like I keep telling you. This is just one more thing about you that makes you special."
Jake held him some more as he calmed down. When Trevor looked at him again, Jake wiped away the tears with his fingers and gently kissed Trevor on his forehead.
"Besides, Trev, this is not the first time, that I have heard you, you know. The first time was soon after I met you. I heard you say I love you, when you gave me a hug. The next time I heard it, I whispered back in your ear that I loved you too. Remember."
"So that is why I'm not freaking out about this. You must have left your guard down when you woke up and just started speaking that way. So I just went along. I guess the only reason I can do it, is because you were talking to me. I have never been able to do it myself, so it must be you and your gift that lets me do this with you."
"I guess so. So you don't think I'm a freak or anything?"
"Never in a million years. Weird, maybe, but a freak, no."
Trevor hit him in the shoulder and gave him a look of mock anger. Jake just grinned at him and Trevor couldn't fake it any longer as a big grin broke out on his face. He snuggled in as close as he could and closed his eyes.
"Thanks, Dad. I love you."
"I love you too, but I think we need to get moving, unless you're going to stay here all day."
"That's a good idea, let's stay here. This is nice."
"As wonderful as that sounds, I think we're going to start swimming in here, unless we get up."
(groan) "Yeah I guess we do need to do that. Oookaaaay, we can get up."
Trevor untangled himself from Jake and got out of the bed. He went to the bathroom and took care of business, and then traded places with Jake. When Jake was finished, he joined him in the master bath and they both brushed their teeth.
"You want to use the shower here or in the other bathroom?"
"Can I take a shower with you?"
"Uh... I don't know if that's the best idea, bud."
"Like anyone's going to ever know. I want you to wash my hair and my back and I'll wash yours."
"I don't know. What would your mother think?"
"She won't think anything about it. I took showers with my Dad all the time."
"Well, you were younger then too."
"It was only a couple of years ago."
"Well, okay then."
Jake got the big shower turned on and at a good temperature, while Trevor sat on the toilet seat waiting. When Jake was satisfied, he nodded to Trevor and they both stripped their underwear off and got in the shower. The shower had plenty of room. Jake got the shampoo and rubbed it into Trevor's hair, then rinsed it out. Trevor had Jake get lower and he did the same for Jake's hair. They finished cleaning up and got out of the shower. Jake started to dry himself off until Trevor pushed Jake to the toilet seat and pushed him down, then he stood in front of Jake and handed him a towel.
"Dad, will you dry me off, please?"
Jake looked at Trevor and he saw a little bit of a pleading look in Trevor's eyes. Jake smiled and nodded as he motioned for Trevor to move closer.
"I'd love to; come here, bud."
He smiled and gently dried Trevor off. Trevor was smiling the whole time. When he was done, Jake wrapped the towel and his arms around Trevor and gave him a big hug and tickled his side, getting him to start giggling.
"Okay, bud, go get dressed."
Trevor gave him a hug and a kiss and left the bathroom, picking up his underwear on the way out. Jake then dried himself off. He went into his room and got dressed. Once he was ready, he went to the kitchen and started getting eggs, bacon and toast out. Trevor came out dressed.
"Trev, will you get the butter out of the fridge and start making some toast. I'll start getting the rest of the stuff going, and get the plates and silverware out as well if you would."
They worked together as a team and soon breakfast was ready. They sat down to eat.
"Trevor, does you mother know about your gift?"
"No, I haven't said anything to her and I don't want to."
"That's fine, but I think you should someday. So you don't slip with her, like you did with me."
"I suppose so. I will when I feel the time is right, Okay?"
"Entirely up to you, just remember I'm here for you."
"I know, Za... uh... dang."
Jake looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
"Zach knows about this?"
"Yeah, it kinda started with him. He and I could sometimes talk to each other... like that. He said we should keep it quiet."
"I agree, you probably don't want a lot of people knowing about this. Can you do it all the time?"
"No, not always. But sometimes I can. It seems I have been able to do it more in the last few months and it's easier to do."
"Hmmm. Maybe it gets easier as you grow up. Remember if you need my help, I'm here."
"I know, Dad, thanks."
Jake smiled, reached over and ruffled Trevor's hair, earning him a giggle and a smile. They finished breakfast and cleaned up. Then it was time to take Dee for his walk. They both grabbed light jackets and headed to the park. They took turns throwing the ball for Dee until he got tired. They headed back to the house. Jake had some errands to run and Trevor asked to go with him. Jake said it was okay but he made him call his mom and get permission first. She readily agreed and they left to run the errands.
"So Dad, when are you going to marry Mom?"
"I said... "
"I heard what you said; you just surprised me is all."
"Sorry, but you do like her, don't you?"
"Yes, I do."
"See, all you have to do is repeat that."
"I do." (giggle)
"Funny, lucky for you that's not your day job."
"So you didn't answer my question."
"That's because I don't know."
"What's not to know? I know you like her a lot, and you get cute, adorable me in the bargain."
"Cute, maybe; adorable, I don't know."
"Hey! Not nice."
"To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about it a lot."
"Well start thinking about it. You two would be great together. I know she likes you a lot."
"Okay, I'll think about it. Fair enough?"
"Works for me. Just don't take too long."
They finished their errands and when they got back Trevor helped bring the stuff Jake picked up into the garage. Before he left, he put his arms around Jake and leaned his head against Jake's chest.
"Ja... Dad. Thanks again for last night and this morning. You make me feel safe and happy."
"Last night and this morning was very special to me as well. You made me feel so good with your trust. I will never betray your trust. Anytime you need me, and I mean anytime, anywhere, you need me, you call me, I'm there. Don't ever forget that. I love you so much."
"I love you too. Please think about what I asked you."
Trevor looked up at Jake.
Jake looked down at Trevor and put his hands on either side of Trevor's head, lightly stroked his cheeks.
"I promise, I will think very much about it, more than I have, if that is truly what you want, and... what your Mom wants. She has a say in this too, you know."
Trevor squeezed him harder, as he looked up at Jake, his face almost shining with happiness.
"I know she will. I just know it."
"Well, with that ringing endorsement, how can we lose?"
Jake leaned down a little and gave Trevor a gentle kiss on his forehead, then pulled his head into his chest, stroking his hair. Trevor closed his eyes and basked in the love he felt coming from Jake. After a few moments they gently pulled apart. There were tears in each of their eyes.
"Now, buddy, you better get home."
"Okay Dad. I'll see you later."
Trevor turned and went out the door. Jake watched him run across the street and go inside his house, but not before he turned back and looked at Jake.
I love you, Dad.
Jake was startled for a moment. Then he heard a familiar giggle in his head and Trevor waved, before he went inside. Jake just shook his head and smiled.
"That's my boy."
The next couple of months were filled with school, Scouts, and more self-defense classes. They didn't have any more problems with Rankin and his buddies, and they started to relax a bit. Little League tryouts went pretty well. All five of them made the same team, the Dodgers. Zach and Jared were infielders, Jeremy made catcher, Trevor and Lucas were outfielders. After several weeks of practice, they had their first game against the Cardinals on one Saturday. Their game was the last of the day. Zach started at first base, Jared at short and Jeremy behind the plate. The game was hard fought. In the fourth inning, Trevor went in at left field and Lucas went in at right field. At the bottom of the sixth inning, Lucas led off the inning by getting thrown out at first. Trevor came up and got a single. Zach hit the ball hard to third base, the baseman grabbed it off balance and threw it to first, barely getting Zach out, but Trevor advanced to second safely. Jared stepped up to the plate and after two balls he got a solid hit that turned foul. After another strike, he stepped into a pitch that was low and outside and it sailed high behind the center fielder. The player ran back and watched as the ball landed just short of the fence, and then barely bounced over the fence, making it a ground rule double. The team's families erupted in a cheer as Trevor trotted around third and into home as Jared trotted to second. The two teams lined up to congratulate each other. The pitcher of the Cardinals was a friend of the boys from school, Gary Richards; he stopped Jared.
"Lucky shot, Jared. Next time you won't be so lucky. We'll get you next time."
"Yeah, kind of a lucky bounce; good game though, Gary. Although it did go far enough, and Trevor does run pretty fast, he probably would have made it anyway; the bounce just... helped. Anyway, good game, bud."
"Yeah, see you Monday."
Gary smiled as they bumped fists and the lines moved along. The team went out for pizza after the game. The next game was on Wednesday. During the week at school, Jared still got a little good-natured ribbing about his 'lucky shot'. On Wednesday they had their next game. They won this game as well putting them in first place at least for a little while. The next day at school, they and their teammates received congratulations from their friends at school. After school, Gary Richards was sitting with them in front of the school as they talked about the games scheduled for the upcoming weekend.
"Who're you guys playing on Saturday?"
"I think the A's. What about you guys?"
"Rockies. They're supposed to have a pretty good pitcher."
"I heard that."
"Guys, I gotta pee. I'm going to go see if I can find an open bathroom. I'll be right back."
"All right, Zach. See ya in a bit."
Zach ran back into the school to find the nearest bathroom. The first one he came to was locked, so he went a little deeper into the school. There were not too many students left hanging around. A few were getting things from their lockers, but other than that the school was fairly empty. He found a bathroom that was open and he went inside. He went up to the urinal and opened his pants and started to pee. He did not hear the door open behind him, or the careful movement of the boys who had just come into the restroom, all of them were wearing ski masks. One of them stood at the door and quietly put a wooden wedge that he took out of his pocket at the base of the door to keep people out, he then leaned against the door and folded his arms across his chest as his friends moved up to Zach. Zach finished up and started to close his pants when he heard a sound and started to turn just as he saw out of the corner of his eye one of the boys rush at him. The boy slammed him forward against the urinal. His balls got smashed against the side of the urinal, which drew a yelp out of him and caused him to fall to the ground clutching his injured balls.
"You two, pick him up."
The two boys that he pointed at grabbed Zach under his arms and hauled him to his feet. He winced, tears in his eyes, as they stood him up. The boy came forward and slammed his fist into Zach's stomach, which doubled him over, coughing as he tried to catch his breath.
"You little faggot. Your boyfriends aren't here to protect you now. I'm gonna rip you a new asshole, pussy."
Zach slowly straightened up; the two boys were still holding him. Zach suddenly kicked out to the side. It didn't have his whole strength behind it because he was still trying to catch his breath. The boy on the right let go and staggered away rubbing his lower leg.
"Shit, my leg."
Zach swung with this newly freed arm at the guy on the left, but there wasn't much strength behind it and the blow was blocked. While Zach was off balanced, he felt a sudden blow to his jaw that dazed him. Then a kick to the back of his legs knocked his legs out from under him, causing him to hit the floor hard. He let out a groan.
Trevor, Trev, please help me.
Outside at the front, Trevor suddenly stopped laughing at a joke that Gary had just told and he looked off in the distance for a few seconds. The other boys noticed him suddenly going quiet. Jared reached out and put his hand on Trevor's shoulder.
"Hey Trev, what's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, man, what's wrong?"
"What about Zach, Trev?"
"He's hurt. We've gotta find him now. Did anyone see which way he went?"
"How do you know he's hurt? I didn't see where he went, he just ran into the school. He said he was going to the nearest restroom, so I guess that's where he is. So what makes you think he's hurt?"
"I just know, Gary, all right. We gotta find him. C'mon, let's go."
The boys got up, shouldered their backpacks and ran back to the school following Trevor. Meanwhile in the restroom the group of boys started to kick and hit Zach while he was down. You could hear a couple of cracks of breaking bones. Zach was crying out in pain.
"Help! Owww! Shit! Stop, you bastards! Ahhhh!"
"Fuck you, you little shit. Fucking faggot!"
The boys continued the assault. About that time Trevor and his friends got to the first restroom and pushed against it, it didn't open. Trevor started looking around with a desperate look on his face, and tears in his eyes.
"Which one is it? Where is he?"
"Bro, calm down; we'll find him. Let's try the next one."
They ran to the next restroom and pushed against the door. The door gave slightly but didn't open. They started to run to the next one, when Trevor suddenly stopped for a second and leaned against the door for a second. The boys stopped before they got more than a few feet away when they noticed that Trevor wasn't following them. Trevor backed up a little and his face turned red; if any one of the other boys could have seen his eyes, they would have seen the blue of his eyes change to a bright glowing blue for a second, and then he launched a flying kick at the door as he made a loud 'Kiai!'. The door flew inward, and the boy who was standing with his back against the door was thrown against the wall by the force of the door hitting him. He fell to the floor, and was knocked out. Trevor landed on his feet and saw the huddled figure on the ground. The four other boys turned in surprise and saw Trevor looking at them with pure anger. They could see the other boys outside behind him.
"ZACH! Leave him alone, you bastards!"
"Make us, pussy. We'll tear you a new one, like we did your faggot friend. Leave now or you ain't going anywhere, pussy boy."
"I warned you."
"You... you warned me? Ha! You gotta be shittin' me. Come on."
Trevor rushed him before he could do anything. Before the guy could stop him, Trevor drove his head into the guy's stomach, which knocked him back. The boy tripped over Zach's prone form. The boy fell against the urinals and cried out. Trevor followed up with a flurry of blows to the boy's head until he fell down dazed. Trevor was grabbed by the others, and pulled off the boy. Suddenly the other attackers were startled by loud cries as Jared and Jeremy joined the fray. This allowed Trevor to get loose.
"We've sent for help; they'll be here any moment."
The attackers saw the boys took up their fighting stances. The three boys looked around at their two friends on the ground, and two of them rushed the two boys, while one jumped at Trevor. The bigger boys tried to tackle Jared and Jeremy, but only succeeded in getting thrown to the ground. Trevor and the other boy traded blows. The two that were thrown were now nearer the door and decided that it was time to leave.
"C'mon, let's get out of here."
The boys quickly got up and scrambled out of the room, the boy who fought against Trevor threw him off and got away; he barreled through Jared and Jeremy and knocked them down. Trevor dropped down beside Zach. He carefully lifted Zach's head onto his lap, tears ran down his face. Zach looked up at him through the one eye that wasn't swollen shut; he tried to smile. Jared dropped down to the other side of his brother and took his hand; tears flowed down his face as well. Jeremy dropped behind Jared and put his arms around him.
"I knew you'd come, Trev. I knew it."
"Of course, love, all you have to do is call."
Zach nodded and his eyes rolled back, as some blood came bubbling to his lips.
"Zach, stay with me. Don't you dare fucking leave me! ZACH, NO!"
"Come on, Zach, come on, big brother, I need you too. Hang in there."
Zach's eye opened again, but he looked pretty dazed. He focused on Trevor's face. About this time Lucas and Gary came back followed by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Boyce. Mr. Johnson spoke into his radio as they took in the scene. Mr. Boyce went to the boys. Mr. Johnson went to the groaning boy by the door and ripped the mask off, it was Jerry Stevens, and he was still a little dazed.
"You boys, watch this one."
Gary and Lucas stood near Jerry. Mr. Johnson went to the other boy and took off his mask; it was Dave Rankin. Mr. Boyce kneeled down next to Trevor and put his hand on his shoulder.
"The paramedics and the sheriff are on the way. Just hang in there."
Trevor, Jared and Jeremy were crying as they tried to comfort Zach. Soon they could hear the sirens of the ambulance. A couple of minutes later, the paramedics and a sheriff's deputy showed up with the other security guy, Mr. Richley. Mr. Richley took a look at the door and whistled softly as he noticed that the hinges were partly torn loose. The two sheriff's deputies took over watching the two attackers and made a call for more EMTs. The paramedics went to Zach's side. Mr. Boyce got the boys to move out of the way.
"Come on, boys, let's get out of the way and allow these guys to work. They'll take good care of him, I promise."
Trevor slowly laid Zach's head down on the ground as the paramedics moved in. He went to Jared and Jeremy, and they held each other as silent tears rolled down their faces. They watched as the paramedics put a collar on Zach and got an IV started. One of them contacted the base.
"Central. We've got a male, age eleven or twelve."
"Okay a male, age twelve. He has been badly beaten. Initial assessment is at least a broken arm; several bruises and cuts are visible on his face and other visible parts of his body. BP is 80/60, pulse is 70. Breathing is very shallow, possible broken ribs on the right side. An IV is in. What is his name?"
"Zachary Browning. He's my brother."
"Okay. Central, boy's name is Zachary Browning. Have their parents been notified?"
"I have the school secretary working on it now."
"Okay, tell them we are taking him to Long Beach Memorial."
Mr. Boyce nodded to Mr. Johnson, who got on the walkie-talkie. While they were working on Zach, more EMTs came in and took care of the two attackers. Once they were revived they were put on gurneys and the deputies handcuffed them to the gurney. Pretty soon the first team got a backboard underneath Zach and got him secured. They lifted him up and put him on the gurney, they quickly wheeled him out of the bathroom. The other boys followed behind, still clutching each other. Other students who were still on campus watched everything with awed looks. The paramedics loaded Zach into the ambulance and closed the doors. The boys looked at the ambulance as it drove away. Mr. Boyce started to lead the boys back to his office as a Suburban came roaring into the parking lot. It skidded to a halt and Tom and Jake jumped out of the truck. Trevor ran to Jake, while Jared ran to his dad. Jeremy, Lucas and Gary stood there looking at their friends, crying as well. The men were shocked at the look of their boys. Trevor and Jared had blood on their clothes. Their faces turned red with anger.
"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!"
"Jake, they hurt Zach. They hurt him real bad."
"Who... who hurt him!?"
"It was those assholes, Uncle Jake. The guys who hurt Lucas a few months ago."
"Where are they now!?"
Mr. Boyce was coming towards them and recoiled when he saw the rage on the men's faces. He took a swallow and continued his advance, holding his hands up.
"Mr. MacLaren, Mr. Browning, please try to calm down.
"Calm down!? You want me to calm down, when my son has been badly beaten?!"
"Mr. Browning, the Sheriffs have taken two of the boys into custody. They are being taken to the hospital to be seen for their injuries, and then they will be booked for the assault."
"Was it just the two?"
"No, the boys said that there were three other boys, probably friends of the two in custody. I have given their information to the Sheriffs. They should be picking them up soon."
"Good, because right now, they wouldn't want me to be finding them for what they did to my son!"
"Don't worry, Mr. Browning they will be taken care of."
"Where have they taken Zach?"
"Long Beach Memorial."
"Okay, we're going to head to the hospital. I'll drive, Tom. Why don't you sit in the back with both boys?"
"Good idea. I'll take care of them."
They walked the boys over to the truck and got them into the back. Tom sat between the boys, with his arms around them. The boys clung to Tom as they cried. Jake got back into the driver's seat and peeled out of the parking lot. The others watched numbly as the SUV drove away. Mr. Boyce turned to the other boys who had tears in their eyes as they tried to comfort Jeremy.
"Come on to the office with me, boys. Your parents are on their way to pick you up."
The boys followed Mr. Boyce to the office. Meanwhile Jake was speeding through the streets to the hospital. He only got stopped a few times by red lights, but quickly took up the pursuit of the ambulance as soon as he could get moving again. Soon enough they got to the hospital. Jake parked and they were running as soon as possible to the emergency room entrance. Trevor had a firm grip on Jake's hand while Jared was doing the same with his dad. They got to the reception desk. The person at the desk blanched when she saw the state of the two boys with their bloodstained clothes.
"I'm Tom Browning. My son was just brought in here by the paramedics. Zachary Browning?"
"Yes sir. He is in the Trauma Room. John here will bring you to the family room. Are these two boys hurt as well?"
"Huh... oh... no, the blood is from my son."
Tom's eyes started to tear up as he said this. Both of the boys looked very worried as they continued to cling to Jake. She pointed to a security guard, who motioned for them to follow him. He took them around a couple of big hallways to a small room with some chairs in it. The adults sat down and they each suddenly had a lap full of clinging boy.
"Sir, the doctor will be out as soon as he can be here."
A few minutes later, Sandy and Terry were shown to the room. Sandy went to Jake and Trevor, while Terry went to Jared and Tom. Sandy and Terry put their arms around their boys and their men. They cried together for a bit.
"Tom, what happened?"
"Well, from what we know, you remember those boys, the ones that our boys told us about, the bullies? Apparently they weren't done with the boys. It appears they were waiting to get one of the boys alone without any of the others nearby and jump them. The boys told us that they were wearing ski masks to hide their faces. The boys figured out that Zach was in trouble and they found him. Trevor led them into the bathroom and they took two of them down, and after fighting with the others for a few minutes, they caused the others to run away. Honey, they beat Zach up real bad. He's being treated right now. They told us that the doctor would come out here and give us an update soon."
Terry nodded and they continued to wait. Soon enough a man in scrubs and a white jacket came out, carrying a clipboard. They all looked up.
"Doctor, how is he?"
"Hello everyone, I'm Dr. Stratton. I'm the trauma surgeon on duty. The boy is pretty badly hurt; he's in critical condition right now. We are stabilizing him and we're going to take him to the OR right away."
"He has some broken bones around his eye. His arm is badly broken and we are pretty sure he has some broken ribs, and we think one of them may have punctured his lung. We need to get him into the OR and get everything fixed. Then he'll be taken to the Pediatric ICU. The next 24 hours are critical for him."
"Can we see him?"
"We took him straight from the CT scanner to OR. We have some forms for you to sign... to give permission for the surgery."
Tom took them and started signing them as the doctor waited. He handed the clipboard back.
"Good, thank you. We'll take good care of him."
"Where can we wait?"
"You should wait in the main lobby. I'll send someone out to you when he is in the recovery room."
He took note of Trevor's dirty clothes with Zach's blood on his shirt and pants. He looked at Trevor's bruised and bloody knuckles. He went over and gently took Trevor's hands in his and looked closely at them.
"I think you need to get your hands looked at to make sure that you don't have any injuries to worry about."
"Wait a few moments and I'll send someone here to take you back and check your hands."
He left for a few moments and came back with a nurse.
"Allison, take... "
"Thanks, Trevor here and get his hands looked at. Get some x-rays and clean the cuts up."
"Sure, Doc. If you guys will come with me, we'll get him taken care of."
"Thank you, doctor."
"Yeah, thanks, doctor. Jake, we'll be out in the lobby. Come find us when you are done here."
"Okay, Tom. See ya in a few."
Dr. Stratton nodded and left walking down the hall toward Surgery. Allison put her hand on Trevor's shoulder and led him, his mom and Jake, into the ER. She got him in a room and quickly got his hands cleaned up and sent him for x-rays. The Brownings meanwhile made their way to the lobby, and they found an area that was in a bit of a corner, secluded from the others in the lobby. When they sat down, Jared sat between his parents; their arms were around him. He leaned against his mother. Thirty minutes later, the others joined him. Trevor was dressed in some scrubs, his bloody clothes in a plastic bag.
"Hi, guys. No word yet?>"
"No, nothing. How are you, Trevor?"
They sat down and Trevor claimed Jake's lap and laid his head on Jake's shoulder.
"I'm going to get us some coffee. Does anyone want anything?"
"I'll come with you, Sandy."
"Cokes, okay, guys."
The boys nodded.
"All right, we'll be right back."
He and Sandy headed to the café just off the lobby. They came back a few minutes later with drinks for everyone. Everyone took their drink. Trevor got off of Jake's lap but stayed right by his side. An hour later, Sandy got up and went to the front desk of the lobby.
"Can I help you?"
"I hope so. We are waiting on word about Zachary Browning. He's in surgery."
She typed something in the computer and looked at the screen, before she turned back to Sandy.
"He is still in surgery. I'll let them know where you are, and I'm sure they will be out as soon as they can and give you some news."
Sandy walked back to the family. They looked at her expectantly.
"He's still in surgery. They said they'd have someone come out and let us know when he's out."
Everyone sighed with frustration. They continued to wait. Forty five minutes later, they saw Dr. Stratton walk toward them. They all sat on the edge of the couches and chairs expectantly. He gave them a smile.
"He's in recovery right now, and we'll be moving him upstairs in a few minutes."
"How is he doing?"
"I think he'll be okay, but like I said, we'll know better tomorrow. We repaired all the damage. He does have some broken ribs and one of them did damage his lung, although his lung was not as badly damaged as we thought and was easy to repair."
"Can we see him?"
"We will be keeping him sedated overnight, so that his body can rest. Why don't you go to the Pediatric ICU? The front desk can give you directions. I need to go write some orders on Zachary's care."
"Thank you, doctor."
He smiled and walked away. They went to the front desk and got the directions. They found that it was in the Miller Children's part of the medical center, up on the third floor. They followed the directions and after a few minutes they found themselves in the waiting area near the ICU. The wait began again. Ten minutes later a gurney went by, they saw that it was Zach lying on it. They all got up and moved toward it. A nurse exited the opening doors to PICU as the gurney neared. She saw them and came over to them.
"Hi, I'm Rachel. I'm the nurse for Zachary. Are you family?"
"Yes, we are."
"Okay, give us a few minutes, and I'll let you in a few at a time."
They nodded and she smiled at them with sympathy. She went through the closing doors. They stood outside the door waiting. A few minutes later she came out to them. Tom and his family went in first. They stayed a few minutes and when they came out all of them had tears in their eyes. Jake, Sandy and Trevor went in next. Zach's room was in a corner room not far from the front doors. Trevor was holding Jake and Sandy's hands as they entered the room. Zach had IV's in both arms, one giving him blood and the other antibiotics. There was a large tube coming out of a bandage on the left side of his chest and going into a plastic container that hung from the bed. He had another tube going into his mouth and taped in place that was hooked to a machine that had something like a bellows on it, that was helping him breathe. Another tube came out from under the covers and went to a bag full of yellow fluid. When Trevor saw Zach he gave out a small cry, and only Jake's hand holding tight to his kept him from rushing to him. He looked back at Jake.
"Gently, son. He's been badly hurt. You have to be gentle."
Trevor nodded and Jake let him go. He and Sandy stood back and he placed his arm around her waist. She lifted her hand to her mouth as she watched Trevor move to Zach's unwounded side. He pulled a stool over near the bed and gently took Zach's hand in his and held it. He looked at Zach's sleeping form. Zach had a cast on his left arm, and a bandage was wrapped around his head, covering his right eye. His face looked a little gray underneath the myriad bruises and cuts on his face. A tear dropped from his eyes and landed on Zach's hand. Trevor's thumb gently stroked the hand as a few more tears fell. He leaned forward and whispered.
"Zach. You have to get better soon. I couldn't stand it with you not around. Please be all right and come back to me. I love you."
He got up and kissed Zach on the forehead and stepped back to Jake and Sandy. Each of them moved forward and gently stroked his hair, and then leaned down and each gave Zach a gentle kiss on the forehead. Jake leaned in close to Zach's ear.
"You get better now, buddy. We need you, especially Trevor."
They left the room and joined the others. There was a Sheriff's Deputy with the others when they came out. He wrote something down in a notebook and looked over to Trevor. He got up and waited for them. He held out his hand when they neared the group.
"Hello, I'm Mike Griggs. I'm investigating the attack and I really need to ask you some questions, if it is all right with your parents."
"Are you sure it's necessary?"
"Yes, ma'am. It really is necessary. Trevor, do you feel up to answering a few questions?'
Trevor wiped his face with the sleeve of his scrub shirt and nodded. The deputy smiled at him and motioned him to a seat. Jake and Sandy sat on either side of him.
"Okay, Trevor. I just have a few questions. One of the other boys at the school…" He looked at his notebook.) "…Gary, said that you told them that Zach was in trouble. How did you know?"
"Uh... I... uh thought he'd been gone too long just to go to the bathroom, and thought we should go look for him."
"Okay. So you found the restroom he was in and how did you get in the door."
"I... we've been learning self defense and I started to leave after trying the door, I thought it was locked, then I heard a faint cry and I somehow knew Zach was in there, so I stepped back, ran at it, jumped up and kicked it open."
"Some kick. The door hinge at the top of the door was broken."
"I was really scared for Zach. I guess I just got some extra strength from that."
"When you got in, tell me what you saw."
"There were five older boys wearing ski masks in the room. One of them was to the side near the open door. He was lying on the ground not moving. He looked like he was knocked out. The other four were standing around Zach, who was lying on the floor moaning. One of them turned toward me and told me to leave. I wouldn't and we fought. I knocked him down. Our friends came in and the three that were left fought for a bit; Jared told the others that help was on the way, and they decided to run rather than fight any more."
"Okay, good enough."
"What is going to happen now?"
"All the information that we have taken down will be given over to the DA's office."
"What about the other boys, the ones who ran?"
"They have been picked up and are at a Juvenile holding facility. The two injured boys are in a hospital ward, and will soon join their friends in the lock up."
"Good, because if I got my hands on those little shits, they'd wish they were in here instead of my son."
"Now, ma'am, I understand your feelings, and if it was up to me, I'd give you all the time you wanted with them, but we'll take care of them. I don't think they're going to be in circulation for a long time. The DA's office will be in touch with you. I don't even think it will go to trial; they'll probably take a plea bargain. More than likely they will spend some time in a Youth Authority facility. So like I said, they will be out of circulation."
"That's good to hear, thank you, Deputy."
He shook hands with all of them and left. They all got up and put their arms around each other in a group hug. Jake looked up and talked in a quiet voice so that only they can hear him.
"Great Spirit, please look down on the young brave before you. Take care of him and heal him."
They were all silent for a few more moments.
"We should head home and try to get some rest. Visiting hours are over right now anyway. Come on, we won't do Zach any good if we make ourselves sick. They'll contact us if there is any change."
"Yeah, you're right, Jake. Come on, honey, Jared, let's go home. See you guys in the morning."
"Sure, Tom, see you tomorrow."
Tom and Terry hugged Jake, Sandy and Trevor. Jared held Trevor and smiled at him when he stepped back.
"He'll be okay, Trev. He's too stubborn not to make it."
They walked out to Terry's car and then headed over to Jake's truck. Trevor turned to his mom.
"Jake, are you coming back here tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I think I should be here, Sandy."
"Mom, can I go home with Jake, please?"
"Honey, you have school tomorrow. I don't... "
"Mom, please. I won't be able to concentrate on school while Zach's still in danger. I need to be here tomorrow."
She looked at him with sympathy. She reached out and put her hand on his cheek.
"Okay, sweetheart, I understand. You can stay as long as Jake doesn't mind."
"Its okay, isn't it, Jake? Please say its okay. I know Zach needs me."
Jake looked at him and saw the pain in Trevor's eyes.
"Son, you know what I said, anytime, anywhere."
"Thanks, Jake, thank you so much."
He hugged Jake and then turned to his mom, and hugged her as well.
"Thanks, Mom. Thanks for letting me be here for Zach."
"I know how much he means to you. You're probably right; it might be too fresh in your mind. I'm sure you'll feel better once you see he's getting better. When you get to Jake's, come and get some things from home if you need anything."
"Okay. I'll see you in a little while."
Jake and Sandy kissed goodbye, and he and Trevor got into the Suburban and drove home, with Sandy following behind them. When they got there, Trevor quickly ran across the street and got a change of clothes before headed back to Jake's. When he got there, Jake directed him to take a shower, to clean up and get ready for bed. When Trevor was done, Jake took him to Trevor's bedroom and tucked him in.
"I know it's hard, but try to get some sleep, buddy."
"Okay, 'night, Dad."
Jake kissed him goodnight and left the room turning off the light. He went to his room and then took a shower. He went back into his room and saw Trevor lying in his bed on his side, looking at Jake. Jake got into bed and Trevor immediately moved over into Jake's arms and he started sobbing. Jake held him and soothed him. When his crying subsided, he looked at Jake.
"He's gotta be okay. I love him."
"I know, bud. I know you do. I believe he is going to be okay. You have to believe it too. We'll know tomorrow."
Trevor slowly calmed down and soon Jake heard the regular breathing of the exhausted boy as he finally fell asleep. He closed his eyes and soon joined him. A terrible day was finally over.