Copyright © 2006-2018 Str8mayb. All Rights Reserved.
At six o'clock A.M., Mitch, Travis and Brian all came fully awake at the same time. Mitch said, "That was a very weird dream, I remember seeing Ginger like that, in another dream."
Travis added, "I was a Herald again, and Max was my Companion."
"This is really weird, guys, cause I think I was a Squire to Neal, who was a Knight. Jeez, come on! Neal a knight?" Brian said. "Although, he did look really cool in that amour." he giggled. "I've never had a dream like that one before."
Mitch patted Brian gently, on the back and said, "Brian, we've had dreams like that before. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense right now, but I'm sure it's a warning for us to be on the lookout for something."
"But what?" Brian asked.
"TICKLE ATTACK!" Travis yelled, and the serious mood was suddenly broken.
This didn't last long, since they all had to pee pretty badly. Soon they were dueling with their streams, Brian won. The twins called foul, since he was a year older.
Tom was restless, and managed to wake Leo up. Leo held him tightly, until he calmed down, and surfaced slowly to full consciousness. "This is really nice, honey."
Doc kissed his lover on the lips and agreed, "Yes, it is, very nice, indeed. You were dreaming again, love."
"I'm afraid we have another project headed our way. Our boys are going to go on a crusade. I wish these things were clearer." Tom lamented.
Leo hugged him, "But that would take all the fun out of it, though. A crusade, huh? As I recall, those didn't turn out so well."
"This one just might," Tom said, and oddly, it was about an hour later, before they came down for breakfast, each wearing a cute silly grin. There were some giggles from those who noticed.
All the kids were very excited at breakfast, ate quickly, and disappeared. A little later Neal came back, looking for Martha. He found her in the library, and asked her quietly, if she could help them with something important. Since she didn't know when, or if, Nick would be dropping by, she gladly followed Neal as he led her down a seldom used passage.
"Neal, Look at this magnificent kitchen! This is bigger than the regular kitchen Mrs. Johnson uses." Martha said.
"Uh huh, We used it to cook dinner at Thanksgiving, and we need to do a bunch of cookin' again now. We're having a whole bunch'a guests and we need to cook everything for Christmas. Could you help us plan it all out?" Neal asked, using his patented puppy dog look.
"Let's see what you have planned," Martha looked in the refrigerator and there were turkeys, hams and beef roasts, vegetables, fruits and a bag of commercial cookie dough. "Neal, just how many is a bunch, by the way?"
"Ah, bout a hundred. Oh yeah, and their parents, too, I guess," Neal replied, sheepishly.
"This sounds a lot like the kind of thing Grandma used to do on holidays. I remember when I was your age, helping her get it all ready; it was really fun to do. Well, we can use just about everything, but, I will have nothing to do with that crappy Cookie Dough. You might as well toss your cookie dough away. We'll make our own. Who will be helping us?" Martha tied on an apron and got ready to work. She was beginning to get into her Mothering mode.
"Let's go ask." Neal suggested.
Neal and Martha quickly went back out to where the kids were checking the list of presents, for the second time. Martha got their attention, "Who would like to help us cook the Christmas Goose?" she asked.
This was met with absolute dead silence, then little Genny burst into tears and ran to Pat for comfort, and Martha was met with some pretty angry glares from the rest. Neal suddenly realized what the problem was. "No, silly, Not 'Goos' the dragon, goose the bird."
"Oh! That's different, Never mind." and then laughter and everyone volunteered. Mitch, Travis and Andy were quickly filled in on who 'Goos' was.
Alice found Ed, sitting quietly in his office, looking out the window. "You're not working on Christmas Eve, are you?" she asked.
"Oh no, I'm just thinking about all the changes that have happened in my life. All I ever really wanted to be, really, was a father, hopefully a good father. Then everything blew apart, just plain went to hell in a hand basket, and I hadn't seen it coming at all. That woman up and left, taking my daughter with her. She vanished from the face of the earth, taking half my life with her. Then, I devoted so much of what was left of my existence to getting my daughter back, I still wonder if I've hurt Patrick, with my obsession. Now here I am at Haven, I have a great job, one that I can really love, and I've recovered Patty, and found a woman I think I'm falling in love with, and two more kids and..."
"I know what you mean, Ed. This place can easily have that effect on you. I went from a stagnant hell, to the whirlwind of Haven, overnight. Then the thing with my husband and Todd, well, this is a very special place and I can't even imagine being anywhere else, but here, now." Alice said, remembering the events of last summer. She sighed, and smiled, "Now I've gained a new daughter and son and, ah, man."
"Merry Christmas, beautiful lady. I know all this is happening so fast, right now, but with Nick and Martha, getting together, and now it looks like Linda and Lee are going to become an item. Well, I've been thinking about things like that too and well..." Ed said.
"Oh, Ed. I'm thinking that too. I really do feel it is right for us, but please, if you don't mind too much, let's give it some time. I'd like to court for a bit. I didn't get that at all before. I just got pregnant. Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am, all fast and furious, and we had a shotgun wedding... and... well there never was a lot of joy there, or love, for that matter, and I really want to have some happy memories this time around." Alice confessed.
"Your wish is my command, Dear Princess. Happy memories, coming right up." He kissed her gently on the lips, and then Alice found herself the recipient of a tickle attack. She giggled, then laughed and then begged for mercy, until Ed silenced her quite satisfactorily, with another gentle kiss...
Up on the third floor, Monty and Patty had come back to earth, after sending each other into orbit. "You, know Monty, Mom said she gave Daddy Doc permission to give me the pill, if I wanted."
Monty had a hundred thoughts running through his mind all at once. Most of which revolved around him not knowing what to do. "Ah, well, ah, gee... Patty, ah, ah..."
Patty giggled. "Monty! You don't want to?"
"I do too! I mean, like, you are so hot 'n all...It's just well..." He ran out of words again.
"Relax, Monty. It takes some time on them, for them to be effective. The Directions say the first month won't be safe. I have to wait for my next period to start, anyway. I got them, and think I'd better start. I just don't think I can trust myself. I've been fucked before... a lot, actually, but I want to know what making love is like. You have made everything we have done together, so much fun. I even like sucking you, and you sucking me. I never liked that with, him. Yuck! He was such a rotten monster. He... "Patty stopped, remembering the pain and fear that her stepfather had inflicted upon her. He always forced her to do those things, and didn't care about anything other than his own gratification. Once he got his rocks off, it was like she no longer existed. Monty was entirely different; he never just stopped when he got off. He always wanted her to have pleasure too. He seemed to really like it if she came before he did.
"Okay, if that's what you want, Patty. I'm kind of scared though, I don't know how... you know..." Monty admitted.
"Don't worry, Monty. I'll show you anything you need. I think we are in for a very happy new year." They both giggled and almost missed lunch.
In the kitchen, Martha had the boys all working hard, to prepare different parts of the Christmas feast. Travis and Brian were preparing the hams with brown sugar and cloves. They were having a great time, sticking all those cloves in the hams. Andy did make them redo one of the hams. (They had made an anatomically correct Pat part on it.)
"You know Brian, things are really nice now. After Juvy and all, my Dad and your Dad are so nice. We done good, huh?"
"Yeah, I'll say we did. That place was so terrible, I wish we could own it and get it straightened out. There were some really good kids in there, but they don't have a chance 'cause there ain't any adults there that care one bit."
"Yeah, and not many kids that care about anybody but themselves. I didn't even know you cared." Travis told Brian.
"I was scared as hell. So many of the bullies picked on me, I thought if I showed anyone, that I cared about somebody, they would pick on them to get at me. It wasn't till Neal came, that it was better for me. He stood up to the bullies, of course, he was their age, and as big as they were. He got it bad when he was moved up to the big guys dorm. He came close to being killed."
"Wow, he seems okay now. How long ago was that?"
"Hard to believe, I know, but it was just like... seven or eight months ago. He told Dad about me, and got me rescued. I'd sure like to save those other kids the way I was saved."
"Well, maybe someday, we can." Travis said, as he hugged Brian, and gently kissed him, and then the two boys shook hands on it.
In the vast corporate computer network of Haven Enterprises, after hearing the boys' conversation, 'Philip' began to initiate a thorough search of ownership on the facility that the boys had called Juvy.
Martha dismissed her eager energetic elves, eliciting extreme excitement especially when she explained that cookies would be there ready for baking when they returned. She gave directions for them to come back right after lunch, because they had cookies to decorate and oh yeah, cook, a lot of cookies. The kids left for a fun break, before lunch.
David caught up with Adam and took his hand. "Adam, Can I talk to you a little?"
"Sure, Bro." Adam smiled at his brother.
Todd nodded and went on, leaving the brothers alone.
"What's going on, David?" Adam asked.
"I don't know exactly how to put this so I'll just say it. I've missed you."
Adam stopped and knelt down to be on eye level with David. "You missed me? David, I've been right here."
Tears started running down David's cheeks. "I know, but you don't NEED me anymore. Nobody here needs me. I'm just the little brat."
Adam stiffened, "Who called you a brat?"
"I want to know who called my brother a brat. I'm going to give them a piece of my mind, and maybe a mouth full of my fist." Adam was getting pretty worked up.
David stared, "You'd do that for me?"
"Of course. Now, come on, tell me who called you a brat? Neal?"
"Wow, I wish somebody had, now. I've been so lonely. I don't have anybody my age to play with."
It took Adam a few seconds to figure this all out. "Oh God, Davey, I'm so sorry. I thought you would be glad, not have to be there watching over me all the time, and doing everything for me. I guess I kind of blew it. Well I will make sure you and me get to spend some time for just us, and Todd and me will include you in stuff we do too."
"Really? You won't mind having a little kid around?" David's eyes begged for the answer.
"Naa, well, not most of the time, anyway. If we got the door closed, though, I hope you don't just walk in; give us a chance to get decent, okay?" Adam asked.
"Jeez, Adam, I've seen you naked, before."
"Just give us the courtesy, please."
"Sure, Adam, I can do that." David gave his big brother a hug.
Adam picked him up and threw him over his shoulder. "Come on, Twerp, let's go find Todd."
David was giggling as Adam carried him upside down to find Todd.
Just as everyone was converging on the dining room for lunch, Nick arrived. He had intended to take Martha to his place and fix her a gourmet lunch, but she flat out told him she wasn't leaving when there was so much baking to do. Soon Nick had volunteered his 'meager' skills to help. Even after he was told they had to cook about fifty dozen cookies.
After lunch, all the kids congregated in for the cookie creation fest. (I bet you thought I was going to do another long string of C words. Didn't you?) Martha's plan was to make an assembly line, with her rolling out the dough and the kids cutting, decorating and baking them. Nick was absolutely awed as he admired the auspicious amazing kitchen, and explored the cabinets. He soon had set up a separate assembly line, making Christmas Tree Shaped Cookies, with the cookie gun. Then he made up some Russian Tea Cookies, and then Ginger Bread Men. He was doing the Ginger Bread Men, when Martha noticed how at home he was in the kitchen, and then she realized he was really turning out the cookies in splendid fashion. It looked like he had made about Thirty Dozen Christmas Tree Cookies, Thirty Dozen Russian Tea Cookies and he was working on about the Fifteenth Dozen Ginger Bread men. She had only done about Twenty Dozen Sugar Cookies.
Martha took a break and went and sampled Nick's work. She was half prepared for something along the lines of Helga's cookies. As she bit into one, her mouth opened wide in surprise. She was very wrong about her assumption. They were absolutely delicious, all of them. "Nick? How?"
He looked up and saw Martha standing there with a headless Ginger Bread Man in her hand. "Martha, I'm surprised you don't know. Well you start with flour, eggs..."
He ducked quickly, to avoid being hit by the dish towel she threw at him. "How in the world did you learn to cook like this? These are wonderful!"
"Just part of my CIA training (Culinary Institute of America) the pastry course, of course."
"Oh, Nicky, you sure are full of surprises."
"Just wait and see. I have a really big surprise for tomorrow. Sorry sweetheart, this surprise isn't for you, but it is, for some people you love." Nick told her.
"If it's for people I love, then it's for me." She gave Nick a big kiss to the cat calls of a kitchen full of kids.
The only one of the kids to not join in the cookie frenzy was Moe. He had retreated quietly up to his room, and was reading the bible he had gotten at church. He still wondered about this Christianity thing; he had noticed that the older boys had their own bibles, and had asked Neal if he could borrow one. Neal had handed him his, and the next Sunday the Minister had found him in Sunday School Class, and given him one. Just handed it to him and told him it was a study Bible and that it was meant to be studied, that meant he could hi-lite, underline and write in it wherever he wanted to. It was his. Well, he was reading the Christmas Story, and it was pretty brief.
This was pretty far fetched, virgin mother, Angels, special Star, wise men from the East. Sure was a lot happening. And yet, somehow so many people believed the story. Jesus, a little baby would grow up and change the world. Even if most of the stuff wasn't true, the message Jesus taught, later, did change the world. 'Love your neighbor'. It sure would be a wonderful thing, if it could really happen. 'Oh well, maybe someday.' he thought.
Something made him look up, and Daddy Doc was standing there. "How come you aren't downstairs with everyone else?"
"Why would they want me?"
"Duh, you're their brother!"
"Yeah their Muslim brother. I don't understand all this." Moe said pointing to the bible.
"Ah, so the Muslim asks the Jew to explain the Christians." That got a laugh from Moe.
"So, Daddy Doc, what do you think about all this?"
Leo came into Moe's room and sat on the bed next to him. "Well, in a way, all this is a sales pitch to the Jews. You see, the Old Testament is loaded with things that would let us know that the true Messiah had indeed arrived. A lot of the things said there, are meant to fulfill one or more if the 'requirements' so to speak. It gets pretty hard to sort through it all. I must admit that there really is a lot of evidence that parts of the story are real, and true. Then of course, one wonders, if those things are true, what about the rest."
Moe nodded his head. "I get real confused by all of this, sometimes."
Daddy Doc pulled Moe into a big warm hug. "Just remember, Son, we are all about love here in our family. The differences don't matter one little bit, the love does."
"Thanks, Daddy Doc. That really helps."
There was a knock on the door and Neal was standing there with a plate of freshly baked, still hot, cookies. "I thought you guys would like some cookies. It was an incredible scene down there, Nick and Martha having a cookie war. Mr. Regnad can really cook too!"
Soon the plate was empty, and Leo left to find Tom and then maybe some more cookies.
"We missed you down there, Moe."
"You did? But I'm not Christian."
Neal looked at Moe sternly, "Moe, We don't care about that. You are our brother. We missed our brother."
Moe looked confused, "I'm sorry Neal, I'm just so confused. I've been told that like... all Muslims are my brothers and I sure don't fit in with them."
"JEEZ!" Neal rolled his eyes back, and fell onto the bed. "Moe, I mean you are a real brother to us, like blood relations, but even stronger. We have all come together here, from some pretty bad things. We share a bond of love, through our hearts, not just words. Now come on, we're going to go outside for a while."
"Okay Neal, thanks, Bro." Moe gave Neal a huge hug, and ran out the door.
After dinner, everyone gathered in the family room. The adults were on the couches and the kids were on the floor. They watched the required 'Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer' and 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. When those were over Tom said, "Hey Neal, I've got an idea; why don't you go get that A+ story of yours, and read it to us."
"DAAAAAAADDDDDD!!!! Jeez!" Neal whined.
"Yeah Neal, go ahead and read it to 'em" Pat (Boobless) said. "I already looked at it and it is real good. I know they would like it."
Soon all the kids and adults were pestering Neal to read the story. Finally, Neal left and returned with the paper. "Okay! You talked me into it."
For revenge at being embarrassed about having to read aloud in front of everyone, he kicked Tom and Leo out of the comfortable overstuffed chair they were snuggled in together. He sat down, maneuvered himself into a nice comfortable position, and began:
A Christmas story by Neal Richards
Fred, what kind of elf name was that? Not even Fredrick, just Fred. To make matters even worse, he had a very rare genetic disorder that caused a total lack of sparkle on his cheeks, and even worse his ears were hideously deformed, they looked just like human ears. As a matter of fact, Fred looked just like a ten-year-old human boy. It didn't matter that he was born before Columbus was.
Now Fred liked Human kids, he tended to put more of them on the 'GOOD' list than really belonged there. He lacked the magic to change a bad kid to a good kid, but he wanted all kids to be good. Santa had discovered what Fred was doing and so now the list was double checked each and every year. Fred hadn't changed a list in over a hundred years, but they still didn't trust him. He was just a ball tester now, bounce the ball, hour after hour, day after day, it was driving him crazy.
So he was almost at the end of his Elven rope when he got the summons. He had to wait outside The Office for twenty minutes. When he was called, he walked nervously into the Big Guy's office.
"Ho. Ho. Ho. Come on in and have a seat, Fred."
"Thank you, sir."
"I would like to offer you a new position. It would mean travel, and not being here a good part of the year."
Fred, thought his dreams were coming true, "Can you tell me more, sir?"
"Ho. Ho. Ho. Of course I can. Each year there are children that aren't on either list. I need to find out if they are naughty or nice. I need someone who can fit into the human world. Since you look just like a little boy, I thought you would be perfect for the position. No need to change you with Magic or anything like that."
"Well, I don't know a lot about how to fit in, sir, but I would like to try."
Fred spent the next two weeks studying Humans, and getting his magic tuned to make sure it would be useful to him. Finally, he was assigned a reindeer; No, not one of the well known ones, a third string misfit like himself, named Bartholomew. Fred immediately shortened his partner's name to Bart. Besides flying, Bart was invisible to Human eyes, which was very handy for undercover work. He could also make his rider invisible as long as they were in contact with each other.
And so, late one October night, Fred and Bart left the North Pole and headed for Baltimore.
Fred watched as the boy he was following bumped into the woman, opened her purse and extracted a few dollars, all the while apologizing for being clumsy. This was the sixth one today. Now the boy headed down an alley. Fred called Bart, who arrived instantly and as soon as Fred could, they disappeared to make it much easier to follow the boy. About twenty minutes later, the kid went into what looked like an abandoned building, through a window. Since there was no way for Bart to get in, Fred decided he was going to have to befriend the boy. It wasn't long before the boy came back out and a mean sounding voice was yelling at him about getting so little.
Fred sent Bart away, once they were back to the main street. He followed the boy and made sure the kid saw him following. Finally the kid came up to him, "Look you, bug off! You're bringing attention to us, and that ain't good."
"Nope, not good at all," Fred handed the kid a wad of cash.
"What do you think you're doing? Don't flash that around like that. Come on, follow me." The kid led Fred back into the nearest alley. "Okay, what's your name?"
"Okay, where you from, Fred?"
"Cool, look, you been here long?"
"Just got here."
"You got any skills?"
"Skills? Like picking pockets?"
"Yeah, what else can you do?"
"Not much useful stuff. I can judge character pretty good, and I'm good at bouncing balls."
Fred pulled six small balls out of his pocket, and did a cross between juggling and magic, and then held his pocket out and the balls all went right in.
"Crap! That was awesome! Can you teach me?"
"I don't know. It will take some time. I don't have anyplace to stay, so I'll have to move on, I guess."
"No way, Fred. You come and stay with us. Jewel will let you, if I ask him."
"You think he will?"
"I don't see why not. By the way, I'm Joe."
"Hi Joe, it's nice to meet you."
"Wow, you're polite too. Okay, follow me." Joe led the way to the place he called home.
Jewel did let Fred stay for awhile, and Fred taught the seven boys how to do a few tricks with the balls and some simple slight-of-hand kind of magic (not any of the real stuff). About a week before Christmas, he left and returned to The North Pole.
Fred waited outside 'The Office' and finally was admitted, with instructions to only take a few minutes of 'The Big Guy's' time.
"Ho. Ho. Ho. Fred. How did it go?" Santa asked.
"Not too well, Santa, I'm afraid. I don't know how to evaluate those boys. They were doing bad things, but they are in a very bad situation. Inside, they are actually good boys still, but they have to survive. In different situations, they would definitely be good boys."
"Fred, do you think anyone is naughty and not nice?"
"Oh, yes, sir. Jewel is not good at all. I would put him right at the top of the naughty list. He was not even nice as a little boy."
"So, what would you do for them, if you were Santa?"
"Well, that's easy; if I was Santa, I would find them a better life. I would give them a chance at happiness."
"Ho. Ho. Ho. Fred, you are incredible. Do you know that? Take the week off. I've got a new job for you, starting on the day after Christmas."
"Right," said Fred.
Fred enjoyed his week off. He was waiting, with the rest of the elves when Santa returned. Everyone gasped when they realized Santa was not alone, there were seven boys with him, ranging in age from four to ten sitting right there in the sleigh.
"Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas! Another good year, my Subordinate Clauses, Tis time to relax, and begin preparing for next year. Fred? Where is Fred?"
Fred ran forward, 'The Big Guy' was asking for him, in front of everybody. One of the boys in the sleigh stood up and yelled, "Hey, Fred! How'd you get here? Guys, It's Fred!" Joe yelled, and pointed to Fred.
The Sleigh drew to a stop, and the seven youngsters came running to greet their friend. Santa climbed down and joined them. "Boys, you have met Fred, he is going to be your foster Dad."
"Really? How is that possible? He's my age."
"Ho. Ho. Ho. No, Not quite, although we consider Fred a youngster, he is actually five hundred fifty six years old." Santa patted Fred on the shoulder. "Now Fred, your new job is to raise these boys to be good men, so that they will be able to return to the Human world and save more children. Just like you did. It is my gift to you, and yours to the children. Merry Christmas."
Neal put the paper down on his Lap and took a deep breath.
There was stunned silence. Neal looked up and every pair of eyes was glued to him. Moe began clapping, and soon the room erupted in applause and congratulations.
When things quieted down, Tom reached up from the floor where he and Leo had snuggled together, and took the paper away from Neal, "Guys, dig this. This is what his teacher wrote on the paper.
Short, sweet and good what more can you ask for? Great Job Neal; you have a soul as well as a heart."
Everyone agreed, and Tom told them that it was Christmas Eve and they needed to go to bed. Of course, there were moans and groans all around, but soon the room was empty of kids, and the Adults spent an hour or so in conversation, then they went and retrieved their presents, and stacked them neatly, under the tree.
When all was done, Tom and Lee shared Santa's Cookies and Milk. Then Nick headed home, but Linda was using the bedroom next to Lee's.
Tom and Leo were getting ready for bed when Tom came up behind Leo and whispered, Merry Christmas my Love. Leo turned, and Tom handed him a small package. Leo kissed Tom and went to his dresser and brought back a very similar package for Tom. They opened them together and they had picked out identical Sterling Silver bracelets. Tom had "My Love Always" engraved on the one he gave Leo. Leo had "Together We Are One" engraved on the bracelet he gave to Tom. They both had tears in their eyes for a while. It was some time before they got to sleep.
Special thanks to TSL for the Teacher's Note on Neal's Short Story. What a sweet ending for the chapter. The next chapter will be Christmas morning and there are many, many surprises. Like Neal's cold body lying on the floor after being shot at point blank range in the chest. Who could have done such an evil deed? Adam? David? The bearded man? Daddy Doc? Pat (either one or both) Or Santa himself?
That's all I'm saying.
Let me hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I must be very careful here, so as not to give any hints as to what those surprises might be. I had tears in my eyes several times in this chapter; one of the times was during the conversation between Moe and Leo, followed by the conversation between Moe and Neal.
I also found the giving of the Bracelets between Tom and Leo to be very touching. Neal did a real good job with that story of his. Fred seemed like a nice person, didn't he? I like him. Just so you know, I just did a little magic on this chapter, and I managed to squeeze a few more words into it, and got it well past the five thousand word mark.
The next chapter will have no trouble finding its way past that amount.
AKA The Radio Rancher
Fort Chief Editor's Notes:
Another wonderful and heartwarming chapter from Str8mayb and I also want to thank Str8mayb for mentioning my characters and my stories I appreciate the mention greatly and so does 'Goos'. I think this is going to be a wonderful Christmas for all of the folks at Haven and Haven Estates.
I loved the scenes between Leo and Moe and Moe and Neal hopefully Moe will understand that he really is a "Brother" to all of the boys.
This story keeps getting better and better with the growth and characterization of the interpersonal relationships. It is very nice seeing Daddy Doc and Tom grow closer together and the fact that everyone in the house is so accepting of their relationship. Well I need to go edit Chapter Fifteen of "Fire" cause a certain author is pushing me J.
Til we fly again,
'Goos' and TSL AKA The Story Lover and Gustavo.