Once home, Connor asked Liam to follow him to his den.
"Are you all right son? I know you don’t like doing that sort of thing, but he didn’t leave you much choice."
"I’ll be alright, the Sergeant said he would make sure the video remained under control and Cheri said she wouldn’t send it to anyone."
"Well, if you need to discuss this let me know. You come first in my life ahead of everything."
"I know Da, and thanks. Why do you suppose he would do such a stupid thing?"
"I can’t begin to guess, he may have issues his father is only just discovering."
"Jayzus, what if he’d had access to a gun?"
"I don’t like to think of it, Liam."
"I’m not anti-gun Da, but I know kids shouldn’t have them without an adult keeping them in line."
"I’m with you there, Son; they need to be locked up where kids can’t get their hands on them."
"Um, Da, when you go out can you send Danny in please?"
"Sure, Lad." Connor hugged and kissed his son and went in search of Danny.
"Hi, Liam, um… your Dad said you wanted to see just me."
Liam’s eyes were wet with tears and he grabbed Danny in a hug and held him tight.
"I’m sorry, Danny, I just felt bad that you got hurt and I um, I guess I’m just upset and the adrenalin is dying out. Does your side hurt much?"
"No, the medics tied a cold pack over it with an ace bandage and most of the pain is gone. I think I was more surprised than hurt. I got scared when that ball just missed Amber though."
"Are you angry because I left you and went after him?"
"No, I know why you did it; he could have hurt us all if you didn’t stop him. I was scared for you and when I saw the knife, I worried that I might lose you."
"I had to; I was the only one there that stood a chance of stoppin’ him. He was mad and he wasn’t likely to stop on his own."
"It’s always gonna be like that with you isn’t it?" Danny laughed.
Danny lifted his head and kissed Liam’s lips and Liam kissed him back.
"What was he mad about?"
"You said he was mad, what was he mad about?"
Liam began to laugh softly.
"What?" Danny looked a bit cross.
"Two people separated by a common language. Shaw meant the English and Americans but it fits for us Bogtrotters as well. I meant mad as in mad as a hatter, you know… crazy?"
Danny began to laugh then, "That is funny. I forget that the words you use aren’t the same as I use."
"Thanks Danny, I needed to laugh, let’s go out and talk to Cheri and Amber and see if they want to go buskin’ with us."
"I’m good with that."
Liam washed his face in his dad’s bathroom then he and Danny went out to the family room.
Cheri, Amber and Terri mobbed the boys, hugging and kissing them both. The boys bore it with good humor and when they calmed down, Liam asked Amber about the ball that almost hit her.
She had completely missed seeing it or maybe it wasn’t as close as Liam thought.
"I saw it, but it missed and I was scrambling for my phone so I could get a video of that jerk before he killed one of us." Cheri explained.
"I was worried about Danny, but I looked up in time to see him try to hit you with the club before you tackled him," Amber added.
"Amber, I don’t know if Cheri has had a chance to mention it, but I really don’t want a lot of people to hear about this or see the video. If they hear about it then they’ll bug you for the video so it’s better they don’t find out."
"But you’re a hero; you should get some recognition for it," Amber whined.
"I don’t see it that way; it’s like the old time gunfighters. I’ll have every eedjit with a little skill wanting to try me on. I don’t need guys throwin’ shapes at me everywhere I go."
"That really happens?"
"It did in Dublin and with Da as well."
"It’s true Amber, I ran across it growing up, and Liam has had to deal with it as well."
"Ireland must be a violent place," Amber gasped.
"Not so dear, it’s much less so than here, but that sort of thing gets around and there are lads who fancy themselves tough guys that will look for you so they can start a fight, no matter where you are."
"Is that just a guy thing, I never hear of girls doing that?" Cheri asked, trying to be funny.
"Well, I don’t know much about girls Cheri, but the ones you pointed out at school seem the type," Liam speculated.
"Do you girls want to come to the park and do some busking?"
"It sounds cool to me, Amber?" Cheri answered.
"I’ll call Sean and see if he wants to bring his Bodhrán."
"What’s a Bodhrán?" Asked Amber.
"It’s an Irish drum, Sean is very good."
"Terri, are you okay with us going to Memorial Park to play music with friends? Lance and Debby will be there and probably Jack."
"I think that’s fine, is it nearby?"
"Yes, it’s the park where the Fourth of July parade starts and the Fireworks show is held."
"We’ve never been, Liam, but I think we’ll try this year."
"Shall we see if we can get you back on schedule, Terri?" Connor asked.
"Sure, that would help."
The parents took their leave with plenty of hugs and kisses exchanged.
"Your parents are nice, I wasn’t expecting a hug and a kiss from your Dad, Liam," Amber said.
"Yeah, he’s dreamy. If I was straight I’d have a major crush on him," Cheri added.
They all laughed at that.
"We need to go up and grab a couple guitars; would you like to see my room ladies?"
"Whoa, nice room and your bathroom is beautiful."
"Thanks, Da let me decide how my room should look, let me show you the balcony, it looks out over the back garden."
"What is that stuff all over your yard?" Cheri queried.
"Our neighbor’s roof, it’s the blue one with the lavender trim."
"Is that from the storm yesterday?"
"Yeah, our house is fine, but some of the other homes had some damage or trees down."
"It scared the hell out of me, I thought my bedroom window was going to blow in and my little sis was terrified."
"It’s the lightning for me, but Danny saw me through it. I’ll tell you about it sometime."
They were sitting under their favorite oak with Lance, Debby and Tristan, who smiled broadly when he saw Sean approaching. Sean smiled back every bit as wide. There were eight when they started playing a lively Irish tune and Sean didn’t disappoint. They played all sorts of music. Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin and Banjos filled the air and it drew quite a crowd. Children and some adults danced and it seemed like all had a good time. Four more musicians joined in before they finished for the day.
While they were all talking, Liam’s phone rang and it was Connor.
"Hey lad, are you about done?"
"Sure Da, we’re just havin’ a jaw."
"Grand, ask the girls if they’d like to join us for some lunch please."
Liam asked and the girls begged off but said they would appreciate a ride home.
"We can do that. We’ll be at the Indian Hill entrance in a few minutes," Connor said.
"Okay Da, we’ll see you there."
"We better leg it to meet me Da," he told his friends.
With the girls safely dropped at Cheri’s they were on the road again.
"We’ve one stop to make and then we’ll get some lunch in yas," Connor announced.
They turned onto Ward Avenue and stopped in front of a lovely little Craftsman Bungalow and Connor stopped the engine.
"Who lives here, Mom?" Danny inquired.
"Well, we do." Terri answered.
"What! Really? A real house?" Danny yelped.
"This is our home now, Danny boy, why don’t we go inside and we’ll have a look around."
When the tour was complete, Danny was absolutely joyful. He pulled Liam down on his new queen sized bed and stretched out side by side with him.
"Now you can spend the night over here too."
"Any time yer ready."
Danny kept running to his mother and hugging her.
"So guys, Connor and I have been talking and we’d like to have a joint birthday celebration for you two, since your birthdays are only two days apart." Terri declared.
‘That sounds great to me! Liam what do you think?" Danny nearly squealed.
"I like it, it sounds like fun. Will we do it at home or someplace else?"
"We considered Dave and Buster’s and another place that has bowling as well. We’re open to suggestion if you have ideas."
"Da, does your mate Kevin still have that tour boat?"
"I believe so, are you thinking about a party boat?"
"It would be different and maybe we could book a band."
"Let me check that out and see what would be required. Maybe we could invite parents along since we’d be on the water. I like the idea but some folks might have a problem with letting their kids on a boat without them along."
"Yeah you’re right, Da, and this isn’t the greatest time of year for a cruise either. It was just an idea."
"Well it’s a good idea, but probably a summer thing."
"How about this, does Richard have a banquet room in his restaurant? Or maybe we could do it on a night that they’re closed?"
"I’ll call him, that’s another good idea and it’s local."
"That really sounds good to me, I never had a birthday party that was more than Mom and me. I think anything would be cool."
"We’ve always done small parties for Liam up till now. But it’s time both of you celebrated in style." Connor added.
"Thanks Da, and thank you Terri."
"Let’s go check out the backyard Liam." Danny suggested.
Liam was pensive as he followed Danny out the kitchen door to the rear yard.
"Danny what do you think of the idea of my dad and your mom maybe dating?" Liam asked softly.
"Really? You think they might?
"I think so, they seem pretty nice together. I know part of it is because of us but I think they like each other more than they let on."
"I don’t know, I never thought about it. Mom has had a couple boyfriends that I’ve met and only one of those was decent. But, he solved his problems with his wife and went back to her. It hurt my mom a lot. That was a couple of years ago. I only knew what happened because I heard her talking to someone about it on the phone."
"That sucks, but I guess stuff like that happens."
"I think we’re being spied on," Liam whispered in Danny’s ear. "Keep talking while I find out."
Liam circled around and stepped up on a raised bed planter. He looked over the fence and saw a small boy peeking through a crack in the gate to the side yard.
"Oy, boyo, watcha lookin’ at?" Liam asked in a fairly gentle tone.
The boy flinched but ducked the question and asked one of his own. "Are you my new neighbor?"
"No, that’d be Danny; you know it’s not nice to spy on people."
"I didn’t mean to, I just wanted to see who was here. Daddy and Greigh said we would get new neighbors, I was hoping for a boy my age but you’re both older."
"I’m afraid so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends."
"Really?!" the boy squealed.
"Stand clear of the gate and I’ll let you in."
Liam pulled the latch and the gate swung inward. The boy bounced through like Tigger from the hundred-acre wood.
Danny stood and walked over.
"Are you Danny?" the boy asked with excitement.
"Yes, who are you?"
"I’m T.J. I live next door, I’m four, I know the alphabet, and I can count to a hundred. And I can read."
"It’s nice to meet you T.J., this is Liam, he’s my friend."
"I like him, he’s nice, he talks funny though."
Danny chuckled, "He does, doesn’t he? But he’s from Ireland so he sounds a bit different from us."
"Ireland? Is he a lepperkon?" T.J. asked sincerely.
Liam laughed, "No, T.J. Leprechauns are wee folk, tiny little men. I know a poem about them if you’d like to hear it."
"Really, please tell me it, please," the four-year-old pleaded.
"Up the airy mountain, through the rushy glen, we daren’t go a hunting for fear of little men. Wee folk, good folk trouping all together, Green jacket, red cap and white owl’s feather.
Up the craggy hill side through the mosses bare, they have planted thorn trees for pleasure here and there, if any man’s so daring as to dig them in spite, he’ll find their sharpest thorns in his bed that night."
So T.J., what did you think of that?"
"I like it; but are lepperkons mean?"
"No T.J., they only want to be left in peace, just don’t make a mess of the forest if you visit and if you find dandelions, don’t pick them all. Leave a few for the wee men and fairies to make their wine. And don’t smash the toadstools you find because the fairies like them and they get very cross if humans mess up their favorite snack."
"I didn’t know, I’ll be very careful next time we go to the woods."
"There’s a lad, and tell yer friends."
A voice called out, "T.J."
"I’m here." T.J. called out in return.
"I hope you’re not wandering around outside the yard with nothing on."
"I have my shirt on see!" T.J. said as he pulled up the shirt to reveal nothing under it but T.J.
A man entered the open gate and stopped when he saw Danny and Liam.
"Oh, I didn’t know anyone was here. I’m Greigh, Greigh Lewellen and soon to be Greigh Lewellen-Royal once T.J.’s Daddy and I are married.
"Nice to meet you sir, I’m Danny and this is my boyfriend Liam."
Danny and Liam both offered their hands and Greigh shook them both. T.J. bounced around trying to recite the poem that Liam had told him. But it sounded more like "up a hairy mountain to a Russian gym" which made Liam laugh. It was cute and so was T.J. He was very compelling to look at with dark blue sparkly eyes and an angelic smile, but just at the corner of those beautiful eyes and lashes was an impish character which is perfect for four-year-olds by Liam’s assessment.
"Okay T.J., it’s time to get your four-year-old butt in the tub before Daddy gets home."
"Okay Greigh, Liam and Danny said we could be friends even though they’re older."
"He sure sounds older than four, he’s bleedin’ fearless." Liam proffered.
"Yes, he’s improved in speech quite a bit in the last year, he had a bit of trouble with the letter "R"; he would call me Gway but he’s got a handle on it now. Um… where do I know you from, I’ve seen you both I’m sure?”
"You might have seen us busking in the park earlier."
"Oh that’s it; you were two boys in the quad the other day. I’m filling in at McAuliffe while Mrs. Greene is out sick, but I would love to teach there full time."
"Er, what do yas teach?" Liam asked.
"Geography and History, I find the two deeply intertwined."
"Well, much of history is about people fighting over geography and who owns it."
"Very astute, well I better get my stepson into the tub so I can make dinner.
"Nice meeting you Greigh, I suppose at school you’ll be Mr. Lewellen?"
"Yes, I’m afraid so. It’s probably better for you anyway. It’s possible some of your classmates might not approve of being too chummy with a teacher."
"Eh, the lot of em’ can sit on a sharp stick if they don’t like it. But it could cause you difficulty as well so we’ll keep it formal in the hallowed halls, eh?"
"Nice meeting you, Sir." Danny added
"Same here guys, I look forward to more conversations."