Heart Strings

Chapter Seven

The boys piled in and Terri pulled away as they buckled their seat belts.

"How was School boys?"

"It was okay, Mom, but I was so sleepy all day because I couldn’t sleep at all last night."

"Oh, I’m sorry, Baby, are you worried about something?"

"Not worried, anxious about the guitar I guess."

"Same here, although I eventually got to sleep, it wasn’t long enough," Liam added.

"Can you boy’s keep yourselves entertained at Liam’s house while I take care of some things?"

"Sure Mom," Danny piped, as he grinned at Liam."

"I’m not sure we’ll get much done, but yeah, we can stay busy or nap."

"Thanks boys, here we are so jump out and I’ll see you later."

Danny swung the door open and Terri said, "Kisses?" so Danny leaned over and kissed her cheek. Liam leaned over the seat and gave her one as well, which surprised her.

"Oh, you boys are so sweet. Bye now."

The boys waved as she drove away and then walked to the front door. Liam entered his code and the door unlocked and in they went.

"That’s cool; you don’t have to carry a key to get in."

"Yeah, and the thing is battery powered; if the power goes out, it will work for a week on a charge."

Liam set the perimeter alarm and hung his jacket up on the hall tree.

"Do you have any homework?"

"Just a little, I have to write a short story for Mr. Hanlan’s class."

"Do you like to write, I know I do. I like to tell a story. I hope to write some songs, but I’ve been busy."

"Yeah, I enjoy writing stories. It makes me feel good to put an idea in print. I like to write in an essay book and then I put it on the computer and work on it until I’m happy."

"Me too, actually writing on paper feels really good to me. I can’t explain it but it gives me this feeling like I’m doing something important."

"Yeah, I get that Liam, I feel the same way."

"My biggest problem is keeping short stories short. There’s always more I want to say, either about a character or a place, you know."

"Yeah, I have the same problem."

"So what do you want to do, I’m keen to have a sandwich or something."

"Oh yeah, that sounds good, what do you have?"

"Black forest ham and some really good cheese. Do you like mustard or mayo or what?"

"Mayo and a dab of Dijon if you’ve got it."

"Okay, why don’t you pick a movie and we’ll watch while we eat."

"I’m on it!" Danny yelled back.

One of the drawers of Blu-ray discs was slightly ajar so he pulled it open and looked no further. He pulled Rogue One from its case and set about the controls of the player and television. It was enormous. Once he got it turned on, a soccer match between Portugal and the Czech Republic was running. He watched for a minute and then figured out the player easily. He cued the movie to the beginning and hit pause.

Danny went to find Liam in the kitchen and found him preparing a tray with the sandwiches, chips and some sweet and salty snacks.

"What would you like to drink?"

"Oh, um… what do you have?"

"Let’s look."

"I’ll have a root beer and you, Liam?"

"Orange crème soda, there in the second row," He directed. "Bring two of each, do you want a glass?"

"Nope, the bottle is fine."

They sat and Danny started the movie.

"Oh cool, this is me and my Da’s favorite Star Wars movie so far."

Liam and Danny ate their food and watched and with full bellies and little sleep the night before, that was how Connor and Terri found them. Connor tidied the dishes and put away the uneaten snacks while Terri put a blanket over the two sleeping boys after pulling off their shoes.

Connor offered to cook dinner and Terri pitched in. At nine, they roused the two boys and sent them to the shower. Connor poked his head in and collected Danny’s jeans and underpants for washing.

When he went up to see if they wanted a snack, they were both out cold on Liam’s bed with not so much as a towel. Daniel lay on his back with one foot on the floor while Liam faced him lying on his side. Connor shifted his son and noted that he was quite erect and what looked like a few tiny hairs were making themselves known on his groin. Danny was in the same condition and Connor shifted him away from the edge placing his leg on the mattress and covered them with the sheet, which he then pulled up after surveying the view of these two sweet little boys on the cusp of adolescence and a pang went through his chest. He kissed each of the sleeping boys on the cheek and went downstairs.

Downstairs he informed Terri that the boys were asleep and it would probably be just as well to leave them be. Terri thought about it a bit and agreed, but she wanted to see her boy before she went back to the hotel. Connor led her up and watched as she kissed each boy and tucked the covers around them.

"Oh my god, they’re so adorable, this could be the last time we see them like that, they’re growing up so fast." Terri whispered.

"Sensing the emotion in her voice, Connor stepped forward and put an arm around her shoulder and Terri folded into him for comfort. Connor’s strong arms encircled her and she could feel him patting her back. He was clearly letting her set the pace, but there was no denying the attraction between them."

Once she had composed herself, Connor released his embrace and allowed her to lead him out of the room. He offered the use of the guest room, but she didn’t think it was a good idea the way she was feeling.

"You know, we’ll have to sit down and talk about us at some point. Neither of us is very good at hiding our feelings and the boys will get wise soon," Connor suggested.

"I know, but so much is happening all at once, I don’t know what to think or do. Let me get my baby into his new home and bring him up to speed on our new life. I’ll be able to think about myself and what I want and how that affects you and me."

"That seems reasonable, I should tell you that Duane has seen through both of us already. He may be a big macho guy, but he’s very sensitive to mood and emotion. Jason says it’s one of his best qualities."

"He’s a good guy and honest too. It’s refreshing to have someone just ask about a concern rather than make assumptions."

"Oh, the security issues right? He is good at that and he has a lot of tact. He’s our point of contact for security clearances and other red tape. Once he gets you a clearance you’ll be doing some of the interface work with D.O.D. And a lot of the material we work on is classified in nature. People know it exists but not all of its properties."

"Well, getting back to you and me, I’m glad you are the man that you are and I appreciate your patience."

"Ah well, that’s just the way I am, patience and caution are two of the things that have helped me, helped us all get this far, and it’s all starting to come together if Mr. Musk is serious about his interests."

"I think I better get going back to the hotel while I can still walk. Keep an eye on my baby and yours too." Terri leaned forward and gave Connor a kiss on the cheek. She turned and walked down the stairs and grabbed her purse. Connor regrouped mentally just in time to grab his remote and deactivate the alarm before Terri opened the door.

Connor leaned on the railing overlooking the stairway. He knew that she was a good choice to do the job; she was already pulling the guys together and giving them the big sister treatment. She was good with people and the situations and conflict that always arise between the personalities of people that worked with him. He ambled down and secured the house and cleaned up in the kitchen. He put Danny’s Levis in the dryer and hung up his briefs to dry on the rack in the laundry room. He figured Danny might not mind bumming a t-shirt from Liam but boys were often a bit circumspect about wearing another boy’s pants. Connor made his way to bed, stripped and after a few mental exercises, he was sound asleep.

Toward morning it had gotten warm and the boys had kicked off their covers. They lay face to face in an embrace with their foreheads touching. Daniel’s eyes snapped open and a beautiful smile spread across his face. Bird song filtered in from outside as he gazed at Liam’s sleeping countenance. He couldn’t resist the urge to kiss him and started with his nose and eyes. This caused Liam to rouse from his slumber.

"Oh, himmph," was as far as Liam got as Danny covered his mouth with his own.

"Good morning Liam," Daniel said sweetly.

"Good morning Danny, that’s a nice way to wake up."

Danny just smiled at him and Liam put his hands on Danny’s rounded bottom.

"Mmm, nice," said Daniel.

"I agree," Liam replied.

Certain bits of their respective anatomy were making themselves known as they were sandwiched between the boys.

"I can feel you against me" Danny said

"Mmm, me too."

A knock at the door startled the life out of them.

"You lads decent in there?" Connor asked.

The boys shifted a bit and Liam called, "come on in Da."

"Morning gents, I have hot cocoa for the both of yas and for Danny I have freshly laundered Levis and pants."

"Aren’t Levis considered pants?" Danny asked.

"He means underwear, trousers or Levis go over yer pants unless yer a super hero or a loonie."

That got Danny giggling and it got his mind off his straining erection.

Connor assessed the situation and the shapes under the sheet. He put the cocoa down on the night table and the clothing on a chair and told the boys he was starting breakfast. Closing the door behind him, he chuckled a bit as he headed down stairs.

The boys threw back the sheet and made for the toilet but in their current state it was a non-starter. Liam turned on the water in the shower and the boys relieved their straining bladders.

"That’s impressive," Danny said.

"Yours is too," echoed Liam.

"This is frustrating, I’ve slept with you three times and nothing has happened." Said Danny, giggling.

"Three times?"

"Yeah, here twice and at the school once."

"But there were people around and we didn’t have a lot of time."

"I’m kidding Liam, we’ll get there. When we do, it will be great."

Terri arrived with fresh clothes for Danny, but he was already dressed with Liam’s clothes. He wasn’t that much smaller than Liam so he looked fine. They all ate breakfast together and Connor asked Terri if she’d mind dropping the boys at school. He agreed to pick them up in the afternoon.

"I need to make some time for Rick before the rest of the guys get there."

"Tell him bimysma for me, okay Da?"

"Will do, come give me a hug, I need to get going."

Liam and Danny both rose and hugged Connor and he patted both of them on the back. Liam looked at Danny oddly.

"What? You kissed my Mom, fair’s fair."

Liam smiled broadly, "Yer right," he said.

"Terri giggled as she watched the interplay of the pair."

"Hey Danny, there are new brushes in my vanity if you want to go up. I’ll fill the dishwasher and be up in a minute."

"I can do that Liam," Terri offered.

"I know, but it’s one of my chores, I’ll start the load when I get home."

"Why not now?"

"We don’t leave appliances running on their own, if something goes wrong we could have a fire or a flood."

"Why didn’t I know that?"

"Eh, you probably did, you’ve got a lot happening now and it’s easy to lose sight of some stuff."

"You are wise beyond your years Liam."

"Maybe, I don’t know. I’m just me."

Terri smooched his cheek and sent him up to brush with a pat on the butt.

They arrived a bit early for school so they had to hang around out front until Cheri arrived.

"Hey guys," she said as she hugged them both.

"Hi Cheri, you look especially hot today," Liam offered.

"I thought you were gay?"

"A wise woman once told me that she might be gay but she wasn’t blind. I’m serious, you look hot, that’s a cool outfit. Are you a Whoviant?"

"Bigtime baby, you?"

"I love the show, but that’s where I leave it."

"Not me, I’m well into Steam Punk, too."

"Remind me to show you my computer at home."

Is that what all that stuff on your desk was? I thought it was just weird decoration. Cool though," Danny added.

"Oh, now I’ve got to see that, will I be the first girl you entice up to your room?"

"You are evil aren’t you Cheri."

"You have no Idea."

They heard the sound of the gates opening and greeted Mr. Sheddler, the custodian.

"Morning folks, you have a good day now." He waved at them and walked off to open other gates.

"He’s sure a nice old guy, I’ve never seen him in a bad mood," Cheri said.

"Maybe he likes it here," Danny countered.

They took a meandering path towards the Caff and bought coffee and cocoa and sat at one of the tables. They watched as people began to file by in various stages of wakefulness.

"Do you see any couples that aren’t obvious?" Cheri asked.

"Um… the dark blue shirt and the guy with the stripes?" Liam queried.

"Bingo, they’re nice guys like you and they go unnoticed, I guess that’s the way they want it. They hardly ever touch, but if you watch their eyes and body language it’s easy to see."

"Are Holly and Jenny a couple?" Danny delved.

"No they’re a couple of conniving bitches, so stay clear and tell them nothing. The only time they show an interest in someone other than themselves, is to gather dirt to use against you later. Just watch Holly’s face change as Laura walks by; see her giving Laura the stink eye and then back to an angel face. It’s quite a trick.

"Why, what’s wrong with Laura?" Liam asked.

"Nothing, they can’t find anything to use against her or hold over her head. That makes her dangerous to them. But Laura is just a genuinely nice person like Danny here. But don’t worry about them, they just want to be the princesses of the cheer team. Not gonna happen though. There’s a video out there of them drunk, high and nearly naked doing some rather sick things with Jenny’s Dalmation. Not exactly the image a cheer squad wants for their top tier. Usually they battle other shallow bitches like themselves, but if they go after anybody decent, I’ll sink their boat so fast the undertow will yank their perfect little shoes off.

"Savage!" said Liam, "I’ve never met an avenging angel before."

"I only use my powers for good, boyo." Cheri replied.

"Hey Liam, what did you mean when you said beemshma to your Dad?"

"It was Bimysma; it’s sort of an acronym. A guy that works with my Da, his name is Rick, but they call him Bender because he can do voices and Bender, the robot from Futurama is his favorite and Bimyshma is just our quick way of saying ‘Bite my shiny metal ass’ in the nicest way possible."

"That’s a guy I gotta meet; you really call him Bender?" Cheri asked.

"Yeah, it sort of fits him. He comes over regular like for parties and such. The whole bunch is like family to us. I’ll see you meet him."

"Good morning people, how are you this morning, Mr. Levi greeted them cheerfully."

"The consensus is we’re all doing well, and you Sir?" Liam responded.

"I have my coffee so all’s right with the world now. I’ll have the room open in a few minutes."

A chorus of thank yous was issued and he went about his business.

"You guys can go on ahead, I’m waiting for Amber and then I’ll be along," Cheri instructed.

Amber arrived as bubbly as ever, she hugged the boys and Cheri but she lingered over Cheri’s hug.

At the gate for the athletic field next to the bleachers, something else was happening.

A seventh grader named Calvin was making his way through the bleachers area, hoping to go unseen, but someone was waiting for him. He had made a habit of varying his path into the school to avoid this person, but it didn’t work this time.

"Um… hey Calvin, I’ve been looking for you." Brian said.

"Oh, hi Brian, please don’t hassle me this morning, I’m already having a shitty day."

"Look Calvin, it’s not like that this time, I um… want to apologize."

"Calvin looked stunned but still wary. "Um… huh?"

"Seriously dude, I’ve been acting like a dick and you really got the worst of it and I’m sorry. I was having trouble at home and I took my anger out on other people who couldn’t fight back. So sincerely man, I’m sorry."

Calvin was shocked to see Brian’s eyes brimming with tears. "Really, I don’t have to hide from you anymore?"

"Fer realz dude, I mean it. So, what got your day off to a bad start?"

"My mom and my sister were arguing and I couldn’t get my breakfast and I guess I was so pissed off I left my wallet behind and that means no lunch either."

“That’s not a problem dude; c’mon let’s hit the Caff and get a breakfast burrito and then you can meet me for lunch by the bike rack and we’ll go across to Jerry’s and get something there, I’m buying."

"You don’t have to do that."

"I want to, I feel so ashamed for what I did, it’s the least I can do." Brian stuck out his hand and he and Calvin shook and they walked toward the campus together.

At lunch time, Liam, Danny, Cheri and Amber all met up at the Caff and ate at a table.

"I saw the weirdest thing just now. You know that Brian guy you had a problem with? He and Calvin, who was his main target, were heading out the gate like friends; I think they were going to Jerry’s Star Burger." Cheri was puzzled, "What’s up with that?"

"I talked to Brian yesterday, or he talked to me. He explained why he had been acting like a dick and apologized. He mentioned that he had a lot of apologizing to do and I’d guess that’s what you saw. Brian actually thanked me for setting him straight, it made him reassess his behavior. I think he’s really a decent guy who had some anger issues; he said he dealt with the source and he feels like he needs to make amends. So why don’t we let him see to it, eh?"

"I didn’t see that coming at all," Cheri said, and then, "so what about me, can you solve my problems too?"

"You seem well adjusted to me, you’re sure of yourself and you have a sense of fashion and flair; you’re kind, despite the image you try to project and somebody besides your mother loves you and she’s got it bad."

Cheri’s eyes now floated in a sea of tears, "Oh god, Liam, you bum; how could you make me cry on a day like this?"

Liam wrapped his arms around Cheri’s shoulders and put a cheek against the back of her head. She reached up and patted his arm. Amber and Danny joined the embrace and when it broke up after a few moments, the boys told Cheri they would see her and Amber at the pick-up.

As they walked to the music room, Liam fought the urge to take Danny’s hand in his own. Danny, for his part, would have been happy to do it and screw the consequences.