Just Hit 'Send' - The Happy Years

by Grasshopper

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Valentine's Day

"I am not."

"Are so."

"I so am not."

"Guys!"

Jordan and Easy stopped their bickering to look at Markie. "What?" they said at the same time.

"You are being ridiculous."

"Am not."

"Are too."

Markie threw a pillow in their general direction and left them to their argument.

Nic watched them, Jordan grinning, Easy scowling, as they started up again.

"Oh, Ez, you are so."

"Dang it. I am not."

Laughing, Nic wheeled his chair to the window, catching Easy's eye.

"Want some help, Nic?"

"No, I'm fine. Go on with your denial," he chuckled.

He listened and thought about all that Danny had told him one day as they sat on the back porch, watching Jordan and Easy throwing the Frisbee for Fiddlesticks. Danny had told him about Jordan running away, of Easy finding him, of how Jordan wouldn't leave Easy in Tampa under that bridge. He had come to understand in the last 5 ½ months, just how much these four young men meant to each other. He had talked to Easy enough to know that behind that easy going manner, behind those deep hazel eyes, secrets were hidden. Danny hadn't told him what Easy had been doing alone in that big city, a boy half grown but Nic knew. His heart hurt for the secrets Easy had to carry.

He smiled as he heard Danny and Griff join the tussle.

"Ez, it's ok. We won't tease you............much."

"Nothin' to tease me about, Lil Bro."

"When do we get to meet her?" Griff snuck in.

"Yeah, Ez. We gotta check her out."

Nic laughed, "Boys, don't you think Easy has a right to his privacy?"

"NO!!!!" they all shouted together.

"You've been seeing this girl for 3 months, Ez. We just wanna meet her," Jordan said, trying to look serious.

"Oh, like I'm gonna bring her here so you can tell her everything that's wrong with me," he moaned.

Griff snorted, "Uh, Ez. That would take waaaaay too long. We haven't got a millennium."

Danny, always the peacemaker, asked quietly, "Ez, are you really afraid to bring her here?"

Easy actually looked embarrassed, "It's more like she's scared to death to meet you all at the same time."

Markie sat down beside Griff, cuddling into his arms. "Guys, let up on him. Think what it would be like to walk into this menagerie cold.

Griff chuckled, "Let's see......we've got a very presentable married couple, a wild child, a couple of gay dudes, our patriarch on wheels, a dog from the planet Doof and one very bashful black guy. Nope, I don't see anything weird."

"I promise to be very good," Danny giggled. "I won't attack Jordy while she's here."

Jordan grabbed him and pulled him into his lap. "You know you can't keep your hands off me, cutie britches." Danny tugged his face down and kissed his cheek.

"See?" Easy sighed. "They won't be good."

Jordan mumbled wickedly, "Danny's always very very good." Danny giggled.

"Okay," Markie laughed, "Stop it, guys. Be serious. If we ever want to meet Valerie, you're gonna have to behave." She punched Jordan in the arm and flicked Danny on the forehead. "Behave!"

"Yes ma'am." Danny grinned.

"Now, here's my plan," she said, as the others rolled their eyes. "Griff and I will go out to dinner with Easy and Valerie. We'll make her feel comfortable with us and then it will be simple to bring her here for like a cookout. What do ya say, Ez?"

"I guess. But you two clowns have gotta run me some slack, K?" He raised one eyebrow at Jordan and Dan.

"Okay. We give," Jordan laughed. "You know we won't mess anything up for you, Ez."

Nic sat quietly, watching the five friends hash it all out. He couldn't wait to see how this girl fit into the equation. If Easy liked her well enough to want to bring her to the house, she must be special.

Griff cleared his throat. "So, if you and I pass the test then she gets to meet the really bizarre rest of the family?"

"You make us sound like the Addams family," Jordan mumbled.

"Whoaaaa. I wanna be Gomez," Griff smirked. "Come here, Morticia." He pulled Markie tight.

"I guess that makes JD Puglsey," Markie laughed, "And you can be Fester, Nic."

Danny rolled his eyes. "Umm. That leaves Lurch and Thing. Hey Jordy, you feel Lurchie or Thingie?"

"Well, you've got the hands down really good," Jordan wiggled his eyebrows, "You be Thing."

The squabbling went on for a few more minutes and then they decided to call it a night. Easy pushed Nic to his room.

"They love you so much," Nic said softly.

"I know," Easy smiled. "I want what they have. I really like Val. I guess I'm scared that she won't fit in."

Nic nodded. "It's always risky bringing a new dynamic into a tight group of people. If you really care about her, they'll try. You know they will. There's nothing those four wouldn't do for you."


The dinner out went well. Markie was full of raves for Miss Valerie Robins.

"She met Easy at the center. She came in asking to do volunteer work with the kids in the evenings; she teaches 3rd grade at Lincoln Elementary. She's just beautiful and she really likes Ez. Be cool about this, guys," she said seriously. "This may be it."

"So, when do we get to meet her?" Jordan asked.

"We're gonna have a cookout this coming Saturday. We invited Valerie and she said she'd bring some old fashioned potato salad."

"I love her already," Danny laughed. "Saturday is Valentine's Day. Maybe that's a good omen."

JD looked up from his Legos. "Who's Valrie?"

"She's ummm......she's Easy's new friend," Markie said, cutting her eyes at Jordan.

"Yeah," he said, "Uncle Easy's bringing her to eat with us Saturday, so be good."

Markie snorted, "That's just the pot calling the kettle black."

JD looked up, puzzled. "What? Is Daddy a pot?" He giggled and stood up to put one hand on his hip and the other out in the air, launching into a very bizarre rendition of 'I'm a Little Teapot'.

"I'm a little teapot

Short and Stout.

Here is my handle

Here is my spout......"

Danny looked up from the paper. "Teapots...spouts....what are they teaching them in school?" He grinned over at Jordan with a sexy wink, making Jordan immediately feel a jerk in his 'spout' region.

"Hey,Dan?" his eyes wide, "Want me to fix that whoozit in the whatsit that you were telling me about?"

Danny took one look at Jordan and giggled. "Yeah, it needs adjusting with that wrench. I'll show you."

Markie sighed. "That's just what I'm talking about. Stop being.........well, you know."

"Marks," Jordan said softly, "I've waited a long time to be able to be "you know" with Dan. Is it any different from the way you are with Griff? I remember a couple of nights ago, when we had to turn up the TV cause........"

"Okay, okay," she laughed. "I'm sorry."

"Daddy? Can I help you fix the whoozit? I gots my toolbox."

Danny snorted behind his paper.

"Nah," Jordan smiled, "It's a one man job. Dan, if you'll show me where the leak is, I'll get right on it."


Saturday morning dawned bright and early with the usual frantic rush to get JD off to KidCare for a couple of hours. Added to the mix was his ziplock bag filled with Valentine cards and the pink and white cupcakes he and Dan had baked up the night before. With Nic's supervision, they had written each child's first initial in the top with red icing. Nic had added the tiny red and purple sprinkles.

"I'll run him down there," Jordan called, grabbing his keys.

"Daddy, stay with me?"

Jordan paused, grinned and called back into the house, "I'm gonna stay for the party. I'll see you guys in a few." He looked over at Danny, put two fingers to his lips, kissed them and turned them towards his baby's smiling face.


Valentine cookies baked, fried chicken piled on the platter, baked beans simmering in molasses and bacon, Markie wanted everything to go just right. She'd seen the look in Easy's eyes when he looked At Valerie. That look like he wanted to eat her up but cherish her at the same time. It was the look she'd seen in Griff's eyes when she knew he was the one she'd been waiting for.

"Griff, make sure the wood is piled for the fire."
"Danny, stir these beans. Don't let them burn."
"Nic, set the table."

"Whoa back, Miss Bossy," Griff caught her by the waist and spun her around in his arms. He knew how hard she was trying.

"Oh Hon, I just want everything to go good."

"I know, and it will. Calm down. We'll all behave. Ez doesn't have anything to worry about."


Easy and Valerie showed up at 3 as planned. Much later and it was way too cold to walk on the beach. The watery gray winter sun didn't do much to ward off the cold that went right to the bone.

Valerie was a beautiful girl, curly black hair to her shoulders, huge brown velvet eyes and skin the color of rich mahogany. She was smiling and friendly but had a death grip on Easy's hand.

"Your house is beautiful," she said softly. She went over to Nic and shook his hand. "I'm so glad to meet you. Easy's told me about Sam." Her eyes spoke to him, telling him she loved what she'd heard.

Danny kept looking at his watch. He'd tried to get Jordy over and over but his cell was turned off. Kidcare closed at 1 on Saturday and the party was long over. Jordy knew Easy was bringing Valerie at 3. Where the hell was he? Danny always worried when he didn't know where Jordy was. Always would.

"You have to be Danny," Valerie said sweetly. "I'd know you anywhere."

Danny laughed, "What has that guy said about me?"

Valerie smiled, "Black curly hair, bright blue eyes..........."

"Huge brace on my leg, maybe?" He smiled to take the sting out of his words.

"Well, that too but mostly that you would be attached to a tall blond guy with green eyes." She pretended to look around the room.

"Yeah, that would be Jordy," Danny sighed. "He's with JD. They'll be back soon."

Just then the door opened with a bang, a small ball of weeping energy flew across the room and slammed into his bedroom, the door crashing behind him.

Markie groaned, "JD's home," and went to talk to her son.

Jordan walked into the room, all eyes staring at him. He walked directly to Danny and by the time he got there, Dan's arms were open. He walked right into them and growled, "Damn str8s."

"Oh shit," Griff sighed.

"What happened, Jordy?"

Jordan sucked in a breath. "All the little kids were giving out valentines and kissing each other. They're 4, for God's sake. JD kissed Bobby Combs on the mouth. Bobby's mother freaked and well...........JD isn't going there anymore."

"What? Why not?"

"Damn homophobic assholes."

"Slow down, Jordy." Danny rubbed warm circles on Jordan's back. "Did they tell you he couldn't come back?"

"NO! I'm not having my child in a place where people can make him feel bad about himself."

"What did the teacher, what did Becky say?"

"She asked JD why he kissed Bobby and he said, 'I like Bobby. He's my friend.'

"Then she told him that boys don't kiss boys!!!"

"Oh damn!"

"Yeah, you can imagine how it went after that."

"Where have you been all this time?"

Jordan sighed, "Trying to make JD understand why he can't go around kissing boys but I can kiss you."

"Did it work?"

"Ya think?"

Valerie stood very still watching the flow of talk and the closeness of this group of people. They talked without talking; their body movements and small incomplete statements seemed to be enough. They were a tight family of very different people.

Jordan saw her for the first time. "Oh God," he groaned. "Valerie. I'm so sorry. What a way to meet us........or me anyway." He eased away from Dan and walked over to her, taking her hands in his. "Hi," he said softly.

Easy had told her that Jordan was the center of this family and now she saw it. He managed to damp back the anger and move on. When he softened his voice, everyone in the room relaxed. A good-looking 6 foot blond with the most amazing eyes. The only comfort he had needed was Danny.

Markie came back into the room. "Jordan, what the hell happened? He's in there babbling about kissing and how he's mad at you."

"Damn!" Jordan turned and walked out of the room. They heard the apartment door slam shut.

The phone rang and Griff picked it up. "Griff Langley."
"Yeah."
"Uh huh."
"Lord, yes."
"Fine by me."
"I'll run it by Jordan."
"And JD, yes."
"K. Bye."

"That was Becky. She's so sorry that happened. She said if Jordan had stayed, she would have straightened the whole thing out. Her little school doesn't tolerate any form of bigotry. She asked Mrs. Combs to find another school for Bobby. She said it wasn't the innocent little peck JD gave him but the words that came out of Mrs. Combs' mouth that decided her."

"I think our problem now is that little boy in there," Danny said gently. "Want me to talk to him?"

"I think you need to talk to Jordy," Easy said. "Let me talk to JD."

Danny grabbed his canes and Valerie watched as he struggled to right himself and then move in the direction Jordan had gone.

Surprised, she felt Easy keep hold of her hand as he walked toward the closed bedroom door. "I want you to meet him. You'll never be quite the same," Easy smiled. "He's an old soul in a bouncy young body."

He opened the door and Valerie's heart went out to the sobbing child on the bed. "Hey, Lil Dude," Easy said cheerfully.

"Unca Easy," he sniffled and flew off the bed to collide with Easy's chest. "Daddy doesn't love me. I can't go to my school. I kissed Bobby. Daddy kisses Papa D."

"Hey, look at me, Lil Dude." JD lifted his face. "You're drowning me in those tears."

"Who's that?"

Valerie smiled, "I'm Valerie. I'm Easy's friend."

"Oh. The lady I can't be a pot around."

Valerie wrinkled her face in questions.

Easy laughed. "I'll explain later. You can be a pot, JD. Why is your daddy so sad right now?"

"Cause.." he looked sheepish.

"Cause why?"

"Cause......I kinda .......I sorta........I said I didn't like him."

"And that would be because...?"

"He said I can't go to Kidecare with Miss Becky no more. He said I can't go around kissing boys."

"JD, do you know why?"

"Yeah," he stuck his bottom lip out, pouting. "Daddy can kiss people and me can't."

"And why is that?"

"Cause he's mean." JD peeped out from under his lashes.

"Cut the dumb junk, JD." Easy said, suddenly stern. "You know that's not true. Your daddy loves you more than anything."

"Then why can't I go back to Kidecare?"

"You can. Becky just called. Everything's okay."

JD brightened, his cheeks creased into a big grin only to have it slide off his face. "But.......but........Unca Easy. Daddy got so mad."

"Not at you. Never at you."

Valerie squeezed Easy's hand. "JD? Can I tell you a story?"

JD looked at Easy. Easy nodded his head. JD wriggled out of Easy's arms and plunked down on the bed. Easy sat on one side, Valerie on the other.

She smiled and ruffled his hair. "I was 6 years old in the first grade and I had the biggest crush on Joey Driggs. He was soooooo handsome and I wanted to have him for my boyfriend."

"Did you marry him?"

"No," Valerie smiled. "I got in trouble cause I kissed him."

"But.......but...........you're a girl. Daddy said boys can't kiss boys."

"But, JD, he wasn't the same color as me. I couldn't kiss him even though I was a girl."

JD looked down at his arms and put one gently beside Valerie's. "Oh," he said, "A choclate girl can't kiss a nilla boy?"

"Not when I was in first grade, JD. So, see, it wasn't just you kissing Bobby. It was more than that. It was people not knowing that colors and who you are doesn't really matter."

"Grandpa Nic told me about colors one time," JD said, cuddling into Valerie's side. "He told me to be proud of all the colors of my family." He jumped up and ran to his crayon box, bringing back three crayons. He held them up to her arm, cocking his head. "Hmmm, this one be's too, hmmm this one..........nah. Oh, this one's yours." He held up the chestnut colored crayon. "I like you," he said, nuzzling into her arms.

Easy gave her a "See, I told you" look over the top of his head.

"JD," he said gently. "I know somebody you need to talk to."

JD sighed. "My daddy, right?"

"Right."

"Valrie? You stayin' for supper?"

"Yes, JD. I like it here."

"Good." He slid off the bed and raced for the door, throwing it open and rushing into the living room yelling, "Dadddddy!!"

"Well?" Easy asked, laughter in his voice.

"I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck," she grinned.

"He'll get ya every time."

"I see why you love these people."

"They're easy to love," Easy laughed.


"Daddy?" Jordan heard JD's little voice at the door.

"Come on in, punkin."

"Daddy," he had his hands stuffed in his pockets and was shuffling his feet. "I sorry, Daddy."

Jordan gave a huff of trembled breath. "Come here, you silly boy." JD swooped across the room and into his daddy's arms. Danny shook his head. One minute, bedlam, the next, peace.

"JD. I want you to know that no matter who you ever kiss, I will love you more than anything."

"A frog?"

"Yes."

"Mr. Pollard at the store?"

"Um.......yes."

"A boy, Daddy?"

"Yes, punkin. It won't matter."

"JD?" Danny said quietly.

"MmHum?"

"Just right now, till you're older, stick with family, K?"

"No kids like me?"

"Would be better."

"Okey doke."

Jordan rolled his eyes and hugged his boy close. Danny watched and knew he'd never feel anymore love than he did right that minute.


The food all eaten, the events of the day cussed and discussed, everyone sat around the huge fire, bundled up and turning their hands for warmth. Jordan and Danny on their swing, a quilt wrapped tightly, Jordan's hand sneaking under the quilt to make Danny squirm. Easy and Valerie sitting on Easy's blanket close to the fire and each other with a sleepy JD snuggled in between. Griff and Markie on the log, holding hands and Nic bundled in his chair, his feet nearly in the fire.

"A good Valentine's, guys."

"Yeah. We made it to right here," Danny said softly."

"I gotta tell ya, Valerie," Griff laughed, "I could say that you could have seen us under better conditions but it's always like that around here."

Valerie laughed, "I couldn't have wished for a better day and please, everyone call me Val."

"Hey!" JD chirped up, "Kinda like Val for Valentimes, right?"

"Yes, we met you on Valentine's Day. Couldn't be more perfect," Jordan laughed.

"You can be Unca Easy's Valentime."

"Jordan, do something," Easy groaned.

"Yeah, like anyone can stop Hurricane JD when he gets started."

"Guys?" Markie said quietly. "We've got something to tell you."

Nic smiled. He already knew...from the glow in her cheeks and the way Griff couldn't keep his eyes off of her.

"Griff and I..........."

"OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Let her tell it, Jordy," danny laughed.

"We're having a baby."

The air was filled with laughter and love and Valerie sat back and watched as this family drew even closer together. Hugs and slaps on the back and talk of cigars and another JD and when???????


"Well?"

"I love them."

"I told you."

"Yes, you did." Valerie smiled. She wondered what the future had in store for her and this man who had been lost and had gained a family so full of love that he had grown tall and strong and full of love himself.


"Dan?"

"Mmm?"

"Happy Valentine's Day." Jordan snuggled close behind his baby, rubbing his arms and wrapping his legs tightly.

"Happy Valentine's to you too," Danny sighed.

"Markie's having a baby."

"Yep."

"I wonder what kind?"

"I'd like a girl."

"Oh you would, would you?" Jordan wriggled his hips, rubbing himself on Danny's sweet butt.

"Or a boy."

"Who cares, as long as it's healthy and happy and we get to love it."

"Yeah."

"Do you wish we could have kids?"

Danny sighed a little. "I do love kids but we've got JD and we'll have this new baby. It'll be enough."

"Choices, Dan. We've made ours."

"Yeah....and I wouldn't change anything. I want what I have right now, snuggled behind me, except for one thing."

Jordan raised his head up off the pillow, his face frowning. "And what would that be?"

"You never did fix that whoozit in the whatsit with your big wrench."

Jordan laughed and rolled Danny over on his back as he heard the humming notes of "I'm a little teapot strong and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout..."

"Ah, here's the leak," Jordan giggled.

J Happy Valentine's Day 2004 JJ J

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