Just Hit 'Send' - The Happy Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 5

"Papa D?"

Danny folded down the corner of page 236 to mark his place and lifted JD into his lap. "What, Sweet Boy?"

JD snuggled into his chest and played with the edges of the book. "What cha readin'?"

"It's a book called The Persian Boy about a powerful man, Alexander the Great."

"Did he fight wars?"

"Yeah, he did," Danny smiled, "But he was still just a man."

"Papa D?" JD's voice was so soft Danny had to bend in to hear him.

"I be's thinkin'."

"What were you thinking about?" Danny asked patiently, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled down at the tossled hair and the frowning face.

"Mommy's gonna have a baby. It's in her tummy."

Danny looked frantically around the living room. Dang! No one was here. Where was Nic when you needed him? Oh Lord, JD, don't ask that!! What could he say? He wasn't about to talk about little sperm swimming and........ As calmly as possible, he asked, "So, what are you thinking?"

"If Mommy eats a taco and baby Mellie's in her tummy, will she get like cheese and taco stuff on her? I was tryin' to 'member when I was in Mommy's tummy, but I can't."

Dan stared hard at the ceiling, biting his bottom lip. Taking a deep breath, he dove in. "Mellie's in a special compartment, JD. Not the food part."

JD brightened up a little. "So, baby Mellie is all clean and stuff?"

"Oh, yeah. She's squeaky clean."

JD sat for a minute and Danny could hear the wheels turning.

"If she dudn't get Mommy's taco, what does she eat?"

Danny scrambled his brain back to Marriage and Family 101. "Uh, okay. It's like this. Mellie can't eat food like us."

"Why not?"

Danny thought wildly. "She doesn't have teeth."

"K." JD agreed with that.

"Soooooo," Danny sighed, "Mommy has a way of getting food to her."

"Huh? Like special Mellie burgers?"

Danny choked. "Not quite." He tugged up JD's shirt front. "What's this?"

JD giggled. "JD's bellybutton."

"And why do you have it?"

JD thought. "Daddy says that's where they plug me in at night."

'Thank you, Jordy,' Dan groaned. "Well, maybe, but before you were born, that was your food delivery from your Mommy."

"Mommy put my food in my bellybutton?" JD stared down at the little hole and poked it with his finger. "It's closed up."

"Well, you're born now. Yeah, Mommy kinda put food in you that way. You know on PowerPuff Girls, when they hook up to the power source to get more power?"

"Yeah..........Zoom! Zoom! I looove Buttercup. She's my favorite. 'Member when she gets all stinky cause she won't take a bath? Hahaha!"

Danny grabbed his chance. "Wanna watch the video?"

"Yeahhhh!" JD jumped down, started toward the TV, stopped and turned around, his brows wrinkled. "But Mommy's not hooked to the power machine."

Letting out a long sigh, Dan continued. "Mommy's special apartment in her tummy is hooked to her inside. She's hooked up to Mellie by Mellie's bellybutton."

JD collapsed on the floor, his eyes wide, his face a mass of confusion. "But Papa D.........?"

Dan heard the door open. Markie walked in carrying a bag of groceries balanced on her hip.

"Mommy! Mommy!" JD ran over and tried to pull Markie's t-shirt up.

"Whoa, little guy. Let me put this bag down."

"I gotta see the food delivery button."

Markie looked over at Dan, questions in her eyes. "What?"

"Papa D says that baby Mellie eats from your bellybuttun."

Danny started laughing, "No, JD. That's not what I.........."

"Good one, Dan," Markie laughed. "C'mon, big brother. Mommy will explain."

JD trailed off behind Markie muttering, "I just wants to see the burger go in, Mommy. No one ever 'splains nuthin'."

Danny heard Jordy's car pull up and clambered to his feet, his braces supporting his legs.

"Honey, I'm home," Jordy called out, laughter in his voice as he walked in and saw Danny waiting.

Dropping his satchel on the table, he met Dan halfway across the room, looped his arms under Dan's and they let the braces fall. "I needed you all day," Jordan sighed into Danny's dark curls.

"You had me all day," Danny breathed.

"In my mind but not in my arms," he answered, smelling Danny's neck. "We've got an hour till supper, you wanna..........?"

"I wanna."

"Daddddddddddyyyyyyyy!! Swim, Daddy. You promised."

Danny felt Jordan roll his neck and move slightly away. "I did, didn't I."

"Yep, Daddy."

"Go get on your suit, Sweetie. I'll meet you on the porch. Wait for me."

JD flung himself towards his room.

"Later."

"Oh yeah. Count on it." Jordan gathered up Danny's braces and got him steady. Danny started back toward his chair and his book just as Markie intercepted him.

"Here, Dr. Spock. You better read up," she laughed, as she handed him a copy of The Idiot's Guide to Having a Baby. "I got this for Griffin. I think you need to read it too."

"Well, Markie," he laughed, "It's not like I'm gonna have one anytime soon."

She grinned. "Shame though, as much as you and Jordy work on it."

He flopped back in his chair, pulled Alexander out, hesitated, then sighed and began to read what all idiot's need to know. 'How the hell does the food get to Mellie???' Markie watched from the kitchen, smiling as another of her men showed his gentle side.


Easy ran his hands over his face and clicked his tongue impatiently. Yeah, Gabriel had showed up at the center and even spent the night a few times, getting a hot shower and hot food. But Easy wasn't any closer to him. There were always tears shimmering just behind Gabriel's words and behind his eyes. If Easy could just find the key. This boy needed so badly to be loved. Gotten off the streets and loved.

Walking into the kitchen, he listened as Gabriel instructed Will on the fine art of peanut butter.

"Nah, Man. Ya gotta have chunky. Smooth is for wussies. Ya gotta go with the chunks and Jif is it. No Peter Pan, only Jif. Jif Rules. Anything else and you're wimpin' out."

Easy laughed. "I take it you like peanut butter?"

Gabriel smiled that half smile that never quite reached his eyes. He waved his hand. "You're damn right. This is my peanut butter on a fork breakfast.

All a growing guy ever needs."

Easy looked at the huge glob of peanut butter glopped on the tines. "You could put it on bread and add jam and have a sandwich."

"You sound just like my m.....................," Gabriel started and then his whole face closed down. "Gotta get goin'. Thanks for........," and he ran out the door.

Easy sighed. Another day on the streets. Another night. He needed to get tested. He needed to stop. What could have happened that was so bad? So bad he couldn't go home? He'd started to say 'mother'. He'd had a good memory flash. He'd been happy once.

A little voice in Easy's head muttered, "Yeah, like you were happy once. Like you have memories of your mother; cooking her fried chicken, mending your ripped sneakers with duct tape, reading to you at night, loving you......... protecting you........protecting you............from......................." Easy shook his head. The memories were crowding him now, wanting to come out. He'd kept them in for so long. If he opened the door just a crack he could feel the heat of the slaps across his face, the pain of the belt, the cold darkness of the closet. He could hear his mother's cries, his own whimpers, he could hear the deep deep voice of the darkness.

Griff was sitting on the porch watching Jordan, knee deep in the ocean, throw JD up in the air and catch him as he fell. He could hear the squeals and the low laughter. It was funny.........he supposed he should be jealous that JD always asked for Jordan but it was just as it had been when he and Jord had been growing up. He had always asked for Jordan too. There was something about him.....something so innately good that you could understand and accept why anyone, Markie, JD, anyone would ask for him. Griff was just glad that JD was surrounded by so many people who loved him. He hoped that JD would grow up to be the man that his 'fathers' all were teaching him to be.

He felt the swing move forward as strong hands gripped the back.

"Hey, Ez."

"Hey."

"What ya doin' here? Val working late?"

"Yeah, she has a parent conference night. I gotta pick her up at 8:00."

Easy settled into the swing and pushed off. As they rocked and listened to the laughter coming from the water, Griff felt the tension. "What's up?"

"That new kid.......Gabriel."

"What about him?"

"He's like me."

Griff turned his head. "In what way?"

"Not sure yet but it's there in his eyes, the same fear. The same pain."

"Talk to him?"

"He's closed tighter than a drum."

Griff sighed. "And you gotta help, right?"

"You know why."

"Yeah. You can't change what happened but you can help others before it gets too late."

"Yeah."

Griff thought for a few minutes as they rocked softly. "You know what to do."

"Is it okay?"

"You think anyone in this house would turn away a kid in trouble?"

Easy saw faces in his mind: Jordan, Dan, Markie, Nic, Griff............ JD.

"JD?"

"JD is probably the coolest one here," Griff chuckled. "This kid will just be another 'crayon' in his box."

Easy laughed, remembering that he was pink. "Yeah. I'll ask at dinner."

"No need. Bring him on. Someone in this crazy quilt family will touch him. We'll have a cookout Saturday. I'll just add another burger to the grill."

"Make a teensy weensy one for baby Mellie," JD insisted, as he and Jordan

flipped water all over the two rocking men. "She can eat burgers if they're itsy bitsy." He held up his thumb and pointer with just a tiny space visible. "This little, Griff."

"And who told you that Mellie would be eating burgers?" Griff grinned.

"Papa D. He said that babies eat through here." He proceeded to poke out his rounded tummy and point at his belly button.

"And Papa D said that a burger would go through there, huh?" Jordan snorted.

"Yep. Mommy gave him a book to read."

"I just bet she did," Jordan laughed.

Griff looked at Easy. "Saturday." Easy nodded his head.


"Stop it."

"What?"

"You know what."

"I so do not."

"Stop it."

"What?"

"Looking at me."

"I can't look at you?"

"You can't stare at me."

"I will if I want."

"Stop it."

"Nope."

"Jordyyyy."

"What?"

The day was over. The house had settled in for the night. Jordan was grading papers on Macbeth at the desk and Danny was reading a new article on water therapy flopped on his back across the bed.

"I can't read if you stare."

"Can't help it. You're beautiful."

Danny blushed. "Am not."

"Are too."

"Stop."

"No."

"It's hot in here."

"Haha."

"Well, it is."

"Is not."

Danny wiped his face. Heat was rolling over him in waves. He felt his body reacting to Jordy.

"Jordy......."

"Uh huh?"

"Come here."

"Not yet."

"Please."

Jordan looked out from under his long lashes. "Why?"

"You are so rotten."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Are you hard?"

"God yes. You?"

"Oh yeah."

"So come here."

Jordan smiled a rather naughty smile, his voice low and raspy. "Dan, if I come over there, I'll have to slide between your legs and breathe in the smell of you. I'll have to nuzzle and lick that little crease at the top of your thigh where I can taste the sweat." He watched Danny clinch his legs and curl his toes. He saw his mouth fall open and his eyes close. "I'll have to take you in my mouth and open you with my tongue and milk you so..............................."

Danny's butt flew off the bed. "Arggggggg!"

"Hmmmm?"

"I came all over myself."

"Yum."

"No hands. Just you."

Jordan smiled.

"It's like your words are magic and my whole body tingles."

"Yep. You can leave me a note that says to pick up milk and I get hard. All I can think about for the rest of the day is touching you, lying beside you."

"I'm sticky."

"I can help."

*

Markie rolled her eyes as the sound of the hot water heater rumbled. "Our power bill is outrageous. They must take 20 showers a day. No one's that dirty."

Griff laughed, "Honey, there are showers and then there are showers."

"Oh, like that makes sense."

Griff just laughed, trying his dead level best NOT to picture the shower going on next door.

*

Easy drove down Barstow Thursday night, his eyes searching for a blue and gold letter jacket. Finally, he parked on the curb down aways from Mickey D's and waited.

The now familiar sound of a hand slapping the fender made him jerk his head toward the rearview mirror. A casually bored face peered through the open window.

"Yo, what's up, My Man?"

"Yo yourself, Lil Dude. I got a proposition for you."

Confusion and hurt flooded Gabriel's eyes for a second and then was gone, followed by resignation and anger.

"Sure Dude. Blow jobs 10 bucks. Fuck is 25."

"Oh shut up!" Easy felt his face flush with a hot blush.

"What then? I don't do the kinky stuff."

"Gabriel !! I don't want a blow job or a fuck."

"What then?"

"How does a cookout sound?"

"Huh?"

"You know.......hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans."

"Me?" His face registered total confusion.

"Yeah. Saturday."

"I dunknow, Man. I may be busy." He looked everywhere except at Easy.

"Well, if you can fit it in, I'll be at the center at noon to pick you up." He wanted to. Easy could see it in his eyes. He wanted to bad.

"I dunknow. I maybe can make it."

"Saturday. Noon." Easy started the engine and watched Gabriel as he pulled out into traffic. A lonely figure standing in the harsh glaring lights of the Golden Arches.


"The meds should keep the pain down for a while longer, Mr. Collins," the doctor said, his pleasant face and quiet voice easing the panic that threatened to engulf Nic.

"Thank you, Dr. Helveston. I'll be fine."

"Are you doing okay with your new family?" Nic had told him all about his new life and all the funny goings on.

"Oh yes. Sam and I are happy in our house now." He felt safe saying that to Dr. Helveston as he had been Sam's doctor and understood, as well as anyone could, how close they had been.

"I know Sam is watching over you, Nic." The doctor placed a gentle hand on Nic's shoulder.

"He is. He is always with me. Now he'll be helping me through one more time."


"Dadddyyy..........Papa D !!!!! Get.....................Up!!"

Jordan opened one eye and peered at the tiny minion from hell who was bouncing on their bed. "Go away, noisy child."

"We gots compny comin'. Mommy says to shake your tailfeathers," which JD proceeded to do as he crowed, "And get wood for the fire."

"Can we just lie here longer and pretend like we're dead for a few more hours?" Dan groaned.

"Papa D !!"

"Okay......Okay."

"Up! Up! Up!" JD bounced until Jordan grabbed him by the middle and stalked over to Markie.

"Take YOUR child. He is a menace to all innocent sleeping people everywhere."

"First, Jordan Lawrence, it's almost 11:00.
Second, we have company coming in one hour.
Third, if you're gonna argue effectively, do it with more than silk Scooby
Doo boxers hanging frighteningly low."

Jordan looked down to see that his boxers were dangerously close to departing, held up only by a severe morning hard on. "Good Lord," he growled and stamped back the way he had come to the sound of Markie's giggles and JD demanding Scooby underwear like his daddy's.

"Do not ask," he grumped as he saw Danny laughing.


Easy parked and got out of the car to walk toward the center. Gabriel was not out front. Maybe he went inside for something to eat. Easy had been so sure he would show.

Gabriel was not inside and no one had seen him for a couple of days. Surely he wouldn't leave town just because Easy had asked him to be a real person.

Sadly, he slid into the car and turned the key. He didn't know what else to do for the frightened boy.

Pulling out of the parking lot and onto Front Street, Easy headed for Val's to pick her up. Making a left on Carlton, he saw a boy sitting on a brick wall, his head in his hands.

"Hey, know anyone who wants a hamburger? I got some to spare."

Gabriel looked up and the raw desire was flaming in his eyes.

"C'mon, Lil Dude. There is a Mighty Mite Dude that you just gotta meet. He's been up since 5 waiting to meet you. If I don't bring you, he's gonna kill me."

Gabriel dropped off the wall and walked slowly towards the car. "You sure about this?"

"Yeah. This is my family you're gettin' ready to meet. They're like no other people in the world."

Gabriel stood still. He knew if he took this first step, he would lose some of the hard won armor. How can he sell blow jobs if he knows good people? How can he hide if he smiles?

Easy watched the war going on in his head and waited. He knew that war. He'd fought in and lost. And when he had lost, he had found life again. 'Come on, boy. You can do it'.

"Yesss!!" Easy sighed under his breath as Gabriel walked around the car and slid into the front seat.

"Seat belt."

Gabriel rolled his eyes and obeyed.

Easy stopped in front of Val's apartment complex and said, "Wait one sec. I gotta get my girl."

Gabriel sat still, staring at the dangling key in the ignition. He could take the car and run. Run to another town. Start the hell all over again. He sat quietly and waited. Whatever was happening, he was gonna let it come. He was so tired and he didn't feel strong enough to fight it.

He glanced out the window and saw Easy, carrying a huge picnic basket, walking alongside a beautiful woman. His old manners kicked in. He climbed out of the car and opened the door for Val.

"Hi, Gabriel. I'm Val," she smiled and his heart melted a little more. He climbed into the back seat and heard Easy said, "Seat belt." This time he smiled.

As they drove along Grayson and turned east on Central Blvd. Gabriel realized they were headed for the ocean. "Is this place on the beach?"

"Yep. This is gonna be a great day. Sun's hot and the surf's rollin'."

And again the despair struck him. Not even a bathing suit. He had nothing but the clothes on his back.

Val pulled a WalMart bag out of her satchel. "I didn't know if Easy told you it was the beach and I didn't know if you would have a bathing suit with you, Gabriel, so I hope you don't mind, but I picked one up for you." She didn't look at him, just shoved the bag gently over the seat. But Easy saw the relief in his eyes. Like any kid, he lifted the edge of the bag with one finger and checked out the coolness level of the shorts.


Pulling into the driveway, Gabriel peered out the window at the dang coolest house he'd ever seen and the bouncingest little boy who was being held back by a guy struggling on some kind of leg braces.

"C'mon, Gabriel. Meet my family."

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