Kyle's Ten Golden Rules

by Hunter Woods

Chapter 32

The rest of the shortened school week seemed to slip by us without too much incident. However my parents and Evan's mom did sit down with us to have a chat one evening after Mattie had gone to bed. It had been an awkward discussion for all of us, but they wanted everything out in the open and hashed out before Christmas arrived along with our guests so we could all just enjoy the holiday without this hanging over our heads.

To say the discussion was mortifying would be an understatement as my folks became very straightforward about the entire situation. They truly thought it improper for us to be sleeping together now; although, my father was more accepting of it than my mom. It was Aunt Liz who came to the rescue convincing my mom that the genie was out of the bottle, and there was no putting it back so we might as well leave things as they were for the time being. Our sexual activities over the months hadn't interfered or interrupted our normal lives; despite the incident involving Don, so we might as well let things play out.

The only stipulation our parents made was that we keep things private, and that any sexual activities between the two of us were to be done at home in the privacy of our room. They made it very clear that they weren't all that comfortable about the idea of us having just free range involving sex, but that it would be for us to decide about such things as long as we were reasonable about it, careful, and intimate in that way only in the privacy of our room when we were alone. Evan's mom reminder her son that he was still young, and that these feelings he was having might not necessarily mean he was gay. She stressed how important this was because if this were the case then at some point he may start having feelings towards girls. Our parents then insisted we think closely on our relationship and understand that as young as we both were things could change quickly regarding our situation. They just didn't want us to be hurt because young love doesn't always last, and if for some reason we did end up breaking up, not to be in a situation that made things awkward since we all lived under the same roof.

At this point Evan pointed out things couldn't be much worse than what he had to endure for years regarding Don, and that it couldn't get worse for me either considering what I had just gone through as well. If things did get complicated between us there was no way he would ever hate me. It wasn't just the sex or love between the two of us that had brought us together, but much more and that could never change. Our parents seemed satisfied with the response, but still cautioned Evan to take things slowly, which made him look away and smile. I could tell he was thinking things couldn't have progressed any slower with how shy he had been at the start of our relationship. Now though after all this time it was too late to go back because things have gone past the point of going slow. There was just no giving back our virginities that we had freely and happily offered up to one another after such a long sort of courtship.

Of course our parents didn't truly know how far things had gone, not through lack of my mom trying to find out. She had wanted details, but both Aunt Liz and my dad had put a stop to that line of questioning reminding her that such things were private, and that she should be satisfied with knowing as much as she did regarding us being together. Aunt Liz had insisted she didn't want those kinds of details, and that this would be going too far as a mother. She told her dearest friend in the entire world, my mom, that she trusted me not to hurt her little boy, and that was good enough for her. Of course my mom couldn't just brush off that sort of reasoning and compliment concerning my character, because such a thing reflected on her as a mother too. So in the end my mom just had to accept things for what they were in regards to how confidential I kept that part of my life.

When they talked to me about how I felt, I pretty much knew that I truly was gay. I finally had to admit to them that in the past I had sexual experiences with other girls, which was another humiliating topic of discussion, but thank goodness it was more in general terms and they didn't ask me for specifics. I could tell my mom wanted to know more, but by this time she had finally become resigned to knowing that this part of my life would always remain private. At any rate I had to admit that even though those experiences had been pleasant what I felt towards girls wasn't remotely the same as to what I sort of felt towards guys in general at the moment, and especially not how I felt about Evan. At this point my dad did point out to me that if this were the case then there might come a point in my life where I might truly have more feelings towards a girl as well. Just because I felt this special connection with Evan at this point in my life didn't mean that I was totally homosexual.

It was something that made me take pause as I thought about things. I had been totally smitten with my old girlfriend, Jenny, and even now I smiled at those pleasant memories as my heart fluttered for a moment in my chest. 'Could what my dad just told me be true,' I wondered to myself as I gazed over towards my little sweetness. When my eyes settled on Evan my heart just gushed with such intense warm tender feelings and I just knew. He is the one who made me feel life was worth living for, and what life was all about. The smaller boy blushed at my scrutiny making my heart soar.

Sighing, I just accepted my dad's words for the time being, trusting that when the time came I would be able to sort through my feelings. Like he said, we were both still young so who knew what our future had in store for us. For the moment, I was truly happy with having Evan in my life, and as I looked at him I knew he felt the same way. The only issue making things a bit complicated at this juncture was the matter of Jaden also being a part of our love. For me it really wasn't a complication because I accepted Jaden as being both mine and Evan's lover. I knew that the curly haired boy also accepted his friend as my lover, but he still seemed to have reservations of Jaden being his lover. Of course they made love together and Evan accepted this fact, but he seemed so caught up with feeling that somehow he was betraying my love.

It made me happy to see Evan being so intimate with his best friend, and there were possibilities for him in this regard. I didn't want my sweet boy to feel like he was trapped with me because to be honest I felt he had never truly explored things other boys his age should experience with their peers. I wanted him to still feel free to explore those avenues and until he did, he could never truly be completely happy with what the two of us have together. There would always be those doubts as to 'what if,' and I didn't mind him exploring those avenues.

After things were settled and talked out my dad took me off to the side alone in my room to have another chat. "Um…Kyle…I've set up some sessions for you to talk to a professional after the holidays." He told me as we both sat on my bed making me look at him a bit shocked and also a little hurt.

"I…I thought you were alright with me being…um…you know…gay dad." I responded getting a bit choked up catching my father by surprise.

He just hesitated for a moment before pulling me into his arms holding on tightly while I held back the flood gates threatening to overwhelm me with emotions. "Kyle…," he began as I felt him breathing in the air catching in his chest before he just exhaled loudly and continued. "I do accept it Kyle if that is who you are. Always know that your mother and I will love you no matter what. You being gay…um…isn't what we want for you. That much I have to be honest with you about Kyle, but it will never get in the way of how I feel about you. I'm proud of the young man you've become Kyle, and I truly love you with all my heart. If you really are gay then no amount of talking or preaching will change that, and I'd never force something like that on you." He responded as he held me at arms length and wiped away my damp cheeks with his fingers while I just sighed and then curled up on my bed laying my head in his lap.

"But then why did you set up an appointment with a psychiatrist? I mean I'm not crazy or anything." I asked him seriously feeling his fingers gently stroking my forehead easing the tension out of my body.

"Of course not Kyle and I never said that. Geeze, I mean Evan and Mattie have been seeing a psychiatrist too you know, and I don't think they are crazy. They see a psychiatrist to help them over their trauma with Don. Well whether or not you want to admit it, what you went through is just as equally traumatic. Look at how you've been feeling lately. I set up an appointment with the same doctor that is helping out Evan and Mattie, and I think it will be good for you to talk things out regarding you getting hurt the way you did. Even I went and saw a specialist after I got shot a few years back. Just go and talk to the guy, and see if you think it will help or not. It doesn't mean you have to go for years on end, just long enough to get you over this hump. It can't hurt to go and talk it out with someone who will be able to show you various ways on how to cope with what you are going through." He told me as I now held his hand in mine holding it up against my chest and began to cry softly.

It surprised me at how sensitive I really was about the whole situation, and I realized what he suggested was for the best. We just stayed like that for the longest time as we both talked together quietly with me curled up on the bed and my head lying in his lap. It's been ages since I've curled up like that with my dad, and I closed my eyes as he gently ran his fingers through my hair and just caressed me tenderly bringing me back to the times when I was a little boy.

He began to open up about his experience of getting shot, and it stunned me to hear about how similar the aftermath of the incident was to mine. I also finally began to ask him all the questions about his time being deployed that I had held back all these years. There were some very horrifying things that he began to confide in me, but in the end he felt it was necessary that I finally understood some things about his way of life in the Special Forces. I was sure there were many things he was holding back, but trusted that he knew what was best for me. In the end, I felt better about everything in general. Finding out more about my dad made me feel even closer to him than ever before. Riley had been right about it after all. Knowing these things about my father really was important.

It was Christmas Eve as I sat at the airport waiting for Riley and Grant's plane to land. Mattie had been sitting on pins and needles all day long hardly able to stand waiting so long for his friend. I had to smile as he fidgeted between standing and looking out the big airport windows, and then coming back to me to sit on my lap. Ever since I got home from the hospital he's hardly let me out of his sight, and every chance he got he just clung on to me. It was almost like he needed reassurance as to my presence. It was a touching display of affection, and I suppose most kids my age would have been a bit grumpy and tired of it, but for some reason I really didn't mind. I guess in many ways the two Prescott boys had become deeply intertwined with my life. They were like my brothers in many ways, but also different in the way we interacted. I guess with siblings there was always that sort of tension in many ways, but with the three of us there just didn't seem to be any of that, making our relationship with one another unique.

After bouncing around in the waiting area of the airport Mattie had finally calmed down a bit as he sat on my lap with his arms draped over my shoulders and his head on my chest finally having fallen asleep for the moment. His breathing was steady, and it sounded almost like a cat purring with an even rhythm as he breathed in and out his panting tickling my neck every time he exhaled. I was actually seated in one of those bigger cushioned chairs slumping a bit backwards so Mattie had simply climbed up and straddled me leaning his weight up against my chest. His body felt warm against mine as he seemed to slip further into the realm of his dreams. My mom looked over towards us and smiled as she took the seat next to mine and reached out to stroke Mattie's curly hair.

Sighing she just shook her head. "I don't know how you do it Kyle? No one else ever seems to be able to get him to calm down." She admitted to me as she now ran her fingers through my thick brown locks.

Nodding my head understandingly and enjoying the tender administrations of my mom, I closed my eyes and breathed in the smaller boy's scent. "It's really easy enough," I whispered back to her. "You just need to have patience with him mom. He will usually calm down on his own if you just sit still long enough instead of getting him all wound up by trying to calm him down. It's like he reads your body language and feeds off of it." I tried to explain noticing my mom smiling back at me affectionately.

"He seems so attached to you Kyle. You getting hurt really shook him up…of course it shook all of us up to be honest…but Mattie…it was different for him I think." She seemed to ponder her words over in her mind. "At any rate it is nice to know someone can keep him calm." My mom smiled at me.

"Yeah…well just wait until you meet Grant. I mean now there is a miracle worker." I told her seriously. "You should have seen him when we went to visit them after Don…um…you know…after Don hurt Mattie. You'll really like Grant mom. I mean in many ways he's like Riley." I told her honestly as she just rolled her eyes.

"Not another one like Riley?" She sniggered making me chuckle.

"No…not another Riley mom. He's one of a kind for sure. What I meant is that Grant's like Riley in that his personality is infectious…but in a different way. And you really shouldn't be so hard on Riley mom. You know most of it is just an act for appearances sake…so give him a break." I chuckled as my mom just nodded her head.

"I know Kyle…but it's fun to tease him like that now isn't it?" She ruffled my hair making me chuckle.

"Yeah, I suppose." I replied shaking my head at her.

"So Grant?" She got back to the topic at hand. "Things have worked out for him…I mean…you know…him and Riley?" She asked me knowing about the situation because I had talked about it when I got back.

"Yeah…they're really all good now. They got everything all hashed out between the two of them, and from what Mattie's been saying it's like they've been together their entire lives. Riley's been neck deep with his competitions, but Grant's been there the entire time rooting him on. Lately Grant's been tearing up the skateboarding scene and Riley through his sponsorship managed to find one for Grant as well. It seems like the two of them are the real sports fanatics' duo now. Did you know that over the years Riley's won so many titles and that most of them are in the form of scholarships?

My mom shook her head. "No, but that must be really nice not to have to worry about paying for college." She stated earnestly as I just giggled shaking my head.

"Yeah, like he really needs one." I teased her as she laughed remembering that Riley was by far the smartest and most educated person we know.

"Yeah…I forget sometimes Kyle. That's kind of sad you know. I mean all that money wasted I suppose." She sighed shaking her head.

"Well not exactly." I told her as I shifted a little because my left arm was falling asleep from Mattie's weight.

Looking up I saw my mom's questioning gaze and I smiled leaning back again into the chair. "Um…Riley's managed to get most of those converted into Grant's name. Most of the venues sort of get it…you know…concerning Riley's situation regarding school, so they didn't mind thinking at least someone will benefit from the scholarship money."

"Wow, Grant must really appreciate the gesture." My mom stated.

"Um…he doesn't know. Riley didn't want Grant to think he was trying to somehow buy him off or something. I mean they were having all these problems, and he didn't want his brother to think he should somehow be beholding to him or whatever." I told her as she smiled understandingly.

"Just then the Embraer E175 two turbo fan jet plane pulled up to the gate and I gently shook Mattie awake who blinked his eyes and hugged me tightly. "I love you Kyle," He whispered softly in my ear giving me a kiss on my cheek.

"I love you too my scrum delicious little panther." I whispered back kissing him lightly on the cheek making him giggle and scrunch up his eyes at me.

"Panther?" He questioned me wondering where that had come from making me chuckle.

"What can I say, you purr just like a big cat when you are all curled up on my lap." I teased him as we both just giggled

"When is Grant going to get here?" He protested for the umpteenth time as I smiled and pointed towards the small seventy six passenger commercial plane.

Mattie immediately jumped up off of my lap accidentally shoving his knee into my groin making me wince. My mom noticed and laughed teasingly at me while I rolled my eyes at her. "It's not funny you know…," I grunted while she just shrugged her shoulders. "Damn, it's like he manages to knee me every time." I sighed shaking my head while my mom chuckled making me screw up my eyebrows questioningly.

She looked at me and just shook her head. "Well you used to do the same thing to your father…so it's just kind of funny…you know. I always thought maybe one of your own kids would be doing that to you someday, but I guess I'll just have to settle for Mattie." She teased me lightheartedly, yet with a hint of sadness that she wouldn't be getting any grandchildren of her own.

"Geeze mom, just because I'm gay doesn't mean I won't have kids some day. I mean there's this thing called technology you know." I chuckled making my mom look at me a bit surprised as she mulled it over in her mind.

"You mean you'd want kids of your own…I mean…really your very own as in your own—your own type of kids?" She asked me as I shrugged my shoulder.

"Um…yeah…I suppose. I mean I really haven't thought about it all that much…but yeah…I'd like to have kids of my own some day." I replied as the thought sounded appealing to me, and I realized that I could have a family of my own some day; even a son or daughter that truly came from me.

Looking over I saw my mom gushing almost as if a sense of relief had washed over her features. She leaned over giving me a big hug and kiss. "I thought I'd never have grandkids now that you are…you know…but hearing this side of you makes me hope once more that someday I will hear the little patter of Schonefeld feet in the house. Please tell me you really mean what you are saying." She whispered in my ear as I pulled back and looked at her before smiling nodding my head that yes indeed I really did want to have kids of my own someday.

"Yeah, I think that would be nice…but do you think we could wait a few more years before then?" I asked her playfully while she just smiled back.

"Of course, but just be sure you don't wait until I'm too old and feeble to enjoy them." She threw back at me as we both just laughed.

The gates opened up and people began to spill out as Mattie ran back to me and pulled me up out of my chair. "Hurry up with your camera or we will miss it." He told me excitedly as I turned on my camera waiting for a glimpse of Riley and Grant.

The two boys looked a little ragged and tired from the flight as I snapped off a few pictures the flash on the camera getting their attention. Grant saw me standing there and let go of the carry on case he was pulling forcing his way through people literally shoving them out of the way in order to get me. I had just enough time to hand my mom the camera before kneeling down and wrapping him up into my arms. He nearly knocked me over because he didn't pause or stop until he had me firmly in his grip.

"Oh Kyle…I've been so worried about you." He sniffled clinging to me tightly and not letting go.

The entire incident sort of caught me by surprise as I held on to the sobbing boy who didn't seem to care who saw him crying. He just seemed so sincerely relieved as I just looked over towards my parents at a loss for what to do.

"Come-on Grant you know that Kyle's been doing just fine." I heard Riley whispering to his little brother as he knelt next to the boy, and looking over towards me motioning that he'd explain later.

"It's alright Grant…really." I told the dark blond haired boy as I eased him back and wiped away the tears from his face. "I'm really just fine…no bullet will ever be able to keep me down for long." I teased him making his eyes well up again. "N…no…don't Grant…really I was just teasing. I'm really doing just fine…and look who's here on pins and needles just waiting for you." I whispered in his ear as he looked around spotting the smaller curly haired boy who seemed to be bouncing around on the balls of his feet.

"Mattie!" Grant chirped as he released me and bounded over towards his little friend, and they both squeezed the air out of each others lungs. "I've missed you heaps." He told his little friend who just seemed to gush not wanting to let go.

"Me too Grant…I wish we didn't live so far apart…it totally sucks." Mattie complained as my parents sort of cleared their throats reproachfully at the way the smaller boy was talking. "Um…sorry Aunt Judy," Mattie apologized as the two boys separated and Grant seemed to blush.

"Oh…I…I'm so sorry." Grant stated looking a bit contrite as he straightened himself out and stepped forward. "I'm Grant and I wanted to say thanks for having me and Riley over for Christmas." The smaller boy stated formally walking up to my mom and giving her a quick hug before turning to my dad. "Um…sir…I…uh…I just wanted to say thanks for sending out all that information about my dad earlier at the end of summer, and also the other information later. I…I really appreciate everything." He stated holding out his hand so he could shake my dad's hand.

Instead of shaking hands my dad reached down and lifted him up giving the boy a great big hug. "No hand shake is good enough for family Grant. Your father was Special Forces so you are part of our family." He told the boy literally squeezing the air out of the smaller boy.

Grant seemed to hesitate a moment then returned the heartfelt hug before being placed back on to the ground. My dad turned towards Riley and gave the older boy a hug as well, but bit more briefly yet still heartfelt. "That goes for you too Riley…despite of what my wife seems to claim." He chuckled before flinching when my mom gave my dad a smack on his arms.

"Now behave yourself." She chided my dad as she leaned in kissing Riley on the cheek before giving him a hug. "Don't listen to him Riley. I love you too…despite your quirks" She admonished the older boy teasingly before turning to Grant. "So let's have a look at who we have here. Oh my…aren't you adorably cute. I have a feeling we are going to have to keep an eye on you with the girls. They are sure to try and steal you away." My mom teased as she once more gave the smaller boy a hug while he just sort of blushed at my mom's boldness. "I've heard so much about you from the boys, so don't feel shy around the house when we get home…you're family now. I sure hope you boys will enjoy your stay." She told the younger Dobson brother who smiled a bit shyly now at all the attention. After the initial greeting we headed downstairs to pick up the boys' larger luggage case which they had brought with them explaining that it contained some Christmas gifts.

"You boys shouldn't have." My mom chastised them as they shrugged their shoulders.

"Well, it wouldn't be Christmas now without some gifts." Riley explained as we retrieved their case.

By the time we got back home it was around seven in the evening and we were all starving. As we entered through the door the warm pleasant scent of Turkey with all the trimmings greeted us. Aunt Liz had stayed behind to prepare dinner for us all, and she now greeted our guests embracing them in her arms.

"It's so nice to see you again Riley," Aunt Liz kissed the boy lightly on the cheek. "We didn't get much of a chance to visit the last time around I'm afraid. I hope we will be able to get to know one another better." She smiled tenderly at the older boy before turning her attention towards Grant. "And you must be the scoundrel occupying my little spunky ragamuffin's time on skype for hours on end." She stated folding her arms across her breast confronting the dark blond haired boy who was caught off guard.

"I…um…I…," He stuttered before he too was smothered in Aunt Liz's arms.

"It's perfectly fine Grant…I was just teasing you. Mattie's told us all so much about you and I'm glad you will be staying with us for a while as well. Come…the boys will take you to the rooms where you will be staying, but don't linger too long so we can all have a bite to eat and visit a little. Tomorrow's Christmas and if Mattie stays true to form he will have us all up and about early so he can get to his presents." Aunt Liz teased as we all hustled towards the rooms so we could get cleaned up.

Dinner was a noisy affair, and it was actually a lot of fun as we all caught up with one another. Afterwards Riley and Grant offered to do the dishes, but Aunt Liz and my mom brushed them off telling us boys to go have some fun. Evan looked at me for a moment and smiled as he made his way over towards his brother's room giving me and Riley a chance to be alone for a bit. I thought that was sweet of him as the surfer boy followed me into my room.

"Man, I just love your room Kyle. It's way cleaner than mine for one thing." He chuckled making me smile as I sat on my bed with him sitting down next to me and sighing glad to finally be here. "I suppose you're wondering about Grant?" He asked me as I nodded my head.

"Damn Kyle…you have no idea how upset he got when he heard about…," he paused motioning towards my side. "I never saw anyone so upset in my life. I…um…dad dying had hit him hard, but he had been prepared for that because it was a long time coming, but with you…," he shook his head looking at me while I just stared back a bit baffled. "Kyle it is like he almost went berserk, and was completely beside himself. He wanted so badly to get on a plane right there and then. It was all my mom and I could do to calm him down and reason with him." Riley shook his head at me rolling his shoulders and looking a bit tired.

"I don't understand." I told him seriously. "I mean…sure I understand he would be upset…but…," I replied a bit puzzled.

"Yeah…I just don't know Kyle. I mean there is just this sort of connection he has with you. I mean you really did a lot for him when you guys visited. He didn't say anything to you, but he was almost heartbroken when you guys left. He just held it in because he didn't want to upset Mattie. I feel awful because I'm really starting to understand how truly sensitive he is towards the people he cares about. I mean I made things difficult for him when he first moved in, but he never said anything just holding it in. It makes me wonder how often he cried himself to sleep." He looked down a bit ashamed at how he had treated his little brother in the past.

"It's not your fault Riley with how things were back then. Stuff sort of takes time to work out…you know…besides look at how it all turned out. You two are like best buds now and all, and the important thing is you two have each other. That's all that matters." I reassured my friend placing my hand on his shoulders.

"I guess, but damn Kyle, don't ever do something like that to us again. It took me a whole week to calm my little brother down. He was so upset and beside himself, even after he knew you were alright. Um…me too by the way." He added at the end blushing momentarily before continuing. "Don't ask me why he is so sensitive about things like that, but he truly cares deeply about Mattie and you. With the little guy I understand why…I mean…you know…the two of them…together…," he chuckled shaking his head while I laughed as well, "…and with you it's for a lot of reasons…you know. Partly because of the connection he has because of our dads' ties through the Special Forces, partly because you took an interest in him and cared about him when he was struggling, partly because you helped get us together as brothers, and partly just because you get him…you know for who he is." Riley finished off smiling at me.

It made me feel good to know that I had made a difference for Riley and Grant. I'm sure things would have worked out anyway between the boys, but it still made me happy to know that I helped in some ways. We continued to chat some more with the other three boys joining us after a while. At some point the conversation steered towards Riley's surfing and Grant's skateboarding. This was the time of year for some big surfing waves hitting the coast, and I felt bad Riley wasn't there to enjoy them, but he stated he'd rather spend the time with us. Grant also was going to miss some competitions, but the smaller boy had assured us there was no way he would have missed coming here. Besides, he was hoping for a bit of snow for Christmas this year since it hardly ever snowed in Santa Cruz.

The house was dark and quiet now, the only detectible noise coming from the clock sitting on my computer desk. It was one of those old wind up style of folding clocks that I've had for years. It was sort of outdated, and out of style, but for some reason I enjoyed the small ticking sound it made when it got quiet around the house late at night. We had put Riley up in the study where my folks had put away their things. It actually was a fairly cozy room with a couch that had a foldout bed. Of course we put Grant in with Mattie making me wonder just how much sleep the two boys would be getting tonight. Not only because of them just chatting away about whatever it was that nine and ten year olds talk about these days, but also because of the extracurricular activities as well. It's been months since those two had any action together, and I for one knew Mattie was just looking forward to having Grant all to himself.

At one point the two boys had decided to call it an evening and left us older boys to sit and talk for a while longer. Riley, Evan, and I were chatting casually when I detected some familiar noises floating through our mutually shared bathroom despite the doors being closed making me chuckle. Even my curly haired angel had looked over at me and smiled knowingly while Riley just started busting a gut.

"Damn, those two horny toads are at it already." Riley just hiccupped trying to catch his breath. "Shit guys…I think I'm going to call it a night as well before those two over there get me all horny with the fun they are having. Maybe I'll give Christina a call while I'm here…you never know…I might just get lucky again." He teased us as he got up and winked. "At least the two of you have each other…if you know what I mean." He chuckled leaving us alone shaking our heads knowing it was more than a remote possibility that he'd be wetting his little wick inside of Christina before too long.

Of course Evan and I had a little fun as well before cuddling up together and fading off to sleep. But now as I listened to the ticking of the clock I detected some activity coming through the bathroom door, and then make its way towards the bed before pausing for a moment. Mattie's been sneaking into our room on and off now for weeks, as if checking up on me, so I didn't pay any attention to it as the sleek small figure climbed into bed crawling over towards my naked body. I rolled on my back and pulled the smaller boy towards me, and continued to doze enjoying the little guy's added body heat.

I must have dropped off to sleep again because at first I didn't notice the light fingers tracing along my chest before wandering down towards my side. I've stopped wearing bandages over my wound so the thick scab could begin to dry up. For all practical purpose my wound was mending fairly well. I was getting around much easier, and didn't seem to have those stabbing twinges of pain as often. The light feathery touch tickled my skin as it traced a circle around the wound making me shiver. I didn't mind knowing Mattie's been keeping an eye on it as I just sighed and allowed myself to drift again.

The circling motions around my wound stopped for a moment, and I now felt the boy's hand run through my pubic hair before it slowly began to wrap around my slightly chubbed up semi-erection. I quivered at the stimulation feeling my penis twitch and immediately inflate to its full four and a half inch length fattening up at the same time. I slowly opened up my eyes to see what my little nine year old tiger was up to, and gazed down at the slight figure huddled up close to my side. I flinched in surprise when I realized it wasn't Mattie at all, but rather Grant who was studying my hard erection as he seemed to weigh it in his hands. The necklace holding his challenge coin hung down loosely several inches below his slender neck making me smile fondly at the memory of the day I gave it to him. My eyes wandered downwards even further, and I could see a nice bulge pressing outwards against his white cottony underwear, the outline of his erection completely visible in the brand new pair of boy's briefs. It kind of surprising me because it seemed as if he had actually gotten a little bigger since I last saw him. It still seemed like he had the same thickness, but his erection just looked slightly longer now beneath his cottony material; although, since it was covered it was too difficult to know for sure.

The familiar tingling sensations between my legs began to bubble up to the surface, and I knew if I didn't stop this now things would go too far for me. I was still having problems controlling myself sexually, and I didn't want to do anything with Grant that we both might regret later. The smaller boy really was so fucking adorably cute, and it was all I could do to prevent myself from tugging those new pair of white briefs off of him and just taking advantage of what the sexy looking eleven year old had to offer. Since last I saw him not only did it appear as if he had gotten a little taller and bigger between his legs, but he was also a year older having celebrated his birthday a couple of months ago.

"Grant…," I whispered softly to the smaller boy who looked up at me with tears streaming down his cheeks. At first I was just going to warn him to stop, but one look at him and I knew this wasn't about sex for him. "Oh my sweet little Grant…come here." I beckoned to him as he released me and crawled closer so I could hug him to my chest. "It's alright Grant…I'm just fine." I assured him as he began to sniffle a little and just snuggled up closer.

Evan stirred in his sleep and glanced over his shoulder towards us wondering why I had stopped cuddling with him. "I…I was so afraid when I heard about you getting shot Kyle." Grant whispered softly while Evan just rolled back into place and left us alone.

"Grant it really is alright you know?" I replied trying to make him feel better as he pulled away slightly to get a better look at my wound.

"D…does it hurt?" He asked me running a light finger around the edges of my scab.

Shaking my head I assured him it didn't. "It's mostly all gone now Grant. At first yeah…it did hurt…as a matter of fact it hurt like a mother fucker." I told him honestly but chuckled as well trying to keep things in a lighter mood. "It's healing up pretty fast now though, and I hardly ever get those stabbing pains anymore." I replied noticing another figure padding his way over towards the bed. Mattie walked over surprising me with the fact he wasn't completely naked looking as if had put on his pajama bottoms hastily. He was still wearing the short legged ones, hating the long ones anymore. This was an unusual twist since the little boy wasn't in the least bit shy about padding over and climbing into bed with me and Evan totally naked. He looked at Grant cuddled up next to me, and climbed into bed snuggling up with his friend. "Geeze, all who's missing now is Riley," I giggled teasingly before I saw a flash of blond sticking their head inside my bedroom door that led out into the hallway. "Oh for Pete's sake…not you too Riley?" I chuckled questioningly as the boy stepped lithely into the room.

"What? I was just wondering where the hell Grant had gotten off to. I poked my head into their room to check up on him, and no one was there. What the hell is everyone doing in your bed?" He asked sincerely having dropped his surfer style of slang.

"What the hell do you think? Grant was a bit worried about me, which isn't surprising because Mattie constantly sneaks in to our room lately as well to make sure I'm alright. Here, just crawl into bed and let's all get some more sleep." I suggested as Riley shrugged his shoulders and climbed in next to Evan who made room for the older boy.

Despite having a king sized bed we all shifted around a bit jostling for position before settling down. I ended up rolling on my side holding on to Grant who in turn held on to Mattie. Evan didn't even hesitate as he snuggled up to Riley pressing his hips into the older boy who in turn just craned his neck looking at the younger boy with raised eyebrows. Evan just shrugged his shoulders and giggled while the older boy just sighed, shook his head, and settled back down. From the older boy's look I was pretty sure Evan's naked erection was probably probing Riley's backside making me smile knowingly. I made a mental note to make sure to wake up early so I could put something on just in case my parents checked up on us first thing in the morning. I didn't think that would happen since it would be Christmas and Mattie was sure to be the first one up and about.

We all finally settled down and I had to chuckle as I breathed in Grants light boy scent, which was unmistakably intermingled with Mattie's and the undertones of boy sex. Grant looked over his shoulder at me questioningly and I leaned in and whispered in his ear. "It's nothing just that you smell of sex." I teased him as I reached between his legs and squeezed his hard erection and boy pouch, the cottony material in no way distracting from the sensation of copping a good feel of what the boy was packing these days. Grant giggled, but didn't seem to mind as I just left my hand there cupping his nice hefty sized eleven year old boyhood in my fingers.

Sleep came quickly to me with Grant snuggled up warmly against my body, and I dozed peacefully feeling completely at ease with the luscious scent of the skater boy slithering in and out of my senses. He smelled warm and inviting, and it lulled me into a fulfilling and sound slumber. By the time I once more woke up I felt completely refreshed and a bit perky even though it was still really early in the morning. I was sleeping so well I began to wonder why I woke up when the subtle sounds somewhere in the house started to make sense to me. Smiling, I leaned over kissing Grant gingerly on his cheek before slowly unwinding myself from his soft inviting warmth. Careful so as not to wake anyone I somehow managed to climb out of bed, slip on a pair of shorts, and silently pad my way out my door.

My folks were in the living room laying out everyone's gifts under the tree and looked up smiling at me as I entered the room. They had set up some extra chairs so the boys could sit down if they wanted to, and had laid out some trays of treats. I knew they would have hot chocolate ready as well for us and coffee in case Riley or me wanted that instead. The tree was weighed down heavily with ornaments this year as the combined inventory of the Prescott family intermingled with ours.

"Hey sweetie, my mom whispered as she motioned for me to come over and sit down by the tree. Aunt Liz seemed to beam happily as she smiled tenderly at me. I was wearing my boxer briefs and no shirt, but it didn't bother me that Aunt Liz saw me half naked like this. I did notice her wince though when she saw my uncovered wound for the first time before trying to smile again at me. I could tell she felt bad about what had happened to me; especially, since it had been at the expense of protecting her eldest son.

Walking over to her I leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. "It's alright Aunt Liz. It looks worse than it really is." I told her softly as she smiled and reached up patting me on the cheek before suddenly pulling me into her soft embrace.

She sniffled a bit before releasing me and once more running her soft hands along my cheek. "I know sweetie, but it still upsets me that you had to pay dearly for protecting Evan. I love you so much…you know that right?" She asked me as I nodded my head.

"Yeah…I know Aunt Liz and I love you too." I replied as she nodded her head satisfied, and allowed me to walk over to my mom so I could give her a hug and kiss as well before sitting cross legged next to her on the ground in front of the tree.

"Merry Christmas mom," I whispered to her as she smiled fondly at me.

"Merry Christmas honey." She replied reaching over and taking my hand in hers and just gazed at me as if she were burning this moment in her memory forever.

After several moments of silence my mom released my hand, reached under the tree, and handed me a package making me screw up my eyes. "It's not Christmas yet." I chuckled as she just smiled reaching over and patted my cheek tenderly.

"Well it is sort of…but we thought you might need this right away." She replied as my dad stopped what he was doing and sat down next to my mom watching as I slowly unwrapped the package.

My breath caught in my chest as I looked at my gift. It was a video camera and not one of those cheap kinds either. Granted, it wasn't a professional one, but was one of those high end consumer ones just one notch down from being considered a professional video camera. My parents had even purchase an external microphone to go with it and everything. It was really sweet and I began to un-box it flipping through the manual.

"It's all ready to go for you Kyle. We've got it all set up already with the batteries charged and everything. All you have to do is start taking videos. You can read the instructions later for some of the unique features, but we had the guy at the shop set it all up for taking videos of everyone opening up their gifts. He said if you go outside to just press this button and it will switch over to the automatic mode getting the job done really nicely until you can figure everything out. For inside the house he set up this pre-set button with all the settings necessary for now until you learn about the manual settings and can make your own pre-set features." My dad told me as I smiled broadly setting down the camera and leaning over to give him a nice warm hug which he returned to me making me get that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

I could feel my mom's hand running up and down the middle of my back sending tingling sensations throughout my body. It seems like it's been forever since all three of us have had such a tender moment like this together. I held on to my father breathing in his familiar manly scent that had been imprinted inside of me since I was a baby. It would be something I'd never forget. For me it was a scent of feeling safe and secure…all cozy and homey. I saw a flash of light go off and realized Aunt Liz had been taking pictures of me receiving my gift, and now this tender occasion between me and my parents. For some reason it made me happy because I wanted to keep and treasure this special moment not just because of the gift, but because of the affection our family was still able to display towards one another. We stayed like that for a little while longer before my dad finally released me, and I was able to sit back next to my mom who also gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek before releasing me.

"This is really sweet mom and dad." I informed them noticing the tripod they had conveniently set up off to the side so I can mount it for when I'm interacting with everyone later on as well.

While my folks and Aunt Liz continued putting out gifts I settled back into one of the soft reclining leather chairs and began to read up on my video camera. Reaching down between my legs I shoved my hand between one of my leg opening and squirmed around a little. My balls were kind of mashed up and sticking to my leg so I adjusted myself into a more comfortable position, and noticed Aunt Liz glancing towards me shaking her head. I knew my junk must be completely visible at the moment, and I had just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I chuckled and shrugged my shoulders at her while she just rolled her eyes and jumped back into the conversation with my folks allowing me to finish off with myself. The entire incident really didn't bother me all that much, not like it would have used to. Sure I always walked around the house naked in front of my folks, but never like that in front of Aunt Liz. She was like family, but I had still been shy enough not to want to do that with other women in the house whether they were family members or not. Yet, it seemed as if these types of things just didn't bother me anymore. I guess as I got older things were beginning to change for me as well.

Finishing up with getting into a more comfortable position I once more focused on the instruction manual. I noted that there were two memory card slots and that my folks had purchased two one hundred twenty eight gigabytes cards which was more than enough coverage. The really nice thing about it was that I could set it up to record on both cards at the same time, one card recording in the higher raw setting for making the best quality DVD's and stuff to view on the television, and the other one in a lower setting perfect for doing editing right away and for posting on the web and everything. The video camera had all sorts of features that were going to come in handy for sure.

About an hour later, while my parents and Aunt Liz were chatting lazily on the couch enjoying some coffee, we began to hear the stirrings of the boys. I could hear Mattie's distinct high pitched voice screaming for everyone to hurry right at about the time that the door burst open. He came barreling out the door half naked pulling an equally half naked and disheveled looking Grant along with him.

As soon as I heard Mattie's voice I had turned on the video camera and began to film capturing the exuberance of the two adorably cute half naked boys making their way into the living room. Riley and Evan made an appearance a few moments later rubbing the sleep from their eyes, and a bit more dressed. Evan had slipped into a pair of grey shorts and white t-shirt, but the way his package moved around beneath the material I could tell he had gone commando style making me chuckle to myself as I filmed his slinky sexy body move down the hallway. Riley had slipped on a t-shirt and was still wearing his boxer shorts, his smaller boyhood barely making a showing in the soft cottony material.

Grant looked around and noticed me filming, and at first he blushed due to the state of his undress, but soon enough it was all forgotten as he looked under the tree excitedly with Mattie. The two boys rummaged around the tree looking at the various tags for names trying to figure out what belonged to whom, but didn't open any of them up being very mindful of the others and not wanting to do anything inappropriate. Both boys just looked adorably sweet with Grant's cute little firm round butt sticking up in the air as he shoved his face under the tree while Mattie sat on his haunches with one knee drawn up to his chest and his leg openings slightly pulled apart. His small sagging boyish pouch, and short thick semi-hard erection, was clearly visible between the slight gap in his pajama bottoms.

The excitement of the moment had him chubbed up a little as I zoomed in the camera for a closer shot of him not in the least bit concerned that you could see his semi-erect state before panning over towards Grant who began to scoot out from beneath the tree. He sat up next to his friend his own semi-hard state forming a nice little outline in his brand spanking new bright white Hanes briefs. Seeing their faces all lit up as I continued to film was priceless. Riley and Evan stood by watching their little brothers' excitement and I panned my camera over to them capturing their features as well as they both seemed to gaze fondly on their two little siblings.

They were oblivious to my filming and I could tell that Evan had a full blown erection as he reached down and adjusted his hardness briefly before shoving his white t-shirt over the bulge. It was just a normal reaction and nothing to it, happening very briefly as he released himself and continued to watch his brother interact with Grant. Even Riley seemed to be chubbed up a little because he too quickly reached down to shift things around almost as if done subconsciously when his peripheral vision caught Evan doing the same thing. It was all done innocently and quickly, and I knew I'd be able to just keep all of this in the video once I made copies for everyone to view later. This all was going to be just one little brief occurrence in the larger video, and it will just add a bit of humor to it all for those who would catch it.

Riley walked over by the window to look out, and I saw a huge smile spread over his features. "Whoa…like totally wicked dudes. It snowed overnight, and it's all white out there." The surfer boy drawled as he hurried down the stairs and out the front door.

Grant hesitated a moment watching Riley hurrying down the steps, and immediately got up hustling close on his older brother's heals. It left the rest of us sitting there in stunned silence at the sudden reaction from the two boys. All of a sudden my mom came to her senses and yelled out towards the Dobson boys.

"Wait a minute…you boys aren't even dressed and you'll catch a cold. You're mother will never forgive me?" She shouted too late as Mattie immediately hopped up and followed Grant and Riley out the door.

Chuckling I shrugged my shoulders following as well with Evan by my side, both of us not even bothering to put on a jacket or anything. The cold air slammed into my body making my skin pull tight up around me. I was still filming and hit the button my dad told me would put the video camera into automatic mode and filmed the boys as they started running around barefoot in the cold wet powder making snowballs and tossing them at one another. Evan stood next to me laughing and shaking his head at the antics of his brother and the two Dobson boys. Grant threw a snowball towards Riley smashing him in the shoulder, and the older boy retaliated by lobbing one at his younger brother playfully, and not all that hard, but who in turn had ducked behind Mattie just in time. The poor curly haired boy took the brunt of the attack as the snowball smashed into him dead center just below his chest.

"Hey…no fair," Mattie protested as he rounded on Grant and threatened to shove the snowball he was currently holding in his hands into his friend's face.

Grant yelped and turned to get away laughing giddily, but Mattie just tittered gleefully before jumping on to his friend's back holding on tightly as he wrapped his legs around the retreating boy. Reaching his arm around at the same time he smashed the soft snowball into Grant's face. The other boy lost his footing and both of them tumbled into the one inch soft snow. The dark blond haired boy giggled as he shucked Mattie off of him, and climbed back on to his feet before helping his friend up as well. It was totally hilarious as we all just busted up laughing. I had been filming throughout the interactive play between the boys, and I now zoomed in a little tighter on to Grant as he continued to giggle and tried to wipe away some of the snow which was quickly turning wet on him. Even his white underwear was damp now and you could see the fleshy tones of his package as it pressed up against the soggy material that clung to him tightly now. Even Mattie's pajama bottoms clung damply to his package showing off his small little round testicles and soft penis.

"Alright boys you've had your fun," I heard my mom admonish the boys without too much force from the doorway as she just laughed at the scene and beckoned them inside while Aunt Liz and my father just laughed their asses off at what Mattie had done to Grant. "After you boys get dressed a bit warmer you can come out and play for a while if you want. I mean the Christmas packages can wait." She teased turning to head back inside.

Both Mattie and Grant looked at each other and yelped at my mom. "No…wait…we're coming with you." They squeaked as their voices seemed to pitch upward an octave or two while they ran after my mom.

Picking up one of the blankets in the living room my mom first dried off Mattie quickly before turning her attention to Grant, while Aunt Liz handed them each a cup of warm cocoa. "What will your mother think of me Grant if I send you home with the sniffles?" She admonished him lightly and not all that mad while his eyes sparkled and he just shrugged his shoulders.

"Sorry Mrs. Schonefeld…it's just we don't get snow by us…and…and it is just perfect having it on Christmas and all. Besides, what's Christmas without a good snowball fight. Everyone back home will be sooooo jealous when I tell them I got to actually play in snow on Christmas." He giggled glibly while sipping on the hot tasty drink getting warmed up again with Mattie doing the same.

My mom clucked her tongue, but smiled warmly at the infectiously exuberant boy not able to stay mad at him. "It's alright Grant," she smiled warmly at him as she ruffled his hair. "It's just a motherly type of quirk…you know." She chuckled shaking her head because Grant just rolled his eyes at her as if to say 'mooooommmmm.'

Riley and Evan also sipped on some hot chocolate not looking in the least bit cold since they each at least had a shirt on and weren't damp. Riley had a small moist spot on his shoulder but it was quickly drying. I was still filming having switched back into the indoor mode on my camera. I also noticed that Mattie's pajama bottoms were almost completely dry now as well and so too was Grant's underwear as both boys once more settled down in front of the tree. I had captured the entire scene and interaction knowing Ms. Dobson was going to love seeing her boys play in the snow, and in general having a good time.

"Um…Mr. and Mrs. Schonefeld would it be alright if we hand out our gifts to everyone first?" Riley asked as Grant turned and nodded his head.

"Please can we?" He asked my parents who shrugged their shoulders and smiled letting them know this would be just fine.

Riley and Grant started handed out the packages to us. I placed the video camera on the tripod letting it run so that I could participate now as well. I opened up my small box and smiled appreciatively at the beautiful braided bracelet with carved ivory. The boys explained that they had gone back to the surf shop where the old Marine had taught Grant how to braid the bracelet and helped Riley with carving and doing the scrimshaw work on the walrus ivory.

"This is really beautiful guys, thanks a lot." I told them really touched that they had taken the time with making the bracelet for me that matched the same kind of braiding as my necklace. The scrimshaw work must have taken Riley hours and hours of work. He had created an image of a surfer with a large wave curling behind him as the center piece and then on either side etchings of a skateboarder. It was totally awesome.

Mattie opened up his present and nearly screamed in delight as he held up a new skateboard triumphantly with all the gear to boot. "Whoa…way cool guys and oh Grant wait until you see the ramp and jumps and stuff Uncle Kevin built for me to practice on." He tittered all excited.

"Cool Mattie…but did you see the logo and name on the board. I finally got a sponsor and that is my new skateboard." He beamed proudly as Mattie gazed at it in amazement before holding the board to his chest and leaning over to give his friend a big hug.

My parents and Aunt Liz opened up their wrapped packages and gasped at the beautiful red Santa Clara pottery they held in their hands. My parents received a wedding vase that had two pouring spouts on it with an incised Serpent and Lightning winding around the bowl, which are considered Creation figures. Aunt Liz's red Santa Clara bowl was the same matching design.

"Those are Pueblo pottery from Santa Clara made and produced in the traditional manner with no kiln or commercial materials used when made." Grant pointed out as my parents and Aunt Liz thanked the boys for such a thoughtful gift.

This just left Evan who sat by looking at our gifts approvingly not even concerned that he didn't have anything.

Riley looked over to my dad, "did it arrive on time?" He asked my dad making me curious as to what he was talking about.

"Yes, Jaden and Gabe dropped it off the other day…it's behind the closet door." He told the boy pointing to the hallway closet.

Riley smiled and got up heading over towards the closet and opening it up. He returned carrying a beautiful yellow, red, and green colored surf board handing it over towards Evan who just looked at it in awe.

"That's for me?" He gasped as he looked at the brand spanking new board. "It's beautiful Riley." He muttered under his breath as he traced his hands over the smooth surface noticing Riley's classic signature with the backwards spelled Riley and then the normal Dobson across the front end of the board along with a sunset design in the background. "Whoa…that's way cool you had your logo placed on it too." He stated admiring the design.

"Yeah, my sponsor finally came through as well. This is the prototype of my boards that are coming out commercially and will hit the market by spring. You are the first one to have this surfboard, and it will be the only one in these colors. You also have the Springsuit to go with it, and I entered you into the local contest this summer so you are just going to have to come over and give the board a spin for real." He told Evan who just gazed back at his older friend in stunned amazement, and then looked back down at the board smiling admiringly at the craftsmanship before looking over towards his mom.

"Do you think I'll be able to go over for real mom?" He asked as she just smiled and glanced towards my parents who just laughed and leaned over handing long envelopes to all three of us.

We looked at each other and then tore open the envelopes smiling at the contents. They were plane tickets several weeks after school let out for summer. "Liz, your mom, and I already made arrangements for all three of you to stay five weeks with Riley and Grant…of course after they stay five weeks with us at the beginning of the summer. While they are here all of you boys will head to camp for one week. Of course Mattie…you and Grant will be going to camp separately from the older boys, and Evan since the surf competition isn't until the end of summer, this should give you plenty of time to prepare for the contest because Riley already stated he will work with you." My dad told us as we all looked at each other and pumped our fists in the air whooping it up. This was shaping up to be the best Christmas ever.

Now it was Evan's and Mattie's turn as they began handing out gifts to everyone. Opening up mine I gasped in stunned silence at the beautiful black and white sketch Mattie had handed to me as his gift which had the same matting and frame as the one hanging in the room already matching it perfectly. It was a bust portrait of him and Evan wearing matching howling timber wolves jerseys.

"Do you like it?" Mattie asked. "I…um…Evan is teaching me how to draw. I'm no ways near as good as he is…but I hope you like it." He stated a bit nervously as I just looked at the drawing and smiled appreciatively.

"This is beautiful Mattie…I totally love it and I am going to hang it up with the other one. Now I have something from both of you." I told him sincerely touched by the gift as tears began to well up as I just hugged the smaller boy to me while he beamed proudly.

It was obvious that his drawing was a bit rough, but he was still young and by the looks of things could actually become a fairly decent artist if he stuck with it. He'd probably never develop the natural talents that his older brother possessed, but with diligence he would probably be pretty good in his own right. He also drew one for Grant depicting the two of them sitting on top of the replica of the gray whale at the Museum of Natural history in Santa Cruz as they both leaned up against one another arm in arm. It reminded me of the pictures I had taken with the two of them together. For Riley he drew a picture of the surfer holding his board in his arms looking out over the ocean. Both Riley and Grant loved their framed pictures. Mattie hesitated a moment, and then handed his brother one as well while Evan just glanced at his brother and smiled looking a bit surprised.

"You drew one for me too?" He asked his little brother who shrugged his shoulders.

"Yeah…I know I'm not all that good, but I wanted you to have one too." He admitted as Evan unwrapped his gift. It was a portrait of Evan stooped over a painting he was working on in the studio my dad had set up for him.

"Mattie…this is brilliant…thanks." Evan gushed at his little brother giving the boy a nice hug before turning his attention to Riley and Grant. "Um…I hope you guys don't mind, but you will have to share my gift with each other and your mom." He told them as he pulled out a huge package from behind the tree that was leaning up against the wall and handing it to the two boys while also handing smaller ones out to me, Mattie, my folks, and his mom.

Riley and Grant tore into theirs and gasped as they both got up and set the huge thirty two inch by forty eight inch hardboard canvas oil painting. We all just gaped at the stunning scene depicting the Dobson family. The main focus of the painting in the foreground was a portrait of Riley, Grant, and Ms. Dobson at the park dressed casually like the day I took pictures for them at Ms. Dobson's behest. Riley had a surfboard lying next to him and was holding on to Grant tickling the younger boy affectionately while they both laughed candidly without any hint of reservations on their young features. There was a skateboard sitting next to the jovial Grant, and Ms. Dobson was smiling looking on wearing her set of pearls around her neck, wrist, and ears. Both Riley and Grant were wearing off white button up shirts and the same colored khaki shorts. Visible around both boys' necks was Grant's challenge coin necklace and Riley's bone surfboard necklace. In addition to the main focus of the painting there was a transitional illustration in the upper left portion of the piece depicting Riley surfing the Mavericks. In the upper right corner there was a similar transition depicted Grant at the skate park doing an invert handstand on the ramp while a man cheered him on in the background that looked exactly like his father we had seen in one of the pictures.

"That is so awesome Evan," Riley gawked shaking his head while Grant just stood there rooted in place with tears spilling over the corners of his eyes.

The boy sniffled and wiped away the tears before turning towards Evan and literally falling into the other boy's arms as his whole body began to shudder. "This is so beautiful Evan. I…I don't really know what to say, but thanks for including my dad in the painting." He stated as he pulled back from Evan and blushed a bit embarrassed that he had cried like that in front of everyone while Riley came to his brother's rescue.

"Yeah…that really was very nice of you Evan. Mom is going to flip when she sees the portrait painting, and I know she will be hanging it up in the living room where everyone will be able to see it. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever given us for real Evan. I mean it isn't every day someone gets a gift like this from a Master Painter." He told Evan sincerely as he reached over giving him a hug as well making the younger curly haired boy blush at the compliment.

"Um…I…um…I'm not all that sure about the whole Master Painter thing." Evan stammered as he looked down a bit embarrassed.

"Are you kidding…someday this will be worth a fortune…not that we'd ever sell something so beautiful." Riley remained adamant as he continued to gaze at the painting his arm draped over the boy's shoulders for a few moments longer before letting him go.

My parents opened up theirs already knowing it was a painting, but eager to see what Evan had created for them. It was a twenty by twenty four inch portrait painting of my mom, dad, me, and even Sage gathered around the fireplace in the living room. It was a very sweet portrait, and to be honest really the first one of all of us together whether it be a painting or family picture portrait. Next Mattie opened up his sixteen inch by twenty inch painting and smiled proudly at the portrait of him in his soccer outfit howling in the air with an image of a large timber wolf howling as well at the moon on a ledge in the background. Ms. Prescott unwrapped her twenty inch by twenty four inch painting depicting her and her boys sitting around casually, and their father watching proudly over them with a fluttering American flag in the background.

Finally it was my turn as I opened up my sixteen inch by twenty inch painting, and smiled fondly of the image of me kneeling next to Sage holding the dog affectionately. I had my challenge coin wrapped around my neck, and the Medal of Honor dangled proudly around Sage's neck hanging loosely in front of his chest. I was wearing a pair of blue shorts and a button up blue plaid shirt that was unbuttoned and fluttering freely in the wind. Sage was sitting up proudly with his tongue hanging slightly out of his mouth while I was kneeling next to him. The setting was on the school grounds under the shade of large oak and maple trees. My bare chest and stomach were clearly visible along with the bullet scar along my side. It was a fitting tribute and done in such a classy way.

"Um…I hope you don't mind Mr. Schonefeld…but I…um…I just thought Sage deserved it for saving Kyle's…um…," Evan began to stutter beginning to cry now himself as he just looked at me. "I…I just thought it was fitting because Sage saved Kyle's life." He managed to get out as I reached out and took his hand in mine.

"I love it Evan," I whispered to him.

"Yes Evan…it's beautiful and I don't mind. Sage has earned it and then some." My dad stated proudly while Sage just seemed to look at the painting, and then barked approvingly making us all laugh.

"Who are the other two paintings for?" Grant asked curiously at the two wrapped up packages sitting against the wall with what were obviously painting.

"Oh those are for Jaden, my best friend, and Gabe who is Kyle's longest time best friend." Evan told Grant who smiled and nodded his head.

"Way cool…will I get to meet them?" He asked hopefully having heard all about them.

"Yeah…I'm pretty sure they will be over sometime later in the day. I'm hoping they will be able to spend the night with us." I told Grant who seemed to like the idea.

I didn't even bother asking my parents because I knew they wouldn't mind even if it was Christmas. Besides if I knew Jaden he probably had already asked his parents, and as for Gabe I was missing my best friend as well and school's been out only a couple of days. Ever since our blowup this past summer the two of us have been closer as friends than ever before, if that were even possible.

At this point my parents got up and handed their presents to Riley and Grant who looked up a bit surprised. "This is just too much." Riley stated shaking his heads. "You guys have given us enough already."

"It's alright guys." My dad smiled at the boys. "We hope you boys will like this. It's nothing fancy or anything, but hopefully it is something you will enjoy. Evan, Mattie, and Kyle your gifts were the plane tickets which came from all three of us." He finished off indicating Aunt Liz, my mom, and him as I watched while the two brothers began to open up their presents from my folks.

While I watched Evan leaned in and whispered into my ear. "I haven't forgotten my promise to you when we were at camp. One night here soon when we are alone I will give you the other gift I promised you." He told me smiling while I scrunched up my eyes trying to remember what he meant by that, but then I sort of put it on the backburners for now as Riley finally opened up his box.

"Whoa…totally gnarly." he exclaimed and drawled in his surfing slang as he held up the Medal of Honor book that had all the recipients of the award listed from over the years with pictures and their biography. He opened up the cover and smiled as he read the message inside the book that my dad had written to him. "Thanks Mr. Schonefeld, this is really nice of you."

"I'm glad you like it Riley, and just so you know I've shipped off the book to as many people as I could, and it's made its rounds all over the world. If you look inside I managed to get several other Medal of Honor recipients to sign it for you. Each one that signed the book also wrote a letter for you, which I put in the scrapbook at the bottom of the box." He told the boy who flipped through the pages of the thick book noticing several signatures, and then retrieved the scrapbook looking inside that one too.

"Man this is just way too rad." Riley gushed as he looked over towards his little brother who sat there quietly staring at the casing in his hand with tears running down his cheeks.

"Grant…my wife and Aunt Liz put this shadow box together for you. It has the folded American Flag inside of it, the one that belonged to your father when the military honor guard buried him. Your mom was kind enough to send it to me saying she had been wondering for a while now what to do with it for you. I promised to have it displayed and protected in a proper way. The shadow box also has all of his medals and awards he earned while serving in the army and Special Forces. Some of it you don't know about because I didn't have all the information when I sent that first package to you at the end of summer. After I gave you the initial information I've had the chance to do more research, and managed to get everything together for you. Aunt Liz and my wife put it all together properly for you in the shadow box. When you are ready I will go through it with you one day, and explain what all the ribbons are for along with what everything means, alright?" He explained to the boy who looked up and smiled as he held the glass covered case to his chest reverently not even bothering with the wetness along his cheeks.

"I…I would love that sir." He stated somberly as my dad reached over pulling the small boy to his chest.

We all fell silent for a few moments letting Grant enjoy the tender moment with my dad. I was happy for Grant who seemed to soak up the affectionate attention from my father. It seemed as if the boy needed this time with a father figure, and it didn't bother me in the least that my dad could share that with the boy.

"Um…I guess it is my turn." I announced as Grant smiled nodding his head that it was alright to continue before getting up off my dad's lap giving him one last quick hug and whispering a thank you to him.

Riley and Grant just looked at me shaking their heads feeling they were getting the majority of gifts. We all piped in and told them nonsense that we all were getting plenty of stuff as well. I even pointed out my expensive video camera now mounted on top of the tripod capturing the entire event between all of us. The two boys smiled and waved to the camera having all but forgotten about it before they once more focused on their packages.

"I know these aren't all that fancy, but I hope you like it." I told them as both boys looked at me and smiled.

"These are really nice." Grant stated as he looked at his sixteen inch by twenty inch framed and matted picture before looking at Riley's.

The framed photographic depictions were a sort of collage from our visit to Santa Cruz. The main focal image for Riley's framed collage was of him surfing at Mavericks catching a huge wave, and the same exact picture Evan used for his painting. All around the main image were several other ones of him collected together in a balanced kind of way that had him interacting with all of us at various times during our visit. Grant's was similarly done, but showed the main focal image of him grinding the rail his arms held out for balance and his body contorted with his face set firmly completely focused on his trick. All around him was a collection of pictures with him interacting with his brother, Mattie, Evan, and me. It wasn't the typical kind of framed photograph, but rather a depiction of our wonderful time spent together over the summer in Santa Cruz.

"I figured since you guys have all these posters of surfers and skateboarders hanging in your room you could hang these up as well. It's about time you have your own fine athletic abilities displayed." I teased them as they smiled back at me chuckling. "There's one more thing for your entire family." I told them handing over the photo album with all the pictures in it of our time together in Santa Cruz.

Riley and Grant began to flip through the pages while Evan and Mattie looked over their shoulders all of them chuckling at various points. They were giggling and laughing remembering our time together, and making specific comments on some of the pictures they came across as they ran down memory lane. The boys were animated as they began to tell stories about one picture or another giggling and carrying on. While they were distracted I slipped downstairs quickly coming back upstairs carefully carrying a large box.

The boys looked up and smiled at me questioningly. "Mattie and Evan, this is from me. The package is fragile because I didn't have time to wrap it up securely so be very careful so you don't break your gift." I told them as they slowly opened up the box and peaked inside.

Their eyes lit up and they looked at me smiling from ear to ear. "Are you serious?" Mattie yelped while Evan looked towards his mom.

"Can we really…mom?" The older brother asked nervously, and then smiled broadly when she nodded her head.

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