Recovered: An Unlikely Friendship

by Hunter Woods

Chapter 10: Back Home

Tossing my lunch bag on to the table I slid into the bench seat looking around and cringing at the clamor of noise that seemed to bounce off the walls in the large open space. It was actually a large place, but already beginning to feel crowded despite me being one of the first ones arriving at my usual table where I sat with my friends. Even though lunch period was spaced apart by three separate overlapping times here at Harding Middle School it was still much noisier and boisterous than I had become accustomed to over in Blue Meadows.

By the time I reached my spot here in the lunch room I was completely exhausted. My first day back at my old school was a mixed bag for me. It felt great to be home, but I missed being at the Weilers; especially, the close friends I had made while there. It was a confusing feeling for me, and I felt a bit conflicted because Blue Meadows had come to be home for me. It was a place I had settled into appreciating the uniqueness and quality of life in that small community. Despite some of my hardships while there, the other aspects to the community far outweighed the bad ones.

Even though the Weilers and I hadn't pressed formal charges Roger was sentenced to do community service. In exchange none of this would be formally recorded in a criminal record. The prosecutor wasn't happy with the outcome, but he wasn't disappointed either letting his brother the sheriff know he felt conflicted by the whole incident. Roger had come by visiting me after the court hearing once more apologizing, and letting me know he felt his punishment was fair enough all things considered. He was relieved about it and also about being able to protect his sister by not being pressured into giving up Damian. He so much wanted to give the other boy up, but he was simply too terrified by what might happen to his sister. After all he couldn't be there all the time keeping an eye on his little sister. Sooner or later the other boy would most definitely follow through on his threat. This more than anything scared the crap out of Roger.

There was also other great news. The assessment from Jamie's evaluation indicated he had actually made tremendous strides in certain areas of his autism. The biggest one seemed to be in the way he was more willing to interact and do things. His verbal skills had improved even though he still really never truly communicated in a sort of conversational manner. The reports the Weilers and I provided were convincing enough to the specialist to note that indeed it looked like he was starting down the road of actually getting to that basic communicative conversational state. The signs were there with the way he seemed to have empathized with me when I was sick, and in other smaller ways like speaking with Boxey. In all it appeared like something had been triggered inside of the younger boy and now it was more important than ever to keep engaged slowly stretching the boundaries of his capabilities. It would be an ongoing process, but one all of us needed to be vigilant with.

As for the special diet, the expert didn't make any conclusions about it one way or another simply saying the diet is nutritional, and doesn't hurt Jamie, so it doesn't matter if the Weilers wanted to continue with it. The surprise though was the specialist also offered up the fact that other things such as Supplements in the form of Minerals like (Chromium, zinc, calcium, Magnesium, and Selenium), along with other important natural foods and supplements like (Cod liver oils, Colstrum, Camel's milk, and Vitamin E) also wasn't harmful so long as these types of things were supervised by a doctor.

The important thing, the specialist pointed out, was that living a cleaner healthier life style never harmed anyone so long as it was just that, a healthier life style. In this regard he stressed it was always important to get a doctor's input to make sure any of these types of things weren't doing any harm because it was handled wrong. To us it seemed a clear indication he felt such things could actually help, but in his capacity he couldn't come out and actually condone such activities in and of itself.

After I got back on my feet my body had recuperated quickly with me back in classes at Blue Meadows. When I had returned I made a point of talking with David and some of the High School kids that I felt comfortable with, and explained what had happened and my suspicions. I knew Damian was afraid of David from the way he had backed down from the boy that day we had got into the altercation in town. I also knew Damian was afraid of some of the other older kids in school so I wanted to get their input.

To their credit they agreed with my opinion saying they would pass along the word making sure everyone stuck together protecting themselves from this creep. If he was willing to threaten Roger by going after his little sister then it was up to the entire school to look out for one another. The Principal of the school was a great guy, but there was the issue of the Vice Principal as well, so if anything it would be up to us kids to look out for one another.

From that point forward it was made perfectly clear to Damian that he was no longer welcomed because he immediately became an outcast and shunned by everyone. Even when he tried to bully some of the younger kids, he was immediately sent packing by everyone else banding together in a protective manner. He used to get away with it because other kids didn't want to get involved. Now when he spotted a victim he wanted to exploit everyone around immediately came to the badgered poor kid's defense. It wasn't simply one person standing up, but several kids in the area where the bullying was taking place.

Soon it became clear to him that everyone was on to him so he began to play the nice guy. No one fell for this trick either because he's done that in the past where he sort of became the nice guy for a while until things settled down, and then began his reign of terror once more. When the nice guy tactic didn't work he began to try threatening kids like he had done with Roger. This was a bit trickier to deal with until one of the seniors in school caught him threatening someone and made it a point to bring it out in the open. The word was then passed around that if anyone was threatened in some odd way by Damian that they were to tell the older kids about it so it could be squashed. Within a few days Damian had become an immediate outcast with everyone in school shunning him wanting nothing to do with the boy. Even in the classrooms when he sat down kids cleared away from him so that he was completely isolated. The teachers caught on right away, and for the most part seemed to approve of the peaceful demonstration of solidarity. What had happened to me and Jamie had gotten around to the teachers and staff. They were also fed up with the boy's antics, and figured this sort of peaceful display of solidarity didn't disrupt their classroom setting so they let it slide.

About a week after I started back in class I got a pleasant surprise in the mail. It was a legal document announcing that Boxey was officially certified as a service dog. With the Weilers sitting down with me we read through the information trying to figure out exactly what this meant. To our amazement we found out all sorts of things including the fact that Jamie could actually take the dog with him to school and into the classroom with him, or anywhere else for that matter. Wherever Jamie went, Boxey could go, well for the most part because there were always situations where such things weren't possible and simply didn't make sense. For example, you can't simply allow a dog to go into an operating room in the hospital. I was most definitely a bit stunned that, Mr. Joe as I referred to the older courtroom janitor and park employee who I had met the week prior, had actually come through like this and so quickly.

It also gave me some relief knowing that Boxey would be there to look out for the boy from now on. Currently everyone was being hyper watchful on Jamie's behalf, nervous about when Damian might try something. With Boxey around there'd be no way the spiteful boy could get near Jamie without my dog intervening. The big Lab was a gentle lush, but would most definitely fight to protect Jamie. The two of them were practically inseparable these days with Boxey being more Jamie's dog than mine anymore. It was even difficult to keep them separated when Jamie left for school. According to Aunt Harriet and Uncle Walt the dog would sit by the front porch waiting for us to return from school, and then head down the gravel road to meet us at the bus.

Now with Boxey being designated legally as a service dog we took the paperwork to school. Principal Johnson was a bit dubious saying for now it was fine because the law stipulated he had to comply, but said he would need to check the legitimacy of it. As he continued to look over the paperwork he seemed to pause a moment before changing his mind saying everything looked in order. Uncle Walt asked why he had changed his mind when the Principal pointed out that on the legal documents it had been signed by Judge Williamson so it had to be legitimate. From here on out it would be official, and he would brief the entire school staff instructing them on the proper protocol for making accommodations regarding a service animal. In addition he would be informing them to the legal ramifications of prohibiting the dog from entering any part of the facility if he's accompanied by Jamie.

The whole process sort of shocked me with how much easier it went than I thought, even when Jamie brought Boxey to school with him the following day. At first the entire situation was a novelty, and there were a few minor incidents with teachers not liking the idea trying to impose some sort of conditions, but those were immediately squared away by Principal Johnson who made it clearly known that in this regard there was no fudging the law. He would not tolerate any pushback from any staff members regarding the service dog. The teachers and staff would all have to accommodate the dog.

There were some initial grumblings, but after a couple of days even the staff members who were initially against such an idea began to come around. Once they noticed that Boxey didn't interfere in the day to day operations of their duties, and how it seemed to have a positive influence on Jamie, they immediately fell in line with the legal requirements. If anything they began to enjoy having the dog in class seeing how it had a positive affect with the rest of the students. It was as if having the dog around cheered up everyone's spirits.

The only other grumblings were the staff members responsible for keeping the school and the grounds clean. They were afraid of the dog depositing a few little nasty surprises where a kid might accidentally step into or roll around in, but this too was managed. Principal Johnson agreed that this was a legitimate concern so had designated a cordoned off area for the dog to go potty in if needed. In regards to little doggie piles it really wasn't an issue because once Jamie was shown how he needed to use a doggie bag to clean up any leavings, he simply cleaned up after the dog using the scented bags disposing of it in the small garbage pale in the area. I really was surprised how Jamie managed to clean up after Boxey, which to me indicated another phase in his growth.

Then the day finally came which I was both looking forward to and regretting at the same time. My mom had been calling me up on a regular basis keeping in touch. Her cancer treatments were working, and they finally managed to get rid of all the tumors so it was finally time to come home. I had been prepared for this day, but when it finally arrived it hit me like a ton of bricks because deep down I really didn't want to leave. Of course I wanted to be home with my mom, but Blue Meadows had now become home for me too. In such a short period of time the Weilers' farm had become my home away from home.

Saying goodbye to the Lorenz brothers and the Weilers had me all choked up, but the one thing I hadn't thought about was Boxey. Now I was torn, because even though the dog belonged to me he had become an integral part of Jamie's life. I've never been so conflicted in my entire life like I was that last night I spent at the Weilers before heading home. The Lorenz brothers spent the evening with me, but I didn't get any sleep all night as I tossed and turned my mind not finding any release. The Weilers hadn't even said a single word regarding Boxey figuring the dog was mine, and would be accompanying me home the following day, but I agonized over it.

When the following morning arrived we all simply got dressed the atmosphere in the house being a very somber one while we ate breakfast. It was so difficult for me to say goodbye to the people I loved, but it was Jamie who simply broke my heart while I knelt next to Boxey in the living room leash in hand with my bags all packed scratching the dog behind his ears. I had already hugged the Weilers and the Lorenz brothers' goodbye, but I simply didn't know how to say goodbye to Jamie.

"Sammy sad…Sammy sad…Sammy sad." The boy observed in his usual repetitive habit.

Recently he's been more communicative like there were certain things he could actually understand. He still didn't talk to most people. He mainly had these little moments only with me, but lately it's also been at times with the Weilers. It wasn't necessarily conversations, but more often simply saying words repetitively; especially, when given instructions regarding something. So when he noted me being sad it seemed to catch us by surprise. He's done it before, but for us it was still an indicator of how far he's come all things considered.

"Yes Jamie…I'm sad because I have to leave now."

"Why?" Came the simple question shocking all of us to the core.

To most this was just a simple question, but for us it was the first time he truly asked a question for personal reasons. It was the first time which truly indicated he was curious about something specific and expecting an answer.

It took a moment before I found my voice. "Because I…um…Jamie I know it is difficult to understand, but I have to go home to my mom. I belong with my mom just like you belong here with your Aunt Harriet and Uncle Walt. They love you so much, and my mom loves me, so I have to go back home to live with her." I tried to explain with the eleven year old boy shifting his weight from one foot to the other his head turned off to the side looking at the curtains with their swirling designs.

I started to get up figuring we were finished when he surprised us again. "Jamie Sad…Jamie Sad…Jamie Sad." He began to fidget obviously agitated.

"It's alright Jamie." I told him reaching out my hand towards him seeing the boy visibly flinch. "I wasn't going to touch you." I whispered softly yet yearning to do just that.

How something so mundane in people's live could mean so much to others when they can't have something as simple like touching a person they cared about. "Sorry…sorry…sorry…sorry…sorry…sorry…," Jamie kept repeating his head twitching as he got caught up with the repetition seemingly not able to shake it.

It clearly agitated the boy so I shifted in front of him interjecting my voice forcefully. "Jamie…look at me." I commanded the boy reflexively responding to my voice with his head swiveling towards me and our eyes locking together momentarily before they once more flicked away.

"I love you Jamie and you mean the world to me. You are the bravest boy I've ever known. I've learned so much from you, and everything you do just amazes me. I won't ever forget you. I promise I'll call you often. We can even see each other on the video with skype now that your Aunt and Uncle know how to use it. Promise to be a good boy, and to try hard every day to do your chores and to talk with your Aunt, Uncle, Austin, and Jake. They all love you very much and I know it is hard Jamie, but this is something you can do…alright?" I asked him not getting a response, but noticing how the boy had stopped rocking indicating he was listening and had heard me.

"Jamie…I have a present for you." I told him getting a response from him with his eyes darting back towards me briefly before flittering away.

This was something else he's never done before until recently. Respond in a meaningful way with his eyes. This simple act was an indication that he was paying attention to what someone was saying.

"I want you to have Boxey. Take good care of him." I told the boy holding out the leash placing it in his hand.

Jamie looked at the leash then down at Boxey before holding it back out to me. "Sammy…Sammy…Sammy…Boxey…Sammy." He stated while I nodded my head.

"Yes Jamie I know Boxey belongs to me, but he's more your dog than mine now so you need to take good care of him." I told the boy with large teardrops running down my cheeks because this was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life.

I couldn't hold it in anymore so I allowed them to spill down the side of my face before I finally reigned in my emotions. It didn't matter if anyone was around seeing me cry because this hurt, but if I didn't control them I'd simply break down right in the middle of the living room. It wasn't only the thought of giving up Boxey that had me so emotional, but also the idea of leaving Jamie behind. The eleven year old boy had taught me more than I ever knew possible, and had touched me in a way I couldn't explain.

"Goodbye Jamie." I stated simply before getting up and grabbing my bags heading quickly for the door.

My shoulders quivered while I tried to hold back the floodgates. Tossing my bags into the truck I turned my head away while everyone tried to catch up to me standing outside of the house. Uncle Walt could sense my hurry so he jumped into the truck which he had started up a few minutes ago to warm it up before we had begun to say our goodbyes. The Lorenz brothers were waving their arms at me while the truck rolled down the bumpy drive towards the main road. Somehow I managed to hold it all in until we reached the main road.

I've never cried so hard in my life, and it force Uncle Walt to pull over so he could hold me because my shoulders began to shake violently. "I don't want to leave." I balled and hiccupped my body shaking all over while the man held me tightly patting me gently.

"I know boy, but you belong with your mother." He whispered softly to me until I managed to finally get myself under control.

After a few minutes I sighed sitting back up into my seat completely exhausted. "Sam?" I heard Uncle Walt's voice seeing him turn in his seat.

"Yeah?" I whispered gazing towards him noticing the man had tears of his own welling up in the corners of his wrinkled face.

"We love you…Harriet and me…and…and what you've done for Jamie…we can't thank you enough. Even Boxey…we know that was such a sacrifice for you." He stated while I shook my head.

"No it wasn't…with Jamie nothing is a sacrifice. I…I…love him Uncle Walt." I whispered the last part softly not knowing how he would react to my admission.

"I know Sam." He sighed back at me placing his hand on my shoulder.

"No Uncle Walt you don't understand…I love him." I stated simply shaking my head with the admission that I was in love with another boy, one who I would never truly be able to love in the most meaningful of ways.

"No Sam…you don't understand. Harriet and I do know…what I mean…we know you are 'in' love with him." The man emphasized. "It hurts us Sam. Not because you love another boy, but because you love Jamie. It hurts us because we know…," Uncle Walt paused shaking his head both of us falling silent for several moments in our own thoughts before he started up again.

Gently Uncle Walt reached over lifting up my chin so we were looking into each other's eyes. "We know that even though Jamie might love you too that he will never be able to show it…not in a meaningful and fulfilling kind of way. It hurts your Aunt Harriet and me to know this Sam. We love you so much, and only want the best for you. When you hurt so do we. I'm so sorry Sam…for everything. I wish it were different, but we know you can't choose the people you fall in love with. You are just as precious to us as Jamie, so don't ever forget this. We love you unconditionally no matter what. You come back home here anytime you want…remember this is your home too." The man finished off reaching out and allowing me to collapse into his strong comforting arms.

The simple act of being accepted so completely without any prejudgments was such a relief for me. I thought that the Weilers would hate me for the love I had for Jamie. Instead, they seemed to embrace it only feeling bad because they also knew like me this is something that was never meant to be. The Weilers accepted me for who I was, and didn't judge me. They welcomed me with open arms when I first came, and they now are extending open arms once more letting me know that they would always welcome me unconditionally as a member of their family despite me being gay and in love with their little Jamie.

We continued to embrace until the man finally sighed gently easing me out of his arms. "Sam…I was going to wait until I got you to the rest area where your father is going to pick you up, but since we are talking I figured I'd hand it to you now." He told me shoving his hand in the pocket on the inside part of his jacket.

Pulling out a small manila envelope he handed it over to me while I looked at him curiously. Opening it up, I pulled out the contents setting the envelope on my lap. Holding the small curious looking little booklet in my hand I flipped through some of the pages noting several numbers inscribed inside of it.

"What's this?" I asked him a bit baffled.

"It's your bank account. I took the liberty of setting up an account under mine and Harriet's at the local bank. It's still your account, and only you can access the funds. Since you've been doing a man's job at the orchard I figured you deserved a man's wage. A job worth doing is a job worth doing well, and you've never shied from any tasks I've given you at the orchard." He explained while I looked at the figures astonished by the amount inside.

"I can't take this." I told him honestly because even though it wasn't truly considered a lot in the real world it most definitely was way more than I've ever earned in my life or for that matter most other kids my age.

"Why not? If you hadn't done the tasks I would have had to hire someone else to do it. I don't see what the difference is with paying you or someone else. Sam, you really have worked hard at the extra chores which needed to be done, and you never once complained. You've been one of the best off season hands I've ever had, so take the money and know you earned it fair and square." The man offered up while I simply shook my head. "In the back of the book is a debit card you can use to draw the money whenever you want just like a credit card. If you do withdraw any funds make sure to record it in the book so you can keep track of your money." He offered up.

"I don't know what to say Uncle Walt…thanks." I stated tucking away the book and sitting back while he started up the truck and set out down the road.

A loud boisterous noise in the lunch room at the Warren G. Harding Middle School brought me back to the moment as I unravel my paper sack lunch taking a sneak peek inside. I don't know why I did it since I pretty much knew what was inside. Shrugging I left it sitting on the table top not really all that hungry. Suddenly I heard a swelling noise by the wide entryway that led into the lunch room which drew my eyes catching my attention. Looking over I notice another crowd of kids piling into the lunch room.

It wasn't unusual at this school since kids continue to stream into the lunchroom in a steady stream throughout this time, so I was about to shift my gaze again when a mop of pale blond hair grabbed my attention tugging at my memories since it stood out in stark contrast to the darker hues surrounding him. Something tickled at my memories, which quickly dissipated when I caught a glimpse of the boy with the pale straw like colored hair being shoved down to the floor while an eighth grader jeered at him calling the boy a Commie scum and he should go back. I watched the bully snatch away the much smaller and younger boy's lunch throwing it on the ground and stomping on it.

Looking around I was shocked that none of the staff members were doing anything about it. I witnessed a few of them glance over towards the commotion, but their eyes simply continue to move on ignoring what was happening with this group of kids. There was something about it which grabbed my attention getting a rise out of me, but I tried to keep my anger from boiling over. I most definitely didn't want to start out first thing back at my old school where I had left off.

Taking a deep breath to calm myself I got up walking calmly over towards the group of eighth graders that had surrounded this poor kid shoving my way past them.

"Hey, what gives?" I hear the older bully complain forcing me to confront him.

The older boy was glaring at me, but when he saw my angry smoldering eyes it made him take a step back. "Oh…um…Sam…it's you. I…um…," he began.

"What…picking on another smaller kid than you again Jarrod…figures." I spat back trying to remain calm. "If you like picking on smaller kids why not try me on for size." I offered up my voice a lot more calm than I thought possible shocking even me. Truth be told my softer voice made it sound even more ominous forcing the older boy to simply hold up his hands and shake his head saying it was all good before he moved on.

Turning back around I bent down offering up my hand to the boy sitting on the ground who looked to be in the sixth grade. The kid merely shied away from me reflexively before gazing up into my eyes. As soon as he looked up the memories came flooding back with me realizing it was the very boy that has been in many of my jack off fantasies. The same boy that I had helped out that day I got suspended.

His piercing blue eyes locked on to mine his eyebrows, which were a light shade of brown contrasting his shock of a white blond mop on the top of his head, furled for a moment in thought like there was something about me that he should know. The pale smooth unblemished features of his adorably sweet face along with his deep penetrating blue eyes were even more striking than I remembered forcing the corners of my mouth to twitch upwards into a goofy smile.

Then all of a sudden his face lit up in recognition making me shiver with excitement and catching me by surprise when he immediately wrapped his arms around me. I was flabbergasted at first, and didn't know what to do, but I sighed returning his hug before releasing him and backing up a little. The brief moment was a bit awkward because I knew a lot of kids had just seen what happened, but at that moment I honestly didn't care what others thought because the boy of my fantasies was once more in my sights.

"So is this a sort of every day occurrence with you, and if so how did you manage to get along while I was gone without me here to protect you?" I chuckled teasingly before immediately feeling bad because he must have misunderstood me since the corners his beautiful eyes began to well up.

"I'm sorry…I didn't mean anything by it." I tried to smile encouragingly.

Then I heard the most melodic young voice with a very unique strong accent coming out of the cute boy's mouth in a sing song kind of manner making me literally swoon for a moment with the blood rushing into my brain pan dulling my thoughts for a brief second.

"I'm so glad you are back. People said they put you in some sort of…um…prison for children…um…Juvie?" He asks making me laugh while shaking my head at the whole rumor mill at our school along with his attempt at using our slang.

"No, not really prison or anything; although, some would say it was." I tease, with him furling his eyes looking very concerned now.

The cute blond boy suddenly becomes somber. "Oh…I'm sorry…it was entirely my fault this has happened to you. I understand if you do not want to be seen with me." He sighs wearily with us both getting up while I looked at him with confusion on my face until I realize he literally thought I went to Juvie.

Watching the boy straightening out his clothes I noted he was about five or six inches shorter than me, the top of his head right at about my nose level. I figured he was probably about four foot six inches tall in height. I was literally staring at him trying to take in everything about him at once when I realized he was still looking sad about me having to spend time in the so called kid prison.

Shaking away the cobwebs from my brain, I quickly tried to clarify things. "Oh…um…no…that's not what I meant. What I mean is that since I had been suspended until after the Christmas holiday my folks decided to send me away to some family friends. They own and operate a farm and orchard. So they put me to work on the farm, but just between you and me it really didn't seem like work, and it really wasn't punishment or anything. I even got paid for it. There were also other reasons I was sent out there, and why it took longer before I came back which had nothing to do with my suspension; although, it was what set everything in motion." I tried to explain noticing him concentrating on everything I was saying like trying to interpret my words with him nodding his head slowly.

"Oh…alright…I think. My father and I tried to call your parents to explain. We talked to your mother, and she sounded happy that it was not your fault…the fight, but she said you were already gone. We thought the police had sent you to prison. When I asked others…," he motioned towards the other kids, "they all said you were bad and sent to prison." He stated looking upset about the entire incident.

"Oh dude…man I'm sorry I worried you like that. It wasn't right that these jerks were teasing you like that." I told him sincerely knowing how kids around here tended to goof around and tease people, but in this case because of the language barrier this kid didn't know that it was simply a joke with a prank being played on him.

"Anyway, how are you getting along at the school now? I know it was probably tough and all to start out with. I suppose it always is when you move to a new place." I chuckle noticing him hanging his head looking around nervously.

The boy shook his head sadly. "No friends," He admitted. "They all pick on me saying to go back home to Russia. Every day they take my lunch from me. No matter where I go they find me and steal my food so I simply come here now to get it over with. When I try to tell them I'm from Estonia not Russia, they simply say it doesn't matter since Russia owns all those countries anyway…but this isn't true." He insists with his lower lip quivering and trying really hard not to cry.

"So, you haven't made any friends at all…and you've been going hungry all this time…shit that totally sucks." I tell him honestly my heart breaking for this kid who hasn't done anything wrong other than being from some country called Estonia. Hell, I didn't even know anything about that country.

The younger boy nods his head looking shyly away from me. "I understand if you do not want to talk or be seen with me now that you know. I do not want you to get in trouble because of me anymore." He sighs and begins to turn around.

"What…wait…no…I mean…don't leave. Of course I'll be friends with you. I can't believe the fucking staffers haven't helped you out or anything. I mean there's no way they can't notice what's been going on with these jerks stealing your lunch and all. So yeah, I'll be friends with you if nothing else than to make a living hell for the staff to deal with. Besides, didn't I go to prison for you?" I chuckled with his eyes getting really big and apologetic looking for having me thrown in prison.

I immediately realized it was a bad joke so back pedaled a bit. "Oh shit dude, I'm sorry. I guess we are going to have to teach you how our jokes work around here. I meant the comment as a joke, and not in a way that I really went to prison for you, but I did take a good couple of punches on your behalf if I recall. My left lip was a bit puffy for a few days." I chuckle getting the first smile out of him noticing that there was a gap between his upper teeth on the left side where he was missing his canine tooth somehow making his smile even cuter on him.

"Well you should not feel too bad, I hear the other boy had a big puffy eye and it had turned all black." He chuckled.

"Hmmm, then that wasn't a bad exchange. A bloody lip for a shiner." I reply with him scrunching his face making me laugh realizing we had to fast track his learning curve.

"It means my bloody lip for the black eye I gave him. We call it a shiner sometimes." I clarify while he smiles nodding his head.

I hold out my hand to him and introduce myself properly. "By the way I'm Sam. Here I'm sent off to prison for you and I don't even know your name." I chuckle with him extending his own hand wrapping them inside of mine giving it a firm shake while smiling because this time he understood my comment had been a joke.

My entire insides suddenly lurched doing flip flops when our hands came together while my penis began to twitch excitedly as I tried to settle it down afraid I was going to pop one right there and then. I notice the cute white haired boy get a funny look on his face too with him sort of shifting his hips like he was trying to adjust something in his pants. It made me wonder if he just had the same kind of reaction I just had, the curiosity forcing me to glance down quickly noticing the small distinct bulge in his pants.

Even though he was standing up I noticed his khaki pants, which was part of the school uniform, fit him a bit too snuggly leaving little to the imagination what he had between his legs since the outline of his stiff erection angling off towards his right was clearly visible. It seemed like a nice sized erection for a boy his age. If I were to venture a guess I'd say it was probably about two and half or three inches long with a decent sized thickness to it. When I gazed back up into his startling electric blue eyes he blushed looking away while discretely covering himself up with his hands knowing I had just caught him popping wood. I felt kind of bad now that I had looked, but also a bit cheeky knowing I made him feel the same way he was making me feel. Not to mention the image would probably be the material of my next fantasy while jacking off later on tonight.

"Well?" I ask trying to stifle a giggle.

"Um…what?" He asks trying to collect his jumbled thoughts confirming to me that I truly did have an affect on him.

Trying to make him feel at ease again I smile warmly at him. "Dude look at me," I order softly getting his attention. "It's alright, don't worry about it. The same thing happens to me all the time, but for real, what's your name?" I chuckle shaking my head and adding. "Remember, I've been in prison for months now without knowing who you are." I tease getting that cute smile from him again.

"It's Paavo." He counters making me look at him questioningly while he smiles knowingly. "My name is spelled P-a-a-v-o, and pronounced Pa…as in the first part in Papa, and vo as in the first part of Vote. It means small and humble." He explains while I roll his name around my tongue nodding my head.

"Yeah, Paavo, it suits you. Both the sound of the name and the meaning." I announce glancing back over towards him while he looks away in shame.

"What's wrong?" I ask him concerned I may have said something wrong again.

"Is that really what you think of me? As being small and…um…what is that word…um…yes… insignificant?" He asks me as he struggles to keep from crying.

"What…no…of course not. I don't think your name is a weak quality. I mean it seems to suit you because you are kind of built small and a humble person has many meaning and doesn't necessarily mean you are weak or anything. Actually I think it takes a lot of courage to be a humble person, and it shows them to be a person with integrity. I like those traits, and I think you have those qualities." I tell him honestly while he listens to me taking in my words before he smiles and nods his head.

"Thank you Sam."

"You're welcome Paavo…but for real dude, if we are going to be friends you are really going to have to stop taking things personally. I mean if I say something it isn't to hurt you in some way…alright?" I ask him while he thinks on it a moment before nodding his head.

Glancing over towards me he smiles hesitantly. "So you want to be friends with me…um…for real?" He asks hesitantly while also managing to get in a bit of our unique way of speaking by adding that 'for real' part in the end sounding a bit funny coming from him.

Chuckling at how he was learning our little quirky mannerisms I roll my eyes at him. "Yeah…FOR REAL," I emphasize making him giggle while I added a caveat. "But only if you promise not to take things so personal anymore," I wriggle my finger at him pointedly. "For real it's going to be a lot of hard work otherwise." I huff teasingly noticing the boy smile cheekily at me before turning serious.

"Yes…alright. I'm sorry…it's just…," he sighs looking around at the kids who have already simply moved on ignoring us. "It's just things have not been easy since we have moved here." He admits to me.

Wincing inwardly because of how difficult it must have been for him, I motion for the boy to follow me back to the table where my friends are now waiting for me. "By the way…so exactly where is Estonia and what kind of country is it?" I ask listening while he tells me a little about it quickly while we walk.

"Hey guys this is Paavo…Paavo this is Steve, Mike, Carson, and Sylvia, the only girl in our group, and don't ask me why in the world she'd want to be friends with our sorry asses." I tease introducing everyone. "Paavo is going to be sitting with us from now on during lunch." I added shoving the boy next to Steve while taking one for myself effectively squeezing the smaller boy between us.

My best friend glances over towards me looking surprised. "Oh…he is?" Steve asked arching his eyebrows. "I mean he's only…," the boy begins when I chirp up.

"He's what…different…from Russia, which by the way isn't true…he's actually from Estonia wherever the hell that is. Somewhere near Poland and Latvia or some such place." I interjected staring Steve in the eye while my friend merely shrugged his shoulders.

"No…I was going to say he's like in sixth grade you know, and we are all in the seventh grade." He pointed out while I waved him off.

"Who gives a shit, besides why hasn't any of you knuckleheads been looking out for him? I mean kids around here have been hassling him, and I did get exiled because of him so you should have at least picked up where I left off." I told my friends in a stern voice seeing Paavo wilt and hang his head.

"I'm sorry?" The boy apologized again forcing me to roll my eyes.

"For Pete's sake already Paavo. Didn't we just talk about this a minute ago? Stop apologizing for something that wasn't your fault." I stated exasperated looking towards my friends. "Geeze guys for real this kid doesn't get our jokes so we have to fast track him on it…all of us." I pointed out reaching over Paavo so I could shove Steve who was laughing his ass off at the new kid's expense.

"Hey, what'd you do that for?" Steve complained watching me while I reached over grabbing one of his napkins spreading it out in front of Paavo. "What are you doing?" My best friend asked a bit perplexed continuing to watch while I grabbed a handful of his chips placing them in front of Paavo. "Hey what gives?" He protested, but not moving scrutinizing me while I reached across the table.

Sylvia watched while I grabbed a handful of grapes from her. Then my hand snaked out towards Carson snatching up some cookies from him, and a second sandwich from Mike.

"Hey my sandwich." Mike protested while I scrunched my face looking at him.

Sticking my tongue out at him I quip. "Oh stop being such a big baby. I don't know why you get two sandwiches anyway. You never eat it." I retorted with Mike shrugging his shoulders not able to say anything because it was true.

"Since you idiots didn't bother stopping any of those thugs from taking Paavo's lunch then the least you can do is share yours with him. None of you guys are going to starve by giving him some of your stuff so shut up and eat." I ordered with all of them rolling their eyes at me while Paavo hung his head down in shame.

"What about you?" Steve pointed out getting a laugh from Sylvia.

"What…you want to poison the new kid. You know Sam eats all that weird shit and all. I mean even girls wouldn't want to eat the type of healthy crap he eats." Sylvia pointed out getting chuckles from everyone at the table while Paavo stared at me a bit confused.

Sighing I tried to explain. "There's a lot of stuff I can't eat Paavo because my body can't tolerate some things like most other kids. I mean I can eat a little at times like if I have a friend over and we order pizza, but I have to be careful most other times. If I get pizza every once in a while I can get away with eating a slice or two without getting too sick. Anyway, for the most part I just have to substitute some things for other stuff. Like milk….I substitute that with coconut milk or almond milk. One of the major things for me is gluten which means no bread and stuff unless it is gluten free bread. Most people don't like my bread." I chuckled pulling out my sandwich and chomping into it getting a look from Paavo.

"What's wrong?" I ask him pointing to the food in front of him.

The boy shrugged his shoulders looking a bit embarrassed with Steve finally piping up. "Oh for Pete's sake Paavo, just eat. None of us cares if we share some of our stuff with you. I mean if you're still hungry after you eat that I'll even get you some more chips or something from the machine." My friend tells the boy nudging him with his elbow.

The smaller boy looked at Steve before gazing up at me. "I mean if you want some of mine you are more than welcome to it. I don't think you'd much like it though. Maybe some fruit, I offer up tossing some of my cherries on to the pile of grapes he had in front of him.

The blond haired blue eyed boy looked around before diving in. He was starving and we all stared at him while he simply inhaled his meal. Stuff simply disappeared down his mouth and into his tummy in short order.

"Holy crap dude your like a fucking human vacuum cleaner. If you keep that up you'll burst right out of your tight clothes." Steve busted up laughing while Paavo blushed swallowing some juice from the fresh carton that Sylvia had handed over to the boy.

"Sorry…it is just I haven't had lunch in weeks. I didn't want to tell Papa not to fix me lunch because he would have wanted to know why. Besides, if I didn't bring lunch those boys might have done worse things." The boy admitted making Steve stop laughing since it didn't seem so funny anymore.

"Dude…I'm like sorry. I mean Sam's right we should have done something sooner. That simply isn't right, but for real dude what's up with your tight clothes. I mean it sort of…you know…," he glances towards Sylvia for a split second, but she's hung around us long enough to have heard our crude talking points. "I mean…it sort of shows a lot of your junk and all, so no wonder kids are calling you faggot and shit. Maybe if you buy some new school clothes that fit?" He offered up.

Steve was a great friend and all, but sometimes I could just smack him. This was another one of those times because I saw Paavo wilting under Steve's comment. My friend was one of the few kids in our neck of the woods whose parents were well off financially. He was stuck coming to our school because his house fell within the borders, and his parents felt it was better for him to go to a public school versus a private one to keep him more grounded. Of course kids here at school didn't know about Steve's situation, and I only knew it because I've been over to his house since we were like best friends.

"They didn't have any clothes my size when Papa purchased these for me." Paavo admitted making Steve look at him incredulously.

"What how can the school's store run out of clothes. I mean they always have to have new clothes in stock in all the different sizes." He exclaimed while I shot daggers in his direction nodding my head towards Paavo and giving him that money sign by running my finger and thumb together.

Steve's eyes got big understanding that Paavo had to buy used clothes not the new ones, so he cursed himself under his breath. "Um…oh…yeah…well I guess coming in the middle of the school year and all, it sort of makes sense now." Steve tried to back pedal while the rest of my friends held their tongues understanding exactly where Paavo was coming from.

Trying to lighten the mood I lightly clap my hand on his shoulder in a friendly manner. "Well no matter Paavo because you are in luck. We will get you all squared away. As luck would have it last year I was growing like crazy so towards the end of the school year my mom and dad bought me several pants, shorts, shirts, and sweaters. What they didn't count on was me growing right past their size for the beginning of this school year." I chuckled punching Paavo in the arm.

"What?" The boy asked confused by our conversation because it was happening so fast.

"I'm saying I've got a ton of clothes that are brand new and never worn that don't fit. They'll probably fit you just fine. Since it is Friday, after school ask your dad if it is alright to come over to my place. You can take the bus with me and Steve." I offered up catching the boy by surprise when he blushed again shaking his head.

"I…we…um…we can't…," the boy began with me understanding where it was heading so I interjected.

"For real Paavo, my mom's been on my case to get rid of all my clothes that don't fit. I've got a whole box already waiting to be donated to Goodwill for free. So what's the difference if I give them to you or Goodwill. I'd rather give them right now to someone I know. Besides, I'd love for you to come over and hang out a bit with me. My mom would love to meet you." I told him hoping he'd get the hint that I wasn't expecting to get paid.

"Um…sure Sam. I liked your mom. She was really kind, but I can't come over right after school. I have to go home first because I have some chores. Maybe you can come over to my house first and meet Papa. He doesn't want me to go to anyone's house unless he knows them. We have to be very careful because we are here on a work Visa." The boy offered up looking at me with hopeful eyes while I got the distinct feeling the whole chores thing was just an excuse because it dawned on me he didn't even have a cell phone like most kids.

Shrugging my shoulders I didn't see any harm to heading over to his place first. "Alright, I don't see why not. I'll text my mom letting her know I'll be coming home later around supper time. Will you be able to come over with me by then?" I asked with the boy nodding his head. "Good I'll let her know you are coming over for dinner then. This way she can fix you something edible and not the usual poison I have to eat." I tease giving Sylvia a meaningful look while she in turn sticks her tongue out at me and chuckles.

Just then we get interrupted by a kid from school who works in the administration office. "Sam, Mr. Fogerty wants to talk to you when you are finished with your lunch." The kid tells me handing over a pass to the Principal's office before leaving.

"Shit Sam, you just got back and your in trouble already." Steve taunts me while Paavo turns pale.

Noticing the boy's eyes grow in fear I smile reassuringly. "It's nothing Paavo, Steve is just joshing again. He probably wants to talk to me about the report I wrote. It's part of my parole agreement from Juvie." I tease winking at Paavo showing I was only joking.

"Damn, I almost forgot about that report you had to write. That probably totally sucked having to do a twenty page assignment during the holidays." Steve shook his head sympathetically.

"Nah, it wasn't all that bad." I countered slipping out of my seat. "I might as well get this over with. Anyway Paavo let's meet up out front after school gets out." I told him scrolling through my text messages. "Mom says it's all cool and she's looking forward to chatting with you again." I offer up waving goodbye while looking at Steve nudging my head in Paavo's direction.

Steve understood that I wanted him to escort Paavo to his class in case someone wanted to mess with him on the way. We might as well get the message out that Paavo was now part of our group. I also decided to have a chat with some of the bullies I know that's been messing with the poor kid. I didn't plan on getting into a fight, but I was going to make it clear anyone messing with the kid meant they were messing with me too. With my reputation most kids will simply back off. There were also a couple of eighth graders that I knew who would help spread the word around to lay off Paavo. Once I told them what the deal was regarding Paavo's financial situation and his clothes, and then explain about him being from Estonia and not Russia, then they would understand, and be more than willing to help keep an eye out for the younger boy. After all not all the kids were pricks at this school; some were actually pretty decent.

"So Sam." Principal Fogerty began motioning for me to take a seat tossing my thirty five sheet report towards me, way more pages than were required. "I read your report and simply put I was a bit dubious about it so I contacted Principal Johnson over at Blue Meadows faxing him a copy of the report you wrote. Let's just say I was a bit taken back by his gruffness towards me because of…according to him…my attitude towards you. He confirmed everything in your report saying in blunt terms I should get my head out of my ass. To say I was a bit baffled is an understatement until he began telling me a bit more about what happened while you were going to school there. It appears that my suspending you without giving you a say as to what happened had him a bit peeved at me to say the least." The man began while I sat there in total shock not knowing how to respond.

"I…um," I began with him holding up his hand leaning back into his chair.

"Don't worry Sam. Honestly…I felt horrible about the suspension once Paavo and his father came to see me. By then it was too late though." The man admitted shaking his head. "What really has me upset is the way the students here at the school are treating the poor kid you tried to help." The man sighed rubbing his temples.

"Well it isn't just the kids, Principal Fogerty." I piped up blushing when he looked up boring holes through me before motioning for me to continue.

"Well it's the staff too. I mean they see other kids picking on him and don't do anything about it."

"What?" Mr. Fogerty sat up in his chair totally taken aback shaking his head like that wasn't possible. "How…I mean what makes you say that?"

"Geeze I just saw an eighth grader shoving Paavo to the ground, and then taking away his lunch. It's been going on for weeks now, ever since school started back up. You can't tell me during that entire time staff members hadn't noticed." I tell the man who turns beet read.

"And you know this how?" He asks me while I shrug my shoulders feeling a bit uncomfortable about it all now.

"I…um…I saw it and when I went over to help Paavo he was happy to see me. Evidently kids told him I went to Juvie. I let him sit with me, Steve, Mike, Carson, and Sylvia. We gave him some of our lunch, and he told us he hasn't eaten lunch since school started back up." I explained.

"Son of a…," Principal Fogerty got red in the face the rage showing in his features. "I promise this will be dealt with swiftly starting with the staff." He assured me shaking his head settling back down.

"That's cool. I'm going to put the word out that Paavo is with us now too. Steve is going to walk him to class after lunch, and I'm meeting up with Paavo after school. I guess his family can't afford new uniforms, and there weren't any used ones that fit him too well with it being in the middle of the school year and all. I've got some from last year I didn't even wear because my parents bought them at the end of the school year big sale thinking it too good a deal to pass up, but by the time school started up I had grown out of them." I chuckle at how the plan had backfired. "I'm going to give them to him. His are kind of tight on him and I guess a lot of kids have been teasing him calling him a Commie faggot." I pointed out getting a rise out of the Principal again.

"Oh for Pete's sake. What the hell's going on around here?" The man asked no one in particular trying to calm down, but jotting down a few notes while I sat there quietly.

"Anyway back to the report. After Principal Johnson gave me the riot act, and rightly so, we discussed your report. I have to say it was very well done. I mean you clearly got all the facts and statistics concerning Autism into the report while integrating other issues such as diet, therapy, and even a section regarding how there is very little coverage regarding how a young boy and girl with autism handle issues regarding puberty. What really got my attention though was the data you collected observing Jamie and his progress. At first I simply couldn't believe you put all of this together, but Principal Johnson filled me in on a lot of things regarding the boy's progress. I have to say I'm really impressed; other than the issue of you getting into trouble again while over at Blue Meadows." The man added getting a rise out of me.

"That's not my fault." I interjected shutting my mouth when he frowned at me holding up his hand.

"Yes…yes…I know Sam, but I swear trouble seems to follow you everywhere. The Principal at Blue Meadows told me all about Damian, and truthfully I wish him the best of luck with that kid. But Sam you have to learn to control your anger. There is always a time and place to stick up for yourself, but the hard part is knowing when to walk away and let things go. I know in our neck of the woods this goes against everything you know, but you have so much potential if you can only learn to harness it and discover how to control your emotions instead of letting them control you." The man offered up while I bowed my head nodding.

"I know, Principal Fogerty, and I'm really trying. Staying with the Weilers taught me a lot; especially, with Jamie."

"Yes, so it would seem; especially, in light with how you handled that Roger situation and now with Paavo. I know you're a good kid Sam…you have a big heart and seem to relate to other kids who need help, but fighting isn't always the answer. You are a smart kid so start using that brain of yours." The man pointed out reminding me a lot of Mr. Joe from the park while I nodded my head knowing Principal Fogerty was right.

"Anyway, I thought you should know about the report, and damn Sam…you really put all of it together on your own?" He asked picking up the report shaking his head while I nodded a bit embarrassed. "Well I'm truly impressed. Would you mind if I shared it with some other academics? I'm sure some of your observation might help in the right circles." He pointed out catching me by surprise with the request.

Thinking about it quickly I suppose it wouldn't be an issue. I kept most of the embarrassing things out like Jamie's morning naked ritual only saying he had a morning routine he was stuck in. Of course there is the bath issue, but it was done in a clean fashion as well with no nudity mentioned in it; although, of course considering the situation everyone would read that part into it. Still I didn't feel embarrassed about it considering the results.

"Um…yeah I suppose…but…um…," I began the principal raising an eyebrow indicating for me to continue. "It won't get out to the other kids or anything. I mean…some things are a little…um…embarrassing…you know." I pointed out with Principal Fogerty scrunching up his face before realizing what I was referring to in some parts of the report.

Of course nothing was spelled out, but it most definitely couldn't be any other way with certain things like teaching Jamie how to take a shower instead of his baths when he was completely clothed. The fact of him no longer having wet clothes after a shower had all sorts of implications.

Chuckling the Principal nodded his head. "I totally understand Sam. I'll make sure the report is shared only in a professional manner." He promised.

The bus ride to Paavo's apartment complex didn't take very long, and I noticed some of the glances from the other school kids since I was sitting next to the boy. I simply ignored them figuring most of the kids had probably been avoiding the guy because of the rumors, so were kind of surprised now that someone would be sitting with him. While on the bus I sent off another text to my mom smiling at her response before tucking away my phone inside my pocket just in time with the bus stopping in front of Paavo's apartment complex.

While the boy led me along the sidewalk between the buildings of the complex I scanned the area noting it appeared a bit disheveled outside, but still a clean enough area. Stepping across the threshold into his apartment I looked around at the sparsely furnished one bedroom unit. It was meticulously clean inside with a few personal affects like pictures and all, but not much else. This was a house belonging to a family that had very little money to squander on frills, but there was warmth to it which evoked a sense of love in this home.

"Would you like something to eat or drink?" The boy asked while I followed him into the small kitchen area watching him open up the refrigerator door and bend over.

The boy's cute little perky butt cheeks pressed against his tight fitting slacks stretching out the material threatening to rip them open at the seams. Like everything else about this cute kid he had the sexiest ass I've ever seen on another boy prompting my little willie to balloon up inside my pants. Tearing my eyes from the boy's ass before I literally jumped him, I forced myself to gaze inside the open door of the fridge. To my surprise it was filled to bursting with groceries prompting me to think that despite this being a low income family they most definitely made sure it was a warm and safe environment filled with love and plenty of food a growing boy needs.

"We have coke, juice, milk, and…," the boy began before he suddenly remembered about my special kind of diet. "Oh…I'm sorry Sam…I forgot." He stated somberly blushing at his blunder.

It was so cute it made me chuckle. "Don't beat yourself up about it Paavo. My friends forget all the time. It doesn't bother me. I'll take a bottle of water if you have it, and go ahead and grab whatever you normally get for yourself. It won't bother me if you grab a soda or juice." I offer up letting him know he shouldn't feel so self conscious about eating or drinking his normal stuff just because I can't.

Handing me a bottle of water, while grabbing a glass of juice for himself, Paavo leads me into the small bedroom. He's got a very confining room containing only one of those small single sized beds along one wall, and a desk with chair off in the corner. Other than that there wasn't much else to it; except, a few sports posters on the walls. It looked to be a typical type of boy's room with some clothes scattered about haphazardly. It wasn't by any means messy, simply lived in with a typical boy occupying the space.

"So…um…where do your folks sleep?" I ask looking out into the small living room through his open door.

"Oh…it is just Papa and me. He sleeps on the couch. It unfolds into a bed. He says a growing boy needs his own space and privacy; especially at night for his urges and personal…um…," He pauses looking away and blushing a little at the inadvertent admission he had just made making my penis twitch with the idea that Paavo actually jacked off.

The image of him pulling on his hard Willie floated into my mind. I've had this fantasy for so long now, but knowing for a fact he actually molested himself like any other typical boy our age had my own penis twitching inside of my trousers. Of course it went without saying that the boy more than likely did that sort of thing as well, but to have a sort of actual confirmation had me all hot and bothered with the idea. My gaze instinctively flittered downward settling between his legs noticing the bulge there from his erection as it pushed against the tight fabric that was pressing up snugly against his crotch. The idea of him busting a nut while doing the five finger knuckle chuckle had me wondering exactly what was between his legs.

The boy was turning me on, and if I wasn't careful I'd do something stupid. I shut my eyes tightly so I wouldn't be caught staring at the beautiful younger boy. What was it lately about these eleven year old boys who were turning me on? First it was Jamie, then Jake, and now Paavo. I suppose it really wasn't the age necessarily because I was feeling the same thing for a lot of different boys lately, but for some reason the boys I liked the most seemed to be about eleven years old. Of course I figured most of them were getting closer to twelve years old like I was getting closer to thirteen, but still these particular boys truly turned me on.

"Are you alright?" I heard Paavo asking bringing me out of my reverie noticing I was feeling a bit flushed and tired.

Even though I was over my bout of sickness I realized that sometimes it still caught up to me. "What…oh…I'm fine Paavo. It's just not all that long ago I was laid up in bed." I tried to explain to him noticing the boy looking at me like he wanted to know more.

Sitting on his bed I explained to him what happened while I was gone at Blue Meadows. I told him about Jamie and his issues regarding autism, and I told him about the Lorenz brothers and the other kids I had made friends with. He listened intently wanting to know about all of my friends and what had happened to me with Damian, while in exchange he told me about where he came from, and more about himself and his friends back home.

Evidently his mom had died about a year ago. She had been an American citizen working through some church organization when she got sick and passed away. Since Paavo was actually born here in the U.S. he was a dual citizen of Estonia and the United States. He explained that normally this isn't done since he was born here in the U.S., but his parents naturalized him as an Estonian citizen since he lived and went to school there. Technically the U.S. could probably revoke his U.S. citizenship because of it, but it hasn't and probably wouldn't since it all happened when he was just a baby.

Paavo explained that his father was in the military in Estonia, but when his mother got sick he had to take off so much time that the military simply discharged him with honors. After his mother died his father couldn't find any good work so he thought it would be good to have Paavo grow up here in the United States. They figured he should at least get to know the country his mother was from so his father applied for a work visa through his wife's church program, and now worked over here for the church doing odd jobs as a sort of handyman. It didn't pay much, but it was enough for now.

Our time together seemed to fly with the both of us simply chatting back and forth learning more about one another.

"So what did your father do in the military back in Estonia?" I asked the boy shrugging his shoulders.

"Nothing big or heroic like you see in movies. The typical soldier things I suppose, but also he worked with the big equipment maintaining and keeping them battle ready…whatever that means." The kid offered up indicating it was how his dad probably had explained it to him.

We continued to chat for a while longer lounging around in his room. I was more than happy to simply relax while snatching glances towards his way when he wasn't looking. It wasn't only me though because I caught him staring at me a time or two as well when he thought I wasn't looking.

The boy was telling me more about his best friend back home when we heard a jiggling noise of keys in the front door. Paavo immediately hopped off the bed catching me by surprise, but also making me smile at how graceful he moved. The younger boy was a picture of perfection with his sleek trim and fit features, thin long wiry arms, and lanky legs.

"Papa!" The boy shouted leaping into a tall man's arms who I thought must be his father.

The two of them began to immediately revert to a different language making me smile while I gazed on at their jubilant state. It was fascinating listening to them chatting away rolling their r's like I've heard in other languages. It almost sounded more German than Russian I would say, but most definitely different as well. From what Paavo had told me it is a unique language more similar to Finnish and Hungarian than the other neighboring Baltic countries. It also had borrowed words from the Germanic languages, which I suppose is why I think it sort of sounded similar in the way he pronounced certain words.

All of a sudden Paavo squealed and laughed uncontrollably when his father flipped him over until he was holding the boy by his ankles and shaking him with ease. The wiry man was powerfully strong being able to hold his seventy five pound son up like that shaking him about without breaking a sweat. The man was quiet handsome with the same shock of white blond hair and deep swirling blue eyes like his son, which at the moment glinted mischievously towards his little boy. I could tell right away the two had an extremely close bond and relationship making me a bit jealous as I watched the man right his son back in an upward position, plant a big wet sloppy right on his sons lips with the boy giving back as good as he got, and then gave the eleven year old boy a big warm heartfelt bear hug in those powerful arms.

"So…did you have a good day at school today? Please tell me you finally made friends?" The man asked his son tenderly with a hurt expression on his face having reverted back to English for some reason.

"Oh yes Papa…the best ever. Guess who I finally found?" The boy asked excitedly glancing my way without his father noticing.

"Who?" The man asked excitedly just happy to know his son had a good day at school.

Paavo nodded his head in my direction, and when the man noticed me standing there he blushed lowering his son back on the floor. "It's a good thing you have your mother's fine little figure, and good looks," he added with a wink, "or I'd never be able to do that anymore with you being too big. As it is, you are making my muscles bulge like in the gym." The man teased ruffling his son's hair glancing towards me.

"So who is this you have brought home with you. I hope not another stray cat." He teased winking his eye at me conspiratorially, and extending his hand setting me right at ease while I shook it firmly.

"It's him Papa…he's come back home." The boy stated cryptically noticing his father's blank stare. "It is Sam…the boy who…you know." He explained his father's eyes lighting up finally understanding.

"The Sam…the one who punched the much larger boy to protect you?" He asked bringing me into his arms and immediately giving me a hug. "Oh we were so sorry to hear of your punishment. Is it true they sent you to jail because we did go to the Principal and told him it wasn't your fault?" The man asked releasing me.

"Um…no sir…I just got suspended is all. I spent Christmas with some friends of ours. It just took a while to come home because…um…because my mom had to stay for a while in the hospital. I had to spend a few weeks at a different school until I came home. Today was my first day back at school. Mom insisted despite it being Friday and all." I tried to explain.

"Oh no…is she well…your mother?" He asked with me nodding.

"Yes, she's doing just fine now. It is why I'm back home."

"So…your first day back and Paavo finds you?" He asks smiling until he saw the look on Paavo's face. "What is it? Did those boys tease you again?" He asked his son who looked ashamed about the entire thing glancing my way.

"Um…yeah Mr.?" I paused realizing I didn't know the man's name.

"Oh I'm so sorry Sam. I'm Paavo Kirsipuu, it means Cherry Tree in Estonian." The man offered while I rolled his last name around my mouth enjoying how the "r" rolled on my tongue.

"Um…well actually Mr. Kirsipuu, kids have been picking on Paavo and stealing his lunch. I caught one of the eighth graders teasing him." I told the man seeing Paavo blush while his father seemed to get upset. "Don't worry Mr. Kirsipuu, I took care of the kids and Principal Fogerty was a bit upset that the staff members haven't stepped in so I'm sure come Monday they will all be on board. As for Paavo he's with us now…I mean me and my friends so the other kids will stop messing with him." I explained trying not to embarrass Paavo regarding the whole faggot thing and all keeping quiet about that part.

"I do not understand Sam. My Paavo is a good boy…why do they pick on him in school? What has he done wrong?" The man asked completely flustered.

"It's nothing Paavo's done Mr. Kirsipuu. It's just kids at our school are a bit thick headed. What I mean is that they don't understand Paavo because he's different so they pick on him. Don't worry though we will take good care of him from here on out." I promised while Paavo's dad simply shook his head.

"I do not understand it Sam. They say you are the bad one, yet you are the only one helping my Paavo." The man sighed sadly ruffling his son's hair.

We chatted for a couple of minutes with us getting to know one another Paavo's father making me feel right at home with his easy going manner. The man had such an amazing wonderful laugh which he belted out frequently letting it bounce off the closed in walls. The man also didn't mind showing his affection towards his little boy constantly pawing the little guy pulling him into his arms for a warm embrace. He lavished kisses all over the boy's face, and what surprised me was that Paavo didn't seem to mind actually reciprocating his dotting love towards his father. It didn't even seem to bother him that I was right in the room. Then when I thought about it my mom was the same way with me whether my friends were around or not. I suppose it only seemed odd to me because it was a man doing this with his son, and I never really got that sort of attention from my own father.

"Um…Mr. Kirsipuu is it alright if Paavo spends the night. I promised to let him try on some of my school clothes from last year. My folks bought them towards the end of the year, and I totally outgrew them before the start of this year so they are still new. We were just going to give them away to Goodwill, but it looks like Paavo is about to burst through the seams on the ones he has. I'd hate to toss mine away without at least seeing if they fit Paavo. It'd just be a waste." I offered up catching the man by surprise with not only the sleepover request, but also the whole wardrobe issue.

"Oh please Papa? I haven't slept over at a friend's house since…," the smaller boy sighed shaking his head remembering his last sleep over with his best friend.

"I'm not sure Paavo. I mean Sam's mother does not even know us. I would not want to impose." He suggested to his little boy trying to be polite.

"Oh it isn't a problem Mr. Kirsipuu. I already texted my mom about it earlier and she said it was fine. She had already agreed to have Paavo over for dinner later when he tried on the clothes so while we were on the bus heading over here I sent another text to her asking if it would be alright for Paavo to spend the night. She replied saying yes, and is looking forward to meeting him." I told him showing the man my mom's text.

Looking down at his son who looked so damn adorably cute with his legs curled up lying on his side with his father's arm draped over him casually, the man seemed to sigh. "Alright I suppose if your mother says it is fine, but we will need to set up something so I can pay for the clothes."

"What…no way…mom would have a cow." I pointed out getting blank stares from both father and son making me giggle remembering about the whole slang thing. "What I mean is mom would box my ears…," I began using one of Aunt Harriet's favorite saying cringing because that explanation wouldn't work either so I tried again. "Um…mom wouldn't approve because we were planning on donating it for free, and she'd rather it go to someone she knows can use it. She'd feel awkward about it. Besides I've gotten hand me downs before as well from friends and all, so mom would only think it fair to pass on the goodwill to another friend."

The man looked conflicted for a moment, but seemed to give in understanding where we were coming from. "Then we accept, but you need to promise we can at least have you over for dinner as well. It is only fair." The man chuckled when Paavo stiffened up glancing towards me and whispering quickly to his father in his own Estonian language.

The man glanced my way and blushed. "I…um…Sam…I'm sorry. Paavo says you have a special kind of diet for health reasons?" The man sort of asked arching his eyebrows making me chuckle.

"It's no big deal Mr. Kirsipuu. Whatever you fix is just fine. I can fudge a little here and there for a meal now and then just so long as I do not overdo things. If you really want me over for dinner I can also provide you with easy side options to keep my belly full." I told him already used to such reactions from others making the man feel better about his earlier offer.

"Then it is settled. Paavo pack some things, and I will drive you both over. It is only fitting I introduce myself to your mother Sam." The man laughed making me smile because he literally dumped Paavo on the floor.

"Hey…," the boy grumped, but quickly got up when his dad shoved him teasingly with his foot to get him moving.

It didn't take long before Paavo returned grinning from ear to ear ready to spend the night. He was excited and his father got caught up in it as well picking his boy up into his arms while they both giggled. Noticing me standing there awkwardly the man reached over scooping me up into his powerful arms tossing me over his shoulders making me squeal just as loudly as his son. Paavo glanced over towards me while I stared back and we both simply busted up while the wiry man carried us draped over his shoulders to his car. During the entire jaunt he jiggled, squeezed, tousled, and even pinched our butts for good measure making us squeal and protest at the supposed indignity of it all. It was one of the most amusing times I've had in a long time with a father figure. Even though I loved Mr. Weiler to death, Mr. Kirsipuu was most definitely more boisterous, energetic, and outgoing than the elderly man. I began to wish my dad were more like these two differing fatherly figures.

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