We're Working On It

by Richard Norway

Chapter 10

Cory finally turned into his driveway, opened the garage door, stored his bike, and walked into the house. Cory made a peanut butter sandwich and poured a glass of milk for himself and then brought them to his room. He set them on his desk and was thinking about starting his homework when he heard the garage door open. Richard was home early and after his thoughts about Kevin, Cory's sense of security had begun to return.

Richard eyed the back door as he got out of his car. He knew the house wasn't empty anymore as had been his thoughts every other time he had come home. Today was the first day in three years that he actually wanted to come home. His life seemed fuller, richer. Cory was in his life now.

As he entered the house, he heard footsteps coming down the stairs, knowing that it was Cory. His house used to be so silent, so empty, but this day was different. Today there was life in this house. Once again, Richard was growing a family.

They joined up in the kitchen.

"How was school today?" Richard asked, setting his briefcase on the table.

"It was really interesting today. Not so much the classes, but what I'm finding out about people."

Richard looked at Cory, his eyebrows rising.

"They are interesting, aren't they?"

"Yeah, you know? I just met Kevin yesterday and in two days I feel that I know him already."

"That's a little quick don't you think?"

"Yeah, but Kevin let me look inside him. He wasn't afraid to talk to me."

"He's that bold one, right?" Richard asked.

"That's him, but I don't think it's just him being bold anymore. He just seems, I don't know, just, comfortable around people."

"Well, invite him over for dinner some night. I think I'd like to meet him."

Richard was a little leery and he knew why he was. He was protecting Cory. In this short week he could feel his attachment to this boy grow. He knew that real friendships took time, but teenagers don't necessarily get to pick their friends like adults do. They're thrown together at school. Adults get to pick their friends. They have a choice, teenagers don't.

"It seems so different here. Back in Plymouth, I wouldn't dare ask anyone over. But now – I don't know – now it just seems okay. I mean now I really want to."

Richard instantly saw it. Cory had hidden his life away in Plymouth. He had put it on hold for three years. But in this short week, Cory had started looking at the world around him and was opening up to it. Cory was letting someone into his life again. This is what being a parent is about, helping their children grow and eventually face the world on their own. Cory had started that journey and Richard smiled to himself. Richard now knew that he had made the right decision. Cory was making him whole again too.

"It's a done deal then. Find out what evening is good for him, and I'll make my special lasagna."

"Okay. I'll ask him tomorrow." Cory paused. "You know? This is almost like having Mike back."

"Have you written to him lately?"

"No. I should though. So much has happened to me."

"Yeah, it sure has," Richard sighed, "and to me too."

Cory returned to his room to finish his homework. He didn't have much, but he had to keep to the promise that he had made to himself. School was now important.

After he closed his Geometry book for the evening, he sat and looked around his room. This was his place now. This is where he belonged.

He grabbed a blank sheet of paper and started writing. He told Mike everything, how his dad had abused him, threw him out that night, finding Richard, finding a new home, finding a new school, finding new friends, Kevin, everything. He told Mike how he really felt about Kevin. Cory had a tear cross his cheek as he had just put his life on 8 pieces of paper. Again, he looked around his room, and smiled.

It was Friday, the last day of Cory's first week at his new school. He couldn't help but dream about how things had so quickly changed. He felt good.

Kevin met him at his locker just before the bell for his first class, and they started walking together.

"Hey. Richard wants to meet you. You know, dinner some time," Cory said as they walked.

"Who's Richard?"

"Oh, I've never told you. He's sort of my foster dad."

Kevin stopped.

"Foster dad?"

"Yeah, my real dad and I didn't get along so well, and I started living with Richard a week ago. That's kinda why I'm here now and not back in Plymouth."

Cory hated what he had just done. He didn't actually lie to Kevin, but he knew that by leaving out a lot of it, he wasn't really being honest and truthful with him.

"So, this Richard took you in, huh?"

"Kinda like that, yeah."

"Have you known him long?"

"No, not long but the story is very long, and we don't have time right now."

Kevin again turned to look at Cory. Just then the bell rang. They had a minute left.

When lunch time finally arrived, Cory made his way to the cafeteria. He grabbed a tray and started into the line to get his lunch. He glanced over to where his empty table would be, but it wasn't empty. Kevin was sitting there, and he was watching him as he went through the line.

After getting what vaguely looked like a hamburger, he made his way over to where Kevin was waiting for him. As he sat down, he caught that sparkle. Kevin was obviously glad to see him again.

"Hey! You're here before me this time," Cory remarked.

"Yeah, we didn't finish our conversation this morning."

Cory panicked. He knew that he had not told Kevin about why he was here and not in Plymouth. He picked up his hamburger, waiting for the mountain to shake and crush his world. He wasn't ready to lay it all out to Kevin yet.

"What day and what time?"


"Yeah, what day and what time do you want me over for dinner?"

"Oh, ah, what's good for you?"

"I'm kind booked this weekend. I've got homework to do tonight cuz tomorrow night I'm supposed to take Brandy out to a movie. I won't have time to do any homework then. And Sunday is family day. We usually plan Sunday as a family."

"How about next weekend then?"

"Well, I'd kinda like to meet this Richard guy. How about we plan on sometime during the week? I can bring my homework with me, and we can do ours together, you know, just sorta hang out for the evening. How's that sound?"

Cory was ecstatic. He thought of Kevin and he being in his room together, alone, just hanging out like friends do.

"Well, how about Wednesday night then?"

"Done. Oh, where do you live? I don't have a bike, so I hope it's not far."

"It's about two miles from here. We can always ride the bus."

"Ah, I can make a mile or two. We'll walk, okay?"

"It's a date." Cory laughed out.

Kevin shot a look up at Cory.

'Oops,' Cory thought. "Sorry. I just meant Wednesday's the date that you'll get to meet Richard."

"Okay," Kevin grinned.

"Who's Brandy?" Cory asked after a short pause.

"Just someone who I've dated a couple of times."

"But you said that you don't have a girlfriend?" Cory questioned.

"I don't. She likes going to movies and so do I, so we sometimes go together."

"She's a friend then?"

"Not close, but we know each other."

Cory didn't understand.

"But you said the word 'date?'"

"Oh, you could call it that, I suppose. That's just a word though that people throw around. Oh, she might call it a date, and other guys think we're dating, but it's more casual than that."

Cory had already known that Kevin was straight, and he sure seemed so casual around girls. He's obviously waiting for someone special to come along. But he knows just about everyone in the school, so he's got to have seen someone who he wants for his girlfriend. Cory's head reeled.

"Hey, dipshit. You gonna finish that 'hamburger' I guess they call it?"

"Nah, you want it?" Cory had lost his appetite.

"That's okay. I want to make it through the day alive," Kevin laughed.

Wednesday was drawing near, and Cory was getting excited. He had only one more day to wait until Kevin was in his home. Yes, Cory was really beginning to call Richard's house his home. He felt it. It wasn't just a word.

After finishing his homework early Tuesday evening, he walked downstairs to the kitchen. Richard was there, making some kind of salad.

"What's for dinner?" Cory asked.

Richard turned around to look at Cory.

"Nothing if I have to cook."


"You're making dinner tonight." Richard grinned.

"But I don't know how to make dinner." Cory pleaded.

"Of course, you do. What have you been doing for the last three years?"

Cory remembered his lonely evenings back in Plymouth. He had to fix something for himself every night to eat. Just about everything came from a box or a can though, so all he had to do was to know how to heat it on the stove.

"But that wasn't really cooking. That was just heating."

"Well, you got that hard part learned already. You could turn on the stove without burning the house down. That's quite an accomplishment for a 15-year-old."

"Hey, I'm almost 16."

"Okay. Okay, so now it's time that you learned how to select your dinner food a little differently."

"What do I have to do?"

"Well, the first thing is to realize that you can't rely on chips and soda. You need other things in you. You're growing and that takes fuel, real fuel."

"So, what have you got planned for me to do?"

"I don't have anything planned. It's going to be your choice tonight."

"But I still don't know what to do. What do you want me to cook?" Cory pleaded.

"Okay. I've chosen a couple of things for you to choose from. You can make a meatloaf if you want. There's hamburger thawed in the refrigerator. Or you can grill some chicken breasts. I also have some pork chops thawed, if you'd like"

"I think I'd like to try grilling. You have to teach me though. I've never used a gas grill before."

"Okay. Chicken it is. But Cory, you forgot something."


"Cory, you should have asked me if that's what I wanted too."

"Oh. Sorry. Is chicken, okay?"

"Perfect. Now, come on outside and I'll show you what you have to do."

This little scene hit Cory just then. It was exactly what he thought a 'home' should be like, a family doing things together. He remembered what Kevin had said about his Sundays. It was his family day.

Richard showed Cory how to light the grill and had to emphasize how to do it safely. Once the chicken breasts were on, Cory turned to Richard but stopped in thought for a moment. Finally he asked.

"What do you normally do on Sundays?"

"Oh, nothing much. Sometimes I work at home. I don't go out much. I read a lot."

"Have you ever thought of making Sundays a special day, you know, something that you could look forward to?"

Richard started remembering the Sundays that he and his wife would spend together. They always included his daughter. Those were happy times.

"They used to be, but not lately. There's just me here, so I guess I used my time to work."

"Would you like to? I mean make Sundays a special day."

"Yeah, I liked it when my family was still here, but then I've been alone for a while."

They both stood quiet for a while.



"You have me now."

Richard turned toward Cory, his eyes beginning to fog. He walked up to him and put his arm over his shoulder, saying nothing right away, composing himself.

"Would you like that Cory, making Sundays our day?" he finally asked.

Cory looked at Richard.

"Yeah, very much so. It's a family thing, you know? I think I'd like that."

Richard nodded, unable to speak, wanting this so much. The word 'family' sounded so good to him.

And to Cory.

After dinner, Richard started planning the dinner with Kevin for the following evening. His special lasagna really wasn't his. He'd gotten the recipe off of the Food Network site on the internet. It was one of Emeril Lagasse's, but it was so good that he had adopted it as his own with only slight modifications. He would have to be home early tomorrow, as Emeril's (now his) recipe would take hours to follow. He'd have just a salad and garlic bread to finish out the meal.

Just then he turned to Cory, who was finishing wiping down the counter.



Cory turned around to face Richard.

"Let's go out tonight."

"But we just had dinner."

"No. I don't mean going out to dinner. Let's go shopping."

Richard thought of the Food Network on his computer.

"But we don't need anything. I have my new clothes, and you went food shopping yesterday, unless you need anything for tomorrow."

"No. I have everything. I just need to pick up some French bread tomorrow so it's still fresh."

"Well, what then?"

"Just a surprise."

"I hate surprises."

"You'll like this one," Richard said, grinning.

"Alright. Let me finish here and then we can go."

They got into Richard's car and were off to the city, Cory very skeptical and his face showed it. He hated surprises. For him they'd always meant something bad.

Richard pulled the car into the parking lot of Best Buy. It was his favorite place for electronics.

"What's this? You have a good TV."

"I know, but I'm looking for something else."

Cory was trying to think of just what Richard wanted.

"Cory? Okay, I'll tell you." Richard said as they walked toward the front entrance. "I need a new computer. Some of the programs that I use at home are just too much for the old processer. So, I'm upgrading."

Cory looked at Richard. Now he was okay. He hated surprises, and this wasn't going to be his surprise.


As they walked the aisles looking at the different computers, Richard spotted one that had the processer he was looking for. It had all the memory that he would need for now and also came with the new flat screen monitor that had just been introduced. This was a top-of-the-line machine. He just needed a good sound system to go with it.

Cory was excited about what Richard was looking at. He knew what that machine represented. It was Richard's freedom when he was at home, and Cory thought he might get Richard's old computer, if he asked properly with dignity. Cory had already decided to plead and beg.

After they had purchased the computer and sound system, they headed over toward the CD section.

"Why don't you pick out a couple of albums for yourself, Cory. You can have some music to play on my new computer when you're home.

Cory looked at Richard. He never went into Richard's office. Now he'd have to turn the sound way up so he could hear it in the family room where he hung out.

Once home and the car parked in the garage, Cory helped Richard carry the equipment into the house and headed for Richard's study. The box that Cory was carrying was unwieldy.

"Where are you going?" Richard asked.

Cory stopped and turned around, the box slipping in his hands.

"I'm just bringing this stuff to your office. You want it in there, don't you?"


"Well, where in the hell are you going to put it then? This shit's heavy."


"Fuck!" Cory said under his breath as he grabbed a better hold on the box and headed upstairs to Richard's bedroom.

He stopped just outside the door to Richard's bedroom looking at the door handle knowing that there no way he could reach it while still holding the heavy box. He shifted the weight of the box to get a better grip on it while he waited for Richard to open the door for him.

"Hmm," Richard said from behind Cory. "I don't have the table set up in there yet so..."

"Oh, cripes, come on man. This is getting heavy."

"Yeah, I can see that. Why don't you just put in your room for now?"

"Shit" as he turned and walked through his open door, throwing the box on his bed to get rid of the weight. "Now what? There's no room in here for it either."

"Just clean off your desk and set it up there."

Cory was about to roll his eyes, but instead they bulged, realizing what Richard just meant. He looked at his desk and then back to Richard.

"You did, didn't you?"

"Yeah, you needed one."

"You bought this for me, didn't you?"


Richard looked a little blurry to Cory just then. Cory walked over to him and gave him a hug, as Richard slipped his arms around Cory's back.

Cory looked up at Richard.

"Thank you. I don't know what else to say and thank you doesn't sound like enough."



"You swore again tonight. Four times. Don't swear."

Cory spent the rest of the evening setting up his new computer.

Wednesday at school was dragging for Cory. This was the evening that he was going to be spending with Kevin and he couldn't make the day go any faster. When they met up after the last class, Kevin was carrying a backpack full of books that he'd be using that afternoon.

"So, you ready?" Cory asked Kevin.

"Yeah, I think I've got everything I need."

They walked the two miles home rather quietly, Cory thinking about how the evening was going to go being alone with Kevin, and Kevin was apprehensive about meeting Richard. As they approached the house, Cory saw that Richard was already home.

"So, this is where you live, huh?" Kevin asked.

"Yup, it's home."

Kevin looked at Cory, smiling.

When they went through the front door, the smell of pasta sauce filled them, taking them away from the day at school, mouths already watering. Just then they heard glass breaking in the kitchen.

"Shit!" bellowed out of the other room.

"What happened?" Cory said, sticking his head through the kitchen door.

Richard turned, a little flustered at seeing Cory in the doorway, especially after swearing.

"I just dropped a wine glass. Now I only have three left."

Cory smiled. "Richard?"

Richard frowned at Cory, knowing what was coming.

"Don't swear." Cory grinned.

Richard threw a towel at Cory as Cory entered the kitchen and was picking up another one to throw when he saw that Cory was followed by the boy, he thought had to be Kevin.

As Richard, put down the towel, Cory stepped aside to let Kevin come further into the room.

"Kevin, this is Richard. Richard, this is Kevin."

"Hey, Kevin, It's good to finally meet you," sticking out his hand to shake.

"Ah, it's good to meet you too, sir," taking Richard's hand.

Richard squeezed his hand firmly.

"Cory's told me a lot about you," Richard said while letting go of Kevin's hand.

"Well, Cory lies a lot," Kevin grinned.

"Yeah, you're right. I told him all good things," Cory had to get in.

Richard chuckled for a moment.

"Actually, Kevin, Cory has told me good things about you."

Kevin shot Cory a look.

Cory smiled.

"Why don't you boys go up and do some homework or something so I can finish dinner."

"Okay," Cory said.

The boys turned and started for the stairs, but Cory turned around just before they got to the first step and turned to peer through the kitchen door.

"How come you're home so early?" he asked Richard.

"Well, my special lasagna sauce takes about 5 hours to make, so I took off at noon to come home."

"Well, it sure smells good."

"Do you guys want a snack to get you by until dinner time?"

"Are you kidding? No, I want to wait so I can inhale that lasagna later."

The boys turned and ran up the stairs, Kevin following Cory's lead. When they entered Cory's room, Kevin looked all around, taking in what was Cory. A boy's room tells a tale of whomever it is who lives in there. Cory didn't have much on the walls. He had a bookcase along one wall, but it was only partially filled, mostly paperbacks. His desk had a computer on it but his dresser didn't have any pictures. His bed was a double and was made, but he had a few clothes draped over the chair. Other than that, it was a plain room. Kevin knew that this room wasn't Cory. It didn't show him the Cory who he had come to know.

"You're not in this room, Cory." Kevin finally said after sensing what the room was.

"Huh? I'm standing right beside you."

"No. I mean the room doesn't seem like it's your room."

Cory looked around and noticed how bare it really looked.

"I've only been here for a couple of weeks, so it's, I don't know, kinda new to me. It used to be Richard's daughter's room. When I moved in here, he took most of her things away. He said that he wanted this to be my room, to do what I wanted with it. I haven't done much yet, huh?"

"It takes time. I didn't get any of my swimming trophies up until I had been in my room for years."

"You swim?"

"Yeah, I love it."

"Me too," Cory smiled.

"See, I told you, Cory. We're getting to know each other a little better."

Cory glowed as he knew that their friendship was growing, becoming more real, stronger.

"Uh, Cory?" Kevin asked.


"Can I ask you something?"

"Anything, what do you want to know?"

"It's kind of personal. I hope you don't mind."

Cory knew what he was about to be asked. He had told Kevin about Richard but didn't say everything else at the time. Kevin had now met Richard, and he probably had a lot of questions. He knew that the moment of truth was here, and he felt that it was time.


Kevin sat at the desk as Cory moved to sit on the bed, pulling his feet up under himself. This dance was in preparation for the moments ahead.

Kevin looked at Cory for a few moments and knew that he had to get the question out.

"Cory, what happened to you? Why do you have a foster dad?" Kevin finally asked.

"A lot," Cory replied, focusing his eyes on the bed in front of him.

"Why are you here? I mean what happened to you?"

Cory sucked in his breath. Now was the time.

"My dad kicked me out two weeks ago. Richard found me."

"But why would your dad do that? What'd you do?"

Cory was not going to go there. That was a place that he couldn't risk letting Kevin come into. Cory wanted this friendship, probably needing it and he wasn't going to try to destroy it.

"We didn't get along very well."

Kevin looked at Cory for a moment getting up his courage to ask the next question. He hoped that what he had figured out was true, but he didn't want it to be true. The truth looked ugly to him. But he wanted to know more about Cory, a guy who he wanted to be truly friends with.

"Cory, ah, is your dad the one that hit you?"

Cory eye's shot open, looking straight at Kevin. How could Kevin know what the truth was? He'd never told him. He couldn't see that in his eyes.

"How did you know that?"

"I guessed that something had happened to you for you to be with a foster parent, but I didn't know what it was. I saw your back in the showers after gym. I could see that you had been abused, a lot. It kinda scared me a little at first, but then I wanted to know what had happened to you, to know more about you. I guess I just figured it out after you told me that your dad and you didn't get along and that he'd kicked you out."

"Yeah, I ran away that night."

"So, how'd you come to live here?"

"It was just by chance. Richard saw me hitchhiking, and it was raining, and I was soaked and I felt miserable. I didn't know where to go. I just wanted to get away.

"Richard stopped to give me a ride and I'm not sure why he did either. Anyway, he brought me here cuz it was raining, and I was tired and well, he tried to call my dad that night."

"I guess it didn't go well or you wouldn't be here."

"Not at all, but why I'm here didn't come about until the next day."

"What happened then?"

"My dad had hit me that night and my cheek was bleeding. The next day Richard took me to a doctor, and I guess the doctor saw my back. All hell broke loose then."

"Oh, shit. What happened?"

"Well, Richard was fit to be tied. He got the cops and the lawyers involved then. Within days he had me removed from my old home and placed here. He got me a place to live, new clothes and he got me back into school. He even got me my own computer."

"But Cory, why'd he do all that? He didn't even know you."

"That's the hard part. I couldn't figure it out either. I liked what he was doing, but I didn't know why either. But I think I've figured it out."

"Okay, so what is it with him?"

"I guess it's two parts. He gave me something that I needed. My mom died three years ago, and since that time my dad had turned his back on me, so I didn't have a mother or a dad. Richard seemed to start caring about me and it grew the more he found out about me. And I think I've given him something too.

"But what could you possibly give him? You didn't have anything when he found you."

"I wasn't sure for a while, but I think he was also looking for something. I think he was looking for someone to love again, to take care of. His daughter left for college, and then his wife died. So, in a way, I've given him a son, and he's given me a dad."

Kevin looked straight at Cory.

"He hasn't touched you, has he?"

"Oh God, Kevin, it's nothing like that at all. I guess the only way to describe it is that we've giving each other a family again, something that we've both needed."

"But families don't just grow on trees, Cory."

"I know. We were both just lucky, but..." Cory paused before continuing, "...we're working on it. Just like you and me."

Kevin smiled. He knew that feeling.

"Cory?" Kevin asked.


"That's...what you just told me...that's...I don't know. I just think you're a very lucky kid. I think you 'two' are pretty lucky, you know, to have gotten together."

"Yeah, I think so too."

"Wanna know something else?"

"Yeah, what's that?"

"I think you're pretty brave. I think you've got a lot of courage – a lot more than I do."

"I'm not brave Kevin. I'm just trying to get by."

"No, it's there. Maybe you just can't see it yet. I could have never been able to go through what you did."

"I don't see myself as anything special, Kevin. I'm just me."

"Yeah, that's what I mean. It's just you."

Both boys looked at each other for a while. There was nothing more to say. Cory smiled knowing that Kevin now knew more about him. Kevin smiled knowing that he and Cory were working on it, a lot more than a day ago. But in the back of Cory's mind, he knew that he didn't really know that much about Kevin yet. But for now, it was good that Kevin knew a little bit more about Cory. Cory knew that he'd get the chance someday to learn more about Kevin.

"Hey, Kevin. You're good at Geometry, right? I need a little help," Cory broke the silence.

"Okay, flunky, let me make an Einstein out of you," Kevin shot back.

They worked on their homework for another 30 minutes. The boys had just gotten a lot closer.

"Boys! Dinner's ready," came from downstairs.

Both books closed at once. The hunger of missing their after-school snack just roared.

"Come on, Kev. We can share the bathroom to get cleaned up."

Both boys headed to the bathroom together. It was a wonder they didn't get any more water on the floor than they did, given all of the splashing that went on at the sink. Once squeaky, they headed downstairs.

Richard had set the table in the dining room. They ate most dinners there, but the other meals seemed to wind up being eaten around the kitchen table as it was more convenient. But tonight, the table looked gorgeous. He had set out the good china and silver. Of course, he was the only one to have a wine goblet.

When the two boys came into the dining room, two sets of eyes opened wide.

"Holy crap!" Cory let out.

Richard scowled at him.

"Oops, sorry."

"Cory can take his usual place on the right. Kevin, why don't you have the seat across from him?"

"Thank you, Mr. Mathews," Kevin replied.

They all sat down at the table, Richard taking his spot at the tables head, that way he could watch both boys. Richard started passing the salad bowl to Kevin first. After all, he was the guest.

"Thank you, sir," Kevin said as he took the bowl from Richard.

Richard's eyebrows dropped just a little.

Kevin scooped a small portion for himself, placing it on his salad plate and then passed it across the table to Cory.

"Hand me your plate Kevin. The lasagna's hot so I'll dish up from here."

Kevin handed his plate to Richard and then looked at Cory.

Cory picked up his plate and was handing it to Richard but had to hold it in mid air for a while.

"Let me get Kevin's first. I'll get to yours in a second, Cory.

Cory rolled his eyes but continued to hold his plate out.

When Richard handed Kevin's plate back to him with a large portion of steaming lasagna, he remarked, "That should hold you for a while. There's plenty more though if you want."

"Thank you, Mr. Mathews. I think that's plenty for me."

Richard's brows again lowered slightly.

After all plates had been served, Richard picked up the breadbasket holding the garlic toast, but before handing it over to Kevin, he held it out in front of himself. He looked at Kevin.

"Kevin, if after I give you this, you say one more 'Mr. Mathews' or one more 'sir', I'm taking it back."

Cory snickered.

Kevin's eyes went wide.

"Call me Richard. You don't have to be so formal around here. I appreciate your manners, but that's a little too formal."

Kevin nodded as Cory kept snickering.

Kevin looked at the lasagna in front of him. He loved lasagna. His mom made it all the time for him at home, but this smelled different than his mom's. He knew his mom made the best lasagna. He filled his fork and took his first taste of Richard's lasagna. His eyes grew wide as he chewed and tasted.

"Oh man! This isn't real," Kevin let out.

"What wrong? Something wrong with the Lasagna?" Cory asked.

"Oh no. It's just that, well, this is better than my mom makes!"

Richard fluttered his eyebrows slightly.

'Oh, shit, just like Kevin,' Cory thought.

"I'm glad you like it. It's Cory's favorite too."

Mr... ah…Richard, this is simply the best."

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Kevin," Richard retorted.

"So, your mom makes pretty good food, huh?" Richard continued, looking at Kevin.

"Yeah, she's a pretty good cook."

Richard, playing into Cory's desire to know more about Kevin, looked at Kevin. "Does your mom work or stay at home? It's kinda hard to plan big dinners after a long day working."

"She works. She's an accountant. She works for the Selby brothers, you know, the ones down on Haggerty Road. She's been with them ever since I can remember. But she's taught me how to cook, so I get to help her when she comes home."

Cory was impressed, again. He wished that he knew more about how to get around in the kitchen.

"How about your dad? What's he do?" Richard continued.

Cory was elated. He was finding out more about Kevin and didn't even have to ask the questions.

"My dad's a lawyer. He and another attorney have an office on the corner of Sumpter and Savage Roads. They were roommates at Wayne State, so they opened up shop together. They've been together since they got out of college."

Richard thought for a moment. Sumpter and Savage went through his mind.

"Your last name isn't Lingstrom, is it?" he had to ask.

"No. Not so fancy. It's just plain Miller."

"Okay, I thought I recognized where your dad's office is, that's all. I've actually been there many times."

"Oh." Kevin said. "Then you probably know my dad's partner, Mark. I think his last name is Lingstrom."

"That's right. Mark's partner is a Miller. Kyle Miller, I believe."

"Yea, my dad wanted to keep 'K' in the name, so we're both a couple of K's."

Kevin had loosened up and was now laughing with Richard.

"So, you're the boy who Kyle's always talking about."

"Ah, he lies like Kory. It's a 'K' thing, you know?"

Kevin and Richard laughed together as Cory glared at Kevin.

"So, you know my dad?" Kevin asked.

"Not really. Mark's my attorney, but I've spoken with your dad many times. And from what I heard from Kyle, you must get along pretty well with your mom and dad. He seems pretty pleased with the way you're turning out."

"Yeah, my mom and I get along great. Dad works a lot and isn't home as much, or when he is, he spends a lot of time in his office. I really love my parents though. They've given me a lot. I just wish dad knew me better. But I know that he loves me."

"You're a pretty good kid, Kevin. Go teach Cory not to swear so much."

Cory threw Richard a dirty look that pigs in trough heaven would have wrenched at. But deep down, he knew that the evening had turned out better than he could have hoped for. Richard and Kevin had hit it off. They didn't say much, but the way they reacted to each other told Cory that Kevin had just joined the family.

"So, Kevin, anyone special in your life?" Richard asked trying to continue the conversation. He was wondering if Cory might be the one.

"Yeah, there was. I had a girlfriend last year. She was really sweat, but, well, she found someone else."

"That must have hurt," Richard said.

"Yeah, it did for a while. But I started talking to her about it, you know, trying to figure out what went wrong. I think that's when we got to really know each other. I was just dating, because everyone else was dating, and she just happened to come along. We both seemed to understand that. We still talk to each other though."

"Well, that sounds good. So, you parted as friends then?"

"No. Oh, we talk to each other, and that's cool, but she's not a real friend. We're more like acquaintances than friends. A friend to me is..." Kevin looked at Cory, "...kind of, special. It's the kind of thing where the bond can't be broken."

"You've really thought about that, haven't you, what a true friend means?" asked Richard.

Kevin turned toward Richard.

"Yeah, I've thought about it a lot," Kevin responded as he turned to look back at Cory. "Cory and I are working on it."

When the table was cleared, and the dishes put in the dishwasher, Cory and Kevin excused themselves and headed for Cory's room.

Both boys lay on Cory's bed, arms stretched and behind their heads. Kevin had kept laughing from the time Richard and he started kibitzing.

"Richard is so cool. He's like the perfect parent," Kevin started.

"Yeah, well, you two sure left me out tonight."

"What do you mean?"

Kevin raised himself on one elbow, looking down at Cory lying next to him.

"I mean that you kept joking about me all night." Cory answered.

"Oh, Cory, you don't see it, do you?"

"See what? That I'm someone to laugh at?"

"No, not that at all. It was the way Richard was teasing you. He was treating you like his son, man. He really loves you; you know? I felt it in the room, all night."

"I know he does. I guess I need to quit acting like a kid most of the time. I'm almost 16, you know?"

"Yeah, and I'm right behind you."

Kevin relaxed and laid down next to Cory.

"He does love you; you know?" Kevin said, ending that topic. "Hey, you wanna watch a movie?"

"I don't have a TV in my room you know, doofus?"

"Well, we can watch it on your new computer," Kevin stated.

Kevin jumped from the bed and headed back downstairs followed by Cory. Both boys spend 20 minutes rummaging through Richard's DVD collection before deciding on which movie to watch.They watched a comedy with Shirley McLain, but Cory had slept through most of it, as it really didn't interest him. The screen was too small to see well from the bed. The movie ended and the room filled with silence.

When the movie ended and the sound went dead, Cory awoke. He looked up and started to get out of bed but seemed to be having difficulty rising. When he looked toward his stomach, he found Kevin's arm across his chest. Kevin had rolled toward Cory when they were both asleep and had snuggled up next to him. Kevin was still asleep.

Cory watched Kevin as he breathed, his chest slightly expanding and then contracting in a smooth regular pattern. He looked so content. Cory knew that Kevin liked him and probably felt comfortable with touching him, but he also realized that Kevin was asleep and probably didn't even know that he was lying on him. Cory wanted Kevin next to him, to stay with him, but knew that he had to go home.

Cory gently shook Kevin's arm to wake him.

Kevin grunted.

"Come on Kevin. Wake up. We've slept through the movie. It's time to go."

Kevin rolled off of Cory, onto his back, putting both of his hands on his own chest, eyes still closed.

"Kevin," Cory said to his sleeping friend as he again gently rocked his shoulder.

"What time is it?" Kevin whispered, still with closed eyes.

"It's almost 11:00. Your mom and dad are going to be pissed."

Kevin remained motionless and still didn't open his eyes.

"No, they won't."

"Why not? What time did you tell them you'd be home?"

"My mom said that I could sleep over here, if I wanted to." Kevin whispered, not moving.

Cory jumped from the bed, the moving bed shaking Kevin into final consciousness. There was no way that Cory was going to put himself through the anguish of having Kevin sleep next to him, touching him, knowing that Kevin wasn't like him. If something slipped, Cory knew that their friendship was over. He was NOT going to risk that.

"Get up Kevin, I don't think Richard would want us to have a sleepover on a school night. He's still downstairs waiting to take you home."

"Alright, alright," Kevin said swinging his legs over the side of the bed and forcing himself to sit up.

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