An Orphan's Tale

by Rob Warr

The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental. This work is the property of the author, Rob Warr, and should not be re-posted or reproduced without his permission. Story ©2022 Rob Warr.

If there's one thing I've learned in all the years I've been an orphan, in foster care, and finally a group home, it was that families looking to adopt kids usually wanted a baby, or at least a young kid they could raise their way.

Once a kid reached a certain age, 10 or so, they were pretty much out of the running for adoption, and at 12, like me, the odds were a million to one. But you know, sometimes a guy can beat the odds. This is my story of how that happened.

Flash back to 1972, that was the year my mom met my dad, and she said, it was love at first sight. He was tall, muscular, handsome, with a wicked sense of humor that matched hers, and she was: well...perfect in every way. She was taller than most girls her age, but the extra height was distributed evenly, and she still had a petite feminine look about her that gained her stares from both sexes.

She had the most amazing eyes, which I still remember even though I was only six when I lost her and dad. Anyway, everyone said they were meant to be together, and shortly after they met they began dating regularly, and a year later they got married.

Then six months later I appeared, but no one seemed to be counting, and nothing was ever said as far as I know about when I was conceived. It didn't matter, mom and dad loved each other, and with or without me they would have eventually gotten married.

Our life was like one of those shows on TV where the mom and dad got along, love their kid unconditionally, and everyone said we were the perfect family. I grew up being loved and loving, and I never knew just how special our way of life was till I lost it.

It happened one snowy December night when I was six. I'd just had my birthday in August and started first grade that year. I loved school and I'd made many new friends, and that particular night, that night when my world fell apart, I was staying with one of those new friends.

My mom and dad had gone to some kind of party that my mom's work was having, and they expected to be out late, and that was why I was staying at my friend's house.

Around nine that night, Rod's mom said we should go to bed, and after peeing one last time and brushing our teeth, me and my friend piled into his bed. We were just little kids and we didn't know anything about sex, but we didn't mind snuggling up together, and soon we were asleep.

Some time later that night...or early morning, I remember being woken up by Rod's dad and he looked awful. He even looked like he might have been crying, and that really upset me. After I found out why he looked so bad, I understood though, cause I cried for days after that.

Yeah, you guessed it, while coming home that night, my mom and dad slid off the road and hit a tree. They might have survived the impact, I was told later, but for some reason the car burst into flames, and since they were both unconscious, and can guess the rest. I still have nightmares about being trapped in a burning car, and sometimes I can feel my flesh sizzling.

I guess I sound kind of morbid and uncaring writing about this, but I've had 6 years to get over the shock and pain, though I will admit there are times when I just want to bawl like a baby.

Anyway, you're probably wondering how I wound up in foster care. Didn't I have relatives who'd take me in, or friends of the family? Yes, and no.

My only living relatives, that I knew of, were my mom's mom and pop, my grands, and they were two years older than God. On top of that, my gramps had that disease where you didn't recognize people and had to be put in a home. Even worse, the news of my grandma's only daughter and her beloved son-in-law's death was just too much for her, and she passed two weeks after the funeral. Some people said she died of a broken heart.

I did stay with Rod's family while they were searching for other relatives, but eventually I went into foster care, and I never saw Rod, or any of my other friends again.

Flash forward to today, 1986, and 12-year-old Dakota Aaron King, me. Yeah, cool name, huh? Dakota had been my dad's idea and my mom said she'd loved it from the start. She also said they'd never even bothered to pick out girls names because they were so sure I was going to be a boy. Well, they were right...but I wonder what they'd think of me now, knowing that their boy liked other boys and not girls.

Yeah, I'm a fag, gay, queer, homo, but not a fairy cause I'm not the least bit feminine. Heck, a guy could get his teeth knocked out for acting like a girl in some of the places I've been. But that doesn't mean a boy like me can't find other boys in those same places that don't mind a little boy-on-boy fun. But let's save that for later, okay?

Anyway, foster care sucks. I don't care what anyone says, it does. Now, I'm not saying there aren't loving, responsible foster parents out there, cause I've met a few, but most are just in it for the money. The money that's supposed to go for the care and feeding of the kids they're fostering, but in a lot of cases winds up in their pockets while the foster kid wears thrift store clothing and eating mac and cheese five times a week. I've been in a few of those too.

But worst of all are the group homes. I guess that's today's equivalent of yesterday's orphanages that you see in movies and read about, but I tend to think of them as 'kid prisons'. Just like in real prison, you have to watch your back, and the weaker kids are always preyed upon by the bigger stronger kids. I've even heard of (but not witnessed) kids being raped. Fortunately, I was big enough by then to take care of myself, and if I'd ever witnessed anyone trying that stuff I'd have jumped in, even if I got my ass beat. I did take several younger boys under my wing over the years, and in the process we became close, and well...let's just say: those were some of the other boys that liked boy fun too.

Today is a special day for me. I've been in this group home for 47 days, and today I'm being interviewed by a prospective foster family. Now, I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but from what Leslie, my case worker says, these are solid peeps with a kid already, who is around my age.

Again, I'm not getting my hopes up too much, because in my experience fosters who already have a kid are just looking for extra income. Plus, the real kid tends to resent the foster kid and blame him for everything, and can see where that goes.

So, it's almost 2 o'clock now and the meeting is at 2:30, so I'm gonna put this on hold till later. I hope I have good news to report by then, even if I'm the only one who ever reads this. Till later...bye bye.

I'm back. It's around seven, we've had chow and some of the guys are hanging out in the rec room, and there's no one in the dorm but me right now. The visit went okay, but I'm still not getting my hopes up. The Wilsons seem nice, and the dad...Mike, reminds me of my own dad. Tall, muscular, and handsome. Mrs. Wilson is good looking too, and she seemed very nice. She's the kind of person that likes to touch, and not only did I get a hug before and after, she kept touching my arm or leg the whole time we were talking.

Wait, that sounds creepy. I don't mean it that way. I mean, she was just affectionate like a mom would be, anyway...that's how I saw it and felt it. They talked about their son Joe, and said he was looking forward to meeting me as well, but that they thought for the first time it should be just the two of them.

I agreed with everything they said, was on my best behavior, and said yes ma'am, and no ma'am, and yes sir, and no sir, and no grunts or yeahs like I usually do. I think even Leslie was impressed with my performance, cause she kept grinning at me, and once or twice I caught a wink from her.

Leslie is okay in my book. She would make a great mom, but I guess in a way all us kids at the home are her kids, and she treats us like we matter. Not that every person who works there isn't pretty nice, some just see it as a job and really don't put their hearts into it like Leslie.

Anyway, like I said, the visit went well, and we all agreed we could move to the next step, an in-home visit. I'd had IHVs before, some had gone okay, some not so good, but what usually happened was: it was up to the fosters to decide whether they took you or not, and you had no say in the matter. Also, the only way you could get out of a foster home was to mess up really bad or accuse them of some crime, like beating you or sexually abusing you.

So, we agreed that next weekend they would pick me up on Friday around five and return me Sunday in time for evening chow. I gotta tell you, I was pretty excited about the prospect, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high. Nothing is worse than expecting a rainbow and receiving a tornado.

It's Thursday now, it's been a long week so far. Not much happening here, pretty much the same old same old, but I've been thinking about this visit to the Wilsons' house. As much as I liked the couple, I still worried about them having a son already. Joe, Joe was his name. Would he give me a chance to befriend him, or would he come in with his mind made up to hate me and want to do everything in his power to make sure I didn't wind up living under his roof and taking his folks away from him? I guess I'll just have to wait and see, I'm no worse off if things don't work out, but it sure is stressful not knowing.

Friday finally. Classes were a blur today, and by the time I got on the bus headed back to the home I was ready to just forget the whole thing and resign myself to living in the group home till I aged out. Fortunately, fate, or karma, or whatever stepped in, and I never had to make that decision.

As soon as I got to my dorm that day, Leslie came looking for me. It seems the Wilsons were anxious to get started and had arrived around four, a full hour early. I was startled, but then I was too busy getting changed and grabbing my stuff to worry about it. Thank God I'd packed my gym bag with my change of clothes and stuff the night before, so in no time flat I was ready to go.

As Leslie walked me to her office, I felt the worst case of butterflies I'd ever felt in my life. Now, you gotta remember, at twelve I've been through some shit. Six years in foster care, and never really feeling like I was loved, or that I belonged, and I'd gotten a little tough as a result. But today: I felt like bawling like a little kid and begging these almost perfect strangers to love me and foster me.

"Dakota," Mrs. Wilson said jumping up from her chair to hug me, "sorry we're so early, but we just couldn't wait to get started."

I gave her my best smile, then shook hands with Mike, as I suddenly became aware of a blond haired, blue-eyed boy about my age watching us with a look on his face I couldn't quite read.

He was a handsome boy, and looking at his mom and dad it was easy to see where he got those looks. He was maybe an inch shorter than me, but about my weight, and he looked wiry. He had what I consider to be an average boy body, not too skinny, not too fat, just right.

His blond hair was cut stylishly short just over his ears, with short bangs hanging down on his forehead framing his amazing blue eyes. His perky little nose had a spattering of freckles across it which I thought were adorable, and his lips...OMG, his lips were so kissable looking. If I didn't stop staring at the kid I was going to embarrass myself with the tent in my jeans though, so I finally dropped my eyes to the floor and waited to be introduced.

"And this...this is our son Joseph, but everyone calls him Joe," Mrs. Wilson said smiling at her son, then at me.

"Hi," I said, offering my hand politely, but Joe just snickered and offered a fist bump instead.

Grinning, I returned the bump and gave him a nervous smile, which he returned. He didn't seem resentful at all, so far, and in fact, the vibes I was getting from him were very positive. We'd just have to wait and see though, sometimes kids acted one way in front of adults and another when they weren't around.

"Well, do you have everything?" Leslie asked, moving things along.

"Yes ma'am," I said grinning at my case worker, "Two changes of clothes, my toothbrush and stuff," I said not elaborating further. I had deodorant, some cheap cologne, and a hair brush, as well as an old sock for...well...just in case I had a chance to have some fun with my hand.

"Wonderful," Leslie said standing up and ushering us out the door, almost as if she were trying to get rid of us.

"Mike, why don't you bring the van around," Mrs. Wilson suggested, and I was about to protest when I noticed Joe's limp.

Sitting, he'd looked like a normal boy, but now that he was standing I could definitely see that there was something different about his right leg. It took me maybe all of two seconds to realize exactly what that difference was.

"Mom," Joe said before I could move another muscle, "I'm not a cripple. I can walk to the van."

"I know that dear," Mrs. Wilson said bending down to kiss the top of Joe's head, "I was just being lazy," she chuckled then, and Joe laughed.

As we walked to the Wilsons' car, one of those cool Chrysler mini-vans, I watched Joe while trying not to be too obvious. If I hadn't already figured out that he had an artificial leg, I'd have never known. Apparently he must've had it for a while, and had grown accustomed to it, and I wondered what the story was there. I guessed I'd find out eventually, but for some reason at that very moment, I had a lot of respect for this cute little blond boy in front of me.

When we reached the van, Joe slid the door open as I watched in wonder, then without any difficulty at all, he climbed into the far bucket seat, leaving the other one for me.

"Nice van," I said to Joe, as I looked around. Behind us was a third row bench seat, and I calculated that the van could hold at least seven people.

"My dad owns a car dealership, they sell these there," Joe said sounding proud, "someday I'll take over...when dad is old and stuff," he added laughing.

"Hey, don't put me out to pasture yet," Mike laughed from the front driver's seat, "this old horse has some good years ahead of him."

I thought that sounded weird, but I understood what he meant. Besides, Joe was just a kid like me, and he had to get through school, and probably college before he'd be ready to go to work selling cars. Selling cars, I thought, how cool would that be? And suddenly I found myself hoping above all hope that this worked out and I wound up being adopted by the Wilsons, know? I'd get that fairy tale ending.

I can't say I was surprised when we finally pulled into the Wilsons' driveway, but it was still a little overwhelming. Their house was a beautiful two story Victorian style with a three car garage and a wrap around porch. What caught my eye first though, was the corner octagonal tower, which jutted above the roof, with windows on almost every side. What a view that must have, I thought, I wonder what they use it for? I would soon find out.

"Wow, your house is really nice," I said to Joe, who just shrugged.

"It's okay, wait till you see the backyard. It's my favorite place. We have a pool too, but of course it's too cold for it right now. In the summer I spend a lot of time there with my friends."

"Oh cool," I thought, wondering what his friends would think of him having an orphan boy living in his magnificent house and sharing that pool? That is, if I even lasted past the weekend visit.

The garage door nearest the house went up then, and we drove inside where I was surprised to see two other vehicles parked. One was a mid sized Jeep of some kind, and the other I recognized as a Mustang convertible. It wasn't new, but it was in perfect condition, candy apple red with a white leather interior, shiny chrome bumpers and trim that looked showroom fresh.

"That's my dad's pride and joy," Joe said noticing I was practically drooling over the shiny sports car, "he and gramps rebuilt it from the ground up, only thing they didn't do was the painting. The body shop at dealership did that. It's a 1965 in case you're wondering.

"Wow, it's awesome. Do you, get to ride in it?"

"Oh, sure...all the time. I bet dad would take us for a ride if the weather is nice this weekend. Not much room in the back seat though. I don't mind though, I ride back there sometimes when mom's with us."

Suddenly the door slid open and Mrs. Wilson stood there with that same happy smile she'd greeted me with back at the home, "Come on boys. Joe, I want you to show Dakota where he'll be staying and help him get his stuff put away. When you're done, join us in the family room, okay?"

"Sure ma," Joe said grinning, "to the dungeon," he teased, or was he?

"Dungeon?" I said once the Wilsons had gone on ahead.

"Not really," Joe laughed, "it's actually a tower, you'll see."

Nervously I followed Joe inside through what I know now is called a mudroom, then into a large modern kitchen, and finally down a short hall to a staircase. Despite being handicapped, Joe easily climbed the stairs with me right behind him, just in case he fell or something. But I needn't have worried, Joe was as sure footed as a cat, artificial leg and all.

"So, you're 12?" Joe said once we hit the landing above.

"Yep, how about you?"

"11, I'll be twelve January first."

"Oh, a New Year's baby," I said grinning.

"Yep, got my name in the paper and everything. My mom still has ten copies of that newspaper article," he laughed, "Come on, down here," he said, pointing to the far end of the hallway where there was another stairway, this one narrow and steeper than the other one.

Again I followed closely behind Joe, not really meaning to, but in the process staring at his cute butt. I could tell that the artificial leg began at his knee and not his hip by the way his tight jeans fit his body, and I got a magnificent view of his really cute butt as well.

"This is it," he said as he pushed open a door and we entered the tower room I'd seen from the driveway.

If I thought it was neat from the ground, it was even neater from the inside. I ignored the furnishings at first, going to the windows and skirting the room, taking in the view from all around and gasping. I could see for miles from up here, and everywhere I looked were pleasant surroundings.

Next, I turned my attention to the room itself and it's furnishings. There was a large bed on the wall directly opposite the stairway, with a night stand on either side of it. Actually, there were three walls without windows, something I hadn't been able to see from the street, and one of those walls held a closet door, the other an upright chest, and the other the door and stairway.

Beneath the window to the right of the bed was a small sofa, or love seat, an end table with a lamp, and that was it, but it was still the most magnificent room I'd ever been in.

"You mean, I'm gonna sleep here?"

"Yep, do you like it?"

"Well, yeah...I love it. The view is amazing," I said going to the windows again and panning the landscape.

"Yeah, I like it up here too. It was my room till...well, till I had my accident. Then mom and dad moved me downstairs for a while. When I got my new leg I decided I didn't need another set of stairs to climb, so I took a room with it's own bath on the second floor. Hey, want to see my room?" he said, looking sad when he mentioned his leg, so I didn't want to press him for details at that moment. Later, there'd be time for that, I figured.

"Sure, I'll just, umm...leave my stuff here on the bed.

"Okay, you can unpack later, come on. It's just down the hall," Joe said, leading the way once more.

Going down the stairs seemed to actually be harder for Joe than going up, and I noticed he kept a tight hold on the banister as we descended. His room was indeed just down the hall, in fact, it was almost right across from the stairway to the tower room. As he pushed open the door I noted two things right away, first: how big the room was, and second: how neatly organized it was.

In addition to the usual bedroom furniture, Joe's room had a desk, chair, several bookcases, and...he even had his own TV set. A small one, but still...TVs were expensive, and for a kid to have his own TV back then was a big deal.

"Through there is my own private bathroom, but you can use it if you want. It's closer than the one at the other end of the hall."

"Are you sure?" I said feeling him out, "I promise if I do, I won't make a mess."

"Yeah, I wouldn't offer if I didn't want you to use it," Joe said frowning, and for a minute I thought I'd really messed up. Then his face softened and he sighed, "Look, I know you probably think I hate you, or I'm jealous or something, but it's not like that, okay?"

"I never..." I began, then sighed, "Okay, maybe a little, but you've been really nice so far and I guess I was just waiting for...for all that to change. Look, I've been around, and some kids don't like a foster kid coming in and messing up their family life. I'm sorry if I doubted you, but you gotta understand, I been burned so many times it ain't even funny."

"That's what mom said. We discussed this as a family and they wouldn't have done it if I hadn't agreed. Actually, I'm kinda looking forward to having a slightly bigger bro to hang with," he added grinning.

I couldn't help but smile back at the cute boy. If he was being sincere, which I was pretty sure he was, then things were really starting to look up for me. We were saved any further conversation because just about then Mrs. Wilson hollered for us to come downstairs.

I was sort of nervous at first, wondering what was up and all, but Joe seemed calm and that helped me to keep it together. Fortunately, it was nothing bad, in fact, it was something very good.

"I thought tonight since it's a special night we'd go out for dinner. How does that sound. Any suggestions?" she said, eying Joe with a slight smile on her lips.

"Pizza Planet!!" he cried enthusiastically, and both parents laughed.

"What a shock, "Mr. Wilson, Mike, said to his son, then to me, "Dakota, as you can tell, Joe sort of likes Pizza Planet. But I don't think it's the food he's so fond of, I think it's the huge arcade."

"Cool," I said, then frowned realizing I had no money for games, or anything else for that matter. I even wondered if I'd be expected to pay for my dinner, but that was silly. Of course the Wilsons were gonna pay, that was the way it worked. After all, this wasn't my first rodeo.

"Are you boys ready to go?" Mrs. Wilson asked then, "anyone need to pee or anything?" she chuckled, causing me to blush, but Joe just laughed and shook his head.

"Nope, I already peed in my pants," he teased.

"Well, should we change you, or just let you stew in it?" Mike teased back.

"It will soon dry, dad," Joe said laughing, "come on Dakota, let's go man, you are gonna love this place."

In the van, I couldn't help but stare at Joe's leg again. I wondered what had happened and when. Was he born that way, or did he have an accident? Then I remembered he'd mentioned having an accident. He didn't seem to be bothered by it in any way, which kind of said he'd had time to get used to it. I had a million questions, but I felt like it was too soon to pry into his personal life, especially something like that.

Pizza Planet might not have been as big as a planet, but it was huge. Two stories, with an arcade on both floors, and there was even a movie room where you could eat your food and watch cartoons or movies.

The place was busy and it took us a while to get up to the counter, but since we'd already decided what kind of pizza we wanted, it didn't take long to place our order and find a booth.

We were given plastic glasses and Joe showed me where the drink machines were, and I got Coke, while Joe got Root Beer. The Wilsons got some kind of flavored tea, and soon we were back at our table.

Even in the main dining rooms there were TVs on the walls, some showing sporting events, some cartoons, but the sound was turned way down.

"Mom, dad, can we go to the arcade while we're waiting?" Joe begged.

"Hmm...I suppose. We'll come get you when the pizza is ready," Mrs. Wilson said, "here's five dollars each," she said digging in her purse, "that should be enough till the food is ready," she laughed.

I thanked Mrs. Wilson warmly and she patted me and said I was welcome, and Joe led the way to the downstairs arcade.

Man, talk about a dream come true for a boy. That arcade had about every cool game you could think of, as well as skee-ball, fooseball, air hockey, a basketball throw, and mini-bowling. There was so much stuff that I didn't know where to begin, but fortunately Joe knew just where he was going.

After we changed the two five dollar bills into quarters, I followed Joe to the air hockey table, and without even asking me he fed two quarters into the machine and took up his paddle.

"Well, come on, you gonna play or what?" he said grinning.

"Yeah, yeah...course," I said grinning, "I love air hockey."

As much as I loved air hockey, let's face it: I didn't get a lot of play time, and it didn't take Joe long to whip my butt. He was a good sport though and didn't brag like a lot of kids our age do, and when he challenged me to a rematch I was eager to play again. I lost that time too, but only by one point, and just as we finished up, Mike came to tell us the pizza was ready.

"Come on, pizza time," Joe said, zipping off and leaving me to catch up with him. For a kid with an artificial leg he sure was fast.

"Just in time," Mike said as he sat two huge pizzas down on the table. One was pepperoni, my favorite, and the other one had everything, which the adults seemed to like best.

We talked as we ate, nothing important, just small talk, but I really felt like I was fitting in and not just a stranger. Joe was great too. I mean, some kids are pretty awkward in situations like this, but not Joe. He was treating me like we were old friends, and I was beginning to really like that kid. It didn't hurt that he was cute and sexy, but I knew I had to be careful not to let him know I thought that way about him. Nothing worse than having your fosters figure out you're gay and hot for their son.

Even with two hungry boys there was still plenty of pizza left over after we filled up, and Mike went off to find a to-go box, while Joe and I finished off our third slice and slurped down our pop.

"As soon as your dad gets back we'll go upstairs with you to the big arcade," Mrs. Wilson said.

"Big arcade?" I said swallowing my last bite of pizza before speaking, "There's a bigger arcade than the one we went to earlier?"

"Yeah," Joe said enthusiastically, "the one upstairs even has a huge playground, and a real carousel, you know, the kind with horses that go up and down? Course, I'm too old for that kiddie stuff," he added, "but sometimes, just to please mom, I go on it with her," he added grinning.

"And I appreciate that," Mrs. Wilson said, winking at me as if to say, that's his excuse for riding a kiddie ride.

As soon as Mike had the pizza in the box, we were off to the upstairs arcade. They hadn't been kidding when they said it was huge, in fact, it took up almost the whole upstairs. There were a few booths along one wall, but other than that, the whole floor was filled with fun things for kids of all ages.

"I wouldn't mind riding the carousel," I said to Mrs. Wilson, just to be nice.

"Why thank you Dakota," she said sincerely, "Joe, do you want to tag along?"

"Well, sure," Joe said grinning, "just for you, mommy," he chuckled.

"I'm gonna park my butt on the bench over there," Mike said, you kids have fun," he added with a chuckle.

"All right dear. I'll come sit with you after I ride the horsies."

We had to wait a few minutes for the carousel to stop and some kids to get off, but before long we were selecting our horses. I wondered if Joe would need help getting on his pony, but he selected one that was at the bottom of it's travel, and got on as effortlessly as I got on my high horse.

Despite her saying she was going to ride the horsies, Mrs. Wilson sat down on a bench near us, and rode the carousel most of the time from there. Toward the end, she went over and stood beside Joe's horse and held onto the pole as the two of them talked about something. I wondered if it was about me, but then I tend to be a little paranoid sometimes. Heck, even if they were talking about me, I figured it was all good.

The ride ended, and this time Mrs. Wilson did give Joe a hand as he dismounted. As Joe slid off the horse, his mom hugged him and swung him around till his feet touched the floor, then kissed the top of his head.

"Mooommm," Joe whined, "not in front of everyone."

Mrs. Wilson just laughed, "Sorry son, just got carried away."

"It's okay mom, I love you too," he said hugging her waist. Then turning to me he said, "Hey Dakota, follow me. I'll show you all the neat stuff."

Mrs. Wilson joined her husband on the bench and Joe drug me around that place like he owned it. It was obvious he'd been there enough times to have everything memorized, but there was just so much to see and do that I sort of felt dizzy after a while. Joe drug me from one attraction to the other and we somehow managed to spend all the money Mrs. Wilson had given us. I felt bad at first, but Joe assured me it was fine and that his mom had intended us to spend it, and I finally relaxed and just let it go.

I guess we spent about an hour there, maybe longer, cause I kind of lost track of time, but eventually Mike found us and said it was time to go. To my surprise Joe didn't whine or protest, and truthfully I was ready to go, so soon we were on our way home. Ah, home, what a lovely word. I just hoped I wasn't getting ahead of myself.

Back at The Wilson's, I was surprised to see it was after 9 o'clock. As soon as we got inside, the first thing out of Mrs. Wilson's mouth was, "Time to shower and get ready for bed, boys."

Nine o'clock bedtime? I thought. Oh well, just because I had to go to bed didn't mean I had to go to sleep. Maybe I'd have a chance to use that sock I packed after all.

"Come on," Joe said leading the way, again, "you can use my bathroom, and since you're company I'll let ya go first."

"Thanks, uh, I don't have any pajamas though. At the home we just sleep in our underwear or our shorts. I brought a pair of shorts, is that okay?"

"Dude, you can sleep starkers for all I care," Joe laughed, "I do that sometimes, but just in case mom checks on ya, might want to wear the shorts till ya get in bed."

I blushed and nodded, then remembering I'd never unpacked, I rushed up to my tower room and dug out my hygiene stuff, clean undies, a pair of shorts, and a plain white tee.

Back in Joe's room, I was shocked to find he had stripped down to his underwear and it was all I could do not to stare. Not only was he a beautiful and sexy boy, there before me, fully exposed now, was his artificial leg.

I'd been right, it started at the knee and some kind of strap held it in place. I wondered if it hurt or if that strap irritated his skin, but I was too chicken to ask. I guess I was kind of staring, for after a minute of stunned silence, Joe finally spoke.

"I figured you might as well see it now, since you're gonna see it eventually."

At first I misunderstood, see what, his dick? my mind hoped, then it dawned on me that he was talking about his leg.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stare," I said blushing and looking away.

"It's okay, I'm used to people staring by now. I'm sure you have some questions about it, but let's wait till after we shower, okay?"

"Uh, sure...that's fine," I said gathering my wits about me, "I guess I'll go take my shower now..."

"Do you mind if I come in and we talk while you shower?'

Wow, that was a hard question to answer. Did I want Joe to see me naked and possibly hard? even better question, did I want to hang around afterwards in the hopes that I'd see Joe naked too?

"Uh, well...I guess it's okay," I stammered, "but can you...umm, wait till I'm in the shower?"

Joe chuckled, "Are you shy? I mean, we're both guys, right? If you're afraid you'll get a boner, that's no big deal. I get em all the time, but if you want I'll wait."

"Thanks," I said, not answering his questions for fear I'd say the wrong thing.

"I'll holler when I' there."

The shower was the regular tub/shower setup, but instead of a shower curtain there were sliding glass doors. Fortunately the glass was the kind you can't see through, though I guess you could probably make out the shape of anyone behind it. I got the water going, and once it was warm I stepped in and pulled the door closed.

"Okay!" I yelled as loud as I dared, and almost instantly I heard the door open and then close.

"Woo hoo," Joe teased, "I can see why you're so shy, you're a real fox."

"Huh? You can't see...Oh, you're just messing with my head."

"Yeah, hey...Dakota, seriously man, if we're gonna live together and share the same bathroom, we're gonna have to get used to seeing each other naked. I ain't shy, and you shouldn't be either. Heck, you're older than me, so you probably got more to show, so you should be proud."

I blushed, unable to speak for a moment, then I thought about what he'd just said. "You said if we were going to live together. You know this is just a weekend visit, right? Sunday, I'll be back at the home in good old dorm 4."

"I know, but it has to start somewhere, right? Look, I shouldn't tell you this, but mom and dad are already crazy about you, and...I think you're really cool too. So, even though this is just a weekend visit, it could turn into something more...if you wanted it to."

I had to think about that for a minute. Was it possible? Was there a chance the Wilsons might foster me, and...dare I think it, adopt me someday? I'd gotten my hopes up before, only to have them dashed on the rocks and be sent back to the home, or worse to a rotten foster family. I sighed and leaned my head against the wall and let the water wash over my head. I wasn't even aware I was crying till I let out a soft sob.

"Dude, are you...are you crying?" Joe said with concern.

"Course not," I lied, "I just got something in my throat."

"It's okay if you were. My folks don't believe that shit about crying making a guy weak. They say that crying is good for the soul, whatever that means. I guess what they mean is: sometimes you just got to let it out or you'll explode or something. I'm not ashamed to say I cry sometimes thinking about my leg and all..." he said sounding really sad, so sad that I forgot my own troubles for a moment.

"I'm almost done," I said as I started to rinse off, "Uh, can you hand me a towel?'

"Nope," Joe giggled, having recovered from his sadness, "you gotta come out and get it."

"Dude, I'm naked..."

"Duh, taking a shower with clothes on would be lame. Come on, I'll even take off my underwear so I'm naked too. That's only fair."

"Fine!" I growled, "you little pervert," I added with a chuckle.

"I am...a pervert, but I'm not so little. You'll see," he giggled.

Even having accepted my fate, I still held one hand over my privates as I slid back the door, but the friction of my hand was having an effect on my cock that I hadn't anticipated. Stepping out of the tub, I avoided looking directly at Joe as long as possible, but eventually I had to look that way as I grabbed the towel he held.

The towel was hanging off his arm so that it covered most of Joe's body, but as soon as I pulled it away it was in complete view, and oh boy, he wasn't kidding about not being small, at least between his legs.

To my complete surprise, Joe was fully erect and his cock must've been at least 4 and a half inches long and fat like a sausage. He was still completely hairless down there, but he had a nice set of nuts hugging his body just below his cock, and as I watched, he reached down and scratched them without giving it a second thought.

"Told you I wasn't all that small. Hey, you're not bad yourself," he said gazing at my now fully erect penis.

I'd measured it a week or so earlier, and at four inches it was respectable among my peers, if not a bit larger than most. But Joe had me beat by a full half inch, and his cock was bigger around, making me look puny by comparison.

"Nice," I said automatically, then blushed, as I covered myself with the towel and began drying off.

"Thanks. Well, gonna take my shower now. Hey, there's deodorant and stuff in the medicine cabinet if you need it..."

"Thanks, I brought my own," I said quickly.

"Okay," Joe said, suddenly putting the toilet seat down and plopping his naked butt down on it, "gotta take off my leg..." he said, unbuckling the strap as my eyes zoomed in on the action.

"Does...does it hurt?" I asked, unable to stop myself.

"Sometimes, and sometimes it itches or aches in parts of my leg that aren't there anymore. It's weird, something to do with the nerves. Mostly though, I just don't think about it. I've had six different legs since the accident and this one is the best so far."

"Do you have to get new ones as you grow?"

"Yeah, otherwise I'd lean to one side," Joe joked, causing me to blush.

"Dumb question," I groused.

"Nah, not really. Some of my friends won't even mention it. I guess they're freaked out by it. I try to hide it as much as possible with them, but I decided with you I wasn't going to do that. Did I mess up?"

"No, not at all," I said smiling, "I guess by doing that you're like saying, hey, I accept you, and I trust you, and here's how it is, and it's no big deal. And the seeing each other naked, I guess that was sort of the same thing. I'm not worried about it anymore, cause we've already seen each other."

"Thanks," Joe said, finally managing to get the leg off. There was some kind of sock looking thing on the stump, and when he pulled it off my eyes went to the exposed flesh there.

Whatever trauma had happened there had long ago healed, and though it looked a little red, it wasn't gross or anything.

"What happened?" I finally asked.

"A car wreck," Joe said rubbing his stump for a moment, "I was with my best friend and his family. No one else got hurt, but the car that hit us hit on my side in the back and my leg got in the way."

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry," I said walking over to lay a hand on Joe's shoulder.

"Not your fault, but thanks. My friend's folks were pretty shaken up about it, so was my friend, since he was sitting right beside me and saw the whole thing. He had nightmares for a long time. They moved last year, but we still write each other and talk on the phone."

"Do you need any help?" I said nervously.

"Sure, help me up," Joe said holding out his arms to me.

I dropped my towel, oblivious to my nakedness, and pulled Joe up, hugging him loosely as we stood there facing one another. For what seemed like forever we just stood there staring into each other's eyes, and I had the most intense urge to kiss him. Then the moment passed, and I pulled away and blushed.

"Just help me hop over there and I can get in by myself," Joe said, but I had this sneaky suspicion that he could have done this all by himself.

Once at the tub, he sat on the edge, his now soft penis and balls flopping around between his legs, then swinging his body around, he grabbed the handicap bar on the wall and stood up.

"Got it now, unless you wanna wash my back for me," he teased, causing me to blush.

"I'm good," I said grinning, "I'm gonna finish drying off and get dressed, but I'll hang around...just in case you need my help.

"Thanks," Joe said sounding very happy, but there was no way he was as happy as I was.

Eventually, Joe finished his shower and I helped him hobble the short distance to his bed. Sitting down, he slipped on a pair of shorts and nothing else, then sent me back to the bathroom to get his leg and stuff.

I'll admit, I felt a little weird picking up that artificial leg, but it wasn't gross or anything, and I'd begun to accept that it was a part of Joe and nothing bad. I placed the leg by the bed as Joe instructed, then sat beside him on the bed and we talked some more about his accident, and how he'd learned to live with his disability.

"I was nine when it happened, so I've had some time to get used to it. You just met me though, so it will probably take some time for you to do that."

"Nah, I'm cool with it already," I said punching him playfully, "Hey, I was wondering, what happens if you have to get up in the middle of the night and pee?"

"Well, I try to make sure I pee before I hit the bed. Like tonight, I peed in the shower," he chuckled.

"Eww," I laughed, making a face, but what boy didn't do that?

"I can hobble on one leg most times, it's not that far, but once: I had diarrhea, and that was pretty gross. I didn't make it all the way."

I made retching sounds, cracking Joe up, and suddenly I began to tickle him, causing him to laugh harder. Suddenly I was aware of more laughter, this time coming from the open doorway, where the Wilsons stood watching us.

"Boys, it's almost ten. Don't you think you should try to get some sleep?"

"Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. I was just helping Joe get settled, and, well...I kinda got carried away."

"Boys will be boys," Mike said grinning, "we're heading off to bed though, and I suggest you boys get some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day. We're going to the Aquarium. Have you ever been, Dakota?"

"No sir, that sounds cool. Can't wait," I said hopping up. Then turning back to Joe I smiled, "Goodnight Joe, good talk."

"Yeah, night Dak," Joe said, thus coining my new nickname.

Mrs. Wilson came over then and kissed Joe on the forehead as they said their goodnights, and I watched with envy. But I needn't have been envious, for suddenly Mrs. Wilson grabbed me and pulled me into a hug, then planted a kiss on my forehead too.

"Goodnight Dakota, it's been a real joy having you here so far. I hope you're enjoying your stay with us."

"Oh, yes ma'am," I said blushing, " thank you for having me."

"You're welcome," Mike said patting my back in a manly fashion, "Goodnight, see ya in the morning," then to Joe, "Goodnight son, don't forget your prayers."

"I won't dad," Joe said grinning, "I have lots to thank God for tonight."

Was he talking about me? I almost broke down and blubbered about then, but fortunately the Wilsons headed off to their room and I managed to control my emotions.

"Night Joe," I said as I headed off to my room.

"Night Dak. If you get lonely or scared, you can come get in bed with me, there's lots of room," he said sounding hopeful.

"I'll remember that, thanks. Well, gotta get some sleep," I said yawning, "see ya tomorrow."

"Or later," he giggled.

I climbed the short flight of stairs to the attic tower and closed the door behind me, then just leaned back against it for a moment. So much was happening so fast, but I'd learned over the years not to get my hopes up, because as surely as I did, something always went wrong. Sure, the Wilsons liked me, and Joe and I were getting along swell, but were they really interested in keeping me around indefinitely, or was I just a passing fad? Something to make them feel good about themselves so they could say they'd done their part?

I finally fell down on the bed, noting how comfy it felt after the hard mattresses at the home, and before I even had time to think about anything else, I was asleep.

I awoke some time later and noted it was still dark outside, but I had no idea what time it was. I felt as if I'd only been asleep a short time, but at the same time I felt restless all of a sudden. On top of that: I discovered I needed to pee really bad, so after a few minutes I climbed out of bed and headed down the stairs.

I remembered Joe said I could use his bathroom, but surely not in the middle of the night when I might wake him by intruding. He'd said there was another bathroom at the end of the hall, but he hadn't shown me where exactly, and I wasn't sure I should be stumbling around in the dark looking for it.

Pausing outside Joe's door, I stood there a moment, deciding what to do, then finally I gripped the doorknob and slowly opened the door just a crack. From somewhere inside there was a little light, and opening the door a little wider I saw it was coming from a nightlight near the door to the bathroom.

"You came," Joe suddenly said from his bed where he was sitting up now.

"I uh, had to pee. I hope it's okay. I didn't know where the other bathroom was..."

"Oh sure, go ahead, but when you're done, come see me, okay?"

"Uh, okay," I murmured. Come see me? What did that mean?

I peed and washed my hands, then stared at my reflection in the mirror for a long time. I was stalling, maybe hoping Joe would fall back asleep and I could just head back to my bed, but: truth was, deep down inside that wasn't what I wanted at all.

"Took you long enough," Joe said as I emerged from the bathroom, "did you jerk it too?" he laughed.

"Nooo," I said blushing.

"It's okay if you did," Joe said calmly, "I did it earlier...after you left. It helps me relax."

"TMI," I laughed, but truthfully, I found that bit of information a little exciting.

"Come over here and lay by me," Joe said throwing back the covers.

"What would you're umm...folks think if they saw me in here?"

"Nothing, they wouldn't care. They only put you in the attic room cause the case worker said you had to have your own room and own bed. If it wasn't for that, you coulda slept with me in my bed."

"Yeah, actually the rule is: we have to have our own bed, not room. Fosters can put as many kids in one room as they have room for beds," I chuckled, "I stayed in this one foster home one time that had four boys in one room. They had two sets of bunk beds."

"That could be fun...I guess," Joe said, sounding unsure.

"Nah, it was awful. The two older boys took the bottom bunks and left me and this other kid to sleep up top, and the other kid fell out of bed one night and busted his head open."

"That's horrible," Joe said frowning, "Well, are you gonna lay with me or not?" he said sounding impatient.

"I guess, but I just don't wanna do anything to make your folks not like me."

"Don't worry, they like you...a lot, and so do I."

"Thanks, I like all of you too, especially you," I said sincerely, "no kid in any foster home has ever treated me as good as you."

"We're alike in some ways," Joe said looking thoughtful, "you have your handicap, being an orphan, and I have mine, my leg. We make a good pair, don't you think?"

"I never thought of being an orphan that way, but I guess you're right. Anyway, thanks for being so nice to me. It means a lot to me."

"You're nice too," Joe said, and suddenly he rolled over and kissed me on the cheek.

"Hey, what was that for?" I giggled.

"Cause I really, really like you."

"What do you, umm...mean?"

"Nothing bad," Joe said sounding hurt, then rolling onto his back again he sighed, "I'm messing things up, aren't I?"

"No,'re not messing anything up," I said rolling over to face him and placing an arm around him.

Suddenly, Joe turned tear-stained eyes to me and smiled sadly. "If you knew about me you might not like me anymore."

"That's crazy, what could be so bad that I wouldn't like you any more?"

"I can't help it, it's just how I am..." he sobbed, "I like boys, that's what. I don't like dumb old girls at all that way, but I really like boys, and I really like you that way."

"What do you mean?" I said dumbly, but I knew exactly what he meant, cause I felt that way too.

"I'm gay, a fag..." Joe sobbed, "and now you're gonna...gonna...hate me," he said burying his head in his hands.

"No, I don't hate you. Nothing has changed," I assured him as I pulled him into a hug. "I know what you're feeling...cause I feel that way too. I mean, I don't know how I feel about you exactly, but I have to admit, I like you a lot, way more than any boy I've ever known. But your folks would probably toss me out of here on my ear if they knew I liked boys that way, especially if they thought I felt that way about you."

"Nah, they wouldn't. They know about me, and they're fine with it. They want me to be happy, that's all."

I sighed, "What are you saying? Are you saying they'd be okay if, messed around?" I said, feeling a little excited at the prospect, despite my fears.

"Sure, why not? We're not hurting anyone," Joe said wiping at his eyes.

"Wow, do you think they...they brought me here just for that?" I stammered.

"No, silly. Course not. They been talking about fostering a kid for a while now, and eventually they want to adopt. See, mom can't have any more kids, and they both want more, so...they wanna adopt."

Wow, they want to adopt a kid. Me me me! I mentally cheered. But if that's true then it was important I be on my best behavior, and that included keeping my hands off their son.

"I should go back to my bed now," I said suddenly.

"No, please don't," Joe begged, "I just want you close to me. I get so lonely sometimes."

Joe's heartfelt plea had me teetering, and I finally decided to lay with him for a while, then slip away when he finally fell asleep.

"Okay, for a while," I agreed.

"Thank you," Joe said snuggling up to me and sighing.

I had to admit, it felt really nice having Joe snuggled up to me, and despite my misgivings I began to relax, and before I knew it, I was sleeping soundly.

Morning came to find me spooned up against Joe, who was snoring softly. He felt warm and soft against me, and my morning wood pressing against his perky butt really felt nice. I was just considering unwinding myself from him and going to pee, when the door suddenly opened, and in stepped Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.

"Good morning boys," Mike said chuckling, "I see you two are getting along just fine."

"Better than fine," Mrs. Wilson said grinning, "I think we've finally found Joe a new brother."

And that's how this orphan boy found a home, and a boyfriend.

Thanks to my editor Michael in New York for help with editing, story ideas, pics, and most of all: for his encouragement in all my endeavors.

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