From Hell To Aunt Marge's

Chapter 6

I remained silent, motionless for probably a couple of minutes trying to believe and digest Aunt Marge's statement. She did say adopt? But where were they going to find someone that would want me? Who is gonna want a sawed off ex-con, especially one as ugly as me? I asked myself. The first time I open my mouth they'll turn away in disgust. Wait, kids get adopted out of orphan's homes and stuff, that's what happens on TV! Maybe I'll get to go to one of them instead of Juvi! Maybe Roy, and even Regan and Val can get to visit me! I felt a little better, no green zuke suits, hopefully no more Spring Ridge, Uncle Walter is going to help me! All I had to do was figure out how to get this stuff out of my mouth.

"Where are you gonna put me til, well they find someone?" I tried to say, but more slurred. "Well, and maybe if I didn't have all this stuff it would be better too, so I'm not so ugly." I added pointing at my mouth.

"No Tommy, we are not going to put you up for adoption, we are..." she began, but hesitated. She cupped my chin and turned my head to look into her face. "Listen very closely." she instructed. "I want to become your new mother, and for you to become my son. Walter wants to become your father, and Roy is going to be your brother."

Roy? I gasp. Roy and me, me brothers? Just the thought was almost too much to handle.

"And Tommy, you are not ugly, you are one of the most beautiful boys I have ever laid eyes on. And I think your braces look cute!" I knew I was losing it when she flashed one her rare smiles, kissed my forehead, and pulled me against her breast.

I was too far out of it to resist when she helped me up and escorted me down the sidewalk to a nearby café. She guided me to their restrooms and sent me in to wash my face. It did feel good, I even risk a long glance into the mirror and tried a couple of tight grins. If I didn't talk, and never smiled my teeth didn't look too bad, well for a metal mouthed geek they didn't. A couple of different angles convinced me if I never opened my mouth again everyone would just think I'm part Chipmunk.

The tall glass of soda she had waiting for me helped quite a bit, and although I didn't believe what I had heard on the bench, I felt fairly good with myself by the time we were ready to leave.

That lasted until we stepped outside and I saw the uniform shop. A million ideas flashed through my head as excuses to get out of what lay ahead, until I glanced at her big Navigator and I remembered the monstrous horse bridle waiting for me. Wow, I wonder if they steal cars around here? I thought. Yeah, if someone stole it while we are in the store, with my headgear is inside, yeah! Maybe a horse rustler will ride by, see my bridle, and steal it! I knew the odds were stacked against me, but at least there was a ray of hope.

As usual Lady Luck was not on my side, and the big SUV was waiting for us when we wrestled the sacks full my puke green uniforms out of the store. After we loaded everything into the back hatch and climbed into the cabin I was sure she wasn't on my side when I saw the headgear right where I left it. Aunt Marge didn't say anything about me having to put it on, and I wasn't about to volunteer.

* * *

As soon as we turned up the driveway a huge barbeque pit mounted on a trailer caught my eye. As soon as I climbed out the truck the wonderful aroma of the smoke billowing out of it had my full attention, my new braces had made my mouth water a little, but now it was flowing like a river. I barely heard my aunt tell me to take my bags inside as she rushed over to talk to a man standing next to the pit.

Hey, that might work! I thought as I picked up a couple of the sacks. I glanced back at my aunt and stuffed my bridle in the bottom of one of them, and rushed upstairs laden with my cargo. She's gonna get so busy she's gonna forget all about it! I reassured myself.

The backyard was a flurry of activity when I came back downstairs. People were setting up tables, hanging balloons and decorations all over the place and filling buckets with ice and cans. Aunt Marge had found her way to the backyard and was walking next to Alexis, pointing and barking instructions like a construction foreman. I didn't realize my uncle was home until I felt his big hand cup my shoulder. When I looked up I unthinkingly flashed him a smile until I remembered I can't do that anymore.

"Mister Arthur was here earlier, and left you a couple of assignments for this afternoon, and the weekend." he informed me. Maybe he didn't notice, he don't know! I prayed when I realized his face was relaxed and normal, he wasn't even staring. "He loaded some of them on your computer, and left instructions and the rest of them on your desk. Why don't you go change clothes, you can work out by the pool if you want."

Go change? Into what? I silently moaned, knowing the answer. "Maybe can I wear some speedos, and swim some to?" I risked, hoping against hope.

"Of course, just allow enough time to complete your studies." he smiled.

"And you must wear a shirt, we have workers here." Aunt Marge's voice chimed in from the patio door. "It's going to be warm this afternoon, why don't you wear one of those cut off ones, it will be more comfortable."

Although I wasn't sure I heard what I heard I hooted "Thanks!" You HAVE to quit doing that! I scolded myself when I realized I had flashed them a big smile. The urge to smile quickly went away quickly when she called after me, "And put your headgear on."

What Arthur had left didn't seem too terrible, I had to read a couple of stories and answer some questions about them on my computer, and over the weekend I had to read some science stuff and define a bunch of words. Even though it had been a long time I figured it would take an hour or two today, and a couple more over the weekend.

I had to think for a minute as I looked at my speedos, wondering what Roy would choose. I was tempted to put on my magic blue checkmarks, but decided to wait until at least Roy was around to enjoy them with. I found a pair that looked really neat, they were medium blue but had a red triangular piece of cloth covering my groin set off with gold strips. The light blue sleeveless shirt with red trim on around the neck and arm openings seemed like a good choice, and when I pulled it on and it ended just below my nipples I decided I WAS going to wear it, match or not.

Oh well, I groaned when my headgear was still in the bottom the bag I had hidden it in, and after a few tries hooked myself into it. God, this cannot be real! I moaned when I looked in the mirror, I had more stuff wrapped around my head than Val and Regan combined. I tried adjusting my hair a few times trying to hide as much as I could, but no luck. Shit, my hair even spotlights all this stuff! I thought, my golden blond hair made it impossible for anyone to miss the dark blue straps imprisoning it. Whatever, maybe it matches my clothes a little, maybe Aunt Marge won't yell me out too bad. I tried to reassure myself.

I didn't snap about all the strangers at the house that were going to get to enjoy staring at me until I looked toward the patio door and saw the dozen or so workers outside waiting to get a good gawk at me. I was trying to decide if I could get away with hiding in the new classroom or my bedroom for the next couple of years or so when Alexis dropped still another bombshell on me.

"Senator Benton would like to speak to you before you begin your lessons, he is waiting for you in his study." she informed me. "You may leave your materials here, and be sure to knock." she continued as she took my little computer and papers away from me.

I'm dead, Aunt Marge told him what I said. Well, maybe not, maybe he's gonna send me to one of those orphans places. I tried to convince myself when I turned to the closed door - Suddenly it looked like a wood stained version of my cell door back in D Wing. I tried a couple of times but couldn't do it, and Alexis knocked on it for me. I was too paralyzed with fear to resist when she shoved me into the study and closed the door behind me.

"Hi Tommy, please come and sit down!" Uncle Walter beamed. When I didn't move he walked over, picked me up and deposited me on his big leather couch, and sat down next to me. "Margie told me of your conversation earlier, and is very worried about you." he began.

I knew I was gonna get killed, here it comes. I told myself. "I'm sorry sir, I, uh I..." I couldn't think of how to finish. The room fell silent for what seemed like forever.

"Margie, your Aunt Margie, is sure you didn't believe her. I know you are still having trouble trusting, believing adults when they make promises to you, but..."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be bad or stuff!" I blurted. I knew I had totally screwed up when I felt his hand tighten around my shoulder, but he didn't crush it like I expected he would. "I'm sorry sir, but..."

"It isn't polite to interrupt someone when they are speaking, I think you know that don't you." he cut me off. His voice wasn't too angry, but told me I just screwed up any hope of getting his help. "Have I ever told you something that isn't true, made a promise to you that didn't happen?" I tried to answer but his shoes, the only thing I dared look at, told me not to bother. "If I tell you what is going on, what is going to happen in the future, will you try to believe me, please?"

I was about to agree, to go for broke, until someone knocked on the door. Yeah whatever, tell me what you wanta! I decided as I snapped that it was the cops outside in the den, that I was a goner. I considered bolting and trying to make it upstairs and rescue Roy's pictures to take with me, but his grip on my shoulder told me not to bother trying. I couldn't began to figure out what was going on when he didn't tell them to come on and drag me away.

"I want to adopt you, I want you to be my son, just like Roy!" he declared, his voice as strong as I think I have heard it. "It won't be easy, it might take an act of God or two, but I can make it happen, I promise I can. If you will just give me a chance."

Something in his tone made me risk a quick look at his face, and it scared me even more when I did. His face was drawn tight like a hundred-year-old man, and the fire hose veins in his forehead were about to explode. I almost wanted to believe him, but just couldn't. When I remembered the cops waiting outside I told myself to quit dreaming, he was setting me up like everyone else. I fought off the urge to vomit when what he was really saying started to sink in, he wanted to keep me around to enjoy my body. They stuck all this stuff in my mouth so it works better? I wondered.

"What do you want with me? I can be your boy maybe, but not your son or stuff! That's stupid, I can't be a good boy like Roy or stuff, I can't do all the stuff they do!" I took a deep breath, and decided to get it over with. "I'm a street kid, trash, but I'm not gonna do that dirty stuff no more, not even for you! Just tell the cops in and let's get it done!" I barked. Oh well, its all over now! I thought.

"I don't want to adopt you and make you be like Roy, or Val or any of the other boys here, I want to adopt you because I love you. Roy, Val, Regan and each and every boy here is are unique, so are you! I love you because you are Tommy, and that is what I want you to keep being,"

Yeah, that's why you called them to take me away. I thought. I took a deep breath, and decided to get it over with. "Yeah, you love me so much you called the cops?" I pulled out of his cuddle and added, "Just tell them to come and take me away, I won't fight or nothing."

"As you wish." he groaned. "Come in." he boomed over his shoulder.

'Tilt!' flashed across my vision when Doctor Frost walked into the study instead of the cops, I felt my mouth drop open as he walked across the room and no one came in behind him. I felt my face flush as he slowly looked me over.

"How many stations can you get on that thing?" he chuckled. His smile widened before he added, "Can you get TV stations, or just radio?"

My face reddened so much I thought it had caught fire as I threw my hands over my facebow. As embarrassed as I felt, I was also shocked that the first round of being tormented as a tin grin was coming from a Doctor, from the man that was suppose to be my shrink. "Doctor Frost!" I shrieked. "I'm gonna hit you!" I blurted out before I realized it.

"I'm teasing, I couldn't resist picking on you." he chuckled. "Are you going swimming?" he asked my bare thigh more than me. "Well, wading" he snickered at what I was sure was my headgear. "I bet the water would feel good! Hint, hint, Walter!" he quipped.

"You guys go ahead, I have some work to finish and I might join you" my uncle replied. "Do you need a suit?"

I wondered a little what was going on, had he given up on me, but escaping the tension that had filled the room before Frost arrived, and the idea of hitting the water sounded too good to screw up. At first I thought things were going to go from bad to worse when Doctor Frost peeled off his shirt then his Bermuda shorts, until I noticed he was wearing some loose fitting swimming trunks underneath. Well, I'll take teasing over lectures any day! I decided.

I started to reach up and undo the harness wrapped around my head but hesitated. "Um, can I, ah.." I whined.

"I think Margie would like you to keep it on for awhile." Uncle Walter answered.

"If you wear it now, you won't have to as much tonight, during your party." the doctor added. What, he even knows about the party? Well, if there still is a party. I thought.

He was really nice, his casual self, as we splashed around the shallow end for a few minutes. I half expected him to start on some kind of shrink session, but he really seemed like he was there just to have a good time.

"Can I show you something? What is my favorite part of Walter's pool?" he asked. I guess my shoulder shrug was enough for him and he walked over the the kiddy pool area. "Sit in front of a couple of those jets, they feel fantastic!" he instructed as he sat down and leaned back. I decided to sit a few feet away from him, but it looked too good to refuse.

Even though I could feel about half of the catering workers staring at me, or my bridle, and I couldn't help but wonder if I was somehow being set up, I felt myself relaxing right after I leaned against the pool wall. Probably some from the water jets seemingly washing away all of today's stressful events, and some from Doctor Frost's friendly, cheerful presence, but soon I felt a little relaxed. When Alexis sat a tall drink glass on the pool rim next to each of us I wondered if I wasn't on the way to heaven.

The next thing I knew Frost and I were joking and enjoying each other's companionship, it almost felt like it was Roy and I were sitting in the water chatting. He asked a couple of questions about my visits to Saint Luke's, but just in passing. He even joked about a few things when I told him a little about how nervous, freaked I felt, but not knocking me or anything. At first I thought I might have screwed up when, without realizing it, I told him about how we conned Uncle Walter into letting Val and Regan spend the night, but he thought it was funny!

Here it comes, I groaned when he said, "It sounds like you are building a fantastic life for yourself. Why don't you want to stay in it, to let Margie and Walter adopt you?" I stared at my toes for I don't know long before he added, "I think you know me well enough to know I don't bite, please talk to me."

Yeah well, let's get it over with. I decided. "I can't live here, I can't be like them and stuff!" I exclaimed. "I can't be a rich kid and stuff, and everyone knows I'm a street kid and a convict and everything, and they know I'm a freak and no one likes me or nothing."

He was silent for probably a full minute, then said, "Well thanks for explaining it to me." before he turned away and picked up his glass. Wow, he believes me, maybe he's gonna help me! I prayed.

"I'm sure you are right, and I'll do anything I can to support you." he said. "But, there are a couple of things I don't understand, maybe you can explain them to me. If no one likes you, why are there four boys competing for your attention, your affection? That are trying to become your boyfriend.

"Why are the kids at Saint Luke's scrambling to get invited to the party being given in your honor. My son and his friends are seventh graders, but are driving me crazy bugging me to get them invitations."

I felt gears grind in my brain as I tried to think of an answer, until the reality of what he had said sunk in. "They know you're my shrink?" I whined. God, it's worse than I thought! "I mean that you're my..."

"The only people that know you are seeing me is Roy and his parents. They know Walter and I are friends, and word has spread around school about how, 'cool' you are."

"Well, but, they know I was in prison and stuff!" I tried .

"They know you are from a culture different than theirs. I think a lot of them know you went through some horrible experiences, and survived something they are sure they wouldn't be able to."

I risk a couple of glances at his face as I tried to think a way to dispute him. "But, if that's what you want, I'll support you." he stated. "I am going to go talk to Walter, but before I do, are you going to tell Roy, or just disappear? Either way it is going to destroy him, I'm probably going to have to move him somewhere where he can't try to kill himself again."

Roy I gasped. What seemed like a river of tears ran down my cheeks as I digested what he just said. "But, but they keep doing all this stuff for me and I can't pay them back or nothing! The only thing I got Uncle Walter don't want!" came out before I realized it.

"Tommy, the first time you call Walter Dad, or Margie Mom you will have paid them back a thousand times." He paused briefly and chuckled, "Well, calling Margie Mom might take some work, but..."

He stood up and offered his hand out instead of finishing. "What do you want to do, go tell your uncle goodbye, or your new dad hello?"

* * *

I couldn't shake my somber mood as the afternoon wore on. I wasn't completely comfortable with the deal Doctor Frost brokered for me, but knew there was nothing to be done about it. As it got closer to the time Roy was due home I felt a tinge of excitement over seeing him again, but a little nervous, my tin grin mouth was about to go on public display. Well, at least no one has to see me in YOU! I told my bridle when the appointed hour arrived and I stripped myself out of it. Yeah, everything is close to normal! I told myself a minute or so later when Aunt Marge began primping my hair and ponytail.

My mood changed instantly when I heard the garage door open and Roy's excited giggle. A split second later he slammed against me and pulled me into a tight hug. "Yeah, this is going to be too cool!" he hooted. He kissed my neck and continued, "Come on we have to check it out!"

As soon as I felt his hand wrap around my bare waist and squeeze my hip I decided I didn't have a care in the world and let him guide me toward the patio door. His 'Wow' gasp was really an understatement when we stepped outside. The caterers had been busy since I went inside, the entire yard looked like a fantasy land; decorations and balloons were everywhere, so were tables of food and drinks. We only made it a few feet before a lady stuck a tray full of crackers with different meats, little sausages and cheese in front of us, next to her was a younger man offering out some tall glasses of soda.

"YEAH! This is going to be the party of the century!" Roy hooted between bites. "Mom let me give out twenty more invitations, there's going to be over a hundred people here, no one at school has EVER had a party that big!" almost made me gag on my snack.

"Ouch! Please don't do that again, you'll blind me! Come on, we have to go change!" he giggled. When I saw is impish grin I knew I was dead meat, and it would be a long teasing death, but when I saw his lime green bubble butt bouncing across the patio toward the door I darted after it, well or him.

"Let'me see!" he grinned as soon as we reached his bedroom. Here it comes, I groaned, but pulled my lips back and tried to smile. "Wow, they stuck more stuff on you than Val or Regan have, that's more than most kids at school have!" he proclaimed. I felt my face flush bright red, and thought, Gee, thanks! but before I could turn away he continued, "I just hope everything still works!" and pulled me into a kiss.

I moaned a little when his tongue began exploring my slightly sore teeth, but pushed my mouth even more tightly into his when I felt his hand slip inside my speedos and cup my bum. I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or die as I grasp the back of his head and pulled his mouth even more tightly into mine.

"Yeah, they didn't hurt anything!" he announced an eternity later when we broke our kiss. "But, we have to get ready for the party." I guess on automatic I sealed my lips back over his and pulled him against me. I tried to fight him a minute or so later when he pulled his head back and turn it to the side until he whispered, "We have to get in the shower."

And what a shower it was! He seemingly scrubbed every inch of my body and hair three or four times with his long thin fingers, and I thought my boyhood was going to explode when I lathered his perfect little body and he began moaning and squirming against me. I tried to protest when he turned the water off, but my lungs refused to work, all of my brain bandwidth was in my crotch.

'Get dressed'? Flashed into my mind as I followed his tight little butt into the Blue room. Aunt Marge's party, for a hundred people, do I gotta wear both my dress suits, a couple of hangman's ties? I groaned. Oh shit, not those! I prayed as I remembered the Saint Puke green uniforms she bought for me earlier.

I had to blink a few times to be sure my eyes were working when he tossed the top, then the bottom of my magic 'checkmark' swimsuit, but dove into them. My skin started to tingle with excitement as I pulled the stretch material up my thighs and squirmed them over my hips. I was sure my entire groin was about to burst into flame when I stuffed my rock hard boyhood under the checkmark's thick embroidery thread and the zillion little fingers rubbed against my tool. My nipples were sticking out like mountain peaks as I slid my top over them.

Oh well, I thought when a pair of white walking shorts, then a collared tee-shirt and pair of sandals landed next to them, but climbed into them. Except for being pure white the shorts weren't too bad, they were fairly tight fitting tennis shorts of sorts, and only covered about an inch of my upper thighs. When I turned to pick up the shirt and they pushed my speedo's back checkmark I decided I liked them much, much more than I thought I would. The shirt wasn't too bad either. It was white, but had a light red, almost pink collar and buttons for the short neck opening, but stopped right at the waistband of my shorts and felt really neat when I moved and air circulated under it.

I was a little surprised, but not very much when I stepped into Roy's room, he was dressed identical to me. Whatever, I hope we don't look too dumb or stuff. I thought, until he bent over to put his sandals on. Yeah, this will work! I decided when the checkmark on the back of his trunks peeked through his tennis shorts and winked at me. When he straightened up and his tight, well tanned waist flashed me a grin between his shorts and shirt I tried to convince myself it was my new braces that made my mouth water, but had to wipe my lips before I drooled on my clean clothes. His happy face and bright smile made me wish my forearm was equipped with a built in handkerchief.

After Aunt Marge spent a minute or so, that felt like an hour or so inspecting our attire I thought I saw a hint of a smile interrupt her natural snarl. She was in the middle of redoing my bangs for the third or fourth time when the garage door burst open.

"Dude! Check it out! The music guy is here and..." Val's high pitched voice shrieked. "Oh, uh, hi Mrs. Benton, ma'am." his now whimpering voice cracked.

"Hi Ma'am." Regan whined.

When I looked in their direction they were standing motionless in the middle of the room. "Go welcome your guests." my aunt whispered. "Good afternoon boys." she growled, and disappeared into the kitchen.

I don't know who made up the dress-code everyone follows, but I'm starting to like it! I decided as I looked them over. Except for the color, they were wearing shorts that looked almost exactly like ours, especially how they were cut. Val's shorts were pale blue and he had on a tailored white polo shirt with a collar that perfectly matched his shorts, and showed off his lanky body perfectly. Regan's maroon shorts were even tighter fitting than ours, and cut about a half inch higher showing off his deliciously tanned thighs so perfectly I wondered if some chef at one of Aunt Marge's fancy restaurants hadn't chosen them. His tight fitting yellowish gold shirt with red collar and neck opening said he clearly was the main course.

"Did he get them? Did you get them?" Regan asked. Before I would ask what they both rushed over and hugged me. Val let out a soft giggle as he cupped my butt. When I ran my hands across each of theirs and found what I hoped I would what and my boyhood throbbed what felt like a million little electric charges flashed into it.

"Yeah, they did!" Val hooted I'm sure from my mouth dropping open.

"Well, it's cool, he really is one of us now." Regan all but groaned.

"Yeah! Now pay up!" Roy demanded, and thrust his hand out to our friends.

Regan let out another groan, squirmed around and pulled his wad of money out of his pocket and peeled off two twenty-dollar bills, one for Val and one for Roy. I had no idea what was going on, but just shrugged when the asked me to show them my chrome teeth. I was really lost when Regan, then handed Roy two more twenty's and one to Val. Val grumbled something and handed his to Roy.

"Yeah, oh yeah!" Roy exclaimed and flashed one of his better impish grins. "I'm going to make almost two-hundred bucks tonight!" he added as he kissed my cheek. I guess seeing my lost face he added, "We bet if you were going to get braces or not, and I won!"

"Yeah, and if you got the metal or clear ones, and I lost my ass." Regan added. "But wait, did you get a headgear?" he all but pleaded.

Gulp! What to do? my brain asked. "A, a what? What's that?" I lied.

They stared at me for an instant before Regan answered, "You know, like what Van and I have to..."

"Hi guys!" Uncle Walter's voice cut him off. "Our other guests should begin arriving shortly. Val, Regan would you mind taking your bags upstairs before they do? Tommy and Roy, I see that the disk jockey is setting up his equipment by the pool, please go make sure he sets it up as you want it." As soon as Val and Regan grabbed their small backpacks and rushed upstairs he flashed me a thin smile and a subtle thumbs up before going back into his study.

* * *

Uncle Walter was right, a few minutes that seemed like seconds to me later, the house, then the yard became a hive of activity. One of what I thought was the caterers, now wearing formal trousers, a stiffly starched white shirt that made my skin crawl to look at it and a black bow tie became the doorman, letting in what seemed like throngs of kids. Most of them were boys about our age, a few of their faces I recognized from Roy's swim team. Several of them were escorting girls with them, and some of the others almost look like they were boy/boy couples. Everyone seemed to adhere to their Preppie Dress-Code, the girls in short, summery dresses and the boys all in polo shirts and well fitting shorts.

I fought back the urge to run upstairs, or burst into my uncle's study and tell Doctor Frost I changed my mind when I had to follow Roy around and greet everyone, but Roy, Val and Regan's quick hugs and body bounces off mine, and I guess the thousand or so waiters offering trays of totally yummy munchies told me to chill. I groaned again when a lot of the guests stripped out of their clothes down to swimming trunks and dove into the pool, but stayed with Roy playing greeter.

I even started to feel a little proud of myself after a few minutes. I was fairly sure I hadn't done anything too stupid, and hadn't smiled and revealed my latest dark secret, or no one had noticed. The pool was quickly filling, a lot of the boys wearing speedos the rest in fairly tight fitting swim trunks, all the girls in two piece suits some of them bikini style. This might not be too bad! IF we ever get to swim! I decided as I surveyed the sea of tight bodies and boy butts bouncing around.

We were milling near the patio door greeting still more guests (I was sure I had been introduced to at least a million new kids by then) when an eerie feeling fell across the backyard - it wasn't a silence, or anything I could really describe, but zapped into my mind. I felt my stomach tighten into a knot when I saw Don standing at the patio door. His ashen color and scared expression, all but saying he was waiting for his doom to come as I had done so many countless times, made me fight to keep from vomiting.

"I'm sorry, but I had to invite him because he's on the Swim Team." Roy whispered.

"I don't believe he was stupid enough to come!" Val hissed. "Just ignore him, he'll go away. No one wants him around."

When he glanced at us and turned back to the door I had to grab my throat to keep the mass of bile rushing out of my stomach from splashing out of my mouth. Every instinct I had told me this kid was just as much a bully as all the others that used to enjoy beating me up and worse, that he could and probably would pound me into the ground like a stake, but my legs decided to walk toward him.

"Tommy, he's a loser, ignore him and he'll go home!" Roy's whisper rang into one ear.

"Don't fight him now, please?" Regan chimed in. Fight him? He's gonna KILL me, there ain't gonna no fight, I don't even know how! I silently groaned.

"Hi." I managed to get out. Don flashed a frightened glance a response. "Um, do you want something to drink or stuff?" I managed a few deep breaths later. Wow, this place can't be real! I thought an instant later when a waiter held out a tray of cups between us.

Don then I picked up a cup and he took a sip, but didn't move. Even though I was quite a bit shorter then he was, he kept his head lowered as if looking at my sandals. When a tray of snacks appeared between us I unthinkingly suggested he try the 'little baby wienies' which earned a soft giggle that sounded like Roy's.

"You wanta swim or stuff?" I asked. "I gotta stand around and tell everyone hi, but I'll be there soon." I said. "I hope!" I said over my shoulder.

He raised his head and looked at my face for an instant. "You mean, uh, well you swim with me, some?" he whimpered.

"Yeah, that would be cool!" I answered. Oh shit, I did it! It's all over! I groaned when I realized I had smiled.

"Cool!" he hooted, and took off for the pool.

Oh great, what now? I asked myself a few minutes later when Roy went inside and motioned for us to follow him. One of Miss Piggy's cops standing in the kitchen talking to Alexis gave me quite a start, but, except for the doorman, the rest of the house was empty. I waited until we were upstairs before asking Roy what was going on, and where were his parents.

"All the adults are hiding in Dad's study, they always do. They only come out once or twice, to say hi."

Before I could ask anything else everyone began peeling off their shirts, then shorts. Yeah, that'll work! my eyes decided when silver checkmarks began appearing everywhere. My boyhood chimed in its agreement as the million threads of embroidery pushed into it. I was sure my rock hard shaft was going to rip the stretch cloth imprisoning it and knock me over when Roy and Val wrapped the arms around my shoulders and pulled me between them, but when Roy slipped a couple of fingers under the thin band of fabric going around the side of my hip I thought my entire groin was going to explode.

Several catcalls, hoots and a little applause greeted us when the four of us stepped onto the patio, but everyone quickly went back to what they were doing. I felt a few pair of eyes follow me as I walked toward the pool, but they seemed to be glued to my body instead of my teeth. I was a little disappointed when Roy and the others squirmed out of the skintight tops, but followed suit anxious to get in the water.

It didn't take long for me to relax and join in everyone's festive mood. Although I only knew the name of a half dozen or so of the kids I was playing with I somehow felt like I had known them all my life. A few splash-fights and games of water-tag later my sides began to hurt from laughing and giggling so much. My body started complaining a little while later, but the body-tag games some of us started playing convinced it that it would have to keep going, rest would come later, Well sometime later, but you're GONNA keep working! I told it when two or three lithe bodies bounced off of mine.

The party changed moods somewhat as the sun slipped below the horizon and dusk settled in. The caterers began offering everyone weird little sandwiches, cut into four pieces instead of two, and little bowls of chips, salad and veggies. A few couples, some boy/girl and some boy/boy slipped away into the back areas of the yard. Some of boys with dates started dancing on the patio; I felt my eyes bug when two or three boy/boy couples joined them, but no one else seemed to notice.

I was chomping on my tenth or so little sandwiches when a girl about my age sat down next to me. "Isn't your mouth too sore to eat that?" she bubbled. I was so interested in my treat I didn't really snap what she was talking about. "Your new braces don't hurt yet?" she asked.

A surge of panic rushed through my body when I realized what she had asked, what she must have seen, and I threw my hands over my mouth. "You, you saw them?" I gasped before I realized it.

"Everyone's seen them! I don't think you quit smiling all the time you were in the water!" she giggled. She flashed me a wide smile that almost blinded me even in the evening's dim light and added, "But I was at the Orthodontist office this morning when you got them! When I heard your name I had to see if you were as cute as everyone says! Oh, you are!" When she planted a kiss on my nose I felt my heart stop, but the sight of another tray of little sandwiches coming into my reach somehow restarted it.

I was kicking back in one of the loungers wondering if I had room for anymore ice cream a few when my skimpy little shirt landed in my lap.

"The grownups are coming." Roy's voice whispered. "It's chilled and everything, my dad's going to say a few things and stuff is all." he told me as he redid my ponytail. "He's a politician so he talks forever, just stand there and try not to look bored."

"Yeah, I hope my mom don't talk too, it takes her an hour to say hi!" Val's voice quipped. Oh wow, I thought as I slipped my top over my shoulders. But, hey, it could be worse! I decided as I felt its skin tight spandex vibrate on my skin, and the little checkmark cup my left nipple.

I didn't have to wait long to find out what they were talking about, my aunt and uncle, then Miss Piggy and Doctor Frost stepped onto the patio a minute or so later. An instant later the music stopped, the pool cleared and everyone gathered into a loose group facing the adults. What, they got a program or stuff? I asked myself.

"Good evening, welcome to our home, and thank you so much for coming." Uncle Walter began. At the same time Roy stuffed me between himself and his mother and Val fell into formation next to his mother as did a short redheaded kid next to Frost.

"Please join me in welcoming our honored guests and good friends of my family, the most Honorable Mrs Wanda Clarke, the Lieutenant Governor of our great state, and Doctor Charles Frost, thank you for accepting our invitation." I wanted to die, but the groaning faces of most of the kids staring at us as they politely clapped their hands told me they wanted my uncle to go before I did.

"Also, Trey Anspaw, President of the Saint Luke's Middle School Student Council, along with the Saint Luke's Swim Team Captain Sterling Sherrill, we are honored to have you as a guest in our home." Two of the boys I had been playing with blushed as another soft round of claps sounded. Oh God, there's a hundred people here, is he gonna name all of them? I groaned. Roy's elbow nudging my upper arm told me to chill.

"When we planned this celebration we intended it to welcome my, informal, foster nephew into our household. But just this afternoon those circumstances changed." made Roy grab my hand, and several kids around the yard gasp. I felt a big hand cup my shoulder before he continued, "Earlier today, Tommy agreed to allow us to adopt him, so instead we would like you to join us in welcoming my new son home."

I lowered my head as a hush fell over the yard, but I heard what I was pretty sure was several dozen jaws drop agape. Roy squeezed my hand and mumbled something I couldn't understand. A second or so later he let go of my hand, but didn't lose our body contact as he turned around.

"D-Dad?" he stammered. "Mom, Dad, you mean it? You really mean it?" he asked, his voice was so soprano it hurt my ears. "Tommy? Yeah, too cool!" he streaked as he pulled me into a bone crushing hug and an ear piercing round of applause echoed off the house's wall.

The next thing I knew we were being mobbed with hugs and backslaps. Just when I thought I was about to be killed the mob formed into a loose line and we spent the next I'm not sure how long getting handshakes, high-fives and a few cheek kisses from some of the girls. I received so many tight, almost bear hugs by the time everyone had filed past us I was sure I was a couple of inches thinner, and maybe a little taller.

Just when I thought it was going to be over, maybe I could go hide in the pool or somewhere, what seemed like an army of waiters began passing out really fancy looking long stem glasses about one-fourth full of some amber colored liquid. I had no idea what it was, but when I started to drink mine the million little bubbles attacking my nose. Roy stopped me before I could taste it.

I had no idea how anyone that was more than a few feet away heard it, but Aunt Marge tapping on her glass with a table knife silenced the yard as quickly as if an eight-hundred pound guard had barked 'Everyone on the deck, do it NOW!'

"Sorry kids but no refills, this is 1964 vintage, and the old people and I intend to share the rest of the bottle." Uncle Walter snickered "I would like to thank Governor Clarke for supplying the crystal-wear. You might have noticed your glass is embossed with the seal of her office." I tried to figure out what he had just said, but noticed a really official looking emblem scratched on my glass.

"Thank you Senator, and I would be honored if each of you would accept your glass as a memoir of this occasion." Miss Piggy boomed.

"If I may, I would like to propose a toast." Uncle Walter continued as he held his glass up. "To my new son, the soon to be Master Thomas M. Benton!" he proclaimed.

Most of the kids grunted something I couldn't understand and took a sip of their drink. I started to, but someone grabbed my elbow from behind before I could. "Say something!" Val whispered into my ear.

"Quick, anything!" Roy's voice hissing into the other ear made my stomach bounce off my throat. "Right now!" made it sink deep into my groin.

"Ah..." I somehow managed.

"Here Here!" Roy hooted, and everyone downed the rest of their drink.

"Drink!" Val's cracking voice rang into my spinning head.

I didn't argue and drained my glass in one swallow. It didn't take but an instant to realize how badly I had screwed up, my nose filled with bubbles and my stomach called me every curse word ever written. A split second later my brain chimed in with its objections. My head was still spinning like a top a minute or so later when people began jumping back in the pool, but what I'm sure was survival instinct ordered my legs to dart over and jump in with them.

* * *

It was almost as if a telepathic signal ended the party a couple of hours later and the vast majority of kids got dressed at the same time. Ten minutes, and what had to be a million hugs and back slaps later my three checkmarked friends and eight or ten other boys that I was sure were swim team members were the only ones left on the patio, excepting the caterers that were rushing about cleaning up.

"Roy, your mother asked me to turn off the pool lights." Alexis' voice rang from the door. He groaned an 'Okay' before she continued, "And, she suggests everyone get out of your wet trunks before you catch a chill.

"Also, she asked me to remind several of you to put on your night appliances." caused a louder moan. Her words slapped me like a sucker punch as a her order sank in. I guess all the fun and seemingly acceptance I had enjoyed during the party reassured me enough to follow everyone inside. Hey, just a few kids get to laugh at me, well for tonight. I tried to reassure myself as I shuffled behind everyone toward the stairs.

"Tommy, may I speak to you briefly before you go upstairs?" Aunt Marge barked, making everyone freeze in mid step. A collective swallow so loud that it ricocheted off the stairwell answered for me. A glance around told me there was no escape, and I turned to face my fate. I felt a little better when Roy pushed against my side until she continued, "Alone, Please! Roy, Alexis set out a some snacks for your guests, why don't you take them upstairs. Val, Regan, would you mind helping"

Roy's farewell grimace told me everything was over, I was history, but I slithered into my uncle's study.

I felt a tinge of hope when Miss Piggy sat a small sack on Uncle Walter's desk, and Doctor Frost said, "There you are, we fulfilled our end of the bargain!"

I tried to answer, but the red headed boy that had lined up next to Doctor Frost earlier distracted me, my mouth watered a little when I saw him in the brighter light. I found it hard to believe, but he was a little shorter than I, and just as thin. He was strapped into a headgear that had to be as massive as the one I had been fitted this morning. I remembered him in the pool earlier and noticing his lithe body, beautiful face and seemingly half blond, half red hair - instead of being red or blond it seemed every other strand was blond then red, like they highlighted each other's color. His tight little body, and the button hook nose centering his cute face made him eye candy. I was afraid to look, but prayed the checkmark across my crotch wasn't sticking out more than a foot or so.

"Here is what you asked for, if my son or Regan ever find out I'm in on this they will kill me." Miss Piggy bubbled. It wasn't until I peeked in the sack that I began to remember my little plot.

"Ah, thank you ma'am." I managed. I glanced around the room, trying to keep my eyes from locking on the little carrot top and at the same time wondering what was going to happen next.

"Can I , um well..." I stammered.

"Go have your fun Son." my uncle chuckled. "We'll see you in the morning."

"But, whatever you have in mind don't dally, if one of comes up to check I will expect you to be in your appliance." my aunt added.

"Thank you for letting me come to your party Tommy. It was really neat to meet you!" the little angel sang before I could answer them. When I turned back to him his face had sunk, his lower lip pushing out against his facebow. He lowered his eyes and whimpered, "Please Dad, can't I go maybe just listen, just for a..."

"Jack, you know what we agreed to. It's an eighth grade party." Doctor Frost all but growled in a low voice. "Go sit down, we'll be going home in a few minutes." My heart sank when the little guy slithered away toward a chair.

"Do you wanta come? I mean can he come? I mean go, ah." a voice that sounded just like mine rang into the room. Oh shit. I groaned when the room fell silent. "Do you wanta spend the night?" slipped out.

Oh God, I really screwed up now. I thought as I risked a quick glance around. Little Jack was staring off into space, his face as white as a sheet's, his chin on his chest and his bright green eyes as wide as saucers. His dad, and my aunt and uncle were all staring at each other, all of their mouth's slightly agape. Yelp, I finally screwed up, I knew I would. I decided as I felt my face flush.

What seemed like a year or so later Doctor Frost cleared his throat. "Thank you for the invitation." he began. He glanced at the statue that once was his son and cleared his throat again. "I'm sure Jack is honored, and I'm very proud of you for inviting him. But..."

"But." Aunt Marge's snarl cut him off. Oh shit, here it comes. I moaned when I risk a glance at her. "But of course he may stay, but only if Jack feels comfortable. Any guest of Tommy's is welcome in our home." made my jaw bounce off my chest. Her glare told me someone was about to die, but I wasn't too sure if it was me or Doctor Frost.

Although I'm sure the little carrot top didn't realize it, but he probably saved at least his dad and my lives, maybe his own when he gasped, "Wow, with all the eighth grade jocks, and with, with Tommy Watkins?"

* * *

I think both Jack and I were trying to salvage what we could of our fried brains when we left Uncle Walter's study a couple of minutes later. We had closed the door and walked a few steps when a three thin shadows appeared from behind the breakfast bar and rushed toward us.

"You were in there forever, did you get busted or..." Roy's voice hissed as my three good friends pulled me into a tight hug, but he cut his sentence short when he noticed Jack. He glanced at Jack, and when he looked back at me.

"Come on, we better go. See ya' squirt." Val said.

"Um, I, I sorta invited him to spend the night." I whimpered.

Roy's face flashed a rainbow of expressions from anger to disbelief to a thin smile, and Jack's displayed a rainbow of colors as Roy gave him the once-over with his eyes. "Are you in sixth or seventh?" Roy quipped.

Jack stiffened like he was trying to look taller or something. "S-seventh." he proclaimed.

"Roy, well I..." I began.

He let out a long sigh, and gave Jack another glare. "It's cool. Let's go."

Jack tried to stay at my side, but ended up walking in front of everyone as we gathered what looked like a ton of chips and snacks and made our way up the stairs. We were almost to Roy's bedroom door when he reached up and ran a finger over his headgear.

"Do you think maybe I can, well," he whined, his pleading eyes locked on me.

"No." Val snapped. "Hey, it's chilled some of us have to wear them to." he added in a softer voice.

I'm sure the little carrot top was as relieved as I was when we stepped into the room and saw three other bridled boys milling around with the normal people. Everyone was rifling through Roy's DVD collection and gave Jack for a few questioning glances, but no one seemed too concerned, the load of treats got a lot more attention.

When I noticed Val and Regan exchange forlorn looks and pick up their backpacks I drifted next to them. Although I was scared stiff I stared, almost gawked between them as they dug their headgears out. Regan started to plug his facebow into his mouth, but paused and gave me a dirty look.

"You don't like that thing do you?" I asked. "Why not?" I whined.

"Because they suck" Val groaned.

Regan took a deep breath as his face flushed. "Well, it's embarrassing when people stare at you!" he snapped.

"I'm sorry!" I whimpered. "Here, you want me to wear it for you?" I added as I grabbed it out of his hand. The room seemed to fall silent when I plugged the facebow in, wrapped the straps over the back of my head and hooked them up. "Want me to wear yours too?" I offered a now motionless Val as I took his neckstrap and hooked it onto my facebow.

"But, but." Val gasped probably a full minute later.

"But, you cant wear that, it, well, it wont fit anyone but me!" Regan exclaimed.

I flashed him a wide grin, pushed lightly on the facebow and whined,"Why?" They glanced at each other, the behind me. An instant later Roy wrapped his arm around my shoulder.

"Well, but well it only works for my teeth." Regan moaned.

"Yeah we're suppose to wear them." Val added, his voice cracking as much as I had ever heard it. They both kept glancing at Roy as if for help.

"Well, but you said they gotta be worn so much every day, did they say you gotta wear them?" I tried.

"Tommy, uh," Roy began. He gave me a look that was somewhere between patronizing and 'are you really THAT stupid?' before continuing, "Maybe you should that them off now, they have to wear them."

"But," I tried to begin, but had to take a deep breath to keep from bursting out in laughter. "Well, okay, but here's your stuff, this is mine." I confessed as I opened the bag Miss Piggy had given me. I let them stare at Regan's headgear, and Val's neck strap for a few seconds before telling them, "I had someone swap them." I snickered.

I started to giggle until a loud round of laughter and giggling broke out behind me. Oh shit it didn't work, everyone's laughing at me anyway! I groaned. I was still trying to force my body to turn around so I could face my fate when a couple of hands slapped my shoulders and back.

"Yeah Tommy, you got them BAD!" a young voice hooted.

"That was cool, no cold!" someone else declared. Val and Regan's faces were priceless.

The party settled down over the next few minutes as piles of blankets and a few sleeping bags were laid out. Roy and a couple of others picked on me a little, but for keeping my bridle secret instead of having to wear it. The only comment I heard directly about it was when Jack pushed against my side, flashed me a blinding grin and all but bragged that his headgear was identical to mine.

After the other kids had a rather heated debate about which movies to watch, and which one first, everyone grabbed some snacks and crawled under the covers in what turned out to be three groups; Roy, Val Regan and I on Roy's bed. In a way I was disappointed when everyone stayed in their speedos, until Regan squirmed up against me on one side and Roy on the other, and their magic suits tickled my outer thigh.

I was trying to think of what to say to Jack, who was looking around wide eyed like a lost puppy, when Roy pulled the covers back and said, "Come on, you can sleep here."

The little guy lit up like a new penny, stripped out of his shorts and shirt at record speed and dove between Roy and I. Yeah, this will work! I decided as he squirmed against my side. Without thinking I wrapped my arm around his thin little body, and was immediately rewarded by his lithe little body molding even more tightly against mine.

Yes, oh yes! I thought when I felt Regan tuck his arm under me and pull me into a hug, and Roy's thin arm wrap around both my carrot topped cuddle toy and me. I closed my eyes and heard the movie start, but was already in my own wonderland.

To Be Continued…