9 Moving On

Rachael met them at the door with open arms, hugging Tom. “How are you?”

“Getting better,” he said softly. Then, withdrawing, “Rachael, this is my boyfriend, Aiden O’Connel, and these are my new friends, Peter and David Dawson.”

Rachael shook hands with Aiden warmly, and gave the brothers big hugs, whispering in her sweet English accent, “You poor dears,” and giving them each a soft peck on the cheek. “Come in, come in,” she said, beckoning them inside. The house was nearly as large as Tom’s, but newly built and designed by a top artist for flow and efficiency. It was a marvelous home, with wonderful art gracing the walls.

Alasdair emerged and Tom said, “Alasdair, you’ve met Peter and David. This is Aiden O’Connel, my boyfriend.”

Alasdair shook Aiden’s hand, smiling. “It’s so nice to meet you!” Releasing him and motioning for everyone to sit, he asked, “So what do you do, Aiden?”

“I’m a police officer,” he said, simply but proudly.

“Very good! You helped with Peter and David’s parents?” Alasdair asked.

“Yes, at first anyway,” Aiden said. “Tom broke the case though.”

“What do you mean?” Alasdair asked, and Aiden explained. “Dawson was a serial killer? When this really hits the news, you boys will never escape it.”

“Shit,” David muttered. “Sorry, sir!”

“You’re quite right, my boy,” Alasdair said, shooting him a quick smile. “Has your mother confessed?”

“No,” Tom answered, “But Jim is going to testify against both her and his oldest son….”

“Do you think, given the situation, the judge would emancipate David? He is sixteen, after all, with a home and a school guaranteed,” Alasdair suggested.

“Maybe. What are you thinking?” Tom asked.

“It’s a more straightforward way of terminating parental rights: Petition for emancipation, then offer to adopt him. Or he could just change his name if he didn’t want to be adopted.” No one else had thought so far ahead or considered what all this would mean. “I’d start that process as soon as possible.” Tom couldn’t help but shake his head.

“On those cheery notes, can I get anyone a drink?” Rachael asked. “Soda, tea, wine….”

“I’ll take a beer if you’ve got it,” Aiden asked. Peter asked for a coke. David stood and offered to help and left the room with Rachael. Once they were in the kitchen, Rachael mixed her husband and Tom the drinks they didn’t ask for: she just knew what they liked.

“So, how are you doing, David?” He shrugged non-committally. “I know most of what you went through, if you need or want to talk. How’s Tom doing? I really thought he might die of sadness,” she said, glancing out of the corner of her eye.

“Because of Jamie?” David asked. She nodded. “Since I’ve been there, he’s seemed really happy….” He told her everything Tom had done for him and his brother. Tom’s willingness to open himself up surprised her. “He and Aiden are really great!”

“They got together really fast,” Rachael observed.

“Well, they’re good together,” David said, a surprising note of defensiveness entering his voice. They took the drinks out and sat with the rest of the group.

The doorbell rang surprised Alasdair’s guests. “I thought I’d invite another family from the school, give the young ones some people to socialize with,” he said.

“Young ones,” Tom snorted, rising to greet the newcomers. “You’re making us sound far older than you need to, Alasdair!”

Alasdair walked to the door and jovially welcomed his guests. “Mr. and Mrs. Peabody! Come in, come in! I’d like to introduce you to one of my closest friends, Professor Tom Corman, and his partner, Officer Aiden O’Connel. These fine young gentlemen are David and Peter Dawson, their wards.” Alasdair’s eyes sparkled as he described them in terms of a family, however nontraditional. “Mitch and Peggy Peabody, and Catherine, who I believe you met on your visit,” he added with a little wink to David, “and her younger brother Sebastien.” Hands were shaken, and David leaned in to give Catherine a peck on the cheek, blushing when he realized all eyes were on him.

Tom noticed that Sebastien, who looked about fourteen, if a little small for his age, had wandered off and was browsing the shelves silently. The boy was carefully examining an ornate chess set when Tom startled him by asking, “Do you play?” The boy nodded. “Well, here,” Tom said, placing the board on a side table, sitting down and inviting the boy to do the same. Tom opened, and they played silently for a while, before Tom said, “When I was your age, I was very shy! I missed out on a lot!”

“You got over it?” the boy asked in a sweet, slightly higher than expected voice.

“No,” Tom said, laughing, “but I learned to work around it! Little by little, I put myself out of my comfort zone and took chances. Most people aren’t as bad as they can seem.”

“Why were you shy?” Sebastien asked softly, averting his eyes as they spoke.

“Does there have to be a reason?” The boy smiled and shook his head. “I always was, but my mom died when I was about your age. I really walled myself off then! I threw myself into books and things.”

The boy’s brown eyes sparkled when he smiled. Across the room, Peggy was casting amazed glances at her son, who was beginning to open up.

“I missed out on a lot though! In college, I opened up more – I was younger than everybody, but people were nice to me. I spent a year in France, which is where I met Alasdair … Dr. Franklin. He really helped me learn to be confident.”

“It’s not easy,” the boy said, moving his bishop and continuing to avoid eye contact.

“No, but it’s worth it,” Tom answered, countering.

“I’m littler than most boys,” he said, “so I never get picked for teams – not that I’d be good anyway – and I don’t feel like I could ever fit in. Being small, having a girly voice, liking books and stuff, definitely doesn’t help.”

“You’ve got to be proud of who you are, no matter what, and get confidence from that. You’re a very good chess player … you’re a good strategist and thinker. Find activities that accentuate that.” The boy made a good move, not seeing yet that whatever move he’d chosen, the game was decided. In three moves, Tom had beaten him.

Sebastien smiled at Tom and held out a hand. “I haven’t lost in a long time!”

“You only get better by playing someone whose skill rivals or exceeds your own. I must say, you proved more of a challenge than a lot of my fellow professors,” Tom said, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder and guiding him toward the people.

Tom caught David’s eye, and the boy came over. Sebastien was clearly intimidated by him, but David quickly disarmed him, talking about the camping trip and other stuff. Apparently Sebastien was a nature guy as well, so they were off on their own soon, and Peggy approached Tom purposefully.

“That was amazing,” she said, drawing Tom away for a clearly private conversation.

“Oh? Your son is good, but he’s got a lot of work,” Tom began.

She laughed and said, “You know very well that’s not what I meant! My son is painfully shy, but you’ve got him off chatting with my daughter’s jock boyfriend….”

“We’re a lot alike,” Tom said. Seeing the uncontrolled panic in her eyes, he added, “I was very shy as well, especially after I lost my parents.”

She nodded, and then looked as if she was thinking better of something before adding, “Maybe you’re alike in other ways too?”

“Sebastien is young! Who knows? He needs to know that he has your unconditional love and support.” The woman nodded. “It must be difficult to consider that one’s son might be different. The world can be hard, but there’s nothing wrong with being different.”

Changing the subject, she asked “How did you and Aiden get Peter and David?”

Taking a sip of his drink, he smiled and said, “I’m not sure I should say. There are court issues. But Peter’s parents cut him off when they found out he was gay, and he ended up on the street. He’d been stabbed and was bleeding to death when I found him.”

“My God!” Peggy exclaimed.

“After he got better, I invited him to stay with me. My grandparents’ Victorian is way too huge for just me. Then we found out he had been … hurt by his parents and older brother in other ways, and that he had a little brother. So Aiden helped organize a raid and we got custody of David transferred temporarily to Peter.”

“God! David’s so sweet! They’ve been through so much,” Peggy wondered.

“Please, don’t mention anything to your daughter that David doesn’t tell her. He will in his own time, but it’s hard to talk about a lot of what he went through,” Tom said.

She nodded and asked, “How long have you and Aiden been together?”

“We met the day I found Peter on the street,” Tom said.

“A couple of weeks then?” she asked, surprised. “I’d have guessed years!”

“Yep, that’s about it,” Tom confirmed.

“You seem so … close,” Peggy said.

“Love at first sight! I lost my Jamie and I never thought…. We were both attacked in Memphis: I survived, he didn’t. But here we are! I’m madly in love and Aiden is a great man!” Feeling warmth against his back, Tom leaned back slightly and felt Aiden’s arms close around him.

“Talking about me then?” he asked with a cocky smile.

“Just telling Peggy our story,” Tom said.

“Don’t scare her; I think her daughter and David like each other!” Aiden teased.

“I’m pretty sure they do,” Peggy said with a smile. “Don’t worry; anyone can see they’re fine boys with a good home.”  

Over dinner, Tom enjoyed catching up with Rachael and having Aiden get to know his friends. They also found that they liked Mitch and Peggy, though the couple was a decade older. They likewise seemed quite comfortable with the younger gay couple. Peggy was a librarian, while her husband was an architect. Tom was happy to see that, at the other end of the table, David was dividing his time between Catherine and Sebastien, and the younger boy was clearly enjoying the attention. Tom thought Sebastien was stealing glances at Peter in the odd moment, but filed that away for later.

Shortly after dinner, the Peabody family excused themselves, and the boys helped Rachael straighten up in the kitchen. Tom and Aiden sat on a loveseat across from Alasdair, who offered them drinks. Tom declined, so Aiden accepted, and Tom sat quietly as his friend and his boyfriend chatted. After a while Alasdair caught Tom staring into space and asked, “Tom? Tom, are you still with us?”

“Hmmm?” The two laughed at him. “What?”

“We seem to have lost you,” Alasdair said, laughing.

“Oh, I’m just enjoying a little relaxation with two of my favorite guys,” Tom said.

“Well, we were just comparing notes,” Alasdair teased.

“Dangerous,” Tom said, with a wry smile.

Aiden squeezed Tom and kissed the side of his head unselfconsciously. Rachael and the boys returned shortly, and soon everybody was looking a little overdone. “It’s a school night,” Alasdair announced, winking at Tom and Aiden. “We old fogies need our sleep!”

On the ride home, David announced that he had invited Sebastien on the Thanksgiving camping outing.

“You sure, buddy? You’ll have to look out for him,” Tom cautioned.

“I know,” David said. “I like him. It’ll be fun….”

“So, what is this camping trip?” Aiden asked, and David excitedly explained it to him. “Well, I don’t guess I can get off for this one, but maybe for spring break we could go for a whole week? Someplace awesome!” Tom smirked lovingly at his use of the word awesome. Hearing that made David’s day, because he was still unsure what his situation would be, but the men seemed pretty sure they would all be together come spring. Plus a big camping trip with Tom and Aiden, and maybe even Peter, sounded like the best thing in the world.

Back at the house, David and Peter got ready for bed, while Tom went upstairs to print his notes for class for the next morning. He found Aiden in bed, sitting up reading and waiting for him. Tom quickly stripped and slid into bed, resting his head on the man’s chest.

“Thank you for going tonight,” Tom said.

“It was fun,” Aiden said. “Rachael’s nice, Alasdair’s….”

“What?” Tom asked with a chuckle.

“Intimidating!” Aiden admitted. “I don’t see what you see in me.”

Tom laughed genuinely, and Aiden looked a little hurt. “I’m not laughing at you! I’m just remembering the first time Jamie met Alasdair! Alasdair was already married, but he wasn’t really ready to see me with anyone else! Alasdair can be a big baby, but he’s getting better…. Afterwards, Jamie was so insecure! He went on and on, asking how I could move on and ‘settle’ for him after being with a rich, powerful, beautiful genius like Alasdair. I laughed then, too! Alasdair and I will always be close, but I would never have been enough for him! When I looked at Jamie, and when he looked at me, I could see to the edges of time! He was all I needed, and I was all he needed.” Taking a break, Tom threw a leg over Aiden and straddled his lap. “When I look into your eyes, I see my future,” he whispered. Aiden leaned in until they were nearly touching, their breath warming each other’s lips, and Tom could feel the hardening cock pressing into him.

“Tom, if I dreamed for a hundred years, I’d never have imagined you,” Aiden whispered.

After returning his kiss with passion, Tom grinned and reached into the nightstand and got out the lube, reaching around behind him and smearing the slippery stuff on Aiden’s cock and his crack. Then he guided the man home. Tom put his hands on Aiden’s shoulders to support himself and settled in for a long, slow ride, occasionally lowering himself so he could kiss Aiden, lick an ear, or nip at his neck. After a while, Aiden grabbed his waist and used his tremendous upper body strength to drive Tom down on his aching cock. Tom held on tight as Aiden started to buck, hitting all the right places. Tom’s orgasm was so powerful that he shot cum on Aiden’s face, just as Aiden shot off inside of him. With a sleepy smile, Tom leaned in and licked his own cum off Aiden’s face before sharing it with him in a kiss.

The next week was remarkably unremarkable. David was back in school, and Peter was recuperating at home, reading and thinking about a job. Some mornings, Billy would come by and help him take his mind off of it before his delivery shift began.

On Monday, Tom came straight home from school, and sat in his bedroom alone, staring at the closet he’d promised to clear out. “Jamie,” he whispered to himself. “I know you said it was alright but….” Tom shook his head and sat contemplating.

At last, Tom forced himself to his feet and began removing clothes from the closet. Piece after piece of Jamie’s favorite clothing reminded him of the quirky, beautiful style of the young man who’d always walked to the beat of his own drummer.

“What’s all this?” Peter’s soft voice called from the door.

“Just some old clothes. Clearing out a closet for Aiden,” Tom added with a weak smile.  

Peter stepped in and picked up a pair of jeans. “What are you going to do with them?”

“Goodwill, I guess,” Tom said.

“I guess these haven’t fit for a while?” Peter mused, having totally missed what was going on. “Would you mind if I took some stuff my size? It’s kind of cool stuff!”

“Sure,” Tom said with raised eyebrows. “Cheaper than buying new clothes, I guess….”

“Plus, vintage is cool,” Peter said, smiling broadly and repressing a laugh at his own joke.

“I’ll show you vintage, whippersnapper,” Tom said, mimicking an old man shaking his cane. He emptied the closet and told Peter, “Anything you want, it’s yours!”

All told, Peter took nearly three fourths of the clothes. He should have figured Peter would appreciate Jamie’s style, Tom thought with a sad smile. Tom moved a few things to his own closet – a couple of packing boxes he’d never opened after Jamie died, a little wooden box and a jewelry box, and a really vintage hat Jamie used to wear..

When he was alone, Tom put the little jewelry box on his nightstand and lay down on the bed. Inside he found some of Jamie’s favorite jewelry: a couple of silver bracelets, as well as a hand-woven friendship bracelet a friend had made for him at camp when he was fourteen. Jamie had been madly in love with the boy – his first serious crush – but the boy was straight and became a good friend. Then, there was the platinum ring Tom had given him when they committed themselves to one another. The ring had been recovered from a pawnbroker and returned to Tom after some legal wrangling. There was even a little diamond stud, a memento of Jaime’s brief teenaged foray into body piercing.

Tom sat the jewelry box back on his nightstand and removed the larger wooden, hand-carved box from the closet. When he opened the box for the first time, he even more personal tokens: a leather journal, some cards, and some notes and letters Tom had written to him, especially from their early courtship. Tom started to open one of his own letters, but he replaced it. He wasn’t ready to read Jamie’s journal either, so the box went back on the shelf. The two bigger boxes would have to wait: He didn’t have the strength for more. Tom lay back down and cried a little more, until, despite himself, he fell asleep.

Aiden arrived home to find the house surprisingly quiet. David was working on homework, and Peter was in his room. “Hey, buddy,” Aiden asked David. “Where’s Tom?”

David nodded toward the bedroom and said, “He was asleep when I got home.”

Aiden frowned, then patted David on the shoulder. In the bedroom, Aiden found a couple of bags of clothes, reminding him what Tom had been doing. Aiden changed clothes before sitting next to Tom and putting a hand on his shoulder. “Tom?”

“Hmmm….” Tom stirred. “What time is it?” he asked, smiling up at the man.

“I just got home,” Aiden said. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Tom said, opening his arms for a hug. “It was harder than I thought.”

“I saw the bags,” Aiden said. “What happened to the rest? The closet’s empty.”

“A few things I kept. I let Peter take what he wanted,” Tom explained.

Aiden smiled. “Are you going to be okay seeing him in one of Jamie’s shirts, or outfits?”

“I think so,” Tom said. “Easier than sending them off to some stranger, anyway.”

“Do you want to get some dinner?” Aiden asked. “Why don’t I drive down to the grocery store and get something at the deli?”

“That would be great! I don’t feel like cooking,” Tom said with a weak smile.

“Be right back,” Aiden said, kissing his forehead. He returned half an hour later with rotisserie chicken, potato salad, baked beans and a few other sides.

After dinner, Tom did some work he’d skipped, while Aiden watched TV with David. When he got a message on his cell, however, he found Tom. “I’ve got to run! There’s a case I’ve been working on!”

“See you when you get home, if it’s not too late,” Tom smiled. “I had too long of a nap this afternoon!”

Aiden gave him a big kiss, before hurrying downstairs to grab his badge and gun. “Night,” he said to David, ruffling the boy’s hair on his way out.

“Hey!” David called after him laughing, reaching up to fix his mussed hair.

Aiden drove directly to a Catholic church just four miles from Tom’s house. Flashing his badge, Aiden entered the police cordon. “Aiden,” Jim Reynolds called, motioning him over.

“It’s like the others?” Aiden asked, after looking around. So far the media had failed to make the connection between the vandalism cases, and they wanted to keep it that way.

Jim nodded. “But worse….”

Aiden found the churchyard, blood splattered gaudily on the church’s outside walls. On the grave, some kind of animal had been dismembered and disemboweled, its blood collected in the church’s chalice.

“Officer O’Connel, I think we could have handled this one without you,” Detective Philips laughed as he approached. “Shouldn’t you be home with your new girlfriend?”

Man, gossip spreads fast, Aiden thought. He brushed the comment off and bent over to look at what looked like a piece of cloth ripped from someone’s clothing. He felt Philips bump into his ass, no doubt mimicking a fucking action to the officers around.

Aiden turned and faced him angrily. “Watch it, Philips! There’s evidence here,” he said, pulling on a glove and grabbing a bag for the cloth. When Aiden signed the tape sealing the bag, he stormed off to turn it over to the lab boys.

Before Philips could walk away snickering, Jim had his night stick out, against the detective’s chin. He whispered menacingly, “You try any shit like that again, Philips, and I’ll file the sexual harassment charge against you. Understand me?” Philips nodded defiantly, and Jim reminded him, “I cut you a break when I caught you with that hooker, remember? Your wife never found out….” Philips deflated and nodded. “Lay the fuck off!”

“Sure, Reynolds,” Philips nodded, looking somewhat repentant, before walking away.

As Aiden returned, he said, so only Jim could hear, “You didn’t have to do that!”

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, O’Connel,” the man said with a fatherly smile. He did add, “Your father couldn’t always show it, but he respected that you had the courage to, you know. If he had been here, Philips woulda been in deep kimchee!”

On Tuesday, Tom, Peter, and David met Felicia at Judge Tucker’s courtroom, where they found the brothers’ parents’ lawyers waiting, their clients also present in jailhouse orange.

When court was in session, the attorneys for the parents tried to make a case that Peter was unfit to look after his brother because he was a homosexual. “Do you have any evidence that Peter has ever behaved inappropriately towards his brother?” the judge asked, at last, getting short with them.

“It’s a lifestyle matter, your honor. David and Peter are being housed by two known homosexuals. What kind of home is that for a teenage boy?” one of the lawyers asked.

“Mr. Evans, I ask you again, do you have any reason to suspect Professor Corman or Officer O’Connel of anything untoward?” the judge demanded.

“No, your honor, but,” the man began to answer.

“However, I have seen hard evidence to support the claim that your clients abused their children, and they are suspected of serial murder. Additionally, they allowed their older son to sexually abuse both his brothers for years!” Judge Tucker declared, her blood rising.

Felicia jumped to her feet, seizing the opportunity. “Your honor, I would like to move that David be emancipated and declared a legal adult.”

“Young man, you realize that, in doing so, you waive your right to all parental support – except of course any damages the court may award at a future date?” Judge Tucker asked.

“Yes, your honor,” David declared.

“How will you support yourself, and secure housing?” the judge inquired.

“Your honor, if I may,” Tom said, rising to his feet. “I secured David a place in Saint George’s High School, where he was awarded a full scholarship. His brother and he live together, and support one another educationally. I personally guarantee that he will be taken care of financially until he finishes college.”

“If we can get that in writing, Mr. Corman, and I can be assured that the boy’s interests are secured, there is little reason,” Judge Tucker began.

“Your honor,” Evans exclaimed, rising to his feet. “This is highly irregular!”

“So is this entire situation,” Felicia retorted. “But I have a completed petition, signed by my client for your consideration, and Professor Corman is prepared to enter into a contractual obligation to secure both boys’ futures. Should you grant his petition, my client intends to move immediately for a legal change of name.”

The judge raised her eyebrows and asked, “Do you have a name in mind, young man?”

“Yes your honor,” David said, casting a shy glance at Tom. “David Corman.”

The judge nodded, fighting to mask her emotion. “I’ll consider this matter and rule shortly. I’d like to question David in chambers with counsel.” With that, she rose. David’s mother glared at the boys, while his father stared out the window. David stood to go to the judge’s chambers, but before he left, he gave Tom a big hug.

“I hope you don’t mind?” David asked. Tom, tears in his eyes, could only shake his head.

Thirty minutes later, David and Felicia emerged from Judge Tucker’s chambers, and Felicia gave Tom a thumbs up. “We’ll have to wait a couple of days for a ruling I think, but it’s in the bag.” She pulled him aside and said, “David really loves you, Tom! You’re a little young, but you’re the dad he always wanted, or is it the mom? I’ll draw up the paperwork we talked about.”

Tom nodded, and they all left. Back at the house, David retreated into his room to do some homework, and Tom went to Peter’s room. “You didn’t say much today….”

“Not much to say,” Peter said glumly.

“Are you okay with everything?” Tom asked. “Maybe you wanted to pick a name with your brother, something you could share?”

“Maybe,” Peter said with a slight smile. “He’s decided though, so if you don’t mind?”

Tom put an arm around Peter and said, “Welcome to the family!”

Tom walked up to his library and did some work. Shortly before Aiden got home, David stuck his head in the door and asked, “Can Catherine come over?”

“Sure,” Tom replied.

“Good,” he said with a grin, “because she’s on her way!”

“Will she stay for dinner?” Tom asked with a smile.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” David replied. Tom nodded and David disappeared. When Catherine arrived, she and David sat talking about court and schoolwork he missed.

Aiden came home and waved at them. “Hi guys!”

“Hey, Aiden! Tom’s up in the office,” David reported.

“Thanks,” Aiden answered, heading in that direction. Tom was just standing up from his computer when Aiden walked up behind him, running his hand down Tom’s body, from chest to hips, gently nibbling on his neck. Tom sighed and melted back into him.

“How was your day?” Tom asked.

“Oh, nothing too exciting. A couple of domestic disturbances, a teenager shoplifting, that sort of thing,” Aiden said. “Finished up some stuff on a case: you know, the usual.”

“Felicia thinks that the judge will grant David’s emancipation petition. David wants to take my last name,” Tom said.

Aiden turned Tom around to face him and asked, “How do you feel about that?”

“Great!” Tom said. “Having you and the guys is like having a family again! Peter was a little surprised though.”

“What’s he going to do?” Aiden asked.

“They’re brothers,” Tom said. “He’s going to do the same….”

Aiden nodded and asked, “So what’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know! Spaghetti? I have fresh Italian bread,” Tom said, thinking out loud.

“Sounds good,” Aiden said. “I’m gonna go change.” Tom kissed him deeply and let him go unwillingly. Aiden smiled and winked as he turned the corner.

Tom walked to the living room and asked, “How does spaghetti sound?”

“Great,” David said. “You need any help?”

“No, no, you guys hang out,” Tom said.

“Thanks for having me, professor,” Catherine said with a smile.

“Tom’s fine, Catherine,” the man answered, smiling.

Tom threw together a sure-fire spaghetti sauce and put some noodles on to boil, and heated up the bread. Soon, the five of them sat down to dinner. At one point, Tom asked Catherine, “What do you do in school? Extracurriculars, clubs?”

“I’m editor of the school newsletter, and I’m on the student council,” Catherine reported.

“Impressive! Have you thought much about colleges?” Tom asked.

“Not a lot. I’d be happy to stay in town, but I’ll apply to a few places and see what kinds of scholarships I can get,” the girl answered.

“Very good,” Tom said with a smile and a nod.

There was more conversation about school and the like, and Catherine asked David, “Are you going to the Halloween dance, David?”

“I didn’t really know about it,” the boy answered.

“It’s a big costume ball! If you want to go, I haven’t accepted any invitations, just in case,” Catherine said with a blush.

David blushed too and asked, “Would you … go with me?” She nodded and smiled. Tom considered that, with a powerful supernatural enemy, Halloween could present a perfect storm of possibility. Perhaps he could get Alasdair to allow him to attend as a chaperon.

“So, Catherine,” Tom asked, “do you have a costume in mind?”

“There was a terrific Cleopatra costume I’d love, at the costume shop on Grand. There was a Julius Caesar costume with a golden crown and purple-trimmed white tunic. You’d be gorgeous,” she said, making David blush again. Aiden and Peter cleaned up the kitchen, while Tom stretched out on the couch and David and Catherine cuddled on the loveseat. Then Peter went to call Billy, and Aiden came and lay down next to Tom.

Around ten, Tom said, “David, I’m sure Catherine needs to get home. It’s a school night.”

“Oh, my parents are out,” the girl said. “I should have said something. They were going to pick me up on their way home. It shouldn’t be more than thirty minutes.”

“Oh, okay! Just didn’t want you to miss your curfew,” Tom said.

“Speaking of, I have an early morning,” Aiden said. “I’m going to catch a shower….”

“I’ll be in in a bit,” Tom said. “I want to say hi the Peabodys.”

Aiden gave Tom a kiss, a bit more chaste than normal due to the company, and walked off, waving to Catherine.

When her family arrived, Tom went out to greet them. Even Sebastien got out to say hello. Tom invited the whole family to come over for a barbecue on Sunday, and they accepted. Back inside, Tom found Aiden waiting for him in bed, where they cuddled to sleep.